Cliff Lee’s dominating playoff performances got us at The Sports ‘Burger thinking about the best baseball players to ever don the Harrisburg Senators uniform. What follows is our top 10 list of the best players to pass through City Island on their way to the majors. Agree or think we’re just crazy? Let us know what you believe in the comments.
The criteria we used for compiling and ranking are based on production at the Major League level and not of their seasons in the ‘Burg. We also only considered players who played in Harrisburg when they were coming up through the ranks of the minor leagues at the beginning of their careers. This discounts veterans on rehab or minor league assignments like Dmitri Young and Orlando Hernandez. And as much as I would have loved to look into my crystal ball, potential was not considered a factor so Strasburg, Storen, Desmond and Espinosa aren’t on this list (just yet).
So fire up the grill and put on some Spot dogs because we’re getting this list cooking…
Ones who just missed: Brandon Phillips, Rondell White, Rick Reed, Matt Stairs, Kirk Rueter
10. Cliff Floyd
Harrisburg stats: 1993 – 101g, .329 BA / 1.017 OPS, 26HR, 101RBI, 31SB
Floyd played 17 seasons in the major leagues amassing 1479 hits and 233 home runs. He was a member of the World Champion Florida Marlins in 1997 and was named an All-Star for the only time in his career in 2001. The native Chicagoan finished his career last season with a lifetime .278 batting average (.840 OPS).
9. Javier Vazquez
Harrisburg stats: 1997 – 6g, 4-0, 1.07 ERA
Vazquez is in the middle of a 13-year career that has seen him compile a 152-149 record and 2374 strikeouts. Vazquez has won at least 10 games in each of the last 11 seasons. Vazquez followed up his 4th place finish in last year’s NL Cy Young voting with a much-maligned season this year in the Bronx.
8. Jose Vidro
Harrisburg stats: 1996-97 – 190g, .259 BA / .733 OPS, 22HR, 120RBI, 90R
Vidro played 12 seasons with the Expos/Nationals and Mariners where he amassed 1524 hits with a career .298 batting average (.804 OPS). Vidro hit over .300 five straight years during his peak, was named an All-Star three times, and won the Silver Slugger Award in 2003 as the best hitting second baseman in the National League.
7. Orlando Cabrera
Harrisburg stats: 1997 – 35g, .308 BA / .927 OPS, 20RBI, 34R
Cabrera is in year 14 of an underrated major league career where he has accumulated 1948 hits, 803 runs batted in, and 208 stolen bases. Cabrera was an integral part of the 2004 Boston Red Sox championship season and has won two Gold Gloves in his career.
6. Mark Grudzielanek
Harrisburg stats: 1994 – 122g, .322 BA / .860 OPS, 66RBI, 92R, 32SB
Grudzielanek’s 2010 season and in all likelihood his career ended when he was released in early June from the Cleveland Indians after playing 15 seasons. He will retire with 2040 hits, 640 runs batted in, and a lifetime batting average of .289. Grudzielanek was selected to the 1996 All-Star Game and won a Gold Glove in 2006 playing for the Kansas City Royals.
5. Ugueth Urbina
Harrisburg stats: 1993-94 – 32g, 13-8, 3.54 ERA
Urbina was a dominant closer in his day as he collected 237 saves and 44 wins in his 11-year career. The two-time All-Star was the Marlins’ closer and saved two games when they defeated the Yankees in the 2003 World Series. Currently, Urbina is serving a 14-year prison sentence in Venezuela after being convicted on two charges of attempted murder.
4. Ryan Zimmerman
Harrisburg stats: 2005 – 63g, .326 BA / .898 OPS, 9HR, 32RBI, 40R
Zimmerman is still in the relatively early stages of his career, but through 6 seasons he has already accrued 833 hits and 449 runs batted in. After finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting to Hanley Ramirez, he has sported a career .288 batting average and impressive .839 OPS. Zimmerman has only appeared in one All-Star Game so far, but expect many more from the Virginia Beach native.
3. Cliff Lee
Harrisburg stats: 2002 – 15g, 7-2, 3.23 ERA
Since returning from a much publicized 2007 stint in the minors, Lee has transformed himself into a Cy Young Award winner and the best postseason starter of this generation. Through 9 seasons, Lee has a career 3.85 earned run average for a 102-61 record that includes 20 complete games. At 31 years of age, Lee has many more productive seasons ahead of him.
2. Moises Alou
Harrisburg stats: 1989-90 – 90g, .294 BA / .768 OPS, 41RBI, 55R
Over an illustrious 17-year career, Alou batted .303 (.885 OPS) with 2134 hits and 332 home runs. During his time in the majors, Alou was named to 6 All-Star teams, finished in the MVP top ten voting three times, and won the Silver Slugger Award twice (1994 and 1998). Most of Alou’s accomplishments, however, will not be remembered more than his ridiculous and immature outburst directed at Bartman in the infamous playoff game.
1. Vladimir Guerrero
Harrisburg stats: 1996 – 118g, .360 BA / 1.050 OPS, 19HR, 78RBI, 84R, 17SB
Vlad is a lock for the Hall of Fame and is easily the best Major Leaguer to ever don the Senators’ uniform. The 2004 AL MVP’s 15 years in the pros have been littered with accolades and accomplishments like 9 All-Star appearances, 7 Silver Slugger Awards, and 6 top ten MVP finishes. Guerrero stands at 2427 hits, 436 home runs, and a lifetime .320 batting average (.946 OPS). His 2010 season with the Texas Rangers has shown a lot of people that Vlad still has a lot left in the tank.