With the 2011 baseball season in full swing, here’s our annual update on the Jewish players in the Major Leagues.
(Statistics are as of July 7th)
Kevin Edmund Youkilis
Born: Mar. 15, 1979 | Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio | Team: Boston Red Sox
Position: Third Base | Number: 20 | Season Average: .284 | Season HR: 13
Season RBI: 65 | Career AVG: .293 | Career HR: 125 | Career RBI: 535 | Experience: 8 Years
On August 2, 2010 Youkilis suffered a muscle tear in his right thumb that required season ending surgery to repair several days later. In the off-season, the Boston Red Sox signed first basemen Adrian Gonzalez which moved Youkilis to third base for the 2011 season. In 2011 he was named to the All Star team for the third time in his career. Youkilis’ Hits for Kids program teams up with existing community-based children’s charities and medical research programs in New England and in his home town of Cincinnati to help raise money and awareness.
In “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story,” a 2010 documentary film narrated by Dustin Hoffman, Youkilis noted: “It’s something that I probably won’t realize until my career is over, how many people are really rooting for me and cheering for me. And it’s not just because I went 3-for-4, or had a great game. It’s just the fact that I represent a lot of Jewish people and a lot of the Jewish heritage, and the struggles that a lot of our people have had.”
Would Youkilis play on Yom Kippur? See what he had to say…
Ryan Joseph Braun
Born: Nov. 17, 1983 | Birthplace: Mission Hills, Calif. | Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Position: Left field | Number: 8 | Season Average: .315 | Season HR: 16 | Season RBI: 62
Career Avg: .308 | Career HR: 144 | Career RBI: 482 | Experience: 5 years
Braun won his third consecutive Silver Slugger award at the end of the 2010 season. At the beginning of the 2011 season he signed a five-year $105 million contract extension with the Milwaukee Brewers. He led all National League players in All Star balloting, with an NL record 5.93 million votes. He was voted an NL All Star starter with the most votes of any NL outfielder for the fourth year in a row, and extended his franchise record to four All Star game starts.
Braun had a hitting streak of 23 games that began on June 8, 2011 and ended on July 15, 2011. In those 23 games he was hitting .372/.421/.581 with three homeruns and 19 RBI’s
In 2010, Braun opened two restaurants in Wisconsin.
Samuel Babson Fuld
Born: Nov. 20, 1981 | Birthplace: Durham, N.H. | Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Position: Outfield | Number: 5 | Season Average: .238 | Season HR: 3 | Season RBI: 24
Career AVG: .243 | Career HR: 4 | Career RBI: 29 | Experience: 4 Years
After the 2010 season, Fuld was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Tampa Bay Rays. Fuld made the Rays’ 2011 opening day roster, and won the jobs of starting left fielder and lead-off hitter by mid-April. He also became an instant legend on the Internet as the trending spread from his “Superman” Youtube video to tweets at the #LegendofSamFuld. Fuld made the All-Star Ballot but did not make the team. He was a commentator on ESPN’s coverage of the Home Run Derby.
Scott Wynne Feldman
Born: Feb. 7, 1983 | Birthplace: Kailua, Hawaii | Team: Texas Rangers | Position: Starting pitcher
Number: 39 | Season ERA: 0 | Season SO: 0 | Season Record: 0
Career ERA: 4.80 | Career SO: 315 | Career Record: 31 – 32 | Experience: 7 Years
Feldman was 7-11 for the 2010 season, as he started 22 games and pitched 7 games out of the bullpen. He had right knee surgery over the off-season and made 10 minor league appearances. On July 14, after he cleared waivers, Feldman rejected a minor league assignment giving the Rangers the option of activating him from the disabled list or releasing him. They opted to activate him off the disabled list, which re-added him to the 40-man roster.
Craig Andrew Breslow
Born: Aug. 8, 1980 | Birthplace: New Haven, Conn. | Team: Oakland Athletics | Position: Relief pitcher
Number: 56 | Season ERA: 3.03 | Season SO: 26 | Season Record: 0-2
Career ERA: 2.89 | Career SO: 217 | Career Record: 12-17 | Experience: 6 Years
Breslow was second in the AL in appearances in 2010 for the second year in a row, appearing in 75 games. Only seven of 33 inherited runners (21.2%) scored against him, third-best in the AL. He held batters to a .194 batting average, and a .272 on base percentage. His 71 strikeouts were the most by a lefty reliever in Oakland history. He finished with a career-high 74 2/3 innings.
On May 17, 2011, the Oakland A’s hosted their first Jewish Heritage Night versus the Los Angeles Angels. The $26 ticket got you an infield section seat, an A’s yarmulke with “Athletics” spelled in Hebrew and a $5 food voucher. After a couple of rough outings at the beginning of the season, Craig has settled down and has not allowed an earned run since June 7, 2011.
Craig’s Strike 3 Foundation continues to host charity events and accepts donations to support pediatric cancer research.
Jason Scott Marquis
Born: Aug. 21, 1978 | Birthplace: Manhasset, N.Y. | Team: Washington Nationals | Position: Starting pitcher
Number: 21 | Season ERA: 4.05 | Season SO: 60 | Season Record: 7-4
Career ERA: 4.53 | Career SO: 958 | Career Record: 103 – 96 | Experience: 12 Years
After being placed on the disabled list early in the 2010 season with bone chips in his right elbow, Marquis returned to the starting rotation in August 2010. He has continued to be in the Nationals starting rotation in 2011.
Daniel Paul Valencia
Born: Sept. 19, 1984 | Birthplace: Boca Raton, FL | Team: Minnesota Twins | Position: Third Base
Number: 19 | Season AVG: .228 | Season HR: 10 | Season RBI: 47
Career AVG: .267 | Career HR: 17 | Career RBI: 87 | Experience: 2 Years
Valencia made his major league debut with the Twins in June 2010. He was named the third baseman on Baseball America’s 2010 All-Rookie Team, and the third baseman on the 2010 Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team. He has also received the Twins’ Most Outstanding Rookie award and was third in AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Isaac Benjamin Davis
Born: Mar. 22, 1987 | Birthplace: Edina, Minn. | Team: New York Mets | Position: First base
Number: 29 | Season AVG: .302 | Season HR: 7 | Season RBI: 25
Career AVG: .271 | Career HR: 26 | Career RBI: 96 | Experience: 2 Years
In 2010, Davis set the Mets rookie record for total bases (230), and tied the Mets rookie records for walks (72) and extra-base hits (53). He was named the first baseman on Baseball America’s 2010 All-Rookie Team. Davis started the 2011 season by establishing a Mets record with at least one RBI in nine of his first 10 games. On May 10, he sustained an ankle injury on a routine popup near the pitcher’s mound, with Davis rolling his ankle. He is still on the disabled list and is trying to avoid having season ending surgery.
Ian Michael Kinsler
Born: June 22, 1982 | Birthplace: Tucson, Ariz. | | Team: Texas Rangers | Position: Second Base
Number: 5 | Season Average: .252 | Season HR: 15 | Season RBI: 36
Career AVG: .277 | Career HR: 107 | Career RBI: 354 | Experience: 6 Years
Kinsler finished the 201 season batting .286, with a career-high on base percentage of .382. His .985 fielding percentage was fifth best in the league. The Rangers made it all the way to the World Series, but were then defeated by the San Francisco Giants. Although he missed almost half the season due to several stints on the disabled list, Kinsler had a very successful post season. He hit safely and scored a run in all five of the first round of playoff games, joining Boston’s Nomar Garciaparra as the only two players to start their post-season careers with at least one hit — and with at least one hit and one run — in each of five consecutive games. On April 2, 2011, Kinsler became the first player in Major League history to hit lead-off home runs in the first two games of a season (giving him a total of 15 lead-off homers in his career). In his next game, against the Red Sox, he hit another home run in the third inning. Kinsler and Nelson Cruz also became the first two teammates to homer in each of the first three games in a season.
John William Grabow
Born: Nov. 4, 1978 | Birthplace: Arcadia, Calif. | Team: Chicago Cubs | Position: Relief Pitcher
Number: 43 | Season ERA: 5.40 | Season SO: 24 | Season Record: 1-0
Career ERA: 4.34 | Career SO: 386 | Career Record: 22-18 | Experience: 9 Years
John Grabow continues to be a relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. He is signed through the 2011 season.
Jewish AAA players:
■ Ben Guez – Detroit Tigers; 270AVG; 2HR; 14RBI
■ Ryan Kalish – Boston Red Sox; .236AVG; 0HR; 7RBI; on DL
■ Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians; .292AVG; 11HR; 53RBI
■ Ryan Lavarnway – Boston Red Sox; .365AVG; 9HR; 25RBI
■ James Rapoport – St Louis Cardinals; .253AVG; 3HR; 18RBI
■ Michael Schwimer – Philadelphia Phillies; 1.71ERA; 65SO; 5-0 Record
■ Mauricio Tabachnik – Mexican League; 5.98ERA; 18SO; 1-2 Record
Recently Retired Jewish players:
Bradley David Ausmus
Brad played his final game in Oct. 2010. He is ranked first all-time among all Jewish major leaguers in career games played (1,971). In Nov. 2010, he was hired by the San Diego Padres as special assistant to baseball operations.
Jewish Players in 2012 Draft:
■ Lenny Linsky – 2nd Round – Tampa Bay
■ Zach Borenstein – 23rd Round – LA Angels
■ David Colvin – 27th Round – Seattle Mariners
■ Benny Sosnick – 49th Round – San Francisco Giants
Suzy Iarusso is a freelance baseball writer living in Boston. You can follow her on twitter @statcruncher.