The best baseball players born on Jan. 5

January 5th, 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. 5.

1) Bill Dahlen (1870)
This infielder was in the Majors back when the “Wild West” was still a thing, so his nickname of “Bad Bill” is rather fitting. Dahlen got that moniker for his notable temper -- he had an extremely short fuse as a player and a manager and was reportedly ejected from 65 games in his career. Dahlen spent 11 of his 21 playing years in New York, first for the Brooklyn Superbas and then for the New York Giants, and was the shortstop for the World Series-winning Giants in 1905. He finished his career with 548 stolen bases, which ranks 28th all-time, and 2,461 hits. He also hit in 42 straight games in 1894, which is still the fourth-longest streak in MLB history. Though Dahlen did not initially receive much Hall of Fame support, he has since been considered for election by several Veterans Committees.

Bill Dahlen with Brooklyn in 1910. (Bain Collection/Library of Congress)

2) Bob Caruthers (1864)
How did this right-handed hurler, nicknamed “Parisian Bob,” amass 218 wins in nine seasons, you ask? He won over 20 games in six straight years from 1885-1890, and twice won 40 games in a season over that span. After throwing 2,828 2/3 innings over those nine years, Caruthers finished his playing tenure with a very respectable 2.83 ERA. He also spent some time as an outfielder and consistently held his own with the bat, notching a .282 career batting average.

Goodwin Champions baseball card, 1888. (Bain Collection/Library of Congress)

3) Charlie Hough (1948)
Hough was known for throwing a fluttering knuckleball. He made his knuckler last for 25 Major League seasons, which is tied for the third-longest playing tenure in MLB history. After tossing over 3,800 innings from 1970-1994, mostly for the Dodgers and Rangers, Hough finished his lengthy career practically right where he started, at .500 -- his 216-216 record gives him the distinction of winning more games than any other pitcher with a .500 record. He was also the most recent pitcher to start 40 games in a season (1987) and toss 13 innings in a game (June 11, 1986). Need yet another Hough fun fact? He was the very first pitcher in Marlins history when he started Opening Day of their inaugural 1993 season.

4) Art Fletcher (1885)
Though Fletcher spent most of his playing career with the Giants, it was across town with the Yankees where he enjoyed more team success. The right-handed-hitting shortstop played in four World Series with the Giants (1911-1913, 1917), though his team lost all of them. Fletcher also led the NL in hit-by-pitches five times in his career, all with the Giants. After hanging up his cleats in 1922, Fletcher had a four-year stint as the Phillies’ manager before joining the Yankees’ coaching staff in 1927, where he remained until 1945. In that span, Fletcher was a part of 10 pennant wins and nine World Series championships.

5) Riggs Stephenson (1898)
Though Stephenson struggled with injuries throughout his 14-year career, only topping 100 games in a season five times, he was an elite contact hitter. The Alabama native hit .336 for his career, which is the third-highest batting average ever for a player eligible for, but not enshrined in, the Hall of Fame. Despite his high average year after year, and the fact that he hit over .360 in three separate seasons, Stephenson never led the league in hitting.

Others of note:

Eduardo Escobar (1989)
Escobar led the NL and tied for the Major League lead with 10 triples in 2019, and was named to his first All-Star team in 2021. He may be a cool cat himself, but Escobar is apparently very afraid of cats, so don’t try to get on his good side with a feline friend.

C.J. Cron (1990)
Cron comes from a family with big league pedigree. His father, Chris, had brief stints with the Angels and White Sox in the early ‘90s, and his brother, Kevin, was teammates with the afore-mentioned Escobar on the D-backs in 2019 and 2020.

José Iglesias (1990)
Iglesias was traded in the middle of the 2013 season from the Red Sox to the Tigers, and ended up finishing second in that year’s AL Rookie of the Year voting to the Rays’ Wil Myers. Two of Iglesias’ new Tigers teammates, Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer, won the 2013 AL MVP and Cy Young awards, respectively.

Norichika Aoki (1982)
After breaking out with Nippon Professional Baseball in 2004 and leading Japan to the 2009 World Baseball Classic title, Aoki jumped over to MLB in 2012 with the Brewers. He later helped propel the Royals to the 2014 AL pennant before returning to Japan in 2018.

Want to see more baseball birthdays for Jan. 5? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.