When thinking of great one-two punches in baseball, fans may think about the great pitching combos of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, or Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. When thinking about great hitting duos, one might think of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco or Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton currently. Teams with a strong pair of either hitters or pitchers generally do well, making it either to the post season or World Series. However, not always are these duos as memorable as others. Often times these strong duos are carried by one memorable future Hall of Famer at the time, making the other half of the duo a bit less memorable, even after putting up great numbers as well.
Unlike Glavine and Maddux or Koufax and Drysdale, duos fans could never forget, some pairings aren’t as easy to remember. Whether they were teammates for only a short time, because one of the duos broke records or because one-half of the duo is considered one of the greatest ballplayers of all-time while the other is not, are just a few of the factors as to why other high-caliber teammates aren’t as remembered as others. Certainly, no one is going to think about the solid year Mark Grace had during Sammy Sosa’s home run race or remember Rafael Palmero's season while Cal Ripken was surpassing Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games record. Feats of athletes can overshadow great teammates and that happens in sports more often than one would think. Here in this article, we take a look at 20 duos that fans forgot were once teammates.
20 Alex Rodriguez & Ken Griffey Jr.
Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. were two of baseball’s biggest break-out hitters of the 90s. Griffey was an All-Star in every full season during his time with the Seattle Mariners, acquired 10 Gold Gloves and seven Silver Slugger Awards. However, Griffey’s numbers were amazingly overshadowed by the performance of Alex Rodriguez when he joined the Mariners in 1994.
While with Seattle, A-Rod hit 189 home runs, hit .286 with 595 RBIs, won two Silver Slugger Awards and three All-Star game appearances.
With “The Kid” hitting .296 in his career with The M’s and cranking out 398 home runs, Seattle still couldn’t muster a World Series appearance, despite having A-Rod in the lineup as well.
This team was even anchored by Randy Johnson in the rotation. Unfortunately, that couldn't save the lackluster bullpen.
19 Barry Bonds & Jeff Kent
Barry Bonds was putting up amazing numbers when he signed a lucrative deal, at the time, to bring him to the Giants in 1993. Bonds was the NL MVP in his first year with the Giants, but Bonds couldn’t do it alone. It wasn’t until 1997, when Jeff Kent arrived and helped spark the Giants to the playoffs.
Jeff Kent was immediately placed after Barry Bonds in the lineup to burn teams for walking Bonds, and the move reflected well in the team’s playoff appearances and in Kent’s offensive numbers. As a Giant, Kent beat out Bonds for the NL MVP, despite Bonds having higher offensive numbers, with Kent’s clutch hits edging him over the home run king. With the two MVP leaders with the Giants, San Fran was treated to a World Series appearance in 2002.
18 Prince Fielder & Miguel Cabrera
Prince Fielder was one of the most feared hitters in the NL, and helped take the Brewers to NLCS with the help of Ryan Braun. Meanwhile, Miguel, if he played for a better team, would still be considered one of the best hitters in the league even today. A pitcher’s nightmare would be seeing these two in the same batting order, but that actually happened between 2012 and 2013 with the Tigers.
Prince Fielder had a monster year with Detroit in 2012. Hitting a career best 30 home runs with a .313 batting average, Fielder is also credited for helping “Miggy” win the Triple Crown due to Fielder batting behind him.
17 Albert Pujols & Larry Walker
Known mostly for his time in Colorado, Larry Walker put up impressive numbers with the Rockies. Walker was a NL MVP in 1997, won five of seven Gold Glove Awards, became a two-time Silver Slugger and a three-time batting champion all with the Rockies. Despite Walker's great numbers, playoff appearances eluded him in Colorado.
Hoping to see some playoff action, Walker was traded to the potent St. Louis Cardinals with the future Hall of Famer, Alberto Pujols.
In 2004, Pujols and Walker helped the Cards win the NL pennant, with Walker hitting two key bombs in both the NLDS and NLCS which included Pujols pounding six dingers during the two series.
Walker played superb during the World Series, but unfortunately, Pujols’ numbers weren’t superhuman like normal, and the Cardinals were swept by Boston.
16 Jose Bautista & Vernon Wells
Even after signing with the Toronto Blue Jays, Jose Bautista was still struggling to find his swing. At the end of the 2009 season, he found it with the help of Dwayne Murphy as the new hitting coach. “Joey Bats” found his power swing and went from a mediocre hitter to one of the most valuable players in the league at the time.
While Bautista was still looking for his swing, Vernon Wells, who had been with the Jays since 1999, had already found it, winning a Silver Slugger Award in 2003 and three All-Star selections while with them. Wells showed his pop, hitting over 30 home runs three of his full seasons with Toronto. When Bautista signed with the Jays and began hitting for power, the Jays had a powerful one-two punch in their lineup.
15 Jayson Werth & Ryan Howard
Although Albert Pujols received much of the attention in the National League, Ryan Howard was putting up stellar numbers that rivaled even Pujols', either finishing second in NL MVP voting just behind Pujols or winning it just over Pujols as he did in 2006. This came just after winning Rookie of the Year the previous season.
Despite having the Rookie of the Year and the NL MVP, the Phillies didn’t see playoff baseball success until a healthy Jayson Werth signed with the Phillies and played a full season in 2008. With terrific pitching, Werth bolstered an already vaunted Philly lineup and hit over .400 in their World Series victory. With Werth and Howard, the Phillies followed with another trip to the Fall Classic but fell to the Yankees.
14 Jim Edmonds – Scott Rolen
Either Jim Edmonds or Scott Rolen could have been number three hitters in virtually any team’s lineup, but not for the stacked St. Louis Cardinal offense which included Albert Pujols, and later in 2004, Larry Walker.
The Cardinals caught Rolen and Edmonds at the right time, as neither Rolen nor “Jimmy Baseball” saw much success after St. Louis with their power numbers already beginning to drop towards the end of their Cards tenure.
However, on the same team with Albert Pujols who was hitting third, the MV3’s of Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds, helped propel St. Louis to two NL Pennants, back to back 100 plus win seasons between 04 and 05, and a World Series win in 2006.
13 Mickey Mantle & Roger Maris
Even non-baseball fans know who Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris are for their individual contributions to baseball, but probably not everyone knows that both Mantle and Maris played on the same team from 1960 to 1966. Dubbed the “M&M Boys,” Maris and Mantle found themselves competing for batting titles and having a legitimate shot at breaking Babe Ruth’s coveted single season home run record at the same time on the same team.
In 1961, Maris broke the home run record (at the time) with 61, while Mantle finished the season with 54. The Yankees with the M&M Boys won two World Series Championships and appeared in three others as well.
12 Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig
The 1927 New York Yankees lineup consisted of the greatest baseball player ever, Babe Ruth, and another legend known as Lou Gehrig, who joined the Yankees in 1923 at age 19.
The Yankees would lose the 1926 World Series, despite Gehrig hitting .348 and Ruth hitting .300 with four home runs. However, the next season the Yankees would win 110 games (an AL record at the time), sweep the Pirates in the 1927 World Series and then sweep the Cardinals in the 1928 World Series as well. Ruth and Gehrig would win another World Series in 1932, with Gehrig nearly matching Ruth’s offensive numbers throughout their time together with the Yankees.
11 Lance Berkman & Matt Holliday
Before making his way to St. Louis, Matt Holliday made be the best remembered for his time in Colorado, winning several batting titles, becoming the NLCS MVP in 2007 and taking The Rockies to their first ever World Series. Similarly, Lance Berkman is most notable for his time in Houston, taking them to a World Series but getting swept as well.
However, World Series luck would change for both players.
Holliday eventually landed in St. Louis, rejuvenating their offense in 2009, while Berkman’s free agent signing in 2011 helped the Cardinals win their 11th world title.
Holliday’s massive .435 average in the NLCS and “Puma’s” epic two-strike two-out RBI single in the bottom of the tenth gave both veterans Holliday and Berkman well-deserved World Series rings.
10 Randy Johnson & Curt Schilling
Despite having one of the best pitchers of all-time and two of the biggest rising stars at the time, A-Rod and Griffey, Randy Johnson’s Mariners couldn’t make it to the World Series. Johnson went to the Diamondbacks in 1999, helping them make the playoffs, but "The Big Unit's" stellar pitching wasn't enough.
In 2001, with a full year with the D-Backs, Curt Schilling, who is mostly thought of for his World Championships with Boston, helped solidify Arizona’s starting rotation and helped the team win their first World Series. Schilling went 4-0 in the playoffs while Johnson went 5-1. Both Johnson and Schilling became co-MVPs for the World Series and finished one and two respectively in the Cy Young voting.
9 Pete Rose & Johnny Bench
Pete Rose may have been denied the Baseball Hall of Fame, but Rose is a 17-time All-Star, a three-time World Champion, a World Series MVP in 1975, an NL MVP winner in 1973 and a three-time NL batting champion. He has the most career hits in MLB history at 4,256 and holds the NL record for longest consecutive hitting streak at 44.
Rose’s numbers are Hall of Fame worthy, but what’s scary is that his teammate was Hall of Famer, and one of, if not the best, catchers ever in baseball, Johnny Bench.
With Bench and Rose on the same team, which also included future Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, the "Big Red Machine" would end up winning four NL Pennants, two World Series, and six NL West Divisional Titles and is considered one of the best teams in MLB history.
8 Chipper Jones & Andruw Jones
For many Braves fans, there’s only one Jones that comes to mind, and that’s the eight-time All-Star and 1995 World Series Champion, Chipper Jones. As a result, it’s easy to remember Chipper who played his entire career with Atlanta and forget about Andruw Jones who only started there.
Andruw, along with Chipper, helped take the Braves back to the Fall Classic in 1996, where Andruw became the youngest player to hit a home run in a World Series. The Joneses and the Braves enjoyed regular season success, making the postseason every year until 2006 but never recaptured another World Series. Chipper continued to hit well until the injury bug caught up to him, causing Andruw Jones to step up, which he did, following a breakout 2005 season.
7 Willie Mays & Willie McCovey
Willie Mays is considered one of the best “five-tool” baseball players ever and ranked second in The Sporting News's "List of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players." It’s hard to argue against Mays with his 660 career home runs, 3,000 plus hits and record tying 24 All-Star game selections. His also record-tying 12 Gold Glove Awards were evident especially after making "The Catch" in the 1954 World Series.
Despite Mays’ accolades, Willie McCovey remained one of the most feared hitters in the league and just so happened to play for the Giants at the same time as Mays. Despite having their numbers retired by the Giants, amazingly, San Francisco, despite coming within a McCovey base hit of one in 1962, never secured a World Series championship with the “Say-Hey Kid” or “Big Mac” McCovey together on the same team.
6 Don Mattingly & Dave Winfield
Unlike Hall of Famer, Dave Winfield, Don Mattingly never hit a game winning single in a World Series, nor has he even won a World Series during his career with the Yankees. However, Mattingly did win himself an AL MVP Award in 1985 and an AL Batting Title, neither of which Winfield had ever done. However, Winfield and Mattingly are alike in that both were All-Stars, Gold Glove winners, leaders in RBIs for their respective leagues and Silver Slugger Award winners.
These are nice accolades for both ballplayers, but they share another similarity as well, teammates.
Both played for the Yankees between 1982 and 1988, and had a friendly rivalry for the batting title.
Mattingly would edge out Winfield in the last game of the season and win the batting title with a .343 average to Winfield’s .340.
5 Manny Ramirez & David Ortiz
While Manny was being Manny in Boston, David Ortiz was a part of those winning Red Sox teams as well. Ramirez was one of the most prolific hitters in the AL if not all of baseball and as good as Ortiz was, Manny was simply better. Manny helped end the curse and became the World Series MVP and champion in 2004 with the Red Sox and again in 2007.
Manny’s terrific batting and on the field antics many times overshadowed just how amazing David Ortiz was hitting behind him. However, Ramirez and Ortiz gave the Red Sox one of the best one-two punches in all of baseball. Once Manny left Boston in 2008, Ortiz became the sole focus in Boston, and "Big Papi" finally shined through on his own, winning another Championship for the Red Sox in 2013 and a World Series MVP Award.
4 Ty Cobb & Sam Crawford
Normally, baseball fans think of rivalries between opposing teams, like Yankees – Red Sox and Cardinals – Cubs. However, teammates Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford actually had a bitter rivalry between themselves. Getting noticed on a team with Ty Cobb was extremely difficult because of Cobb's excellent play, but Crawford took Cobb's media attention and his special privileges personally, especially with Crawford being a seasoned veteran who was doing just as well.
The two teammates rarely spoke to each other, despite Crawford batting after Cobb. Even though they never won a World Series, the rivalry pushed both players to outdo one another, causing both them to put up some great numbers. Both Cobb and Crawford entered the baseball Hall of Fame with Cobb, of all people, being the biggest proponent of Crawford’s induction.
3 Adrián Beltré & Nelson Cruz
After a surprising loss in the 2010 World Series, the Texas Rangers signed another huge bat to their already potent lineup. Nelson Cruz signed with Texas in 2011 and batted behind the Texas veteran Adrián Beltré, who had been with the team since 2006.
With Cruz added to the lineup, the Rangers would have a team high 96-win season with Cruz, in particular, helping them into their second straight World Series, winning the ALCS MVP.
Unfortunately, the firepower of the Rangers wasn’t enough and Texas would lose a stunner in game 6 and ultimately lose the Series. Cruz would be gone from the Rangers in 2013 and replaced with Prince Fielder.
2 Charlie Gehringer & Hank Greenburg
It’s impressive having two Hall of Famers, especially two at the same time, but that’s exactly what happened for the Tigers between 1933 and 1941 with Charlie Gehringer and Hank Greenburg. The Tigers were known for having one of the best hitting infields in MLB history, once Greenburg joined career Tiger Gehringer in the lineup. Both “G-Men” would compete for the MVP Title, win back to back pennants and a World Series between 1934 and 1935.
Both Gehringer and Greenburg had a remarkable affinity for RBIs as well. Both would accumulate 266 RBIs in 1934 and 276 the following year.
1 Ted Williams & Jimmie Foxx
MLB Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx built himself a nice career, winning two World Series, earning nineAll-Star selections, becoming a three-time AL MVP, winning the AL Batting Championship twice and was a three-time AL RBI leader. If Foxx didn’t have a teammate by the name of Ted Williams, Jimmie Fox would be far more remembered today.
While Foxx’s numbers are impressive, Williams is considered one of the greatest players of all-time. Williams was a 19-time All-Star, an AL MVP twice, won the Triple Crown twice, was the AL Batting Champion six times and was the AL leader in RBIs and home runs four times. Despite having two amazing hitters in Williams and Foxx, the Red Sox never won a World Series while the two were on the same team, nor did they even make it to the Fall Classic, finishing second four times behind the Yankees as teammates.