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Mark Teixeira and other “very good” players of the 21st century

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Sometimes the “Hall of Very Good” players have memorable careers, but are forgotten as time goes on. Let’s give these five players their due.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 season was the end of Mark Teixeira’s career. His major-league tenure began in 2003 with the Texas Rangers, saw stops in Atlanta and Los Angeles (Angels), and finally culminated with eight solid years with the New York Yankees, including a World Series championship in 2009. Now, this article will not be one where I argue Teixeira is a Hall of Famer, because he is not – he was “just” a very good baseball player and an impact player at first base who was a key cog on every team he played on. Rather, I will focus on other “very good” players in the timeframe of Teixeira’a career, who might not otherwise get the credit they deserve.

Let’s begin with Mark Teixeira himself. In his career, Teixeira batted .268 with 409 home runs, a 127 wRC+, 1862 hits, and totaled 45 fWAR. Except for 2013 (wrist injury) and 2016, Mark Teixeira hit over 20 home runs in every other season. Here is one of the top moments of Teixeira’s Yankee career:

He was a three time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves. As a first basemen, Teixeira accumulated 103 DRS in 15,176 innings. Besides being a switch hitting power threat, Teixeira always was a defensive stalwart at first base.

The other players were chosen in order of fWAR from 2003-2016 and are no longer active. Also, they are players that will fall short of Hall of Fame election (in my opinion).

* Jimmy Rollins actually had a career fWAR of 45.9 from 2003 - 2016, but since he has not officially retired (and just signed with the Giants), I did not include him on this list.

Lance Berkman

.293/.406/.537, 366 HR, 144 wRC+, 1905 hits, 56.1 career fWAR (40.6 from 03-13)

Similar to Teixeira, Lance Berkman was a switch hitting power threat who spent the majority of his career at first base. However, Berkman did accumulate time at all three outfield positions, mainly the corners. Berkman’s career began in 1999 with the Houston Astros and stayed there until 2010 when he was traded to the Yankees. In 2011, Berkman joined the Cardinals and helped lead them to an all-time classic come-from-behind win to take the World Series.

He stayed in St. Louis until he joined the Texas Rangers in 2013, the final stop in his career. Berkman won one World Series and was a six time All-Star.

He was a part of the “Killer B’s” in Houston of the late 90’s/early 00’s, along with Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. Berkman helped lead that Astros core to the World Series in 2005, where they fell short against the Chicago White Sox. Berkman’s best season, according to fWAR, was in 2008, when he totaled 7.7 fWAR with 29 home runs, and even had a career-high 18 stolen bases (something he certainly was not known for).

Berkman was never the best player on his team, as evidenced by the fact he played with a Hall of Famer in Craig Biggio and another potential Hall of Famer in Jeff Bagwell while in Houston. Still, he certainly was the type of winning player that came through in the clutch when he was most needed. (He batted .317 in 52 games in the postseason, with numerous memorable moments.)

Scott Rolen

.281/.364/.490, 316 HR, 122 wRC+, 2077 hits, 70.1 career fWAR (37.6 from 03-12)

Scott Rolen was one of the premier players at his position, third base, over the course of his career. He began in 1996 with the Philadelphia Phillies, but while he was having great success his team was not. Eventually, in 2002, he was traded to the Cardinals and helped lead them to two pennants in his five-and-a-half seasons in Cardinal red. 2004 saw him have the best season in his career, as he posted a whopping 9 fWAR with career highs in home runs (34) and career high wRC+ (159). All this helped lead the Cardinals to the World Series in 2004, including this clutch home run on the way:

Before leaving St. Louis, Rolen was a part of the World Series-winning team in 2006. Rolen saw time in Toronto and Cincinnati before calling it a career after the 2012 season. Rolen was a seven time All-Star, Rookie of the Year winner in 1997, and won eight Gold Gloves.

Aramis Ramirez

.283/.341/.492, 386 HR, 115 wRC+, 2303 Hits, 38.4 fWAR (36.5 from 03-15)

Aramis Ramirez joins Scott Rolen as the only third basemen on the list. Ramirez came up with the Pittsburgh Pirates at the time when they were in the midst of a nearly two decade-long playoff drought. In 2003, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs as they were chasing the elusive end to the curse of the billy goat, and the addition of Ramirez helped make an impact for them in the postseason.

Ramirez would stay in Chicago until signing with the Brewers before the 2012 season, and would stay there before returning to the place where it all started, Pittsburgh, for the second half of the 2015 season. Ramirez would call it a career after the 2015 season as a three-time All-Star.

Alfonso Soriano

.270/.319/.500, 412 HR, 111 wRC+, 2095 Hits, 39.8 fWAR (34.9 from 03-14)

Alfonso Soriano was a versatile player before it was as valued as it is today. He played numerous positions on the diamond, but mainly left field and second base. He came up in 1999 with the Yankees and remained in the Bronx until he was traded for Alex Rodriguez before the 2004 season. His career continued from Texas to Washington, Chicago, and back to the Yankees to finish off his career. Soriano is best remembered for his time in pinstripes, and a home run off Curt Schilling in one of the greatest Game 7’s in baseball history.

Perhaps his best season came in 2007, his first as a Cub, when he posted 6.7 fWAR with 33 home runs and a 122 wRC+ leading the Cubs to the NL Central crown. Soriano finished his career as a seven-time All-Star and small part of the 1999 and 2000 World Champion New York Yankees.

While the above five players will most likely not be enshrined in Cooperstown, they are well worth a trip down memory lane to appreciate how good they were during their careers. There are players from every era who, as time moves on, tend to fade in the memories of those who watched them because they will not be immortalized in the Hall of Fame, but they were still some of the top players of their generation, and it’s worth taking a moment to remember them.

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Carl Triano is a contributor at Beyond the Box Score and Minor League Ball.