Oh, brother: Molinas rank among MLB's best siblings
Yadier, Jose building on family's growing legacy; DiMaggio trio tops overall list
Among the many October possibilities, a World Series matching the St. Louis Cardinals against the Tampa Bay Rays would provide a fascinating subplot, bringing together teams whose catchers are brothers.
The story of the Molina brothers of Puerto Rico -- Bengie, Jose and Yadier -- is a work in progress. While Yadier, the Cardinals' National League MVP Award candidate and batting champion contender, and Jose, the Rays' backbone, are busy doing their part to add rings to the family collection, Bengie is providing insight as an assistant hitting coach for the Cards.
"It's always good to have someone help you out with good advice -- especially when he's your brother and taught you how to play the game," Yadier said.
The Molinas have appeared in a combined seven World Series, winning five. Yet each brother owns two championship rings, Bengie's second coming in unusual fashion. He was traded midseason in 2010 from the Giants to the Rangers, who were San Francisco's World Series victims three months later. Bengie was guaranteed a championship ring one way or the other.
"We've had a lot of success as a family -- and we've been lucky to play on some good teams," Jose Molina said recently as his Rays were heating up.
Indeed, quality teams do seem to follow the Molinas around.
"We don't talk about it much," Bengie said. "One of these days, when we're all retired, we'll sit around drinking pina coladas and talk about it."
Other big league brother acts are being played out by Braves teammates B.J. and Justin Upton, Jerry Hairston (Dodgers) and Scott Hairston (Nationals), and Cesar Izturis (Reds) and Maicer Izturis (Blue Jays). Angels ace Jered Weaver has years to add to a combined 46.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with big brother Jeff, his role model. Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew is following brothers J.D. and Tim, with a family WAR of 56.7.
Brother acts have been part of the game since the beginning of baseball time. Ed Delahanty, a slugger in the dead ball era, led four brothers of varying abilities into the Majors before World War I.
A list of baseball brothers, such as this Elite Eleven, starts in only one place.
1. Joe, Vince and Dominic DiMaggio
Beginning with Joe's blockbuster 1936 rookie season with the Yankees, the DiMaggios impacted Major League Baseball for 17 seasons. The "Yankee Clipper" led a dynasty featuring nine World Series champions in 10 trips to the Fall Classic.
The graceful DiMaggios played center field a combined 34 seasons, Joe and Dom each missing three prime seasons while serving in the military. If WAR is accepted as a reasonably accurate measure of production, the DiMaggios, according to Baseball-Reference.com, stand out. They produced a combined 127.2 WAR -- 78.3 by Joe, 31.8 by Dom, 17.1 by Vince. Those numbers would have increased appreciably if not for those six absent seasons.
2. Bengie, Jose and Yadier Molina
There is no way to measure accurately in numbers the full impact of a great defensive catcher. The Molinas' combined 40.5 WAR, 25.1 coming from Yadier, doesn't begin to tell their story. A big career finish by Yadi could topple the DiMaggios.
3. Pedro and Ramon Martinez
Ramon, three years older than his brother, reached the Major Leagues out of the Dominican Republic with the Dodgers at age 20 during their 1988 World Series championship season. Two years later, he was 20-6 with a 2.92 ERA in 234 1/3 innings. Reed-thin at 6-foot-4, he lasted long enough to put together a 135-88 record (.605 winning percentage) with a 3.67 ERA in 301 career games. Only Ramon and Sandy Koufax in club history had no-hitters and 18-strikeout games.
Pedro joined Ramon in Los Angeles as a reliever and was dealt after the 1993 season to the Expos for Delino DeShields. In Montreal, a superstar was born. With his 219-100 record, Pedro owns the second highest winning percentage (.687) in modern history, behind only Whitey Ford's .690. Pedro was a five-time ERA champion and three-time Cy Young Award winner. You can argue that in 1999-2000 with Boston, going 41-10 while leading the AL in strikeouts and ERA both seasons, Pedro was as good as any pitcher in the game's history. Cooperstown beckons.
4. Paul and Lloyd Waner
Pirates teammates for 14 years, the lone Hall of Fame brothers were hitting machines. They combined for a 96.9 WAR, 72.8 by Paul. But neither "Big Poison" Paul nor "Little Poison" Lloyd could be classified a five-tool player in the modern vernacular. They were more similar to Pete Rose than Joe DiMaggio. Dom DiMaggio, a seven-time All-Star, had higher on-base percentage and slugging numbers and a higher WAR, 31.8 to 24.1, than Lloyd Waner.
5. Jim and Gaylord Perry
The Perrys edge the DiMaggios in total WAR at 132.4, Gaylord accounting for 93.7. Gaylord's 314 wins and 3.11 career ERA were judged Hall of Fame-worthy in spite of the spitball controversy that followed him. Jim wasn't quite as durable but put together a terrific career with 215 wins and a 3.45 ERA.
6. Phil and Joe Niekro
The Niekros, on the heels of the Perrys in brotherly WAR at 126.1, won 10 more games than the Perrys. Phil the knuckler had four more wins (318) and a higher WAR (97.4) than Gaylord. Joe was rock-solid, winning 221 games with a 3.59 ERA. They appeared in a combined 1,566 games, 864 by Phil, the Hall of Famer.
7. Felipe, Matty and Jesus Alou
Three superb athletes with distinctly different styles, the Alous played together in the same Giants outfield in 1963 while Willie Mays was taking a breather. Felipe hit with more power than his brothers (206 homers) and had a great arm. Matty, a .303 career hitter, won a batting title for the 1966 Pirates. Jesus was a .280 hitter in 15 seasons. The family WAR of 66.3 was forged largely by Felipe's 42.1 and Matty's 23.3.
8. Ken, Clete and Cloyd Boyer
Ken and Clete were superb third basemen, two of the game's best in their time. Cloyd was a pitcher, going 20-23 with a 4.73 ERA in 111 games. The Boyers combined for a 91.4 WAR, 62.9 by Ken, a six-time All-Star and 1964 NL MVP. Clete had some power but defense was his forte. He was very close to Brooks Robinson's level with the glove.
9. Sandy and Roberto Alomar
Big brother Sandy was a smart, durable, rock-solid catcher, six times an All-Star. Robbie takes his place among the best ever to play second base. They combined for an 80.4 WAR, 66.8 coming from Roberto, a Hall of Famer with all the tools.
10. Dizzy and Paul Dean
Leaders of the Cardinals' legendary "Gashouse Gang" of the 1930s, the Deans won all four games of the 1934 World Series against the Tigers, two apiece. Dizzy was 30-7 as NL MVP that season and finished his career 150-83 with a 3.02 ERA. Paul was 50-34 with a 3.75 ERA. Combined WAR: 54, 42.7 from Dizzy.
11. Ken and George Brett
A Hall of Fame third baseman with few peers in history, George Brett collected 3,154 hits, won three batting titles and hit .390 in 1980. Ken was considered the more gifted high school athlete in El Segundo, Calif., and could have been a top-tier outfielder. He elected to pitch for the Red Sox and nine other teams, going 83-85 with a 3.93 ERA in 349 games -- often with a sore arm. Their combined WAR was 100.7, George contributing 88.4.
The list of honorable mentions is too long for cyberspace to hold. It should be noted a number of great players (Hank Aaron, Christy Mathewson, Bill Dickey, Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, Robin Yount, Tony Gwynn, Barry Larkin, Greg Maddux, Vladimir Guerrero) had brothers who played in the Majors, but their performances did not reach a level of prominence.