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The Best Baseball Players From Alaska

Alaska Baseball Players

12. That sums up the total of players who have graced a Major League diamond who hail from the state of Alaska. Generally known for being geographically isolated and frigid, Alaska has given baseball fans some interesting names. However, the search for Alaska’s best baseball player might fall into disappointment for some. Indeed, only one player on this list has a WAR metric in the double digits. But just because a player doesn’t meet expectations does not mean his story is meaningless. Herein, we will examine them as we attempt to nail down Alaska’s best baseball player.

Alaska’s Best Baseball Players

David Williams, WAR: 2.34

David Williams seems uncertain, especially in the search for Alaska’s best baseball player. The Pittsburgh Pirates took a chance on the young hurler, drafting him in the 17th round in 1998. He had an outstanding minor league career, particularly in 2000, when he struck out 201 batters in 181 innings. Midway through 2001, he was called up, and his career, though marked by flashes of brilliance, never really materialized. He spent four years in Pittsburgh; his best season was 2001 (3.71 ERA, 123 ERA+). His numbers never matched his Minor League lines, and he left the league for good after two games with the New York Mets in 2007.

Tony Barnette, WAR: 2.51

Much as with Williams, Tony Barnette was a later draft pick. He went to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 10th round of the 2006 draft. Though he spent a fair amount of time in the organization, he never cracked the main roster. He then spent six seasons in Japan before returning to the Major Leagues as a member of the Texas Rangers. Finally, at 32, he made his first big league appearances. Over a three-plus year career, he managed a respectable 3.53 ERA and a 134 ERA+ in a tad over 145 innings pitched. His inclusion in the search for Alaska baseball players who may seem superficially irrelevant. However, Barnette cannot be excluded when it comes to determination.

Josh Phelp, WAR: 3.19

Josh Phelps is the only bat on this list today. By default, he leads the state of Alaska in most major offensive categories. He salvaged an eight-year career, mainly with the Toronto Blue Jays. His time in the majors got off to an explosive start. In 2002, he finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .309 with 15 homers in 74 games. Unfortunately, strikeouts were an issue, reflected in his 2003 campaign. Despite cracking 20 homers and picking up 106 hits, he struck out 115 times and only walked 39 times. His career after Toronto was marked by a near-consistent cycle of free agency stints, injuries, and waiver claims.

Shawn Chacón, WAR: 6.53

Shawn Chacón was, in a way, born to play for the Colorado Rockies. Chacón attended high school in Greeley, Colorado despite being born in Alaska. The Rockies drafted him in the third round of the 1996 draft. His time in the minors was up and down. However, he was called up in 2001. Thus began a big-league career that was just as akin to the average roller coaster. In 2003, he made the All-Star team and won 11 games as a starter. The following season, he became the Rockies primary closer and saved 35 games despite a brutal 7.11 ERA. He would have stints with four more organizations before calling it a career after 2009.

Curt Schilling, WAR: 79.49

The entirety of the search for Alaska baseball players has been building to this rather inevitable conclusion. That said, Curt Schilling is every bit worthy of the title. He’s a six-time All-Star, a three-time World Champion, a World Series MVP and an LCS MVP. He finished in the top five in Cy Young voting four times, with three being runner-up bids. A strikeout machine, Schilling posted back-to-back 300 strikeout seasons in 1997 and ’98 for the Philadelphia Phillies. Overall, the hurler finished with 216 wins, 3,116 strikeouts, 83 complete games, and over 3,200 innings pitched. He is, far and away, the greatest player ever to come from Alaska.

Main Photo Credits: Robert Deutsch, USAT, USA TODAY NETWORK


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