The best baseball players born on Jan. 12

January 12th, 2024

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 Jan. 12.

1) Bill Madlock (1951)
Madlock won four National League batting crowns while amassing 2,008 hits over a 15-year MLB career. The third baseman was a three-time All-Star and retired with a .305 career batting average. His bat was on display during his one World Series visit in 1979. Madlock batted .375 (9-for-24) and had a .483 OBP for the champion Pirates. His career bWAR of 38.2 towers over others born on Jan. 12.

2) Randy Jones (1950)
The final numbers -- 100-123, 3.42 ERA over 10 seasons -- don’t scream “greatness,” but Jones certainly was great at his peak. The left-handed sinkerballer twice earned All-Star nods and won 42 games for losing Padres clubs from 1975-76. He finished as the NL Cy Young runner-up in ’75 and took home the hardware the next season. Jones paid the price for throwing 315 1/3 innings with 25 complete games in ’76. He suffered nerve damage in his pitching arm in the last of his 40 starts and had postseason surgery. He never again posted a winning record.

3) Dontrelle Willis (1982)
Willis was a revelation upon reaching the Majors at 21 in 2003. With a distinctive high leg kick and boundless energy, the lefty went 14-6, earned an All-Star spot and claimed NL Rookie of the Year honors while helping the Marlins to a World Series title. Willis was an All-Star again in 2005, when he led the big leagues with 22 wins, and he reached double digits in wins in each of his first five seasons. Things unraveled after Willis went to Detroit in December 2007 in the Miguel Cabrera blockbuster trade, and Willis never made more than 15 appearances in any of his final four MLB seasons.

4) Alex Wood (1991)
Wood played on seven division championship teams in his first nine MLB seasons, including the Giants’ NL West crown in 2021. A reliable left-handed starter, Wood was an All-Star with the Dodgers in 2017, when he was 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA.

5) Mike Marshall (1960)
Marshall hit 148 home runs over 11 big league seasons, including a career-high 28 in 1985. He was the Dodgers’ starting right fielder on their 1988 World Series championship club and an All-Star in 1984.

Others of note:
Justine Siegal (1975)
Told at the age of 13 that girls played softball, not baseball, Siegal instead set out to prove that coach wrong. She earned a PhD in sports psychology and went on to break barriers: the first woman to coach a professional men's team (the Brockton Rox), the first to throw batting practice to an MLB team (to Cleveland in Spring Training 2011) and the first to coach for an MLB organization (Oakland's instructional league in 2015). Her cap and jersey from the A's are now at the Hall of Fame. Siegal is also the founder of Baseball For All, a nonprofit dedicated to giving girls of all ages the chance to "play, coach and lead" in baseball.

Iván Nova (1987)
The right-hander had a 90-77 record and a 4.38 ERA across 11 MLB seasons. He was fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2011, when he was 16-4 with the Yankees.

Henry Larkin (1860)
The first baseman/outfielder had a .303 career batting average in 10 seasons from 1884-93, mostly with the Philadelphia Athletics of the big league American Association. Larkin died in 1942 at age 82.

George Browne (1876)
The outfielder, who played 12 MLB seasons after the turn of the century, led the NL with 99 runs scored in 1904 and was a starter for the Giants’ 1905 World Series championship team. Browne died of tuberculosis in 1920 at age 44.

Bobby Crosby (1980)
The shortstop was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2004, when he hit 22 homers for the A’s. He never reached double figures again in an eight-year career.

Togie Pittinger (1872)
The right-hander had two 20-win seasons in an eight-year career (1900-07) cut short by illness. He died of kidney disease at age 37 in 1909.

Ed Swartwood (1859)
The outfielder/first baseman led the American Association with a .357 batting average for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1883. Swartwood, who was an NL umpire after his playing days, died in 1924 at age 65.

Want to see more baseball birthdays for Jan. 12? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.