A long career and even the Hall of Fame doesn't ensure a spot in the Fall Classic
(Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t played in a World Series. Neither has Aaron Judge. Ryan Braun just retired without ever seeing a Fall Classic, and Joey Votto and Andrew McCutchen seem destined for the same fate.
Playing on baseball’s biggest stage is far from a given, no matter how big your pedigree or how long you stick around the game. Here’s a look at the 20 players who played the most games in Major League Baseball without ever appearing in a World Series game.
20. Andres Galarraga
(RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports)
Years played: 1985-2004.
Games played: 2,257.
“Big Cat” was a five-time All-Star, a NL batting champion (1993) and a NL home run leader (1996). He was also the victim of some bad luck. While Galarraga was a member of the 1999 National League champion Atlanta Braves, he missed the entire season while battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
19. Chris Speier
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Years played: 1971-1989.
Games played: 2,260.
Speier made three playoff appearances (1971 Giants, 1981 Expos and 1987 Giants). He also played 28 games for the National League champion Giants in 1989, but did not appear in the playoffs. He did finally get a World Series ring, however, as third base coach for the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.
18. B.J. Surhoff
(Doug Pensinger /Allsport)
Years played: 1987-2005.
Games played: 2,313.
Surhoff made the playoffs four times as a member of the 1996-97 Orioles and 2000-01 Braves, but none of the teams ever reached the World Series.
17. Frank Thomas
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Years played: 1990-2008.
Games played: 2,322.
Thomas put together a Hall of Fame career, winning two MVPs and becoming a member of the 500-homer club. An injury in mid-2005, however, kept him from participating in the White Sox’s only World Series appearance in the last 62 years.
16. Brian Downing
(Photo by: Ken Levine/Getty Images)
Years played: 1973-1992.
Games played: 2,344.
Downing appeared in three ALCS for the California Angels, but the Halos never advanced.
15. Jose Cruz
(Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Years played: 1970-1988.
Games played: 2,353.
Jose Cruz never appeared a World Series, nor did his son, Jose Cruz Jr., who played 1,388 games in his career from 1997 to 2008.
14. Sammy Sosa
Years played: 1989-2007.
Games played: 2,354.
The 2003 Cubs got one win away, but a famous eighth-inning collapse against the Marlins in Game 6 of the NLCS interfered in a big way.
13. Torii Hunter
(David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)
Years played: 1997-2015.
Games played: 2,372.
Hunter had his share of chances, reaching the ALCS with three different franchises — Twins (2002), Angels (2009) and Tigers (2013).
12. Buddy Bell
(Stephen Dunn /Allsport)
Years played: 1972-1989.
Games played: 2,405.
October was only a rumor during Buddy Bell’s life in baseball. He either played or managed in 3,648 games over 27 seasons and never reached the postseason once.
11. Mickey Vernon
Years played: 1939-1960.
Games played: 2,409.
Vernon joined both the Indians (1949) and Braves (1959) a year after each franchise reached the World Series. He was a member of the 1960 Pirates, but wasn’t on the World Series roster.
10. Luke Appling
Years played: 1930-1950.
Games played: 2,422.
Appling is one of the greatest players in White Sox history, but the franchise never put a real team around him. The Pale Hose never finished any higher than third place during his 20-year career.
9. Bobby Abreu
(Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Years played: 1996-2014.
Games played: 2,425.
Abreu was a good player whose timing just wasn’t great. He left the Phillies just before the dawn of the Ryan Howard-Jimmy Rollins-Chase Utley era, and departed the Yankees the winter before they won the 2009 World Series.
8. Rod Carew
(Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports)
Years played: 1967-1985.
Games played: 2,469.
Carew made four ALCS appearances — two with the Twins (1969-70) and two with the Angels (1979 and 1982). His famous bat didn’t do him any favors. His slash line over 14 career playoff games was .220/.291/.300.
7. Billy Williams
(Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)
Years played: 1959-1976.
Games played: 2,488.
After years of being held down by the Cubs, Williams finally got a postseason appearance as a 37-year-old with the 1975 A’s. Oakland, however, fell to the Red Sox before Williams could reach a destination that Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins and Ron Santo also couldn’t.
6. Julio Franco
(Al Bello /Allsport)
Years played: 1982-2007.
Games played: 2,527.
Franco was released by the 1997 Indians in August, just before Cleveland reached the World Series. He also got two plate appearances for the Mets as a 47-year-old in the 2006 NLCS.
5. Ernie Banks
(Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)
Years played: 1953-1971.
Games played: 2,528.
For the longest time, Banks was held up as the greatest player to never appear in a World Series game. That may have changed with Ken Griffey Jr., but the travesty still hurts for most Cubs fans.
4. Andre Dawson
(Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Years played: 1976-1996.
Games played: 2,627.
The future Hall of Famer made two playoff appearances with the 1981 Expos and 1989 Cubs.
3. Ichiro Suzuki
(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Years played: 2001-2019.
Games played: 2,653.
Ichiro was the AL MVP and ROY while leading the 2001 Seattle Mariners to a record 116 wins. But there will always be a lot of regrets over how that season ended. Ichiro would only make one more postseason appearance in his career (2012 Yankees).
2. Ken Griffey Jr.
(VJ Lovero-USA TODAY NETWORK)
Years played: 1989-2010.
Games played: 2,671.
Griffey made two playoff appearances with the Mariners (1995 and 1997), then went into a postseason drought for his entire Cincinnati tenure. His final October visit was with the 2008 White Sox, who lost in four games to the Tampa Bay Rays.
1. Rafael Palmeiro
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Years played: 1986-2005.
Games played: 2,831.
Did Palmeiro’s career ever happen? His numbers are eye-popping, but his performance on Capitol Hill in 2005 made him a persona non grata. Throw in no Fall Classic highlights and he’s basically been forgotten about.