Shalom Life | September 01, 2015

Meet Your Jewish MLB All-Stars: Class Of 2015

Were the first words in the Torah supposed to be “In the big inning?”

By: Harlan Nemers

Published: April 27th, 2015 in Sports » Local

Meet Your Jewish MLB All-Stars: Class Of 2015

Photo: Kevin Pillar of the Toronto Blue Jays

Credit: The Toronto Star


Over the course of history, some 163 Jewish players have graced a Major League Baseball stadium, of which only a handful are still playing today. Of course, there were the great ones like three-time Cy Young winner Sandy Koufax, and the not-so-great-ones like Jason Hirsh who had a career 5.32 ERA in just 32 games.

Today, with a new MLB season freshly underway, there are twelve Jewish ball players in the league, with three playing for the Oakland Athletics and two for the Toronto Blue Jays. Here's a brief look at those players who are currently active, in no particular order.

Ryan Braun

Current Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Position: Right Field

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Even though Braun's mother is Catholic ( his father is Jewish), Braun considers himself a member of the tribe and is even nicknamed the Hebrew Hammer. In 2011, the right fielder hit .332 and mashed 33 home runs en route to winning the NL MVP, becoming just the fourth self-identifying Jewish player to do so.

http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/files/2014/02/Danny-Valencia1.jpg

Danny Valencia

Current Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Position: Third base

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Valencia, who was raised religiously and went to Hebrew school as a child, apparently once got teased in a clubhouse for being Jewish. Though he was selected in the 19th round of the 2006 draft, Valencia finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2010, with a .310 batting average, seven home runs and 40 RBI.

Ike Davis

Current Team: Oakland Athletics

Position: First Base

Hometown: Edina, Minnesota

Fun Fact, the "culturally Jewish" first baseman's name isn’t even Ike — it’s Isaac. A former New York Mets first round pick, Davis was named to the Jewish Sports Review First-Team All-American in 2006 and 2007. He led the New York Mets in home runs in 2012 with 32, the highest mark in his career.

Craig Breslow

Current Team: Boston Red Sox

Position: Relief Pitcher

Hometown: New Haven, Connecticut

With both parents Jewish, Breslow attended Hebrew School and had his bar Mitzvah in 1993. He even fasted on Yom Kippur while playing in 2013. In 2006, Breslow was one of four Jewish players to play at the same time for the Red Sox. He had the third-best ERA amongst Boston Red Sox pitchers in 2013 with a mark of 1.81 and has not allowed an earned run in 9.2 innings in 2015.

Ian Kinsler

Current Team: Detroit Tigers

Position: Second Base

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Kinsler has the most steals for a Jewish ball-player with 188, passing Shawn Green for second in 2013. A three-time AL All Star (2010, 2012, 2014), he's hit at least 10 home runs in all of his nine seasons (save for one). He was also picked by ESPN baseball writer Jayson Stark as the AL MVP for the first half of the 2008 season.

Kevin Pillar

Current Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Position: Outfielder

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Growing up as a kid, Pillar once said that he "celebrated pretty much all of the holidays," though he did have a Bar Mitzvah, and his mother is Jewish. In fact, even while attending a Catholic high school, Pillar studied Hebrew studies and Judaism in his religion classes. In his third year with the Blue Jays, Pillar has the third highest range factor amongst left fielders in the MLB this year and is the only left fielder to have turned a double play.

Jason Marquis

Current Team: Cincinnati Reds

Position: Pitcher

Hometown: New York

Marquis was raised in a Conservative household, attended Hebrew school and observes the major Jewish holidays. Even as a pitcher, he was able to push his manager to give him an extra day of rest in between starts as to avoid pitching on Yom Kippur. He also is one of just five Jewish pitchers ever to record at least 100 career wins.

Sam Fuld

Current Team: Oakland Athletics

Position: Outfielder

Hometown: Durham, New Hampshire

Last year, Fuld notched career highs in at-bats (351), home runs (4), RBIs (36) and stolen bases (21). In the four games where he hit a home run, his team won. He also currently has the highest range factor amongst all MLB centre fielders through 15 games this season.

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Joc Pederson

Current Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Position: Outfielder

Hometown: Palo Alto, California

Growing up, Pederson has said that he was raised in a "pretty Jewish community" and even went on to play for Team Israel at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. In 2014, while in the Pacific Coast League, Pederson hit home runs and stole 30 bases, the first time that's happened since 1934. He was named the 2014 PCL MVP, and has already hit his first major league home run with the Dodgers this year.

Scott Feldman

Current Team: Houston Astros

Position: Pitcher

Hometown: Honolulu County, Hawaii

In 2009, Feldman won more games (17) than any Jewish pitcher in decades, when Steve Stone of the Baltimore Orioles won 25 in 1980. In 2014, his 20 quality starts were tied for 17th in the American League. It will be a pleasure to see what he can do for Houston.

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