The brotherhood of New Jersey-born ballplayers isn’t a small one. With 432 Major Leaguers to date (according to Baseball-Reference), it ranks 10th all-time among states.
But Rick Porcello — born in Morristown, and a product of Seton Hall Prep — last night joined a more exclusive club of two: He and the Dodgers’ Don Newcombe are the only native Garden Staters to win a Cy Young Award. Born in Madison, Newcombe took home the first one in 1956 (when there was only one award for both leagues), along with the NL MVP Award. (Honorable mention goes to 1988 NL winner Orel Hershiser, who was born in Buffalo, N.Y., but went to high school at Cherry Hill East. Perhaps others played prep ball in New Jersey as well, but I haven’t researched them all to that extent.)
Trout in 2012 was the last from New Jersey to win Rookie of the Year. That rather robust list (compared to these other two) also includes Oakland’s Andrew Bailey out of Voorhees (AL, 2009); the Yankees’ Derek Jeter, born in Pequannock (AL, 1996); Kansas City’s Bob Hamelin of Elizabeth (AL, 1994); San Francisco’s John Montefusco from Long Branch (NL, 1975); Brooklyn’s Joe Black of Plainfield (NL, 1952) and Newcombe in ’49. (Since I singled out Hershiser as a Jersey transplant earlier, it’s only fair to note that after being born here, Jeter played his high school ball in Michigan and Hamelin did so in California.)
But did you catch that one name kept popping up? That’s right, New Jersey’s own Don Newcombe is one of just two players in MLB history to win the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP awards in his career. The other is Detroit’s Justin Verlander, who just missed out on his second AL Cy Young Award last night — which incensed his Michigan-born fiancee, Kate Upton.
While among the most decorated players to come out of New Jersey, Newcombe falls short of being the best from the Garden State. His six-season peak from 1949-56 was interrupted by two years in the military. From 1949-51, he went 56-28 with a 3.39 ERA and a 13.0 wins above replacement (Baseball-Reference version and second on the Dodgers). After his two years of service, he went 56-20 with a 3.44 ERA and a 7.9 bWAR (which led the Dodgers for that period). The rest of his career, from 1957-60, he went 37-42 with a 3.85 ERA and 8.7 bWAR.
So here are the Top 10 Garden State natives in Major League history since 1901, based on bWAR:
All-Time WAR Leaders from NJ
|Goose Goslin (HOF)||66.1|
|Joe Medwick (HOF)||55.6|
|Johnny Vander Meer||27.0|
Porcello’s 16.3 ranks 12th among pitchers, 27th overall. But check back in as little as three years: The Millville Missile may shoot to the top of that list.