Who Needs a Ring?

Carlos Beltran entered last year’s playoffs with Hall of Fame credentials. Having accumulated 67 WAR, over 400 homers, and a few Gold Gloves out in center field, Beltran’s career was long and nearly finished. He had played in the postseason — including a World Series — and put up bonkers numbers in the process, hitting 16 homers in just 55 games. What he hadn’t done is win a title.

Beltran finally won that title with the Houston Astros.

He was not the only player to complement an impressive career with a championship last fall. Justin Verlander entered last year on a Hall of Fame trajectory. He also lacked a title. Following a trade to Houston, he picked up his first ring as well.

There might not be a Beltran in this postseason, but there are a handful of players with lengthy careers still seeking their first title.

We will start on the position player side. These are the players with the most WAR who have yet to get a championship ring.

Playoff Position Players Without a Title
Name Team G PA HR WAR
Curtis Granderson Brewers 1919 7943 332 48.7
Andrew McCutchen Yankees 1501 6511 223 48.6
Ian Kinsler Red Sox 1801 8018 248 47.7
Ryan Braun Brewers 1583 6691 322 42
Giancarlo Stanton Yankees 1144 4825 305 39
Josh Donaldson Indians 883 3817 182 36.5
Brandon Phillips Red Sox 1902 7992 211 31.7
Edwin Encarnacion Indians 1807 7459 380 31.3
Freddie Freeman Braves 1188 5011 189 30.7
Mookie Betts Red Sox 644 2923 110 30.5
Manny Machado Dodgers 926 4074 175 30.2
Nick Markakis Braves 2001 8711 179 28.5
Matt Kemp Dodgers 1687 6789 280 28.2
Carlos Gonzalez Rockies 1332 5385 231 26.3
Christian Yelich Brewers 790 3463 95 25.9
Nolan Arenado Rockies 876 3695 186 25.3
Francisco Lindor Indians 574 2590 98 22.8
Justin Turner Dodgers 937 3278 93 22.7
Brian Dozier Dodgers 1002 4402 172 22.1
Jason Kipnis Indians 1000 4338 106 21.6
Neil Walker Yankees 1173 4730 141 21.5
Jose Ramirez Indians 641 2596 87 21
J.D. Martinez Red Sox 922 3767 195 20.9
Michael Brantley Indians 1051 4483 87 19.5
Charlie Blackmon Rockies 920 3873 140 19
Kurt Suzuki Braves 1394 5319 114 18.9
Ian Desmond Rockies 1338 5462 161 18.3
Chris Iannetta Rockies 1145 4089 135 18.1
Yasiel Puig Dodgers 712 2765 108 16.8

Curtis Granderson takes the top spot, here. He was on pennant-winning Tigers, Mets, and Dodgers teams, though he didn’t play in the World Series a year ago. He also joined the Yankees the year after they won a title. Granderson still proved useful this season with a wRC+ of 116 in 403 plate appearances — including 93% of them against righties — and continued to play well off the bench for Milwaukee. At 37 years old, this might be his last, best shot at a title.

Andrew McCutchen still has several years remaining after he turns 32 years old next week, but he has put up a very good career, including an MVP award in 2013 as well three other top-five finishes. Ryan Braun probably isn’t high on anyone’s list of players to cheer for after his PED suspension and the way he handled said suspension, but he does have an MVP award, and at 34 years old, probably doesn’t have too many more chances at a ring. Ian Kinsler is more in the Granderson mold with a good, long career nearing its end after multiple close chances at a World Series win that just didn’t go his way.

Looking through a slightly different lens, here are the potential postseason players based on plate appearances.

Playoff Position Players Without a Title
Name Team G PA HR WAR
Nick Markakis Braves 2001 8711 179 28.5
Ian Kinsler Red Sox 1801 8018 248 47.7
Brandon Phillips Red Sox 1902 7992 211 31.7
Curtis Granderson Brewers 1919 7943 332 48.7
Edwin Encarnacion Indians 1807 7459 380 31.3
Matt Kemp Dodgers 1687 6789 280 28.2
Ryan Braun Brewers 1583 6691 322 42
Andrew McCutchen Yankees 1501 6511 223 48.6
Ian Desmond Rockies 1338 5462 161 18.3
Carlos Gonzalez Rockies 1332 5385 231 26.3
Kurt Suzuki Braves 1394 5319 114 18.9
Freddie Freeman Braves 1188 5011 189 30.7
Gerardo Parra Rockies 1347 4882 79 9.6
Giancarlo Stanton Yankees 1144 4825 305 39
Neil Walker Yankees 1173 4730 141 21.5
Rajai Davis Indians 1419 4581 61 12
Michael Brantley Indians 1051 4483 87 19.5
Brian Dozier Dodgers 1002 4402 172 22.1
Jason Kipnis Indians 1000 4338 106 21.6
Chris Iannetta Rockies 1145 4089 135 18.1
Manny Machado Dodgers 926 4074 175 30.2
Charlie Blackmon Rockies 920 3873 140 19
Josh Donaldson Indians 883 3817 182 36.5
DJ LeMahieu Rockies 955 3799 49 11.1
Mitch Moreland Red Sox 1046 3797 147 5.5
J.D. Martinez Red Sox 922 3767 195 20.9
Nolan Arenado Rockies 876 3695 186 25.3
Christian Yelich Brewers 790 3463 95 25.9
Lucas Duda Braves 919 3462 152 8.1
Yonder Alonso Indians 951 3438 90 6.6

Nick Markakis sure has played a lot, and his resurgence with a 114 wRC+ at 34 years is old is one of the reasons the Braves made the postseason. He’s only played in one postseason, back in 2014 with the Orioles. Brandon Phillips has had a long career, but he might not make the Red Sox postseason roster. A few of the same players who rate highly on the WAR table also come up big over here.

As for the pitchers, there’s one name in terms of accomplishments that sits pretty high compared to his peers.

Playoff Pitchers Without a Title
Name Team G IP ERA FIP WAR
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers 318 2096.1 2.39 2.64 61.6
Chris Sale Red Sox 287 1482.1 2.89 2.86 41.8
David Price Red Sox 299 1922.1 3.25 3.34 40.7
Corey Kluber Indians 201 1306 3.09 2.96 34.4
Gio Gonzalez Brewers 307 1814 3.69 3.63 29.9
Anibal Sanchez Braves 309 1729.1 3.99 3.85 27.6
Rick Porcello Red Sox 311 1863 4.26 4.02 25.4
Carlos Carrasco Indians 207 1094.1 3.71 3.33 22.7
Gerrit Cole Astros 159 982.2 3.37 3.15 22.3
J.A. Happ* Yankees 284 1530.2 3.9 4.1 20.1
Craig Kimbrel Red Sox 542 532.2 1.91 1.96 19.1
Kenley Jansen Dodgers 543 548.2 2.2 2.12 17.7
Jhoulys Chacin Brewers 230 1215.2 3.86 4.07 15.9
Masahiro Tanaka Yankees 132 824.1 3.59 3.8 15.5
Rich Hill Dodgers 271 878.2 3.91 3.92 15.4
Trevor Bauer Indians 160 904 3.94 3.82 15
Alex Wood Dodgers 172 803.1 3.29 3.36 14.1
Wade Miley Brewers 216 1236.1 4.26 4.06 13.8
*Has a ring. Pitched for Phillies in 2008 playoffs, but not World Series

The depth of the veteran pitching isn’t nearly as strong when it comes to those seeking a title. The 30-year-old Kershaw should have more opportunities in future years, but the gap before we get down to Chris Sale on this list is pretty enormous. Kershaw also leads in innings among the players without a ring despite his relative youth. The Red Sox have a couple really good pitchers who have never won a title in Sale and David Price. Corey Kluber got really, really close two years ago. Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen make this list as relievers. If you wanted to know who had pitched in the most games without winning a title, that honor goes to Joakim Soria. He was on the Royals back when they were bad, pitched for a handful of other teams and then rejoined the Royals after they won a title. He hasn’t been on the Brewers too long, but he is an important part of their pen.

There isn’t quite a Carlos Beltran-like player to root for in this year’s playoffs, but if your team isn’t in the postseason, you could do worse than cheering for McCutchen, Granderson, Kinsler, or Kershaw to finally get a ring.

We hoped you liked reading Who Needs a Ring? by Craig Edwards!

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Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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stever20
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Member
stever20

anyone else surprised that Price has thrown only 174 fewer innings than Kershaw right now?

Magician_531
Member
Magician_531

He’s always been an innings eater (lead the league a few times) and Kershaw has also been injured

stever20
Member
Member
stever20

Price has led the league 2x and had a year finishing 3rd.
Kerhsaw has led the league once, twice finished 2nd, and once 3rd.

I also guess I thought Price was just a bit younger than he is.

Billsaints
Member
Billsaints

TB does that to you