The best baseball players born on May 26

May 26th, 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 May 26.

1) Darrell Evans (1947)
Called “the most underrated player in baseball history, absolutely No. 1 on the list” by Bill James, Evans put together an excellent career that might be better appreciated through more modern analysis than it was during his 21-year run from 1969-89. Evans batted just .248, but with a .361 on-base percentage and a .431 slugging percentage to go along with 414 home runs, 1,354 RBIs (just behind Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson on the all-time list), 1,605 walks (12th most in MLB history) and 58.8 Wins Above Replacement. The corner infielder played for Atlanta, San Francisco and Detroit, was a two-time All-Star and won the 1984 World Series with the Tigers. He hit 41 homers for the 1973 Braves, the first team in baseball history with three players -- Evans, Davey Johnson and Hank Aaron -- reaching the 40-homer mark. Then Evans slugged 40 homers for the Tigers in 1985, making him the first player to record a 40-homer season in both the American League and National League. Evans also took part in an unforgettable moment in baseball history: He was on first base when Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record with his 715th career home run.

2) (1981)
Maybe May 26 is the designated birthday for underappreciated players, because Zobrist came to fame relatively late in his career and still didn’t receive the attention one might expect for a player who accumulated 44.5 WAR, two World Series rings and a World Series MVP Award in his career. The Devil Rays traded for Zobrist in 2006, when he debuted at 25 years old. He flashed some encouraging signs in 2008 then broke out in 2009 as a multipositional star. He earned the first of three All-Star nods in ’09, finished eighth in the AL MVP voting, led all AL hitters with 8.6 WAR, slashed .297/.405/.543 with 27 homers and fielded seven defensive positions. Zobrist was the quintessential do-it-all super-utility man, playing excellent defense in the infield and outfield and hitting up and down the batting order, and he remains among the Rays’ all-time leaders in WAR after parts of nine seasons with Tampa Bay. He joined the Royals in 2015 and won the World Series with Kansas City, then signed with the Cubs. He captured World Series MVP honors as the Cubs ended their 108-year drought by winning the 2016 Fall Classic.

3) Travis Lee (1975)
Unsigned as the second overall pick in the 1996 Draft, Lee landed with the D-backs and served as their inaugural club’s Opening Day first baseman and No. 3 hitter. In fact, Lee recorded the first hit, home run, run and RBI in Arizona franchise history on Opening Day 1998, then went on to hit 22 homers with 72 RBIs and finish third (behind Kerry Wood and Todd Helton) in the NL Rookie of the Year Award voting. In 2000, Lee was part of the return in the trade that sent Curt Schilling from the Phillies to the D-backs. He hit 20 homers and drove in 90 runs for Philadelphia in 2001, but his best season came with Tampa Bay in 2003 as he slashed .275/.348/.459 with 19 homers and 37 doubles. Overall, he hit 115 homers with a 95 OPS+ during his nine-year career.

4) Rob Murphy (1960)
Murphy had some excellent relief seasons early in his career, and to this day, his 0.72 ERA for the 1986 Reds is still the best single-season mark in NL history for a pitcher who worked at least 50 innings. The only lower ERAs in the AL have been produced by Dennis Eckersley (0.61 in 1990), Fernando Rodney (0.60 in 2012) and Zack Britton (0.54 in 2016). He also posted a 3.04 ERA over 87 outings in 1987, a 3.08 ERA in an MLB-leading 76 appearances in ’88 and a 2.74 ERA over 105 innings for Boston in ’89.

5) Jack Cronin (1874)
Cronin pitched seven mostly unspectacular years for the Brooklyn Grooms, Pirates, Reds, Tigers, Orioles, New York Giants and Brooklyn Superbas from 1895-1904. Overall, the right-hander put together a 43-58 record and a 3.40 ERA in 923 1/3 innings over 128 games.

Others of note:

Ricky Jordan (1965)
Jordan homered in each of his first two games and hit .308 as a rookie for the Phillies in 1988.

Paul Sewald (1990)
After four unremarkable years with the Mets, the reliever struck out 104 batters in 64 2/3 innings with a 3.06 ERA for the Mariners in 2021. Sewald was acquired by Arizona in 2023, and he helped the D-backs capture the NL pennant that season.

Bill Shores (1904)
A member of the Philadelphia Athletics’ 1930 World Series championship team, Shores is identified by the Society for American Baseball Research as the first big league player to wear a No. 13 jersey in ‘31. He only appeared in 23 big league games after that.

Jason Bere (1971)
Once a highly touted prospect, Bere finished second to Tim Salmon in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting in 1993 and made the All-Star team in ’94, when he was the losing pitcher in the Midsummer Classic. He went 71-65 with a 5.14 ERA in 11 seasons.

Want to see more baseball birthdays for May 26? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.