The best baseball players born on Jan. 4

January 3rd, 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 Jan. 4:

1) Kris Bryant (1992)
After an outstanding collegiate career, which included taking home The Golden Spikes Award as a junior, Bryant was taken No. 2 overall by the Cubs in 2003 Draft. He wasted little time showing why, ascending to big leagues in 2015 and winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award after slugging 29 homers with 99 RBIs for a Chicago club that made it to the NLCS.

The next year brought even more accolades, as Bryant smashed 39 homers and drove in 102 while scoring an NL-leading 121 runs and posting an NL-best 7.3 WAR to claim the NL MVP Award and a second successive All-Star bid. And of course, there was a 108-year World Series drought he helped end. The Las Vegas native had another strong campaign in 2017, putting up the seventh-best bWAR in the NL while helping lead the Cubs to their fourth straight NLCS appearance.

Bryant earned two more All-Star nods with Chicago before being dealt to the San Francisco Giants at the Trade Deadline in 2021. He then inked a seven-year deal with the Rockies prior to the start of the 2022 season.

2) George Selkirk (1908)
Here's some trivia for you: Who replaced Babe Ruth in right field after he left the Yankees? Yep, it was Selkirk, who played nine seasons with the Bombers. The left-handed-hitting Selkirk, nicknamed Twinkletoes, while far from Ruthian at the plate, earned two All-Star nods, putting up a career .290/.400/.883 slash line. He was a five-time World Series champion, including four straight titles from 1936-39.

After his playing career, Selkirk managed in the Minors and later found success in the front office, becoming the Washington Senators (now Texas Rangers) second general manager in history.

The Canadian-born Selkirk was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 as part of its inaugural class. He passed away at 79 in 1987.

3) Tommy Corcoran (1869)
Nicknamed Tommy the Cork, Tommy Corcoran was a light-hitting middle infielder who played 18 years in the Majors -- including stints with Philadelphia Athletics, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants -- with more than half of those campaigns coming before 1900.

Finishing in the NL's top 10 for at-bats six times, Corcoran collected 2,252 hits (most among players born on Jan. 4) over his career, batting .256 with 34 homers, 155 triples (47th all-time as of 2022) and 387 stolen bases (82nd all-time). He still holds the Major League record for assists by a shortstop in a nine-inning game, collecting 14 on Aug. 8, 1903, in a game against the Cardinals.

Corcoran is also known for an unusual incident that occurred while he was with the Reds in 1900. Observing odd behavior by the Phillies' third-base coach, Cincinnati's captain went over to the coaching box and began digging, eventually uncovering an electronic device that was being used to relay info to hitters.

After his playing career, Corcoran became an umpire. He passed away at age 90 on June 25, 1960.

4) Don McMahon (1930)
Over an 18-year stint in the Majors, the right-handed throwing McMahon served almost exclusively as a reliever -- and a very successful one at that. He came out of the bullpen for all but two of his 505 career appearances, posting a 2.96 ERA while collecting 152 saves, tying for the NL lead in the category with 15 in 1959.

He earned an All-Star nod in 1958, and was a two-time World Series champion, winning it all in 1957 with the Braves and 1968 with the Tigers. His named was etched in the record books on April 30, 1961, when he surrendered the final long ball of Willie Mays' four-homer game.

McMahon became the San Francisco Giants pitching coach in 1972, but still found action on the mound as a player-coach, appearing in 75 games from 1972-74. He returned as Giants pitching coach from 1980-82, while also serving in the role for Minnesota (1976-77) and Cleveland (1983-85). McMahon passed away in 1987 at age 57.

5) Ted Lilly (1976)
The consummate "soft-tossing lefty," Lilly was a late-round steal after being selected in the 23rd round of the 1996 Draft, winning 113 games while pitching almost 2,000 innings (1,982 2/3) over a 15-year Major League career with six teams. He twice finished among the NL's top 10 in wins, led the NL in games started with 34 in 2008 and was named to two NL All-Star teams.

Others of note:

Tito Fuentes (1942)
Second among players born on Jan. 4 with 1,491 career hits, Fuentes spent nine of his 14 big league seasons with the Giants, finishing third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1966 and 20th in MVP voting in 1972. He batted .268 for his career, finishing among the NL's top 10 in at-bats three times.

After his playing days, Fuentes has become a fixture on Giants Spanish language broadcasts. He was inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Al Bridwell (1884)
Ranking sixth in bWAR among players born on Jan. 4, Bridwell is best known for a hit that never was. He delivered the "single" that led to the infamous Merkle's Boner, in which Fred Merkle made perhaps the biggest baserunning blunder in history when he neglected to touch second base on what would have been a game-winning knock. The gaffe ultimately cost the New York Giants the pennant.

Raisel Iglesias (1990)
One of the top closers of his generation, Iglesias racked up 134 saves from 2017-2021. Through his first seven big league seasons, the hard-throwing right-hander posted a 1.094 WHIP and a 10.9 K/9 ratio. Iglesias, who spent his first six campaigns with the Reds, was traded to the Angels in December 2020 and re-signed with them as a free agent the following offseason. He was then traded to the Braves prior to the 2022 Trade Deadline.

Want to see more baseball birthdays for Jan. 4? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.