The saying goes that a son is a “chip off the old block” if he’s shares similarities to his father via personality or profession. It’s not uncommon for sons to follow the same career path as their father, even if these fathers enter the world of professional sports. Many father-son duos like the Mannings, The Earnhardts or The Currys, have followed the same professional paths to great success, and baseball is no different. Many of baseballs fathers have been fortunate enough to be a part of the same team with their son, whether it’s a coach-player combination, like the Ripkens, or as teammates, playing together on the same team at the same time, i.e. the Griffeys. While one would think the baseball pedigree would give the son an advantage over other players in the league, success isn't hereditary.
Whether the numbers just aren’t there, because of injuries or due to lack of opportunities, some sons of even the greatest of baseball players simply do not inherit their father’s baseball talents. Even though merely reaching the major leagues is an incredible feat on its own, the careers of some second generation baseball players cannot stand on their own. Even those that do have good or great careers can still be overshadowed by their father’s one of a kind, hall of fame careers. However, not all fathers can be superstars. There are instances where the son surpasses their father in almost every way in baseball.
Players like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are rising stars in the major leagues, and time will tell if they outshine their fathers. However, some second generation ballplayers already have. For the same reasons some sons cannot match their fathers, some dads had their careers largely outdone by their sons. Some of these players were either just terrific hall of fame ballplayers or had fathers that just couldn’t stay in the highly competitive major leagues. In this article, we profile these father-son duos and pick out 10 fathers who were better than their sons, and 10 sons that surpassed their fathers.
20 Dad: Tony Gwynn > Tony Gwynn Jr.
Considered arguably the best pure hitter of his generation, Tony Gwynn’s accomplishments speak for themselves. A 15-time All-Star, Gwynn slammed 3,141 hits and ballooned a career batting average to.338, which is the fourth highest of any player with over 3,000 hits. A player with half of Tony Gwynn’s numbers would be considered a great player. Unfortunately, Tony Gwynn’s son couldn't even come close to doing that.
Tony Gwynn Jr. followed his dad’s footsteps and was good enough to play in the major leagues. However, Jr’s numbers fell short of "Mr Padre's" to say the least. In exactly 1,600 at bats, Gwynn Jr. played for the Brewers, Padres, Dodgers and the Phillies but only accumulated a WAR of 5.2 (compared to his dad’s inhuman 69.2), a BA of .238, seven home runs and an OPS of .619 on his career.
19 Son: Ken Griffey Jr > Ken Griffey Sr.
Ken Griffey Jr. started his major league career with 11 seasons for the Seattle Mariners and will go down as one of the greatest ballplayers to ever play the game. His 630 career home run total is seventh-most in MLB history to go along with his 2,781 hits and .284 batting average. While everyone remembers his hitting, Griffey got it done in the outfield as well with 10 Gold Glove Awards playing in center.
Ken Griffey Sr. was no slough either with a career .296 average and a two-time World Series Champion. Griffey Sr. may have played for the “Big Red Machine,” but his numbers still don’t quite compare to those of “Junior.” “The Kid” had an unearthly WAR of 83.8 with an OPS of .907 in his career compared to dad’s solid but much lower 34.5 WAR, 152 HRs and OPS of only 790 for Sr.’s entire career.
18 Dad: José Cruz > José Cruz Jr.
José Cruz was one of the most famous baseball players from Puerto Rico during his 19-year career between 1970 thru 1988. While playing five years for the St. Louis Cardinals, 13 for the Houston Astros, who retired his number, and finally ending his career with the Yankees, Cruz garnered a batting average of .284 with 2,251 hits, 165 home runs and 1,077 RBIs. He swiped over 300 bases and built up a nice 54.4 WAR. His son, José Cruz Jr., had himself a nice career also, but didn’t quite measure up to Senior.
Cruz Jr. maintained a respectable average of .247 in his twelve-year career with 204 home runs and a slightly higher OPS at .783 compared to dad’s career .774. However, Cruz Jr. never led the league in hits like his dad did in 1983, nor was he a two-time All-Star or a Silver Slugger Award winner.
17 Son: Barry Bonds > Bobby Bonds
Barry Bonds was on his way to the Hall of Fame regardless of what he may have done to help his performance. The monster home runs, of which he is the king at hitting, are only a small part of his career. With 2,935 hits, 1,996 RBIs and career .298 batting average, Barry dwarfs his dad’s career stats in those categories.
Bobby Bonds was a top player in his own right. In fact, the elder Bonds became the first to have more than two seasons of 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases, and did it a record five times which was tied only by his son. However, even with Bobby’s 332 homers, .268 BA, 1,024 RBIs and 461 stolen bases, those great numbers simply don’t match his son’s.
16 Dad: Tom Gordon > Dee Gordon
When your father’s a three-time All-Star, an AL Saves Leader and a 2008 World Series Champion, chances are you’ll have some big shoes to fill. Even if you’re Dee Gorgon, who has been and still is a good player as well, Tom's value to his team has, so far, obscured the career of Dee by comparison.
Dee Gordon has a career BA of .268 with minimal power, but Dee lived up to his father’s nickname by stealing over 300 bags in his 8-year career thus far. However, Dee only has a WAR of 11.4 while “Flash” has a WAR at nearly 35. Dee could certainly catch up to his dad, but Tom has been consistently good during his entire 21-year career while Dee has not.
15 Son: Cal Ripken Jr. > Cal Ripken Sr.
Hall of famer Cal Ripken Jr. broke the record for most consecutive games played, but he was an offensively successful player as well. Over 3,000 hits, 431 home runs and 1,695 RBIs on his career, the 19-time All-Star greatly surpassed his dad in baseball skills as well as many other major league players.
Cal Ripken Sr. couldn’t get his baseball career off the ground as a player, spending his entire playing time in the minor leagues. However, Ripken Sr. would be a coach and a manager with a 68-101 record for the Orioles while his two-time AL MVP son would have his Hall of Fame career. Needless to say, Cal Jr. surpassed his dad’s baseball career and then some.
14 Dad: Tim Raines > Tim Raines Jr.
A three-time World Series Champion, a seven-time All-Star, a Silver Slugger, an NL Batting Champion and a four-time NL Stolen Base Leader, Tim Raines Sr. is regarded as one of the best lead-off hitters to ever play the game. Raines was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 2017 and left huge cleats to fill for his son, Tim Raines Jr.
Like Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr., Tim Raines Sr. and Jr. became the second father-son duo to play in the same game, but Tim Raines Jr.’s career highlights end there. In only 160 at bats, Raines Jr. mustered only a .213 batting average with seven RBIs, 34 hits and 10 stolen bases. On the other hand, Tim Raines Sr.’s 23 season career amassed a batting average near .300, 170 home runs, 980 RBIs and 808 stolen bases, which is more than enough to eclipse his son’s numbers..
13 Son: Prince Fielder > Cecil Fielder
Comparing the Fielder father-son duo is a close call, especially considering they are the only father-son duo to have 50 home runs in a single season. Both Cecil and Prince were tremendous sluggers with Cecil edging out his son with a World Series Championship, two AL Home Run Leader Awards to Prince’s one and a three AL RBI leader Awards to Prince’s one RBI Leader Award in the NL.
Despite Cecil’s great baseball career, Prince still tops his father in many other categories. Prince was a six-time All-Star to Cecil’s three, a three-time Silver Slugger to Cecil’s two, batted a career average of .283 to Cecil’s .255, has a higher WAR of 23.6 to his dad’s 17.2 and has a higher OPS at .887 to Cecil’s .827. Had his second neck surgery not ended his career, Prince’s numbers would likely be even farther apart.
12 Dad: Delino Deshields > Delino DeShields Jr.
Delino DeShields established himself as a top lead-off man during his thirteen season career. DeShields raised a career on base-percentage of .352, 463 stolen bases and a WAR of 24.4. Aside from a sensational rookie year, DeShields never had league leading numbers or accomplishments, but he remained a steady player with numbers still far superior to his son’s.
Delino DeShields Jr. has only played in the majors for four years, but his numbers fall very short of his father’s. Delino Jr. has never had a 30 stolen base year and his career OBP is a mere .327. Delino’s 2018 season didn’t help either. Unless he can rebound, Delino Jr.’s numbers still bow out to dad's.
11 Son: Robinson Canó > José Canó
The eight-time MLB All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger and two-time Gold Glove winning Robinson Canó has put together a nice 14-year career thus far. To go along with his 69.2 WAR and World Series Championship with the Yankees, Canó has a career batting average of .304, with 311 home runs, 848 OPS and multiple AL MVP considerations.
With those stats, Robbie Canó easy outshines his dad, José Canó , who barely got his MLB career off the ground. José appeared in only six games in the majors and amassed a 5.09 ERA. José's only win incidentally happened to be a complete game and occurred during what would be his final game in the majors.
10 Dad: Hal McRae > Brian McRae
Widely regarded by his teammates as one of the hardest players ever in baseball, Hal McRae was notorious for turning singles into doubles, swiping bags and breaking up double plays with his rough slides. McRae’s hard-nose style of play carried over to his coaching and managerial roles after retirement, but unfortunately, the apple fell far from the tree with regards to his son, Brian.
Brian McRae was one of the more reliable leadoff hitters in his day and played hard for ten seasons of professional baseball with a respectable career batting average of .261. Still, his dad’s three All-Star seasons, two-time leader in doubles, and a .290 career batting average accomplishments left a mighty big career that Brian could not quite live up to.
9 Son: Michael Brantley > Mickey Brantley
One of the best hitters on a strong Cleveland Indians lineup, Michael Brantley continues to put up solid numbers. Brantley is a Silver Slugger winner, a three-time All-Star with a career .295 batting average and is coming off of one of his better seasons. Brantley, at 31, has plenty more baseball left to play in his career, but he has already exceeded expectations set by his father, Mickey.
Mickey Brantley played only four years at the major league level and struggled to stay there, bouncing between the majors and minors. Mickey had a great rookie season but slipped a little in his only full season with the Seattle Mariners. Mickey finished his career with a .259 BA and 32 home runs, but his son has exceeded those numbers long ago.
8 Dad: Bob Boone > Aaron Boone
While sons often follow their dad’s footsteps even in the MLB, the Boone family spans three generations. The current manager of the Yankees, Aaron Boone, followed his father into the majors with a decent career .263 average. Aaron only hit 126 career home runs, but fewer home runs were bigger than the one that sent New York over Boston in the 2003 ALCS.
Despite Aaron’s huge home run and decent batting numbers, Aaron’s dad, Bob, still had the better overall career. Bob was considered one of the top defensive players during his career, becoming a four-time All-Star, winning seven Gold Glove Awards and a World Series.
7 Son: Moisés Alou > Felipe Alou
One of his most infamous moments came from the Steve Bartman incident in Chicago, but Moisés Alou was a very good player throughout much of his career. A six-time All-Star, an MVP candidate in 1998, and a two-time Silver Slugger, Moisés completely lived up to his family name and more, with a career batting average over .300, a career OPS of .885 and 332 career home runs.
Despite filling his dad’s shoes, Moisés Alou’s father, Felipe, certainly built a mountain for him to climb. Felipe was no easy out, hitting .286 for his career, belting 206 homers, and appearing in three All-Star games. Felipe led the league in hits, runs and total bases in 1966, but going by the stats, Moisés still wins out virtually across the board offensively.
6 Dad: Dave Duncan > Chris Duncan
Known more for his success at a pitching coach than a player, Dave Duncan was fortunate enough to have two sons follow him into the big leagues. Out of his two sons, Chris Duncan seemed to show the most promise. After having a great rookie season in 2006 with the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, Chris finished his career with an OPS over .800 and a career BA of .257.
Where Chris Duncan falls short of his father, however, would be longevity. Dave Duncan was never a great hitter, but Dave remained in the big leagues, catching for eleven years, while Chris struggled to have a full season in his five-year career. Chris’ injuries that shortened his career and terrible defense in the outfield push Dave Duncan’s playing career ahead of Chris’.
5 Son: Neil Walker > Tom Walker
Neil Walker was never an All-Star, but he’s been a decent utility player for four different major league teams throughout his ten-year career. Walker is coming off of one of his worst seasons, but he’s still got plenty of pop and career that has bested that of his father, Tom Walker.
Like Tom and Dee Gordon, comparing Tom and Neil Walker’s careers is like comparing apples to oranges. Tom Walker, in 191 games, recorded an ERA of 3.87 with an 18-23 record. However, Tom only established a WAR of 0.4 compared to Neil’s career 20.5. Despite Neil’s terrible 2018, he has doubled his father’s MLB tenure and will continue to put up solid numbers as long as teams need utility players.
4 Dad: Andy Van Slyke > Scott Van Slyke
A big part of the St. Louis Cardinals’ “Whiteyball” Era, Andy Van Slyke stole 104 bases during his four years with the Red Birds, but became an even better hitter with Pittsburgh, becoming a three-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger and a five-time Gold Glove winner. Andy’s son, Scott, was ready to carry on his dad’s baseball legacy, but slipped away right after it took off.
Scott Van Slyke performed a stellar 2014, batting .297 with a staggering .910 OPS. Unfortunately, his career went downhill from there with injuries hampering his major league career before crushing it completely. Scott is now a free agent after being released by the South Korean Doosan Bears, and despite showing promise, missed becoming the player his dad was entirely.
3 Son: Roberto Alomar > Sandy Alomar Sr.
Sandy Alomar Sr. was a reliable second basemen, but his offensive numbers never materialized. He was a one-time All-Star in 1970 but only batted .245 with 13 home runs throughout his career. His two sons, Sandy Jr. and Roberto pursued baseball as well with Roberto having himself a hall of fame career.
Roberto Alomar eclipsed Sandy’s career by becoming one of the best second basement to ever play the position, winning ten Gold Gloves, which is the most in MLB history at that position. To go along with his Gold Gloves, Roberto was a 12-time All-Star, a four-time Silver Slugger and won two World Series rings with the Blue Jays. With those accolades, a career .300 batting average and 2,724 hits, Roberto easily succeeded his father’s career.
2 Dad: Mel Stottlemyre > Todd Stottlemyre
One of the best Yankees pitchers and a great pitcher in his era, Mel Stottlemyre played his entire 11-year career with the Pinstripes and garnered a 164-139 record with a 2.97 career ERA. Both sons, Mel Jr. and Todd, followed their father to the big leagues, but neither became as great as their five-time All-Star dad.
Todd was never an All-Star and, compared to his dad’s 43.2 WAR, only had a WAR of 23 throughout his 14-year career. Todd had a winning record of 138-121, but his career ERA was higher than his dad’s at 4.28. Clearly, Todd had a successful career, but he still lacks any of the honors his dad currently holds.
1 Son: Jayson Werth > Jeff Gowan
Jayson Werth’s career recently ended but not before putting up some great numbers and winning a World Series with the Phillies. He was a one-time All-Star, mashed 229 home runs, batted a career .267 and collected a 29 WAR.
Werth comes from a baseball family, and his father Jeff Gowan has to be happy for his son, considering Gowan, unfortunately, never made it out of the minors. Gowan played in the outfield for the St. Louis Cardinals farm system and batted a respectable .267 while there. He stole 15 bases in the minors before a rotator cuff injury ended his career. It’s impossible to know how good Jayson’s dad would have been had the injury not happened, but with Jayson’s four seasons of MVP votes, Jeff would’ve had to have been pretty good.