The United States of America is responsible for nearly 17,000 of the 19,000 players who've appeared in a Major League Baseball game, ranging from a dozen Alaskans to over 1,400 Pennsylvanians.
The evolution of America's various baseball hotbeds involved plenty of factors. For starters, some areas of the country were exposed to the game many years before others, which created an early imbalance with most professional players hailing from just a handful of states. More than 70 seasons were played before Jackie Robinson took the field in April 1947, too. From the mythical hurlers of a century ago to some of the game's brightest young stars today, these are the greatest MLB players to come from each state (active player stats as of Wednesday):
Only four players have hit more career home runs than Mays - including Alabama's own Hank Aaron - but Mays did it all while winning 12 Gold Glove Awards. He's best known for his over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series, and was one of the league's greatest defenders throughout his 22-year MLB career. "The Say Hey Kid" finished in the top six of NL MVP voting for 10 consecutive seasons beginning in 1957, and should have won more than the two MVPs he took home.
Honorable Mention: Hank Aaron, Ozzie Smith, Early Wynn, Willie McCovey, Don Sutton
Alaska has produced just 12 MLB players, but Schilling stands head and shoulders above the group as a six-time All-Star and the 2001 World Series MVP. Schilling never captured that elusive Cy Young Award, finishing as a runner-up three different times, but he was one of the game's best on the biggest stage. Over 19 playoff starts, he went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA.
Honorable Mention: Shawn Chacon, Josh Phelps
Kinsler has hung around as one of baseball’s most consistent second basemen for 13 seasons now, and his all-around game gives him the edge in Arizona. His value peaked in 2011 with 7.2 WAR as a member of the Rangers, but even at 36, he's still providing positive value to his third team, the Angels. He's a four-time All-Star and finally picked up his first Gold Glove Award in 2016 with the Tigers.
Robinson won 16 Gold Glove Awards and went to 18 All-Star Games over his 23-year career, making him one of the most decorated players of his generation. The Orioles legend had some peak offensive seasons in his 20s, but "The Human Vacuum Cleaner" will always be known as one of baseball's greatest defenders. Few former players are revered in their MLB city the way Robinson is in Baltimore.
Honorable Mention: Dizzy Dean, George Kell, Arky Vaughan, Cliff Lee
California could field a team made up entirely of Hall of Famers, but Williams stands above the rest. No player had a peak like Barry Bonds, but the Red Sox legend posted an OPS above 1.000 in 18 of his 19 seasons. Williams wrote the book on hitting, and his career numbers would be even greater if he hadn’t missed most of five seasons due to military service. The first three of those years - from 1943-45 during World War II - would have been his age 24-26 seasons. Williams was a 19-time All-Star and a two-time Triple Crown winner, but only reached the playoffs once with Boston.
Honorable Mention: Barry Bonds, Tony Gwynn, Joe DiMaggio, Randy Johnson
Halladay was a model ace after he truly established himself with the Blue Jays in 2001, and went on to win a Cy Young Award in both Toronto and Philadelphia. In 2010, Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in MLB history and soon after tossed the first playoff no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Halladay was honored by Toronto on Opening Day this past spring after dying in a tragic plane crash during the offseason.
Vaughn was the definition of a throwback slugger for the Red Sox in the '90s. He was built more like a defensive lineman than a baseball player, but when he turned on a pitch, it was gone. Vaughn carried his power peak over to the Angels for a couple of seasons and finished with six consecutive years with at least 33 home runs from 1995-2000.
Honorable Mention: Dick McAuliffe, Jim Piersall, Brad Ausmus
Goldschmidt is just 30 years old, but he's already Delaware's finest in his eighth MLB season. The five-time All-Star has picked up three Gold Glove Awards and chips in with steals on the basepaths, which makes him a uniquely well-rounded first baseman. It's easy to make an argument that Goldschmidt is still one of the more underrated players in MLB, and he'll be a hot commodity if he hits the open market following the 2019 season.
Honorable Mention: Delino DeShields, Chris Short
Wills is one of the game's all-time elite base-stealers. He stole 103 bases on 117 attempts in 1962 and his career total of 586 ranks him 20th in MLB history. Wills was never much of a threat at the plate and averaged just over one home run per season, but his legs made him one of the most unique players of the 60s.
Honorable Mention: Don Money, Doc White
"Lefty" Steve Carlton barely edges out a fellow Hall of Famer in Chipper Jones on this list, as he was one of the great arms in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Carlton was a workhorse - topping 250 innings in 12 of his 24 seasons - and was also a model of consistency, never posting a single-season ERA above 3.73 before turning 40. His best season came in 1972 as a 27-year-old, which earned him his first of four Cy Young Awards. That year, Carlton recorded 27 of Philadelphia's 59 wins and posted a 1.97 ERA over 346 1/3 innings.
Honorable Mention: Chipper Jones, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Gary Sheffield
"The Georgia Peach" won 12 batting titles between 1907 and 1919, including a string of nine consecutive titles and two years with an average over .400. Putting century-old numbers into modern context is always difficult, but few major-league hitters have ever dominated their era the way Cobb did. He was also a menace on the bases, as his 897 career steals rank him fourth in league history.
Honorable Mention: Jackie Robinson, Frank Thomas, Johnny Mize
Hough, the Hawaiian knuckleballer, pitched 25 seasons and didn't retire until he was 46 years old. Before all was said and done, he started the first game in Florida Marlins history in 1993. After some success as a reliever early in his career and later as a swingman, Hough made the full-time transition to starting in 1982 as a 34-year-old and threw 225-plus innings in seven straight seasons. His lone All-Star appearance came at age 38 with Texas.
Honorable Mention: Shane Victorino, Kurt Suzuki, Ron Darling
Idaho has produced just 30 MLB players, the fourth-lowest total of any state, but they got it right with Killebrew. The 22-year-veteran debuted a few days before his 18th birthday and went on to post eight seasons of 40-plus home runs. His 573 career homers put him 12th in league history. That power peaked in 1969 with the Twins when Killebrew hit 49 homers, drove in 140 runs, and was named the American League MVP.
Honorable Mention: Larry Jackson, Jason Schmidt, Vern Law
He's the greatest base-stealer ever, and it's not close. Henderson is the all-time leader with 1,406 stolen bases, and he put up three seasons of 100-plus steals early in his career. He never seemed to lose it, either, swiping 66 bags in 1998 at age 39. He set all of this up with a career .401 on-base percentage, but Henderson wasn't your classic slap-and-sprint speedster; he had four seasons of 20-plus home runs. He'll always be the gold standard for leadoff hitters.
Honorable Mention: Kirby Puckett, Jim Thome, Robin Yount, Robin Roberts
The forever-underrated Rolen beats out Tommy John and a handful of Hall of Famers from Indiana. Rolen was a consistent power bat for 17 seasons, and also one of the league's best defenders at third base. A seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner, Rolen deserves an even greater legacy than he already owns as one of his era's better all-around players.
Honorable Mention: Tommy John, Chuck Klein, Kenny Lofton
Feller just edges fellow Hall of Fame pitcher Red Faber in Iowa, and his career numbers could have been even better if he hadn't missed the 1942-44 seasons for military service. Those would have been Feller's age 23-25 campaigns, and his prime years came on either side. Feller debuted at just 17 years old in 1936 and was at his best in 1946 when he won 26 games and pitched 371 1/3 innings.
Honorable Mention: Red Faber, Dazzy Vance
Over 90 years since Walter Johnson threw his last pitch, he still stands as one of the best that baseball has ever seen. Only two pitchers have thrown more innings, only one pitcher (Cy Young) has won more games, and nobody has ever recorded as many shutouts as Johnson's 110. Beginning in his age-22 season, he threw nine consecutive campaigns of 300-plus innings with a 1.60 ERA.
Honorable Mention: Johnny Damon, Tony Clark, Joe Tinker
Like many other players on the list, Reese lost three years of his prime to military service in the 1940s, but still went on to a Hall of Fame career. Reese is often remembered as one of Jackie Robinson's great allies and supporters on the field, and he was also the heart of many great Brooklyn Dodgers teams. A 10-time All-Star, he won the 1955 World Series at age 36.
Honorable Mention: Jim Bunning, Gus Weyhing, Carl Mays, Jay Buhner
Ott was a great all-around hitter, and perhaps his most incredible stat is his strikeout-to-walk ratio. Ott walked 1,708 times and struck out in just 896 at-bats, and he never had a full season with more punchouts than free passes. His smaller frame also produced plenty of power when he swung the bat, as Ott sits with the 25th-most home runs in MLB history. The 12-time All-Star had eight seasons of 30-plus home runs.
Honorable Mention: Lee Smith, Vida Blue, Bill Dickey, Ted Lyons
Bill Buckner took the brunt of the blame for the infamous 1986 Red Sox loss in Game 6 of the World Series, but it was a wild pitch from Stanley that brought home the tying run just moments earlier. That shouldn't be Stanley’s legacy, though, as he was a valuable reliever for the Red Sox over 13 years, often pitching starter's innings. After moving to a relief role, Stanley threw 168 1/3 innings out of the bullpen in 1982 and was Boston's all-time saves leader before Jonathan Papelbon came around. He finished his career as a two-time All-Star and is now a Triple-A pitching coach in the Blue Jays organization.
Honorable Mention: Freddy Parent, Bill Swift, Harry Lord
All hail The Babe. The greatest ballplayer of all time wasn't just the most feared hitter of his era, he was also an elite pitcher for a few years. Ruth's offensive peak, spanning 13 seasons from 1919-31, might never be repeated. He hit .355 over that stretch with a 1.217 OPS and averaged 45 home runs per season. Ruth also won seven World Series rings, a batting title, and an ERA title. There will be a thousand more great baseball players, but on and off the field, there will never be another Babe.
Honorable Mention: Cal Ripken, Al Kaline, Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx
In August 1990, the Red Sox acquired 37-year-old reliever Larry Anderson from the Astros in exchange for a Double-A player named Jeff Bagwell. Oops. Bagwell went on to be an Astros legend and finally cracked the Hall of Fame in 2017, his seventh year on the ballot. Bagwell was one of baseball's most consistent power threats in the 1990s and early 2000s, as he collected both an NL Rookie of the Year Award and an NL MVP while being named to four All-Star teams.
Honorable Mention: Tom Glavine, Mickey Cochrane, Tim Keefe, John Clarkson
Smoltz did it all in his career and remains the only pitcher in league history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves. He, along with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, made Atlanta's rotation one of the best of its era, while Smoltz qualified for 14 consecutive postseasons with the Braves and owned a career playoff ERA of 2.67. Elbow issues forced him to the bullpen for a time in his 30s, but Smoltz bounced back to the rotation and closed out his career strong as an eight-time All-Star and a one-time Cy Young Award winner.
Honorable Mention: Charlie Gehringer, Bobby Erich, Hal Newhouse, Bill Freeman
It's a toss-up between Molitor and Dave Winfield, but the current Twins manager gets the edge due to his consistent, all-around career and his ability to change the game on the basepaths. When Molitor retired, he was one of just five players with both 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases. He played all over the field when he wasn't at DH and was named MVP of the 1993 World Series with the Blue Jays. In that series, Molitor went 12-for-24 with two home runs and eight RBIs in just six games.
Honorable Mention: Dave Winfield, Jack Morris, Joe Mauer, Roger Maris, Chief Bender
Mississippi has never sent a player to the Hall of Fame, but Ellis Burks put together a fine 18-year career between five organizations. His peak season came in 1996 as a 31-year-old with the Colorado Rockies, when he hit 40 home runs with 128 RBIs and finished third in MVP voting behind Ken Caminiti and Mike Piazza.
Honorable Mention: Chet Lemon, Roy Oswalt, Dave Parker
No player in MLB history has more World Series rings than Berra's 10, which he won with the Yankees in their dynasty years from 1947-62. Berra was an All-Star in nearly every season he played, took home MVP honors three times, and cemented himself as one of the two or three players who come to mind when you hear the word "catcher." He's also responsible for "Yogi-isms," which likely make up half the popular baseball quotes and cliches you've heard. His real name was Lawrence Peter Berra, but that just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Honorable Mention: Carl Hubbell, David Cone, Max Scherzer, Mark Buehrle
McNally had a great pitching career, but his highlight moment came with the bat, as he was the first pitcher to ever hit a grand slam in a World Series game. That series between the Reds and Orioles certainly didn't lack star power - with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Brooks Robinson on the field - but McNally's slam in Game 3 gave the Orioles a 3-0 series lead en route to the championship.
Honorable Mention: John Lowenstein
Alexander threw 90 complete-game shutouts over his 20-year career, which is the second most in league history. He became a legend as a workhorse with pinpoint control and put together one of the best three-season runs in history with the Phillies from 1915-17. Across those three years, Alexander won 94 games with a 1.54 ERA and at least 375 innings pitched in each.
Honorable Mention: Wade Boggs, Bob Gibson, Sam Crawford
There's a little bit of projection involved with naming a 25-year-old his state's greatest-ever player - and Kris Bryant is right there, too - but Harper has made good on the LeBron-like hype he received coming out of Las Vegas as a teenager. When Harper is on - like he was in 2015 and '17 - he's one of baseball's best players and pushes a 1.000+ OPS. The 2018 season hasn't been his best, but Harper is still lined up to receive one of the richest contracts in the history of professional sports.
Honorable Mention: Kris Bryant, Barry Zito
Carpenter didn't have his first standout season until age 29 and lost nearly two entire years to injury in his mid-30s, but was still among the greatest pitchers of the past two decades. The big right-hander came up with the Blue Jays in 1997 and posted a 4.83 ERA over six seasons there. He caught on with the Cardinals after that - a move that didn't look like much at the time - and pitched to a surprising 3.07 ERA over parts of nine seasons with a Cy Young Award in 2005.
Honorable Mention: Lefty Tyler, Mike Flanagan
This is a list of each state's greatest player, not the player whose team had the most success, so Trout gets the nod over a famous Yankees shortstop. The 26-year-old is as close to a player without flaws as we've seen in this generation, and when a small weakness does crop up, he tends to smooth it over immediately. As one of baseball's best hitters with great baserunning and defensive value, Trout is on track to contend for one of the best seasons in MLB history this year. You could bet your house - and everything in it - on Trout ultimately landing in Cooperstown.
Honorable Mention: Derek Jeter, Goose Goslin, Joe Medwick, Al Leiter
New Mexico has only sent 30 players to the bigs, but it has a Hall of Famer in Kiner. The slugging outfielder was the face of power hitting in the late 1940s and early '50s, twice topping 50 home runs. His career ended in 1955 at just 32, but few hitters were better than the Pirates star at his peak.
Honorable Mention: Vern Stephens, Duane Ward
New York has produced plenty of all-time greats - from Old Hoss Radbourn in the late 1800s to Alex Rodriguez in more recent years - but Gehrig gets the edge. In 1925, he took over first base from Wally Pipp, who had a headache, and never gave the job back, playing in 2,130 straight games - a record that stood for 56 years. Even today, when a player is replaced in the lineup, especially when it's due to injury, they've been "Wally Pipped." Upon beginning his streak, Gehrig was the Yankees. He scored 100-plus runs and recorded 100-plus RBI for 13 straight seasons, and won six World Series rings along the way. There are plenty of arguments to be made for other New Yorkers, but it's hard to find one against Gehrig.
Honorable Mention: Alex Rodriguez, Old Hoss Radbourn, Carl Yastrzemski, Warren Spahn, Jim Palmer
Perry was the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in both the AL and NL, a feat he accomplished with Cleveland and San Diego. Only five pitchers in MLB history have thrown more innings than Perry's 5,350, but he made just two playoff starts across his 22-year career split between eight different organizations.
Honorable Mention: Catfish Hunter, Hoyt Wilhelm, Ryan Zimmerman, Enos Slaughter
Travis Hafner had North Dakota's best bat, but Erstad's defensive value earns him the nod here. Over 14 seasons, Erstad had some peak offensive seasons sprinkled around some average ones, but unexpectedly put up a .951 OPS with 100 RBI in 2000 to go along with his Gold Glove Award. He retired as a two-time All-Star with a World Series ring from 2002.
Honorable Mention: Travis Hafner, Rick Helling
Is it fair to give Clemens the nod for Ohio when he spent his career winning an award named after Cy Young, who's also from Ohio? Regardless, at his peak(s), Clemens was the best in the modern game. Those peaks were spread out across his career, too - in 1990, 1997, and 2005. Overall, Clemens took home seven Cy Young Awards, won the World Series twice, and recorded one of the rarest feats in pitching: a 20-strikeout game. He surely couldn't pitch Cy Young's 400-inning seasons, but in Cy's day, it might have taken seven starts to strike out 20.
Honorable Mention: Cy Young, Phil Niekro, Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose
With a name made for baseball, Mantle was limited by injuries in his career but is still mentioned among the all-time greats. He sits 19th all time in home runs and was the final player David Ortiz passed on that list before retiring. With seven World Series rings and three MVP awards, Mantle stands out as a giant even within baseball's most legendary franchise.
Honorable Mention: Willie Stargell, Johnny Bench, Joe Carter, Paul Waner
Murphy's name should be more familiar than it is in modern baseball conversations. The outfielder won back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and '83, and for a time, was one of the premier players in the league. Over a four-year run in the early '80s, Murphy posted a .916 OPS while averaging 34 home runs and playing a strong center field. Perhaps a factor working against him is that those Atlanta teams didn't have much success, as Murphy played in just three career playoff games.
Honorable Mention: Dave Kingman, Ken Williams, Richie Sexson
Pennsylvania has sent more than 1,400 players to the majors, including one of the top pitchers to ever stand on a mound. Over the best 13 seasons of his 17-year career (1901-13, Mathewson pitched more than 275 innings each year and allowed his ERA to jump above 2.41 just once. And over 100 years later, he's still one of the bars by which pitching is measured.
Honorable Mention: Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza, Eddie Plank
How popular was Lajoie in the early 1900s? When he was transferred to the Cleveland Bronchos for the 1902 season, they literally named the team after him, as Lajoie was suddenly a player-manager for the Cleveland Naps. A slick fielder with the 14th-most hits in MLB history, the second baseman was one of baseball's earliest national stars.
Honorable Mention: Gabby Hartnett, Paul Konerko
Doby was the second African-American to play in Major League Baseball after Jackie Robinson, and the second African-American to manage in the majors after Frank Robinson. Doby was a Negro League star before signing with Cleveland, and even ended his pro career by playing a season with the Chunichi Dragons in Japan in 1962. In the majors, he was an on-base machine who topped 20 home runs in eight consecutive seasons and earned seven trips to the All-Star Game.
Honorable Mention: Jim Rice, Willie Randolph, Shoeless Joe Jackson
Ellis isn't the marquee name on this list by any means, but the 12-year MLB veteran stretched out a respectable career split between four different organizations. He wasn't often feared as a hitter, but was a steady glove at second base and retired with an impressive .991 fielding percentage at the position.
Honorable Mention: Dave Collins, Jason Kubel, Terry Francona
Helton was a monster in the early 2000s and posted a 1.093 OPS from 2000-04. Over that span, he took home four consecutive Silver Slugger Awards and even picked up a few Gold Glove Awards at first base. Even though Helton was one of the premier power hitters of his era, his .414 career on-base percentage stands out as his greatest accomplishment. That ranks him 26th all time among hitters with at least 3,000 plate appearances.
Honorable Mention: Vada Pinson, Steve Finley, David Price
Arguably the best second baseman to ever play the game, Hornsby's career featured a perfect blend of consistent success and an elite peak. Over the five seasons from 1921-25, he posted a 1.164 OPS and won his first of two MVPs. He also hit over .400 three different times, including an incredible .424 average in 1924. Hornsby only went to the playoffs twice but was part of the first Cardinals' World Series team in 1926.
Honorable Mention: Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Tris Spreaker, Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan, Eddie Mathews
Hurst isn't a name you hear often, but he was a solid starter for the Red Sox and Padres through the '80s and '90s. If Boston hadn't let the 1986 World Series slip away, he might just have been the MVP. Hurst made three starts in that series with a 1.96 ERA and came back on short rest in Game 7. The left-hander only earned one All-Star nod but should have gotten more recognition.
Honorable Mention: Duke Sims, Ed Heusser
Fisk will always be remembered for his famous home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, but he had a great overall career. Across 24 seasons, the catcher was an 11-time All-Star, won three Silver Slugger Awards, and even took home a Gold Glove Award in 1972, when he also won AL Rookie of the Year.
Honorable Mention: Birdie Tebbetts, Ray Fisher
Verlander doesn't quite have the mystique of Hall of Fame lefty Eppa Rixey, but with no signs of slowing down, he's well on his way to joining him in Cooperstown. Verlander finally got his ring in 2017 with the Astros and seems to have been reborn there. Not that the big right-hander was on the downturn, but there's now legitimate reason to believe the 35-year-old will remain one of the game's elite starters in his late 30s.
Honorable Mention: Eppa Rixey, Deacon Phillippe, David Wright
Sandberg was a brilliant all-around player for the Cubs in the '80s and early '90s. He could hit, he could steal a base at will, and he went 30-plus games without an error 15 different times. Second base is quickly becoming an offensive position in MLB, but Sandberg was ahead of his time in that regard. He peaked with 40 home runs in 1990 - one of seven seasons in which he took home the Silver Slugger Award.
Honorable Mention: Ron Santo, John Olerud, Earl Averill, Jon Lester
Brett was one of his generation's best pure hitters and even made a run at .400 throughout the summer of 1980 before finishing at .390 with a 1.118 OPS. While he was never a pure power bat, he was a line-drive machine and typically sent 20 of those over the wall each season. Brett was an annual staple in the All-Star Game, a playoff performer, and a World Series champion in 1985.
Honorable Mention: Bill Mazeroski, Jesse Burkett, Wilbur Cooper
Wisconsin has produced its share of baseball talent, but outside of Mark Grudzielanek, most of the state's biggest names played a century ago. Nichols threw his first pitch in the majors 128 years ago with the Boston Beaneaters, but stats are stats. Nichols broke into the league with five consecutive seasons of 400-plus innings and won 30-plus games an incredible seven times. Unless baseball moves to a 300-game season, that isn't happening again.
Honorable Mention: Burleigh Grimes, Addie Joss, Al Simmons
Ellsworth might have been a notable name if he'd pitched deeper into his 30s, but his last appearance came in 1971 as a 31-year-old. He was a reliable starter for the Cubs in his 20s and had a great year in 1963, going 22-10 with a 2.11 ERA over 290 2/3 innings. However, despite pitching parts of 13 seasons, Ellsworth never saw the playoffs.
Honorable Mention: Mike Lansing, Mike Devereaux
Keegan Matheson is the editor-in-chief of Baseball Toronto, which he founded in early 2018 after previously covering the Blue Jays for MLB.com. He appears regularly across sports radio and television networks in Canada as a Blue Jays and MLB analyst. Now living in Toronto, Keegan is originally from Nova Scotia; find him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)