This is the long-awaited National League edition of the best names that baseball has to offer today. As before, the rules are simple. The player must currently be on the 40-man roster of a big league team, must have been on the active roster for at least one game this season, and all nicknames must be the primary nomenclature by which a player is known. These rules exclude players like Milton Bradley (man, what a disaster!), and CarGo.
Let’s get started:
10. Will Venable – I just like the name Will Venable. He sounds like the protagonist in a series of sci fi novels. A good, simple, name. But seriously, can’t you just see a guy named Will Venable in a space station, floating around, fighting some aliens, and a vindictive AI? As outfielder for the San Diego Padres, Venable has been consistent and solid.
9. Antonio Bastardo – This relief pitcher for the Phillies is a scary dude. He can’t help it, with a name like that. He could be the nicest, sweetest man in the world, but you wouldn’t know it when he takes the mound. Pitchers are generally intimidating guys in the first place, and the history of mentally unstable left-handers (see Brian Wilson) adds to that. Then, there’s “Bastardo” on the back of his jersey. It’s cool.
8. Darwin Barney – Honestly, I could probably make this entire list out of Cubs players. A kid named “Darwin” says a lot about his family and upbringing. You don’t name your son that accidentally. Charles Darwin is someone that people generally have a solid opinion about. But, in this case, it works. Rolls off the tongue well, and he’s hitting .294 this season, with 25 RBI in 63 games. Also, pretty cute.
7. Prince Fielder – Son of Cecil Fielder, major power-hitter of the 1990s, Prince Fielder is the ace up the Milwaukee Brewer’s sleeve. His actual given first name is Prince, which makes it that much better, and sort of implies that Cecil is still the king–clever work, Dad. What makes this baseball name even better is that his surname is a position in baseball. It rolls off the tongue well, and works as a title for the man, not just a name.
6. Brian Wilson – Another player with the name of another celebrity. But what makes this one so great is the parallels between Beach Boy Brian Wilson and Giants closer Brian Wilson. Both are notoriously weird, iconic representations of California, and cornerstones of their respective organizations. Thank goodness one of them has a beard, or you’d never be able to tell them apart!
5. Homer Bailey – Pitcher for the Reds, Homer’s real first name is David. Which seems strange to me. David is a perfectly normal name, yes, and Homer is a pretty adorable baseball name, but for a pitcher? But it’s okay, he’s 3-1 on the season with a 3.00 ERA, 19-17 overall. And paired with his last name, Homer Bailey comes across as a corn-fed all-American good-old-boy, which is endearing, I think.
4. Chipper Jones – Do I really have to explain this one? His real name is Larry Wayne Jones. Larry Wayne Jones sounds like a boring man, but Chipper Jones is an excellent, exciting man. 1999 NL MVP, 2 Silver Sluggers, and 2nd all-time in RBIs by switch hitters. When I was a kid, my brother was given a pack of baseball cards that contained a Chipper Jones rookie card, and we decided, sight unseen that he was going to be awesome, because he had a cool name. And there you go.
3. Corey Hart – Teammate of Prince Fielder, Corey Hart is a teen heartthrob. For fans like myself, who grew up with Coreys Haim and Feldman, Corey Hart fits right in. In fact, Hart probably had his share of girlfriends in middle school based on his name alone. Oh yeah, and then there’s the other Corey Hart, who sang that song about wearing your sunglasses at night. Oh yeah.
2. Welington Castillo – This is the guy that inspired me to do these lists at all. I was watching the Cubs game, and the as the lineup was announced, I did an audio doubletake. What was that guy called? How does someone get this name? I fully support Mr. Castillo, and I hope he has a long, storied career in the majors, just so we can keep talking about him. Welington Castillo. Yes.
1. Huston Street – The closer for the Rockies leads the majors in saves so far this season, with 22/24. Impressive. He also has the same name as a famous thoroughfare in New York City, albeit minus one letter “o.” But his name is pronounced in exactly the same way that thousands of tourists pronounce Houston Street every summer as they wander hopelessly around lower Manhattan. To make things even better, Huston was born and raised in Texas, where there is also a famous place named Houston. But it doesn’t seem to be distracting him from getting clutch outs for his team.
Arquimedes Euclides Caminero – Currently in the minor league system of the Florida Marlins, this right handed pitcher technically does not qualify for this list. But I came across his name in my research, and I couldn’t bear not to share it with you. Are his parents mathematicians perhaps? Or philosophers? Inquiring minds want to know.