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. 3:
1) Darren Daulton (1962)
From 1990-95, Daulton led all MLB catchers with 99 home runs. A three-time All-Star with the Phillies who led the National League with 109 RBIs in 1992, he battled knee injuries throughout his 14-year career. Daulton wrapped his playing days with a half-season as a role player with the Marlins, posting a slash line of .389/.455/.667 in Florida’s World Series victory over Cleveland. He died in 2017 at age 55 after battling brain cancer.
2) A.J. Burnett (1977)
The bWAR leader (28.8) for players born on this date, Burnett was an All-Star with the Pirates in 2015, the last of his 17 MLB seasons. The right-hander pitched for two championship clubs (2003 Marlins, 2009 Yankees), though he was limited to four starts in ’03 because of Tommy John surgery. Burnett led the Majors with five shutouts in 2002. One year earlier, he threw a no-hitter for the Marlins at San Diego despite nine walks and one hit batter.
3) Gary Lavelle (1949)
Lavelle spent the first 11 seasons of his 13-year career with the Giants. The left-hander posted three 20-save seasons and was an All-Star twice. He finished with a 2.93 career ERA and 136 saves.
4) Gus Suhr (1906)
Born in San Francisco three months before the devastating earthquake of 1906, Suhr was a mainstay for the Pirates in the 1930s and had an All-Star season in 1936. The first baseman played in 822 consecutive games, the NL record at the time, and reached double-digits in triples in eight of his first nine MLB seasons. His consecutive games streak ended in 1937, when he missed three games to attend the funeral of his mother. Suhr died of natural causes in 2004 at age 98.
5) Sid Hudson (1915)
Hudson won 40 games over his first three MLB seasons, 1940-42, and twice was an All-Star for bad Washington Senators teams. The right-hander then missed three seasons while serving in the Army Air Forces during World War II. He did not regain his previous pitching form upon his return but played in the Majors until 1954. Hudson was a longtime pitching coach in the expansion Senators/Rangers organization after retirement. He died in 2008 at age 93.
Others of note:
José Suarez (1998)
Suarez entered 2022 as the youngest big leaguer born on Jan. 3. The lefty had a breakthrough ’21 campaign, going 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA for the Angels.
Cliff Melton (1912)
The lefty pitched eight years with the Giants, including a 20-win season as a rookie in 1937 and an All-Star nod in 1942. Melton died of cancer in 1986 at age 74.
Jim Dwyer (1950)
Dwyer carved out an 18-year MLB career as a platoon outfielder and pinch-hitter. He finished with 101 pinch-hits and played on the Orioles’ 1983 championship club.
Luis Sojo (1965)
A utility infielder across 13 seasons, Sojo was a member of five World Series championship teams -- one with the Blue Jays and four with the Yankees.
Barney Gilligan (1856)
Gilligan had a career .207 batting average in 10 big league seasons but made his mark as Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn’s personal catcher during the right-hander’s 60-win season of 1884. Gilligan died in 1934 at age 78.
Want to see more baseball birthdays for Jan. 3? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.