Becoming your parents isn’t always a bad thing especially when your dad played in the MLB. Athletic abilities are largely due to talent, but it appears genetics also factors in as we have seen a ton of young men take over the family business and start their professional baseball careers hoping to one day outperform their fathers.
We know of the great second generation stars. Prince Fielder can crush a baseball just as well as his father Cecil Fielder could. Dee Gordon decided to become an infielder with speed, unlike his father Tom Gordon who was a very successful closer. Then there’s Ken Griffey Jr. who shares his father’s name yet managed to exceed what Papa Griffey did.
Then there are the second generation players who haven’t had the same skills as dear old dad. Those unlucky men who never did play at a high ability are cut from a much bigger cloth. In the grand scheme of things, most second generation MLB players have not continued their father’s legacy. Some have been okay while others have been awful.
For this list of the worst second generation MLB players in history, excluded are the guys like John Henry Williams. The son of Ted Williams, John Henry Williams didn’t start his professional career until he was in his early 30s. He also never cracked the big leagues as he cracked his ribs instead after only two games in the Gulf Coast League. Players included on this list have all made the big leagues at some point, even if it was for just a cup of coffee in an attempt to impress their dads. None of them did very well and may have been better off taking up whatever trade their moms had.
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15 Tony Gwynn Jr.
The son of Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn, Tony Gwynn Jr. is still clinging to life in the MLB despite putting up some unimpressive numbers through his first 685 games. Unlike dad, Gwynn Jr. is not a smooth hitter bound for Cooperstown. Gwynn Jr. has a pathetic career slash line of only .238/.309/.310 with plenty of opportunities handed to him with a chance to improve. Only in 2009, when he received 451 plate appearances with the San Diego Padres and somehow managed to slash .270/.350/.344, was there any promise of Gwynn Jr. becoming a regular in the starting lineup. The next season he hit only .204/.304/.287 and the regression was in full effect. He last played in an MLB game in 2014 for the Philadelphia Phillies as a bench player delivering only a .152 batting average in a limited role.
14 Eric Young Jr.
Eric Young Jr. is a lot like his dad, a man of the same name. Both used speed as their most dangerous weapon, however the elder Young could also hit quite well. Young Jr. is only a career .247 hitter whose lackluster abilities at the plate have taken away his opportunity to steal bases. He did somehow manage to lead the league with 46 in 2013 while spending time with the Colorado Rockies and New York Mets. However, a .249 batting average followed up by a .229 average the year after has made him a guy who will regularly bounce between the MLB bench and Triple-A until he retires.
13 Dave Sisler
You may know the name George Sisler if you’ve ever visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and seen his plaque. His son, Dave Sisler, probably had to settle for going into his high school’s Hall of Fame as his MLB career was nothing memorable. Sisler was a pitcher in the late 1950s and early 1960s who worked mostly out of the bullpen. He had a career 4.33 ERA during his 7-year career that ended in 1962 at 30-years-old. Rather than focusing on pitching, maybe Sisler should have turned his attention to becoming a stellar offensive player like his Hall of Fame father.
12 Ike Davis
Ike Davis' story is not yet finished. Even so, we have a pretty good idea of what he will become. Davis’ career with the New York Mets started off well, but took a strange turn in the 2012 season when he hit 32 home runs with only a .227 batting average. He never really recovered from that season, failing to hit above .233 in the years to follow or go above 11 home runs. The son of former big leaguer Ron Davis, Ike Davis’ career has been a big disappointment for Mets’ fans and each team he has played for since.
11 Sean Burroughs
Sean Burroughs can land on plenty of “worst lists” as this former 9th overall draft pick by the San Diego Padres came nowhere near reaching his ceiling. This second generation player debuted as a 21-year-old in 2002 with a solid shortened season. He continued to hit well through 2004 with a decent batting average and not much else. Injuries ultimately cut his career short leaving him in a position where he could not recover or get back to the brief level of success he had early on. His dad, Jeff Burroughs, was also a first round pick decades earlier, actually going first overall in 1969. The elder Burroughs even managed to win an MVP Award which probably was always out of reach of the younger Burroughs whose talents in the MLB appeared limited.
10 Terry Francona
A World Series winning manager, Terry Francona was once a bench player for a full decade in the 1980s. Although his career slash line of .274/.300/.351 is nothing terrible, it came as a part-time player with plenty of pinch hitting duties. Francona’s talents were very miniscule, best reserved for limited action. Meanwhile, his dad, Tito Francona, had a 15-year career with nearly 1,400 career hits and as many home runs in his first two seasons as Terry Francona had in his entire career. At least the younger Francona experienced a World Series victory with the Boston Red Sox, a claim very few men can brag about.
9 Dale Berra
Yogi Berra’s son Dale Berra had a lot to live up to. Not only did he have to excel on the field, many probably hoped he would deliver some awesome quotes to the media too. The younger Berra did manage to stick around the big leagues for parts of 11 seasons with a few years starting as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ultimately, he fell well short of his father. Berra finished his career with a career .236/.294/.344 slash line without any truly notable seasons or statistics to speak of, write about, or even remember.
8 Earl Averill Jr.
Earl Averill Jr. lands on this list because of his poor play and how far his apple fell from the tree of his Hall of Fame father of the same name. Averill Jr. only lasted in the MLB for parts of seven seasons where he hit just .242 overall. His 1961 season where he hit 21 home runs and drove in 59 for the Los Angeles Angels was the prime of his career and a very pleasant surprise. The very next season was the end of the good times, as he hit just .219 in limited action. Averill’s career was practically over at this point without any significant playing time thereafter.
7 Jonathan Pettibone
One second generation MLB player who was as unskilled as his blood line might be Jonathan Pettibone. The relief pitcher is the son of Jay Pettibone, a guy who only spent one year in the big leagues. However, this doesn’t exclude the younger Pettibone from this list. Jonathan Pettibone has not played in the MLB since 2014, when he was a starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. In 20 starts he made for them in 2013 and 2014, he went only 5-5 with a 4.45 ERA. The 2014 season may have ruined his chances at a credible MLB career as he only went nine innings in two starts with nine earned runs total.
6 John Mayberry Jr.
Because his name is John Mayberry Jr., the son of a rather talented player from a few decades ago of the same name, the number six guy on this list was drafted in the first round of the 2005 MLB draft. Mayberry Jr. has now spent parts of seven seasons in the big leagues without doing much to standout. He is slashing .235/.299/.421 for his career and, at 32-years-old, he's possibly done seeing regular playing time. Briefly he looked like a candidate to start in the outfield for the Philadelphia Phillies. The more at-bats he got, particularly against right-handed pitchers, the worse he did.
5 Ruben Amaro Jr.
Ex-Philadelphia Phillies general manager and now the first base coach for the Boston Red Sox, Ruben Amaro Jr. has baseball in his blood. Before he was working in the front office or on the coaching staff, he was a player in the early 1990s with a very poor history built on some form of nepotism. Amaro Jr. hit only .235 in over 1,000 plate appearances. He ironically was there at the very start of the dark years in Philadelphia only to later return as the general manager, a decade later after the championship. Oddly enough, he was the guy who brought John Mayberry Jr. to the Phillies. It’s a small world after all.
4 Tim Raines Jr.
The frightening thing about the career of Tim Raines Jr. is he last played in the MLB during the 2004 season. His very talented father Tim Raines Sr.’s last season was in 2002. This crossover shows something about how the longevity of Raines Sr. and the short career of Raines Jr. It quickly tells the story of the younger Raines’ MLB career and how things went. Raines Jr. only managed to play in 75 MLB games total, all with the Baltimore Orioles. He never hit a home run in any of those games and delivered just a .213/.263/.281 slash line.
3 3, Queenie O’Rourke
Queenie O’Rourke only had 115 plate appearances in his MLB career, all of them coming in the 1908 season with the New York Yankees. He hit only .231 in the brief big league stint. He’d spend several more seasons in the minor leagues without ever seeing a major league pitch again other than from the stands of any games he may have attended. Meanwhile, his father Jim is a Hall of Famer who played 23 seasons starting in 1872.
2 Ed Walsh Jr.
Ed Walsh Jr. made his MLB debut in 1928 with the Chicago White Sox as a 23-year-old pitcher hoping to continue the reputation his name carried. After all, his dad Ed Walsh Sr. was one of the franchise’s best pitchers in the early part of the century who eventually went into the Hall of Fame. Walsh Sr.’s career 1.82 ERA remains a record nearly 100 years after it was set. Walsh Jr. didn’t have the same success as he only pitched for parts of four seasons while posting a 5.57 ERA and going 11-24.
1 Pete Rose Jr.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see Pete Rose Jr. listed as the worst second-generation MLB player in history. Nobody expected him to ever come close to breaking his father’s records, however, he should have at least lasted longer than 16 plate appearances over the span of 11 games. Rose Jr. was only 2 for 14 with nine strikeouts in his very brief MLB career that took place exclusively in 1997 for the Cincinnati Reds. Only in his MLB debut did Rose Jr. even log a start. The rest of his appearances came as a pinch hitter or in one case as a pinch runner. If not for sharing the name with the Hit King, Rose Jr. likely would have never come close to making it into the MLB.
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