Top 10 MLB Baseball Players from the University of Arizona

The University of Arizona baseball team has had very prominent success over the years as an athletic program. Over the team’s history, the Wildcats have appeared in the NCAA Division I Baseball tournament 36 times, appeared in the College World Series 15 times (most recently in 2004), and won three National Championships in 1976, 1980, and 1986. Over the years, there have been many notable players who have played in MLB. Here’s a look at the top ten players to come out of the University of Arizona.

10. Terry Francona

Years at Arizona: 1978-1980

Years in MLB: 1981-1990

Career MLB Teams: Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers

Position: First baseman/Outfielder

Career batting average: .274

Career hits: 474

Career runs batted in: 143

Career achievements: 1980 Golden Spikes Award winner, 1980 College World Series Most Outstanding Player, two-time World Series champion (2004, 2007)

After coming out of the College World Series as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, Francona went onto becoming a contact hitter with few stats to show for it. However, Francona has made his name as a manager for the Boston Red Sox, winning two World Series and winning over 1,000 games in his managing career.

9. Dan Meyer

Years at Arizona: 1971

Years in MLB: 1974-1985

Career MLB Teams: Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics

Position: First baseman/Left fielder/Third baseman

Career batting average: .253

Career home runs: 86

Career runs batted in: 459

Career achievements:

Debuting in the major leagues at the age of 19, Meyer had a solid career. During the 1974 Major League Baseball expansion draft, Meyer was selected by the Seattle Mariners ninth overall and was the starting first baseman in the opening day lineup of the Mariners 1977 inaugural season.

8. Mark Melancon

Years at Arizona: 2004-2006

Years in MLB: 2009-present

Career MLB Teams: New York Yankees, Houston Astros

Position: Relief pitcher

Career win-loss record: 7-4

Career earned run average: 3.43

Career strikeouts: 70

Career saves: 8

Melancon set the University of Arizona school record with 18 career saves in three seasons with the team. Still early in his career, he was traded from the Yankees to the Astros for Lance Berkman and has recently become the closer for the Astros.

7. Craig Lefferts

Years at Arizona: 1978-1980

Years in MLB: 1983-1994

Career MLB Teams: Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, California Angels

Position: Relief pitcher

Career win-loss record: 58-72

Career games pitched: 696

Career earned run average: 3.43

Career saves: 101

Career achievements: Set a Padres single-season record by pitching in 86 games during 1986 season

Primarily a relief pitcher during his career, Lefferts pitched for six different teams in his 12-year career. Sporting a 3.43 ERA, he helped the Padres win the 1984 NL Pennant and the Giants win the 1989 NL Pennant. Since his retirement, Lefferts has now become the pitching coach for the minor league team Stockton Ports.

6. Ron Hassey

Years at Arizona: 1974-1976

Years in MLB: 1978-1991

Career MLB Teams: Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Montreal Expos

Position: Catcher

Career batting average: .266

Career home runs: 71

Career runs batted in: 438

Career achievements: 1989 World Series champion, only major league catcher to catch two perfect games

An average offensive catcher during his career, Hassey is best known for being the only catcher in MLB history to catch two perfect games, one by Len Barker in 1981 and the other by Dennis Martinez in 1991. He is currently the manager of the minor league club Jupiter Hammerheads.

5. Scott Erickson

Years at Arizona: 1989

Years in MLB: 1990-2006

Career MLB Teams: Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees

Position: Starting pitcher

Career win-loss record: 142-136

Career earned run average: 4.59

Career strikeouts: 1,252

Career achievements: 1991 World Series champion, 1991 All-Star selection

A groundball pitcher, Erickson was the first Twins pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the Metrodome. During his best season in 1991, he led the majors in wins with a record of 20-8 and helped them to their World Series-winning season.

4. Hank Leiber

Years at Arizona: 1929-1931

Years in MLB: 1933-1942

Career MLB Teams: New York Giants, Chicago Cubs

Position: Outfielder

Career batting average: .288

Career home runs: 101

Career runs batted in: 518

Career achievements: Three-time All-Star selection (1938, 1940, 1941)

During his 10-year major league career, Leiber is best known for hitting one of the longest fly ball outs in the history of MLB. During Game 2 of the 1936 World Series at the Polo Ground, his fly ball to center field traveled approximately 490 feet from home plate until Joe Dimaggio collected the final out of the game. Aside from this moment, his best year came when he hit .331 with 22 home runs and 107 runs batted in.

3. J.T. Snow

Years at Arizona: 1987-1989

Years in MLB: 1990-2002

Career MLB Teams: New York Yankees, California Angels, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox

Position: First baseman

Career batting average: .268

Career home runs: 189

Career runs batted in: 877

Career stolen bases: 247

Career achievements: Six-time Gold Glove Award winner (1995-2000)

Best known for his exceptional defense at first base, Snow played the majority of his career with the Giants. Two of Snow’s defining moments with the team were his three-run pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against the New York Mets in the 2000 National League Division Series and rescued 3-year-old batboy Darren Baker during Game 5 of the 2002 World Series, prompting a MLB rule change requiring batboys and girls to be at least 14 years of age.

2. Kenny Lofton

Years at Arizona: 1988

Years in MLB: 1991-2007

Career MLB Teams: Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers

Position: Center fielder

Career batting average: .299

Career hits: 2,428

Career home runs: 130

Career stolen bases: 622

Career achievements: Six-time All-Star selection (1994-1999), four-time Golden Glove Award winner (1993-1996)

A potential Hall-of-Fame player, Lofton was also a part of the University of Arizona men’s basketball team as backup point guard behind Steve Kerr. In MLB, Lofton had led the league at various times in hits, triples, at-bats, center fielder assists, and stolen bases by an AL rookie. He also holds the MLB record for most post-season stolen bases with 34 and for the most different teams played on in the playoffs with six.

1. Trevor Hoffman

Years at Arizona: 1987-1989

Years in MLB: 1993-2010

Career MLB Teams: Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers

Position: Relief pitcher

Career games pitched: 1,035

Career win-loss record: 61-75

Career earned run average: 2.87

Career strikeouts: 1,133

Career saves: 601

Career achievements: All-time leader in regular season saves, seven-time All-Star selection (1998-2000, 2002, 2006-2007, 2009)

One of the greatest closers in the history of the game, Hoffman is the all-time saves leader after surpassing Lee Smith’s record of 478 saves. After an injury in 1994, he developed one of the best changeups in baseball and is a very likely candidate to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, a place where only five other relievers have reached. A hard worker, great teammate, and club leader, Hoffman is one of the great players of the game.

Statistics current as of July 23, 2011.


Baseball-Reference: University of Arizona Wildcats

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