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20 best players in MLB history to not win a World Series

Home » MLB » Best MLB players to never win a ring: Greatest MLB players to not win World Series

The list of the best MLB players to never win a ring is longer than you think. While the pinnacle of the sport is a World Series title, many Hall of Famers never manage to climb that mountain. The great player in question may have been unlucky to be on a bad team. Even worse, he may have been on a good team when another great team was dominant.

Best MLB players to never win a ring

Either way, here is a look at the 20 greatest MLB players to not win a title.

Mike Trout

Consider Mike Trout to be the catch-all for current players hunting for their first ring. Trout is still considered one of the top few players in the game despite a calf issue that ended his 2021 season.

Trout is a three-time AL MVP and if he finishes his career without a World Series ring then he will find himself much, much higher on this list. For now, Trout sits here as the career Los Angeles Angel looks to get back to the postseason for only the second time after his team was swept by the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 ALDS.

Carlton Fisk

There will be a number of career Red Sox players on this list (including the greatest player to never win a ring). Fisk was not a lifer with the Boston team, but his eleven seasons in Beantown were followed up with another decade-plus playing for an equally World Series shy team in the Chicago White Sox.


The 11-time All-Star and AL Rookie of the Year in 1972, Fisk has his jersey retired in both Boston and Chicago despite never being able to push either team over the hump to win a ring.

Mike Piazza

One of the greatest catchers to play the game, Mike Piazza changed what the position was all about. Before Piazza, catchers were defensive players.

Piazza showed that a player could both control a pitcher and hit the baseball for power and average. Piazza played on five teams that made the postseason. The closest he came to winning it all was in 2000 when his New York Mets were defeated in their cross-town World Series by the New York Yankees.

George Sisler

George Sisler holds the distinction of being the first-ever winner of the MVP award then it was reintroduced after a gap of about a decade in 1922. Playing in an era that was admittedly favorable to hitters, Sisler finished with a .340 career batting average.


His MVP season was nonsense.. He led the league in runs, hits, triples, and stolen bases. He also had a 41-game hitting streak and finished with a .420 batting average for the year.

Don Mattingly

It is easy to feel a little bit sorry for Don Mattingly. To play for the New York Yankees for over a decade and not win a World Series ring almost feels like an achievement in itself. Mattingly was a six-time All-Star, a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner, and he won the AL MVP in 1985.

Despite all that, and despite being a fan favorite in Gotham, Mattingly was never able to help guide the Yankees to a World Series win. Mattingly not only never won a ring, but he is also generally thought of as the best Yankee to never play in a World Series.

Rod Carew

Rod Carew was the 16th player in MLB history to get to 3,000 hits and he is widely regarded as one of the best pure hitters to ever play the game. He played 19 seasons in the league and astonishingly was an All-Star in all but one of those years.

The 1967 AL Rookie of the Year and 1977 AL MVP, Carew reached the ALCS four times but was never able to make it to a World Series. He boasts a .328 career batting average despite hitting at a time that was much less friendly to hitters than some other eras of the game.

Trevor Hoffman

Closers don’t immediately come to mind when you consider a list of the top players to never win a ring. Trevor Hoffman, however, is definitely one of the best players to not win a World Series.

Hoffman was unique. He is second all-time in career saves with 601 behind only the best closer in history (Mariano Rivera). He went to seven All-Star games but his one World Series appearance ended with the Yankees whitewashing his Padres 4-0. Even so, his iconic entrance to Hells Bells by AC/DC was a highlight of the late 90s and 2000s.

Sammy Sosa

Sammy Sosa was a huge reason for baseball’s most recent boom period in the late 90s. Steroid controversy may have clouded Sosa somewhat since his retirement, but the zest and passion with which Sosa played the game were far from manufactured.

The Dominican slugger finished with 609 home runs at a time when PEDs were common throughout the league and his 7 All-Star appearances and NL MVP in 1998 show how valuable he was to the Chicago Cubs.

Harmon Killebrew

A 22-season Major Leaguer without a ring, Harmon Killebrew was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984. Killebrew had three shots at a ring in the postseason, but he lost the World Series in 1965 and was never able to get over the hump.

A productive player who won the AL MVP with the Minnesota Twins in 1969, Killebrew finished his career with over 2,000 hits, 573 home runs, and 1,584 RBI.

Nap Lajoie

There are only a couple of players on this list from the formative years as it was a very different game. Even so, Nap Lajoie was a special player who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937 after a career that spanned from 1896 to 1916.

Lajoie never played in the postseason despite batting over .350 10 times and finishing with a career batting average of .338. He was, however, once suspended for spitting tobacco juice in the face of an umpire and was unable to play games for a time in Philadelphia because of a subpoena based on the fact the only team he was allowed to play for in the state was the Phillies even though he had signed a contract with the Cleveland Bronchos.

A different time indeed.

Willie McCovey

Willie McCovey is another of the best MLB players to never win a ring. McCovey certainly had longevity as he played in 22 MLB seasons from 1959 to 1980. The Hall of Famer was a six-time All-Star and he was also Rookie of the Year in 1959 and was the NL MVP with the San Francisco Giants in 1969.

The closest he came to a ring was when he lost in the World Series with the Giants in 1962. That was one of only two times that the player with 2,211 career hits and 521 home runs made the postseason.

Carl Yastrzemski

Carl Yastrzemski is another player that had the longevity needed to win a World Series crown. The problem for Yaz is that he played all 23 of his Major League seasons with the Boston Red Sox in the middle of their curse. He maintained a .285 batting average for his entire career to go along with over 3,400 hits and 452 homers.

Yaz was also the 1967 AL MVP, but the Curse of the Bambino was strong enough that even a 1975 World Series appearance ended in defeat.

Juan Marichal

Juan Marichal was as dominant a pitcher as there ever has been to not win a World Series ring. He was a 20-game winner six times during his career. This was back when that was a harder thing to do given the lack of bullpen and the need for pitchers to play way more innings.

Marichal was closer to winning than some on this list as his San Francisco Giants lost the 1962 World Series to the New York Yankees. The Dominican Dandy was known for his high leg kick and variety of pitches.

Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb is certainly one of the best players to not win a World Series. Cobb started his career way back in 1905 and played in the league until 1928. Cobb had his chances to win the World Series as his Detriot Tigers lost in three straight editions of the Fall Classic from 1907 to 1909.

The Georgia Peach set as many as 90 records in his career and still holds the career batting average mark at .366 and career record for most combined runs scored and batted in at 4,065. He received 98.2% of votes on the inaugural Hall of Fame ballot, the most any player world receive until 1992.

Ichiro Suzuki

The Seattle Mariners took a huge gamble on Ichiro given that there had never been a successful position player transitioning from Japan to MLB. Ichiro, however, was an absolute star.

He was able to hit anything – he once had a hit off of a pitch that bounced – and his sheer presence in the league was huge for international growth. He won Rookie of the Year and AL MVP in his first season as a 27-year-old. Ichiro was a 10-time All-Star in America (and 7-time in Japan).

Tony Gwynn

Tony Gwynn was a hitting machine as he spent his entire 19-year MLB career with the San Diego Padres. A pure contact hitter, Gwynn was a machine when it came to popping singles and doubles into the opposite field.

Despite a streak of eight years in the 90s where injuries would rule Gwynn out of the season early, the 15-time All-Star was still an eight-time NL batting champion and five-time Gold Glove winner. Gwynn retired with a career batting average of .338 and never hit below .309 in any full season. Gywnn sadly died of cancer in 2014 at the age of just 54.

Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks was minted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. The 14-time All-Star played for the Chicago Cubs from 1953 to 1971 after spending time in the US Army during the Korean War. The two-time NL MVP somehow never even played in a single postseason game.

This is despite career numbers that featured 512 home runs, 2,583 hits, and 1,636 RBIs. The first Cub to have his number retired and widely regarded as the greatest Cub of All-Time, Banks was simply unable to get the Cubs into contention as they went from 1908 to 2016 without a World Series ring.

Ken Griffey Jr.

To be as high as this on a list when injuries wrecked large portions of his career says everything about just how good Ken Griffey Jr. was. The Seattle Mariners icon was a player with every tool in the box. He could hit for power, hit for average, play defense, and had incredible speed on the bases.

Griffey was a 13-time All-Star and for a time in the 90s, he was the face of the league as the Mariners became must-see TV even to those on the East Coast. A team like Seattle had in the 90s with Griffey, A-Rod, and prime Randy Johnson should have got much closer to winning a World Series than they ever did.

Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds is certainly a polarizing figure in the sport because of the steroid issues that surrounded his career. The asterisk will never leave his name, but it is fair to say that Bonds dominated the game for years at a time when the asterisk was tied to many other players too.

A star before he bulked up, Bonds holds the records for home runs in a season (73) and home runs in a career (762). The man was once intentionally walked WITH THE BASES LOADED, such was the fear he put into pitchers at his pomp.

Ted Williams

Ted Williams is one of the sports all-time greats. He is a legendary name both in MLB and popular culture, yet he never won a ring.

That seems hard to do when you consider Williams had a career .344 batting average, 521 home runs, and over 1,800 RBIs. The 17-time All-Star and two-time AL MVP award winner was playing for a cursed Boston Red Sox team that couldn’t get out of its own way when it mattered the most.


2 thoughts on “20 best players in MLB history to not win a World Series”

  1. “Before Piazza, catchers were defensive players.”

    So, Yogi Berra was a defensive catcher? I seem to recall that he was pretty good on offense also.

  2. Uhh…Johnny Bench and Bill Freehan played part of their careers, before the pitchers’ mound was lowered in ’69, and I wouldn’t call either “defensive mostly” catchers.

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