"The Guy": MLB Edition (Part 1 - American League)

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer

In professional wrestling, there is “The Guy.” He (or she, if you currently follow the WWE – hey, Becky Lynch!) is the face of the brand. In the same way, professional sports franchises have at least one player who the epitome of what that franchise is, the player who means so much to the franchise that if you say that franchise’s name, they are the first that comes to mind. 

He is “The Guy.”

Every list is subjective is subjective and this one is no exception. This list will take a look “The Guy” for every franchise in the American League. 

Baltimore Orioles: Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken originally started his Major League career in 1981 as a third baseman. But after being moved to shortstop on July 1, 1982, he would remain in the lineup for 2,632 consecutive games. He helped the Orioles win the 1983 World Series, earning a league MVP along the way. Ripken ended his career in 2001 with 3,001 career games and 345 HR, the most by a shortstop. 

Boston Red Sox: Ted Williams. Like other teams on this list, there are other names to be considered. However, none stand out like Williams. From 1939-1960, he was an All-Star 19 times, won the league batting title six times, hit over .400 twice, and accomplished the Triple Crown twice, and has a Major League-leading .482 career OBP. Williams also served the U.S. Military in two wars (WWII and Korea). 

Chicago White Sox: Frank Thomas. “The Big Hurt” spent 18 of his 21 seasons with the White Sox and was regularly be among the league leaders in home runs and RBIs during the Nineties. He won four Silver Slugger Awards and was the first to win multiple awards at two positions (first base and designated hitter). He finished his career in 2010 with 521 home runs and a .301 batting average. 

Cleveland Indians: Omar Vizquel. The diminutive Venezuelan arrived from the Seattle Mariners in 1993 and would spend the next fourteen seasons as an Indian. The shortstop helped the Indians to two World Series appearances (1995, 1997) while winning eight consecutive Gold Gloves as a member of the Tribe. VIzquel’s best season at bat was in 1999 when he hit .300 and scored 100 runs. 

Detroit Tigers: Ty Cobb. “The Georgia Peach” is one of the greatest players of the early 20th century. Cobb’s record of 4,191 hits stood for 57 years before Pete Rose broke it in 1985. He is one of only eleven players in history to hit for the Triple Crown, winning in 1909 with nine HR, 107 RBI, and a .377 average. Cobb won the batting title 12 times and finished as the all-time leader in batting average at.367. 

Houston Astros: Craig Biggio. Biggio debuted in 1988 as a catcher and spent three full seasons at the position before moving to second base in 1992. From then on, he helped the Astros become a force in the National League Central, leading the league in doubles three times, plate appearances, and hit by pitch. Biggio was also the first player to be selected as an All-Star at catcher and second base. 

Kansas City Royals: George Brett. Brett played all 21 seasons in Kansas City at three positions, most notably at third base. Brett was a 13-time All-Star, won the AL MVP in 1980, and was a three-time batting champion. Arguably, his best season came in 1985 when he hit 30 home runs and won the ALCS MVP, a Gold Glove, and a Silver Slugger in helping the Royals win their first World Series title. 

Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim, CA): Mike Trout. At only 27, Trout has already accomplished a career that most Major Leaguers would dream of. Trout won Rookie of the Year in 2012 after leading the Angels in a plethora of offensive statistical categories, including hits, runs scored, and average. Trout has since become one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball in both power and average. 

Mike Trout in 2016 against the Pittsburgh Pirates (photo credit: Corey Mansfield)
Minnesota Twins: Kirby Puckett. The pocket-sized Puckett only played twelve seasons, but spent his entire career in the Twin Cities. Puckett had an outstanding career, elected as an all-star ten out of twelve seasons, won the league batting title in 1989, and was the RBI leader during the canceled 1994 season. A glaucoma diagnosis in 1996 cut his career short, but he finished it with a .318 average. 

New York Yankees: Babe Ruth. Like the Red Sox, there are many names that would have made this list. But George Herman Ruth is the OG that put the Yankees on the map. Ruth only hit 49 HR six seasons in Boston. After being sold to the Yankees in 1920, he would hit 659 as a member of the Yankees. Ruth shattered hitting records in helping the Yankees win the first four of their 27 World Series titles. 

Oakland A’s: Mark McGwire. McGwire spent the first 10.5 of his sixteen seasons in Oakland. McGwire smashed the AL rookie record with 49 home runs in 1987. He became the first player in Major League history to hit 30+ HR in the first four seasons of his career. He was traded to the Cardinals in 1997 and set the single season HR record in 1998. McGwire owns the A’s career record with 365 HR.

Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey, Jr. Griffey’s first eleven seasons in the Major Leagues was electrifying as he was one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. In that time, the Mariners became one of the best teams in baseball, reaching the postseason three times. Griffey lead the AL in HR four times, hitting 40+ and 50+ twice. He is the Mariners’ franchise leader in home runs with 417. 

Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays: Evan Longoria. Longoria spent the first 10 seasons of his career as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. In his first season, he helped the Rays reached the World Series. Longoria helped the Rays to four playoff appearances, twice as a division champion. Longoria was traded to San Francisco in 2017, but holds nine franchise records, including games played, runs, and HR. 

Texas Rangers: Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge spent 21 seasons in the Major Leagues, 11.5 with the Rangers. He won AL Rookie of the Year in 1991 and won AL MVP in 1999. Pudge is widely considered one of the greatest defensive catchers of all time. He had no more than 15 errors in a season and finished with a lifetime fielding percentage of .991. 

Toronto Blue Jays: Roberto Alomar. Alomar came over from the San Diego Padres in 1990 with Joe Carter and became one of the best second basemen in baseball. Alomar helped the Blue Jays win three consecutive AL East titles and was a part of the World Series winning teams in 1992 and 1993. He was the first player in team history to have his number retired after being elected to the Hall of Fame.

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