California baseball players are plenty. The Golden State is the birthplace of over 2,200 big leaguers, the most of any state. It’s the home to 24 players who are in the Baseball Hall of Fame but that’s not all. Aaron Judge, Nolan Arenado and Gerrit Cole make up some of the latest stars born and raised out of California. As we continue our way through the Best Players from each state series, here are the most talented baseball players to come from there.
We are using career WAR as a guide. However, we are considering other factors, including ERA, career accomplishments and statistics.
California Born Baseball Players
Stats: 189-102, 3.34 ERA, 368 G, 320 GS, 10 SV, 2,503 IP, 1,468 SO, 1.352 WHIP, 38.7 WAR
Accolades: 2x Triple Crown, 2x ERA Title, 6x World Series Champion, 7x All-Star, 1972 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
Lefty Gomez left his mark on baseball in many ways. He went on to win 20 games in his sophomore season, then won 24 the following season. He dominated the pitching leaderboard in 1934, leading the league in wins, ERA, complete games, and shutouts. Gomez did the same thing in 1937, winning another pitcher’s Triple Crown, pacing the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts.
Los Angeles, California
Stats: 3,255 H, 504 HR, 1,627 R, 1,917 RBI, 110 SB, .287/.359/.476, 129 OPS+, 68.6 WAR
Accolades: 1977 AL Rookie of the Year, 1983 World Series Champion, 3x Gold Glove, 3x Silver Slugger, 8x All-Star, 2003 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
Eddie Murray has played more games at first base than anyone else. Murray played 2,413 games, with almost 600 in the DH slot. In his 24-year career, Murray averaged 25 home runs and 90 RBI. 1982 saw Murray win the first of three consecutive Gold Glove Awards of his career. In 1983, he helped the Baltimore Orioles to another pennant, hitting .306 with 33 home runs and 11 RBI. He went on to hit three home runs in the postseason as the Orioles won the World Series. After Hank Aaron, he was the third player in major league history to record 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.
Garden Grove, California
Stats: 2,365 H, 185 HR, 1,231 R, 1,003 RBI, 236 SB, .285/.352/.415, 110 OPS+, 70.6 WAR
Accolades: 1984 World Series Champion, WS MVP, 3x Silver Slugger, 4x Gold Glove, 6x All-Star, 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
The six-time All-Star shortstop was the face of the Detroit Tigers for 20 seasons. Alan Trammell earned his All-Star selection in 1980, where he hit .300 for the first time as he won his first of four Gold Glove Awards. In 1983, he won the Comeback Player of the Year. He hit .319 with 14 home runs, 66 RBI, and 30 stolen bases. The following season, Trammell and his Tigers teammates enjoyed a championship-winning season. Trammell hit .450 against his hometown San Diego Padres while being named World Series MVP.
Los Angeles, California
Stats: 3,141 H, 135 HR, 1,383 R, 1,138 RBI, 319 SB, .338/.388/.459, 132 OPS+, 69.2 WAR
Accolades: 5x Gold Glove, 7x Silver Slugger, 8x NL Batting Title, 15x All-Star, 2007 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
A five-time Gold Award winner in right field, “Mr.Padre” spent his entire career in San Diego. Gwynn never won an MVP award or a World Series but became of the best contact hitters in the game. He hit above .300 every year except for his rookie season. In 1997, Gwynn tied Honus Wagner for eight batting crowns in NL history. Gwynn is a 15-time All-Star, seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner and a five-time Gold Glove Award winner.
Culver City, California
Stats: 2,092 H, 324 HR, 1,025 R, 1,225 RBI, 39 SB, .262/.335/.439, 115 OPS+, 70.1 WAR
Accolades: 2x ASG MVP, 3x Gold Glove, 5x Silver Slugger, 11x All-Star, 1986 World Series Champion, 2003 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
Gary Carter was nothing but a resilient backstop for the Montreal Expos, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Dodgers. He set the record for fewest past balls in 1978 as he paced all NL catchers in putouts, assists, double players, and caught stealing. He ranks second in JAWS for catchers as he’s behind only Johnny Bench, and Carter is the Expos all-time leader in WAR. Carter earned All-Star honors in each of his final six years in Montreal before being traded to New York.
CF, 1936-1942, 1946-1951
Stats: 2,214 H, 361 HR, 1,390 R, 1,537 RBI, 30 SB, .325/.398/.579, 155 OPS+, 79.1 WAR
Accolades: ML PoY, 2x AL Batting Title, 3x AL MVP, 9x World Series Champion, 13x All-Star, 1955 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
On the field, Joe DiMaggio could do it all. He could hit for average and power while patrolling center field for the Yankees. Of course, mentioning DiMaggio means one notable moment of his career, his 56-game hitting streak in 1941. But, in 1933, he put together the same streak while playing for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. As an 18-year-old, he put up a 61-game hitting streak, accumulating 259 hits in just his second professional season. At the time of his retirement after the 1951 season, he ranked fifth with 361 home runs and sixth with a .579 slugging percentage. “Joltin’ Joe” helped New York win nine World Series championships as he was a three-time MVP and 13-time All-Star.
Stats: 311-205, 2.86 ERA, 656 G, 647 GS, 1 SV, 4,783 IP, 3,640 SO, 1.121 WHIP, 109.9 WAR
Accolades: 1967 NL Rookie of the Year, 1969 World Series Champion, 3x NL ERA Title and Cy Young Winner, 12x All-Star, 1992 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
Not one player is more identified with the Mets than Tom Seaver. The franchise power pitcher turned baseball’s losers into champions in no time. Seaver signed with the Mets in 1966 and one year later, he was in the big leagues. It didn’t take long for him to make an impact as he won the NL Rookie of the Year Award after going 16-13 with a 2.76 ERA. Following his 1969 Cy Young campaign, Seaver tied a major league record in 1970. “The Franchise” went on to strike out 19 San Diego Padres in a game, which included a record of 10 consecutive strikeouts. Then in 1981, Seaver became the fifth player in history to record 3,000 strikeouts, finishing with 3,640.
San Diego, California
LF, 1939-1942, 1946-1960
Stats: 2,654 H, 521 HR, 1,798 R, 1,839 RBI, 24 SB, .344/.482/.634, 191 OPS+, 121.8 WAR
Accolades: 2x AL MVP, 2x Triple Crown, 5x ML PoY, 6x AL Batting Title, 19x All-Star, 1966 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
A lot can be said about Ted Williams. He won six batting titles as he led the AL in on-base percentage 12 times in his career. His .482 career on-base percentage is the best of all time. Williams did miss three seasons while serving as a Navy and Marine Corps pilot in World War II. When he returned in 1946, he lead the league in runs scored, walks and total bases. He finally earned an MVP award as he helped the Red Sox to the World Series, losing in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals. Furthermore, Williams led the AL in home runs for times as his .634 career slugging percentage is second to Babe Ruth.
Walnut Creek, California
Stats: 303-166, 3.29 ERA, 618 G, 603 GS, 2 SV, 4,135 1/3 IP, 4,875 SO, 1.171 WHIP, 101. WAR
Accolades: 2001 World Series Champion and MVP, Triple Crown, 4x NL ERA Title, 5x Cy Young, 10x All-Star, 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
There’s no denying that Randy Johnson was intimidating on the mound. The left-hander threw hard, harnessing his control and velocity which earned him five Cy Young Awards, 10 All-Star selections, and two no-hitters. Johnson did face struggles with his control in the early days of his career but eventually turned himself into one of the most dominant pitchers of his era. After signing a four-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Johnson won four consecutive NL Cy Young Awards, and three ERA titles while averaging 330 strikeouts each season. His 4,875 strikeouts are the most by any southpaw pitcher, and second all-time to Nolan Ryan.
Stats: 2,935 H, 762 HR, 2,227 R, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB, .298/.444/.607, 182 OPS+, 162.8 WAR
Accolades: 2x NL Batting Title, 3x ML PoY, 7x NL MVP, 8x Gold Glove, 12x Silver Slugger, 14x All-Star
There will always be two sides of Barry Bonds, yet he’s one of the most decorated players in the sport. He’s baseball’s all-time leader in home runs, walks and set the single-season record with 73 homers in 2001. Bonds accumulated seven MVPs, 14 All-Star appearances, and eight Gold Glove Awards. He’s the only player to date with 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases. In his final season in 2007, Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron for most home runs in baseball history, finishing with 762.
Photo Credit: © RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Judge, Nolan Arenado, Gerrit Cole, Lefty Gomez, Eddie Murray, Hank Aaron, Alan Trammell, Tony Gwynn, Honus Wagner, Gary Carter, Johnny Bench, Tom Seaver, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Barry Bonds