The best baseball players born on Aug. 20
Who are the best players born on each day of the year? We have a list for every day on the calendar.
Here’s a subjective ranking of the top five for Aug. 20:
1) Todd Helton (1973)
Once a two-sport star who stood ahead of Peyton Manning on the University of Tennessee’s depth chart, Helton became the most productive player in Rockies history and the first to have his number (17) retired by Colorado. The star first baseman, who spent his entire 17-year career with the Rockies, won the 2000 National League batting title (by hitting .372), three Gold Glove Awards and four Silver Slugger Awards and earned five straight NL All-Star nods from 2000-04. Helton ranks second among all AL/NL first basemen with 1,726 career assists, one indication of his defensive prowess, and retired with 2,519 hits to go along with 369 homers, 1,406 RBIs, a .316/.414/.539 slash line, a 133 OPS+ and 61.8 WAR. Few of Helton’s peers were as dominant at the plate as he was at his peak in the early 2000s, making him one of the defining sluggers of the era and the face of the franchise at Coors Field.
2) Graig Nettles (1944)
Nettles won a pair of World Series with the Yankees in 1977 and ’78, the peak of his impressive 22-year career. The excellent third baseman was a six-time All-Star, with four of those honors coming consecutively from 1977-80, and earned a pair of Gold Glove Awards in ’77 and ’78. The ’77 season was the best of his career in many ways, as he finished fifth in the American League MVP Award voting while launching a career-high 37 homers with 107 RBIs for the World Series champion Yankees. Showcasing his skill at third base, Nettles recorded more assists at the hot corner (5,279) than anyone in AL/NL history but the legendary Brooks Robinson. Nettles wasn’t a high-average hitter, batting just .248 in his career, but he slugged 390 homers and drove in 1,314 runs while producing 67.9 WAR.
3) Mark Langston (1960)
The left-hander finished second to Mariners teammate Alvin Davis in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting while leading the league with 204 strikeouts in 1984, the start of a 16-year career with plenty of other highlights. Langston led the AL in strikeouts two more times, in ’86 (245) and ’87 (262), with the latter performance earning him the first of his four career All-Star nods. In 1989, he was sent to Montreal in the famous trade that brought future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson to Seattle. On April 11, 1990, Langston pitched the first seven innings of a combined no-hitter for the Angels. He spent eight seasons with the Angels, collecting five of his seven Gold Gloves from 1991-95. Overall, he went 179-158 with a 3.97 ERA and 50.1 WAR in 457 career outings.
4) Al Lopez (1908)
The only Hall of Famer born on Aug. 20, Lopez made two All-Star teams during his 19-year playing career and held the record for most games caught (1,918) until 1987. But he was inducted into Cooperstown by the Veterans Committee in 1977 due to his work as a manager. Amid a decade and a half of Yankees dominance in the AL, Lopez led a 111-win Cleveland club to a pennant in 1954 and the White Sox to another in ’59. From 1951-53, ’55-58 and ’63-65, his teams finished second in the AL standings. From 1951-65, Lopez never finished with a losing record. Only Jimmy Dykes won more games as the White Sox manager, and no Cleveland manager has had a better winning percentage. Overall, he went 1,410-1,004 as a manager, a .584 winning percentage. Lopez was the first person from Tampa, Fla., to play in the Majors, manage in the Majors and reach the Hall of Fame, and his childhood home in Ybor City was recently moved and reopened as the Tampa Baseball Museum.
5) Andy Benes (1967)
The first overall pick in the 1988 Draft, Benes compiled a 155-139 record and a 3.97 ERA in 403 outings during his 14-year career. He earned his lone All-Star nod for the Padres in 1993 then led the NL with 189 strikeouts (and 14 losses) the following season. The right-hander finished third in the 1996 NL Cy Young Award voting, when he went 18-10 for the Cardinals. After missing a deadline to re-sign with St. Louis, Benes caught on with the D-backs and threw the first pitch in franchise history on March 31, 1998.
Others of note:
Tom Brunansky (1960)
An All-Star outfielder for the Twins in 1985, Brunansky was part of Minnesota’s 1987 championship team. Overall, he hit 271 home runs during his 14-year career.
Kal Daniels (1963)
Daniels was a young star on the rise for the Reds in the late 1980s, as he posted a 1.046 OPS with 26 homers and 26 steals over 108 games in ’87 then produced a 5.6 WAR season (with an NL-best .397 on-base percentage) in ’88. He had a big personality to match, too, and a memorable moment when his 1989 salary was determined by a coin flip in the parking lot of the Reds' Spring Training facility in Plant City, Fla. He had another excellent season for the Dodgers in 1990, but knee injuries ultimately limited him to 727 games during his seven-year career.
Fred Norman (1942)
Part of the Big Red Machine’s pitching staff in the 1970s, Norman won a pair of World Series with Cincinnati in ’75 and ’76. The left-hander’s big league career spanned from 1962-80, and he retired with a 104-103 record and a 3.64 ERA in 1,939 2/3 innings.
Nate Pearson (1996)
A two-time top-10 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, the hard-throwing right-hander made his Major League debut for the Blue Jays on July 29, 2020.
Want to see more baseball birthdays for Aug. 20? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.