There have been 255 father-son combos in major league history, according to research by Elias Sports Bureau. There is no father and son pair in which both members are in the Hall of Fame (14 fathers are in, but just two sons, Roberto Alomar and Ken Griffey Jr.). Bobby and Barry Bonds came closest to having both make it. Bobby had about three-fourths of a Hall of Fame career as one of the first power-speed players with 332 home runs, 461 steals and five 30/30 seasons. Barry, of course, is one of the greatest players of all time with seven MVP awards and a Grand Canyon’s worth of controversy.
In honor of Father’s Day, here are some active sons of former major leaguers (not a comprehensive list).
Clay and Cody Bellinger
Who was Clay? A great example of perseverance. A second-round pick in 1989, Clay Bellinger spent 11 seasons in the minors before finally making his major league debut with the Yankees in 1999 at age 30. He even picked up World Series rings in 1999 and 2000 as a backup infielder.
Who is Cody? Your reigning NL MVP. Not bad for a fourth-round pick who hit four home runs his first two seasons in the minors. From there, his growth was rapid and he has 111 home runs through his age-23 season — that’s tied for 17th all time (nine of the players ahead of him are already in the Hall of Fame). In other words, Cody has established himself as a potential Hall of Famer.
Who’s better? Cody.
Dante and Bo Bichette
Who was Dante? Dante Bichette went from 17th-round draft pick to four-time All-Star, hitting .299 with 274 home runs in his career. His best season came in 1995 as one of the sluggers for the Rockies’ Blake Street Bombers lineup; he finished second in the NL MVP voting to Barry Larkin and led the NL in home runs, RBIs, hits and slugging percentage. He wasn’t that good, however, certainly benefiting from Coors Field, and he was a notoriously bad outfielder. His career WAR is just 5.7.
Who is Bo? He rose quickly through the Blue Jays’ system after getting drafted in the second round in 2016 and burst into the majors in 2019 with a .311/.358/.571 line that included 11 home runs and 18 doubles in just 46 games. He has a great bat and a sweet line-drive stroke despite an unusual bat wrap and stance where he stands on the toe of his front foot — but it works. He also showed he has the range and enough arm to stick at shortstop. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he ends up a better all-around player than his more-heralded rookie teammate in this feature.
Who’s better? Bo will need some longevity, but he’s going be a better player than his dad.
Craig and Cavan Biggio
Who was Craig? The Hall of Famer finished with 3,060 hits and had one of the most interesting careers in MLB history, moving from catcher to second base to center field over 20 seasons. At his peak, he was a terrific all-around player — and probably a little underrated, although he did finish fourth in the MVP voting in 1997 and fifth in 1998. His 1998 season was one of the coolest ever — 51 doubles and 50 stolen bases.
Who is Cavan? Like his dad, Cavan appears destined to be underrated. He hit just .234 as a rookie, but he drew a ton of walks, hit 16 home runs in 354 at-bats and went 14-for-14 stealing bases. Indeed, among players with at least 400 plate appearances in 2019, he had the fourth-highest walk rate in the majors. Put him in the leadoff spot in front of Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and he’ll score 100 runs a season.
Who’s better? The Hall of Famer.
Tom and Dee Gordon
Who was Tom? One of the most electric pitchers of his generation, Tom Gordon a was 5-foot-9 right-hander who threw hard and had one of the best curveballs you’ll ever see. He started out as a starter for the Royals (and won 17 games in 1989), had a run as a starter/reliever, moved back into a full-time starter role, then became a closer with the Red Sox in 1998 (and led the AL with 46 saves). After several years of injuries, he had two great seasons with the Yankees, setting up Mariano Rivera in 2004 and 2005.
Who is Dee? Now a second baseman with the Mariners, Dee was an All-Star with the Dodgers and Marlins in 2014 and 2015 (when he won the NL batting crown with a .333 average). One of the fastest players in the majors, he also has three stolen base titles in his career. With no power and an ultra-aggressive approach that leads to a low on-base percentage if he’s not hitting .300, his game isn’t exactly made for the current era of baseball, but it would have been fun to see him on turf in the ’80s.
Who’s better? Edge to Dad.
Vladimir and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Who was Vlad Sr.? A true baseball original. His best years came with the Expos, although he won an MVP with the Angels in 2004, and if you didn’t see him, it’s hard to describe the wonder of his play. He swung at everything, hit everything, tried to make impossible throws, ran the bases perhaps a bit too recklessly and always exuded joy. He hit .318 with 449 home runs and made it to the Hall of Fame.
Who is Vlad Jr.? One of the most heralded and hyped prospects of all time, Junior’s swing is a lot like his dad’s, although he is under more control. We saw his raw power on full display in the Home Run Derby and while he didn’t dominate as a rookie, he was also just 20 years old. If he can learn to launch the ball more often and take advantage of that power, he has a chance to become one of the best hitters in the game.
Who’s better? Junior’s defense — or lack of it — will always cut into his value. Plus, he has a pretty high standard to match Dad.
Charlie and Ke’Bryan Hayes
Who was Charlie? A solid player who was good enough to carve out 14 seasons in the majors as a third baseman, seven of them as a regular. His most famous highlight is catching the final out of the World Series for the Yankees in 1996. He hit .262 with 144 home runs and 1,379 hits for his career.
Who is Ke’Bryan? Also a third baseman, Ke’Bryan is regarded as a potential Gold Glover at the hot corner and a potential All-Star. Our Kiley McDaniel ranked him No. 26 on his preseason list of top prospects. Ke’Bryan hit .265/.336/.415 with 10 home runs at Triple-A in the Pirates system, so there are still some questions about how the bat will play in the long term, especially in the power department.
Who’s better? Ke’Bryan should have a nice career, based on his defense alone. Scouts love his makeup, and his contact ability means he should at least hit for a solid average. I’ll bet on Ke’Bryan beating his dad’s 10.5 career WAR.
Ivan and Dereck Rodriguez
Who was Ivan? Only one of the greatest catchers of all time and on the short list with Johnny Bench and Yadier Molina as arguably the best defensive catcher ever (especially his legendary throwing arm). The Hall of Famer won 13 Gold Gloves and hit .296 with 2,844 hits — 2,749 coming as a catcher, most in MLB history.
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Who is Dereck? It’s unusual for the dad to be a position player and the son to be a pitcher, but that’s the case here. Dereck was a sixth-round pick by the Twins out of high school and never regarded as a top prospect, but he had a surprising rookie season with the Giants in 2018 before struggling with a 5.64 ERA in 2019. If this season ever gets going, he’ll be fighting for a spot in the rotation.
Who’s better? Dad.
Fernando and Fernando Tatis Jr.
Who is Fernando Sr.? Most famous for being the only player to hit two grand slams in one inning, Fernando Tatis Sr. had one huge season in his 11-year career, hitting .298/.404/.553 with 34 home runs for the Cardinals in 1999 at age 24. He had trouble staying healthy after that, and never reached 400 at-bats again.
Who is Fernando Jr.? One of baseball’s brightest young stars, he has a chance to be one of the best and most exciting players in the game after hitting .317/.379/.590 in 84 games as a rookie. His season ended early because of a back injury, and some believe he’ll eventually move from shortstop to center field because of his speed and erratic arm, but either way he’s going to make a lot of All-Star teams if he stays healthy.
Who’s better? Should be Junior.
Bobby and Bobby Witt Jr.
Who is Bobby Sr.? The third overall pick in 1985 out of Oklahoma, Witt was regarded at the time as one of the best pitching prospects ever with explosive stuff that was compared to Nolan Ryan’s. He also was wild and led the AL in walks in 1986, 1987 (he averaged 8.5 walks per nine innings those two years) and 1989 while with the Rangers. He did pitch 16 seasons and won 143 games with a career WAR of 14.7.
Who is Bobby Jr.? He beat Dad by one spot in the draft when the Royals made the shortstop the second overall pick in 2019. As you would expect for someone drafted that high, Witt has all the tools to stick at shortstop and has big power potential, making him one of the top prospects in the minors.
Who’s better? Witt Jr. also is a long way from the majors, so it’s still Dad for now.