The best baseball players born on Dec. 8

December 8th, 2023

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 Dec. 8.

1) Mike Mussina (1968)
Drafted 20th overall by Baltimore in 1990, Mussina eventually racked up 270 wins between the Orioles and Yankees, tallying at least 11 in each of his 17 full seasons and capping his career with a 20-win campaign. The five-time All-Star finished in the top six for Cy Young Award voting nine times and won seven Gold Gloves. Of his 23 career shutouts, four were one-hitters, including a near-perfect game in 1997 when he retired the first 25 hitters before allowing a single to Cleveland's Sandy Alomar, then striking out the final two batters. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019 in his sixth year of eligibility.

2) Josh Donaldson (1985)
After making his first All-Star team in 2014, Donaldson was traded from the A's to the Blue Jays, with whom he won the AL MVP Award in 2015 while driving in a league-high 123 runs and scoring an MLB-best 122 runs. He went to the All-Star Game in his first two seasons with Toronto, also winning the Silver Slugger Award both seasons. After joining the Braves (the team he grew up rooting for), he won the 2019 NL Comeback Player of the Year while hitting 37 homers, the fourth time he'd topped 30 homers in his career. He signed a four-year deal with Minnesota before the 2020 season and was later dealt to the Yankees prior to the start of the '22 season, but he's struggled through injury issues in recent years.

3) Hank Thompson (1925)
Three months after Jackie Robinson integrated the white Major Leagues, Thompson became the St. Louis Browns' first Black player, and two years later, he was the New York Giants' first Black player. The former Kansas City Monarchs star was also part of the first AL/NL lineup with two Black players, and he and Larry Doby became the first Black players to oppose each other in an AL/NL game. While with the Giants in the 1951 World Series, he was part of the first all-Black outfield in an AL/NL game. He won a World Series title in '54, batting .364 in New York's four-game sweep of Cleveland.

4) Vernon Wells (1978)
The fifth overall selection in the 1997 Draft, Wells starred for the Blue Jays for 10 seasons, going to three All-Star Games and winning three Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger Award. He slugged three homers in a game vs. the Red Sox in 2006.

5) Jim Pagliaroni (1937)
Pagliaroni caught in 131 games for the Pirates in 1965, second in the NL, then led the league with a .997 fielding percentage as a catcher in '66. He also was the catcher for Catfish Hunter's perfect game in '68.

Want to see more baseball birthdays for Dec. 8? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.