Thursday

MLB Athlete Number 57 - Johan Santana

Johan Santana, arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball for a period of time, is a strikeout machine, and is also the best MLB athlete to ever wear the jersey number 57.

Santana has played with the Twins (2000 through 2007) and the Mets (2008 and 2009 - through the '09 season obviously) during his ten year stint in the major leagues. During that time span, Santana has worn the jersey number 57 the entire time.

Santana has a 122-60 record (through '09), good enough for a career .670 winning percentage. Where his stats really shine though are in the strikeout column. Over 1,709.2 career innings pitched, Johan Santana has struck out 1,733 batters. Most impressive.

He also has a low 3.12 career ERA. In fact, he led his league in ERA three separate seasons (in 2004 and 2006 with the Twins - 2.61 and 2.77 ERAs respectively; and in 2008 with the Mets - 2.53 ERA).

Did you know.........Santana once played ball in the Houston Astros organization?

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MLB Athlete Number 56 - Mark Buehrle

Mark Buehrle has worn the jersey number 56 throughout his career with the Chicago White Sox, and has performed remarkably well on the mound while doing so.

In ten MLB seasons (through the 2009 MLB season), Buehrle has won 135 games (he has a career .582 winning percentage). Buehrle has put up double digit numbers in the win column in each season he has pitched, save his rookie season, when he only started 3 games (but won 4).

Buehrle is an extremely durable pitcher, eating innings like they were cookies. During the 2004 and 2005 seasons he led the league in innings pitched (with 245.3 and 236.7 respectively).

During his career in the bigs, Buehrle has a career 3.80 ERA to go with 1,188 strikeouts.

Did you know.........Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game on July 23, 2009?

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Monday

MLB Athlete Number 55 - Orel Hershiser

Orel Hershiser, who came up to the Major Leagues with the L.A. Dodgers in 1983 at the age of 24, is the best MLB athlete to ever wear the baseball jersey number 55.

When I first started contemplating this jersey number, the first MLB athlete who came to mind was Hideki Matsui. The 2009 World Series MVP is certainly one of the best to ever wear jersey number 55. But upon further investigation, and recollection, Orel Hershiser is the clear choice as the best MLB athlete to ever wear number 55.

Drafted by the L.A. Dodgers in 1979, Orel Hershiser didn't get his first MLB win until the age of 25 in 1984, when he went 11-8 with a 2.66 ERA for the year. He would go on to rack up wins the way that Dodger great Duke Snider racked up homers: prodigiously. After 18 MLB seasons, Hershiser would retire at the age of 41 with 204 games won. Some of his MLB career highlights:

  • .864 winning percentage in 1985 (19-3 record, led league)
  • 1988 league leader in wins (23)
  • 2,014 career strikeouts
  • 1988 NL Cy Young winner
  • 1988 World Series MVP
  • Twice led the NL in shutouts (1984 and 1988)
  • 1988 NL leader in complete games

Did you know...............that Hershiser's nickname is "Bulldog"?

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Saturday

MLB Athlete Number 54 - Rich "Goose" Gossage

Rich Gossage, usually referred to by baseball fans as "Goose" Gossage, pitched well enough over his 22 years in Major League Baseball to earn him an induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, and to be named as the best MLB athlete to ever wear the baseball jersey number 54.

Although Gossage played for nine different MLB teams, he is probably best known as a New York Yankee. (He wears a Yankee hat on his HOF plaque.) Gossage was a Yankee between the years of 1978 and 1983. His best year, statistically, as a Yankee is arguably 1983, when he won 13 games (as a reliever), had a 2.27 ERA, and 90 strikeouts in 87.1 innings pitched.

  • 3-time AL Save Leader (1975, 1978 and 1980)
  • 124 MLB wins
  • 3.01 MLB ERA
  • 310 MLB saves
  • 1502 MLB strikeouts

Gossage started his career in Major League Baseball at 20 years old, and had a 7-1 record as a rookie.

Did you know.......that although Gossage played for nine different MLB teams over 22 seasons, he wore jersey number 54 every year?

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Thursday

MLB Athlete Number 53 - Don Drysdale

Don Drysdale was very nearly the pick for the best professional athlete to ever wear the uniform number 53, and he is certainly the best MLB athlete to ever wear number 53.

Drysdale broke into Major League Baseball at the tender age of 19, with the Bums of Brooklyn (otherwise known as the Brooklyn Dodgers), in 1956. He would play for Brooklyn for two seasons before that franchise packed up and moved west to L.A., where Drysdale would continue to play through the 1969 season (his 14th).

Don Drysdale racked up some impressive stats and accolades during his major league career.
  • 1962 Cy Young Winner (he won 25 games that year with a 2.83 ERA
  • 3-time NL Strikeout King
  • 49 career shutouts
  • 209 career wins
  • 2.95 career ERA
  • 2-time 20 game winner
  • Batted .300 in 1965 (in 130 at-bats)
  • 29 career home runs hit
  • 1984 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee
Did you know......that according to www.baseball-reference.com, Don Drysdale was 6 feet, 6 inches tall?

Best NBA Number 53
Best NHL Number 53
Best NFL Number 53

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Wednesday

MLB Athlete Number 52 - C.C. Sabathia

C.C. Sabathia wears a baseball jersey number that isn't commonly worn by superstars in major league baseball. That doesn't mean that he hasn't earned the honor of being the best MLB athlete to ever wear the baseball jersey number 52.

In nine years of major league baseball (through 2009), Sabathia has proven himself to be one of the elite starting pitchers in the bigs. Indians fans must have been cringing when Sabathia was sent to the Brewers. And Yankee fans were smiling ear to ear when their team won the 2009 World Series with Sabathia as their number one ace on the mound.

(All career stats referenced are through the 2009 MLB season). During his nine year career, Sabathia has played in 288 games and was the starting pitcher in all 288 games. He's put up a stellar .627 winning percentage (with 136 total wins), paired with a fairly low 3.62 career ERA.

Sabathia isn't a strikeout machine, but he has whiffed a respectable 1,590 batters in 1,889.1 innings pitched. To see more C.C. Sabathia stats visit www.baseball-almanac.com.

Did you know......C.C. Sabathia is 6 feet, 7 inches tall?

Get your number 52 C.C. Sabathia jersey here.

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Sunday

MLB Athlete Number 51 - Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson is the pick for the best overall professional athlete to wear the jersey number 51, not just the MLB jersey number 51. It's interesting how popular the number 51 is with some of the top athletes in sports. In baseball alone, you have a beloved Yankee, one of the games best closers, and one of the games best hitters ever who all have worn jersey number 51.

RJ's stats over an impressive career in Major League Baseball give him the nod over the other great athletes who could be considered here. If you aren't familiar with Johnson's impressive career pitching stats, check out the post on why he's the best professional athlete to ever wear the jersey number 51.

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Monday

MLB Athlete Number 50 - Sid Fernandez

Sid "El Sid" Fernandez is the best MLB athlete to ever wear the jersey number 50. You probably knew that Sid Fernandez was one of the New York Mets best pitchers and a key component of their 1986 Championship season team. But have you taken a look at his career pitching stats? They are high caliber for sure.


114 career wins
.543 career winning percentage
3.36 lifetime ERA
1743 career strikeouts in 1866.2 career innings pitched (with only 715 career walks)
1989 League Win-Loss percentage leader (.737)
1985 Strikeouts per 9 Innings Pitched leader (9.511)

In 1985, at age 22, Fernandez started 26 games. Although the win column showed only nine for El Sid that year, his other stats showed a far more phenomenal pitching performance. He had 180 strikeouts in 170.1 innings pitched and a 2.80 ERA. In subsequent seasons where he was the starting pitcher in 30 or more games for the season, Fernandez twice had a sub-3 ERA (in 1989 he had 2.83 ERA in 32 GS, and in 1992 he had a 2.73 ERA in 32 GS; he also had a 3.03 ERA in 31 GS in 1988 and a 2.93 ERA in 18 GS in 1993.

Hailing from Honolulu, Hawaii, according to the Wikipedia entry for Sid Fernandez, he wore the baseball jersey number 50 in honor of his home state, the 50th in the Union.

Did you know that Fernandez's given first name is Charles, not Sid?

To see the pick for the best professional athlete to ever wear the jersey number 50, click here.

(credits: Wikipedia, baseball-reference.com)

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