What do Yasiel Puig, Hyun-jin Ryu, Yasmani Grandal, and Yimi Garcia have in common? Okay, they are all Los Angeles Dodgers, and they’re all from outside the United States. Let’s throw in Joc Pederson, Paco Rodriguez, and Kenley Jansen. And then I’ll tell you that J.P. Howell almost made the list. Give up?
Those six (almost seven — thanks a lot, J.P. Arencibia!) current Dodgers are the only players in baseball history to have their respective first names.
Now that your appetite for name-related useless information has been whetted, here are some more interesting tidbits:
- The Dodgers do not actually have the most “only X in MLB history” players (hereafter referred to as “OXPs”) on the active roster. With Ryu out for the season, the Dodgers only have the other five. There are two teams with six, although both carry a bit of a disclaimer:
- The New York Yankees had six, but one of them was sent to the minor leagues while this article was being written. They sent Esmil Rogers, the only Esmil, to the minors and replaced him on the roster with Taylor Dugas, the 12th Taylor in MLB history. The Yankees still have CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, and Didi Gregorius on the OXP list.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates also have six, but one of them is Gregory Polanco, who is not the first MLB player named Gregory, but he is the first one to actually go by that name. There have been 68 Gregs, three Greggs, one Gregor, and one Gregorio. The other Pirate OXPs are Gerrit Cole, Arquimedes Caminero, Jordy Mercer, Gorkys Hernandez, and Starling Marte.
- Believe it or not, Noah Syndergaard is only the second Noah in MLB history, after former San Francisco Giants pitcher Noah Lowry.
- The most common first name in baseball history is Bill, with 549 representatives. John comes in second at 480, with another 130 Johnnys, 23 Jons, and 13 Jonathans.
- Currently in the Majors, there are three OXPs with very similar first names: Gio Gonzalez (real name Giovany), Geovany Soto, and Yovani Gallardo.
- You also have Yasmani Grandal and Yasmany Tomas. The are part of a pretty impressive list of Y names for active OXPs that also includes Yasiel Puig, Yimi Garcia, Yangervis Solarte, Yan Gomes, Yoenis Cespedes, Yoervis Medina, Yadier Molina, Yonder Alonso, Yordano Ventura, Yu Darvish, Yunel Escobar, and Yusmeiro Petit. Many of those Y’s are from Cuba; Keith Olbermann recently explained why that is.
- Speaking of Y names: there have been 42 players with first names beginning with Y in MLB history; the 42 players have 39 different names. Only three names were repeated: Yorman Rodriguez and Yorman Bazardo; Yohan Pino and Yohan Flande; and Yank Terry and Yank Robinson. (Of course, neither Yank was actually named Yank; Robinson’s name was William, and Terry’s was — I kid you not — Lancelot.)
- The letter U has a similar dynamic as Y, albeit less prolifically. Of the nine U players in baseball history, only Ubaldo Jimenez and Ubaldo Heredia share a first name, although Urban Shocker, Urbane Pickering, and Urbano Lugo come close.
- The all-time leader in wins by a player named Chaz is Baltimore Orioles reliever Chaz Roe, who is 3-0 in his 40-game career that has spanned three seasons and three teams. (Roe actually inspired this article when my colleague and podcast partner Josh Sadlock asked me to track down the Chaz wins leaderboard a few weeks ago.)
- There are a lot of great OXP names, but there are also quite a few names you might be surprised to learn aren’t OXPs:
- Zoilo Versalles and Zoilo Almonte
- Snipe Hansen and Snipe Conley
- Ryne Sandberg and Ryne Duren
- Razor Shines and Razor Ledbetter
- Rasty Wright (1890) and Rasty Wright (1917-23). There are also reports that Clarence Eugene Wright, in addition to “Big Gene,” may have gone by the nickname Rasty.
- Lum Harris and Lum Davenport
- Klondike Smith and Klondike Douglass
- Hipolito Pena and Hipolito Pichardo
- Chicken Wolf and Chicken Hawks
- Bump Wills and Bump Hadley (although Bumpus Jones does stand alone)
- Peaches O’Neill, Peaches Graham, and Peaches Davis
- Of the 18,589 players who played in the big leagues through 2014, there are only 2,267 different names. There are 37 names that have had over 100 players each. (Jose is the only foreign name among those 37, with 109.)
- There are quite a few interesting names that have had exactly eight players, including Bubba, Bucky, Buzz, Herm, Hi, Jumbo, Moose, and Pinky.
- There have been 150 Jeffs in baseball history, plus two Jeffreys and one Big Jeff. Interestingly, Big Jeff Pfeffer was neither Big nor Jeff: his given name was Francis Xavier Pfeffer, and he was 6’1″ and 185 pounds. His brother also pitched in the big leagues, and his name was also Jeff Pfeffer (without the Big, although he was 6’3″, 210). This Jeff’s given name was Edward Joseph or Edward James, depending on who you ask. Both Jeff Pfeffers were so nicknamed because they bore a resemblance to heaveyweight boxer Jim Jeffries.
Perhaps this will be the first in a longer series of articles about names, because there are countless nuggets available in the annals of baseball history. I’d love to hear your favorite name-related baseball gems in the comments below!