Best Players Never to Play in World Series

A few years back I wrote a series of blogs called “Lords of the Ringless” — a litany on the greatest baseball, football and basketball players never to win a championship.

Every baseball player dreams of winning a World Series. But at least those who get there and lose the Fall Classic can brag about winning a pennant.

Not so this group, which features Hall of Famers at every position except outfield and closer.

Those outfielders are Ken Griffey, Jr., below, and Sammy Sosa, who stand fifth and seventh on the all-time home run list respectively (with 630 and 609 home runs) and are not yet eligible for election. Sosa hit 60 or more home runs three times and led the National League in HRs twice; Griffey led the American League in homers on four different occasions.

The squad includes a two-time .400 hitter (George Sisler); a .342 lifetime hitter (Harry Heilmann); and a pitcher who won 20 games in a season seven times (Ferguson Jenkins).

The infielders combined for 10 batting titles lifetime, seven by second baseman Rod Carew, along with four MVP honors, two by shortstop Ernie Banks.

The starting rotation features two 300-game winners in Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry, a combined 1176 victories and three Cy Young Award winners — two by Perry, one in each league.

Coming out of the bullpen is Lee Smith, third on the all-time list with 478 saves.

Here’s the starting lineup: the best players never to make the World Series.

The Lineup

C — Rick Ferrell: Hall of Famer, played 18 seasons with Browns, Red Sox and Senators. 7-time All Star, .281 career batting average.

1B — George Sisler: ’22 AL MVP. two batting titles, .407 in ’20, .420 in ’22, .340 lifetime, Browns, Senators, Braves.

2B — Rod Carew: .328 career batting average, 7 batting titles, AL MVP in ’77 with .388 average, Twins, Angels, others; 4 times in ALCS, two with Twins, two with Angels.

SS — Ernie Banks: Mr. Cub, .512 lifetime homers, 277 as shortstop, NL MVP in ’58, ’59 as SS, later moved to IB. Cubs.

3B — George Kell: .306 career batting average, won AL batting title in ’49; Phillies, Tigers, Red Sox, White Sox, Orioles.

OF — Harry Heilmann: .342 career average, 4 AL batting titles, .403 in ’23, Tigers, Reds.

OF – Sammy Sosa: 609 HRs, 7th all-time, 3 years with 60 HRs, NL MVP ’98, Rangers, White Sox, Cubs, Orioles.

OF — Ken Griffey, Jr: Played for Mariners, Reds and White Sox. 630 HRs are fifth most in history. Won AL MVP in 97.

P — Ferguson Jenkins: 284-226 7 20-win seasons, 3192 Ks, ‘ 71 NL Cy Young; Cubs, Rangers, Red Sox.

P — Phil Niekro: knuckleballer, right, 318 wins, 24 years from ’64 to ’87, Braves, Yankees, Indians.

P — Gaylord Perry: 314 wins, AL Cy Young ’72, NL Cy Young ’78, Giants, Indians, Rangers, Padres, Yankees, Braves, Mariners.

P — Ted Lyons: 260 career wins, won 20 3 times, White Sox ’23-46.

R — Lee Smith: 478 saves; Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles. Angels, Reds, Expos.

Other Lords of The Ringless

Baseball Edition

Quarterback Edition

Running Back Edition

Wide Receiver Edition

Hoops Edition


2 Comments on “Best Players Never to Play in World Series”

  1. TC says:

    Rick, interesting to see how many old timers didn’t get the shot, considering there were only 16 teams. But no free agency and teams didn’t seem to be able to pick up stars later in the season for their pennant drives the way they do now. So stars were just stuck…
    As for the players in the free agent era, just so many teams competing now plus luck. And I suppose with free agency, some players, or their agents, choose more $$$ over the better chance of a ring. Think Johan Santana?

    • sportslifer says:

      Yeah it is interesting Tom. Research this one pretty thoroughly, hope I didn’t miss anyone. Don Mattingly made the team as a backup at first base.

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