Over the next two weeks, we are highlighting the five best Major League players to ever play baseball at each of the Big Ten universities. Today, we take a look at the Michigan Wolverines. Earlier stories can be found here.
Number of Major Leaguers: 78
First: Frank Bliss (debuted June 20, 1878)
Most recent: Zach Putnam (debuted Sept. 13, 2011)
Charlie Gehringer played his entire 19-year Hall of Fame career for his home state Detroit Tigers, compiling 2,839 hits, 1,774 runs, 1,427 RBI, a .320 batting average, .404 OBP, six All-Star games and an MVP award in 1937. He twice led the league in hits, runs and doubles.
George Sisler was Michigan’s first Hall of Famer, playing for the Browns, Braves and Senators from 1915-30. He was the American League MVP in 1922, when he had 246 hits, 134 runs, 18 triples and 51 stolen bases. He also batted .420 with a .467 OBP. For his career, Sisler had 2,812 hits and a .340 batting average.
Barry Larkin is Michigan’s third Hall of Famer after a 19-year career with the Cincinnati Reds that included one World Series title (1990), an MVP (1995), 2,340 hits, 12 All-Star appearances and three Gold Gloves.
Geoff Zahn won 111 games (and lost 109 others) for the Twins, Angels, Dodgers and Cubs from 1973-85. He had a fairly routine career, but he stuck around for a long time and is the career wins leader for Michigan pitchers. He makes the list.
Jim Abbott only had one hand and still won 87 games in the Major Leagues, finishing third in American League Cy Young voting in 1991 (behind Roger Clemens and Scott Erickson). He was 18-11 with a 2.89 ERA that year, which he followed up with a 2.77 ERA the next year. Abbott threw a no-hitter on Sept. 4, 1993 for the Yankees against the Cleveland Indians.
Honorable mention: Bill Freehan, Ted Sizemore, Hal Morris, Mike Matheny, Chris Sabo.