The best baseball players born on Sept. 21

September 21st, 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 Sept. 21:

1) Sam McDowell (1942)
McDowell earned the nickname "Sudden Sam" for the way his fastball tended to sneak up on batters. He was a strikeout artist for 15 seasons, including 11 spent as a fixture in Cleveland's rotation. McDowell topped 300 strikeouts twice in his career and ended with 2,453 strikeouts overall. That is 45th all-time, while his 2,159 punchouts with Cleveland are second to only Bob Feller in club history. McDowell reached 200 strikeouts six times, worked at least 200 innings in six seasons and won at least 15 games four times. He was at his peak from 1964-70, when his yearly average was 15 wins, 248 innings and 261 strikeouts with a 2.73 ERA. The southpaw finished third in American League Cy Young voting in 1970, when he had 20 wins with a 2.92 ERA and 304 strikeouts in 305 innings. He led the Majors in strikeouts three times, paced the AL in five campaigns and won an ERA title in 1965 (2.18). In six All-Star appearances, all McDowell did was piece together a 1.13 ERA with a dozen strikeouts in eight innings of work. His career ended with a 3.17 ERA with 141 wins between stops with Cleveland, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and the New York Yankees.

2) Cecil Fielder (1963)
An imposing power hitter in his day, Fielder launched 319 career home runs in 13 seasons (seven with Detroit). The right-handed slugger had 30 or more homers in six seasons and at least 100 RBIs in five. That included returning from a year in Japan to crush 51 homers in 1990 with the Tigers. That was the first 50-homer showing for a Detroit hitter since 1938 and the first by an AL hitter since 1961. Fielder was the AL's MVP runner-up in both '90 and '91, when he hit a combined 95 homers with 265 RBIs and a .551 slugging percentage. Across the '90-93 seasons, the first baseman averaged 40 homers and 126 RBIs per year. He made three All-Star teams, won two Silver Slugger Awards and picked up a World Series ring with the Yankees in 1996. In that Fall Classic, Fielder hit .391 (9-for-23) in six games. When Fielder's son, Prince, hit 50 shots for the Brewers in 2007, they became the first father-son duo to each have a 50-homer season in the Majors. The younger Fielder also ended his career with 319 homers, equaling his father's career total.

3) Elmer Smith (1892)
Smith was a member of the 1920 World Series-champion Cleveland team and put his name in the record books in the process. In that Fall Classic, Smith belted the first grand slam in World Series history. During that '20 tour, the outfielder hit .316 with 12 homers, 37 doubles, 10 triples and 103 RBIs for Cleveland. Over 10 years spent in the Majors with five clubs, he hit at a .276 clip, topping a .300 average three times. Smith spent seven years with Cleveland, but also appeared in the 1922 World Series with the Yankees.

4) Devin Williams (1994)
Williams has not been in the Majors long, but the late-inning reliever has quickly put himself on the map. With one of the game's elite changeups, Williams has posted a 1.91 ERA with 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings through 217 career games for the Brewers. In 2020, he took home the National League Rookie of the Year after spinning a 0.33 ERA while striking out 53 of 100 batters faced. Williams also picked up the 2020 Trevor Hoffman Reliever of the Year Award and was an All-Star in '22 and '23.

5) Doug Davis (1975)
Davis spent 13 years in the Major Leagues, logging time with the Rangers, Brewers, D-backs, Cubs and Blue Jays. The lefty collected 92 wins with a 4.44 ERA over 306 games, ending with 1,279 career strikeouts. He worked at least 200 innings in four seasons and had a career-best 208 strikeouts in 2005. Arguably his best season came in 2004, when he had 12 wins to go with a 3.39 ERA and 166 strikeouts in 207 1/3 innings for the Brewers.

Others of note:

Carlos Martínez (1991)
Through nine seasons with the Cardinals, Martinez had a 62-52 record to go with a 3.74 ERA through 2021. He has made two All-Star teams to date.

Jeremy Jeffress (1987)
The right-handed reliever had logged a 3.08 ERA with 52 saves through 11 seasons in the Majors between stops with five clubs. He was an All-Star in 2018, when he had a 1.29 ERA in 73 appearances for the Brewers.

Scott Spiezio (1972)
In 11 seasons in MLB, Spiezio hit 119 homers between stints with the A's, Angels, Mariners and Cardinals. He won a World Series ring in 2002 (Angels) and 2006 (Cardinals), hitting three homers with 25 RBIs and a .910 OPS in his postseason career.

Elden Auker (1910)
Over 10 years (six with Detroit), Auker picked up 130 wins with a 4.42 ERA in 333 games. He had six seasons with 200-plus innings and started three World Series games in 1934-35.

Tom Brown (1860)
A native of Liverpool in England, Brown suited up for nine teams in 17 seasons and amassed 1,958 hits. His standout campaign was 1891, when he hit .321 with 177 runs and 106 steals for the Boston Reds.

Want to see more baseball birthdays for Sept. 21? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.