Who are Cleveland's all-time greatest players?

Who are Cleveland's all-time greatest players?

It's easy to tell which city your favorite baseball player represents: It's likely your city, and it's emblazoned across his chest 162 times every season. But what about the cities where players learned to turn on a fastball, where they played youth baseball, where they raised families? Where did history's best players come from, and which hailed from your neck of the woods?

Across MLB.com, we profiled all 27 Major League cities through the lens of the talent they've spawned. Players don't need to be born in the city to represent it. Inclusion criteria simply demands the player spent his formative years there, preferably high school, and that he did so within the city limits or in its immediately surrounding areas.

Using career WAR as a guide* -- but also considering other factors, such as the era they played, postseason accomplishments, if they played professionally in that city, and Hall of Fame status -- we'll rank the best five players all-time from each city, list some excellent names that couldn't crack the top five, and sprinkle in some current players, too.

Who are the Top 5 players from other Major League cities?

The mission was to create as complete a historical picture of your city's baseball tradition -- and to as accurately honor its legends -- as possible.

* Baseball Reference version

George Sisler
Born:
March 24, 1893 (died March 26, 1973)
Accolades: 1922 American League MVP Award winner, two-time batting champion, led AL in stolen bases four times, twice hit better than .400 in a season, two-time AL hits champion, two-time AL triples champion, .340/.379/.468 hitter with 2,812 hits over 15 seasons, 55 WAR, inducted into Hall of Fame in 1939
High school: Akron

The dispersion of Ohio's historical baseball talent mirrors the state's general population demographics: More of Ohio's best players came from scattered small towns than from cities. Because of this, we decided this list should encapsulate the greater Cleveland area in order to give the most accurate illustration of the region.

That means Akron counts. If it didn't, two of the Rust Belt's best players would be omitted, including the sensational Sisler, one of the best pure hitters of the 1920s.

Sal Bando
Born:
Feb. 13, 1944
Accolades: Four-time All-Star, AL MVP Award runner-up in 1971, four-time league leader in games played, led AL in doubles and total bases in 1973, three-time World Series champion, 61 WAR
High school: Warrensville Heights

Bando is one of the few modern baseball stars to hail from Cleveland, which was an early hotbed for MLB talent but stopped producing much around the mid-20th century. Bando was born in the city and raised in the suburbs by parents who played competitive softball. Their eldest son grew to become captain of some of the most colorful and successful teams in Major League history. Bando won three titles with the A's in the early 1970s, where he excelled as a power-hitting third baseman and clubhouse policeman alongside fiery teammates like Reggie Jackson.

Bando averaged 17 home runs and 72 RBIs over 11 seasons in Oakland, and hit .254/.352/.408 with 242 home runs in total over 16 seasons with the A's and Brewers.

Ed Delahanty
Born:
Oct. 30, 1867 (died July 2, 1903)
Accolades: Two-time home run champion, two-time batting champion, 1899 hits leader, five-time doubles champion, three-time league RBI leader, 1898 stolen-base leader, .346/.411/.505 hitter over 16 seasons, 70 WAR, inducted into Hall of Fame in 1945
High school: Unknown

Baseball's best slugger at the turn of the 20th Century, Delahanty hit for a .346 career average -- third best all-time. He played for the Cleveland Infants of the Players League in 1890 before making it to the big leagues with the Phillies. Delahanty died in the middle of the 1903 season at age 35 after falling off a boat and into Niagara Falls. He was hitting .333 that season.

Urban Shocker
Born:
Sept. 22, 1890 (died Sept. 9, 1928)
Accolades: 187-117 with a 3.17 ERA over 13 seasons, four consecutive 20-win seasons, 1921 wins title, 1927 World Series champion, 55 WAR
High school: Unknown

Born within Cleveland's city limits, Shocker grew up to become one of the best pitchers of the 1920s. Once established, he averaged more than 31 starts per year over nine seasons for the St. Louis Browns and Yankees. Shocker was one of the last to throw a spitball before the pitch was outlawed in 1920. He died of pneumonia during the 1928 season.

Thurman Munson
Born:
June 7, 1947 (died Aug. 2, 1979)
Accolades: 1970 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, 1976 AL MVP Award winner, seven-time All-Star, .292/.346/.410 hitter over 11 seasons, two-time World Series champion, 46 WAR
High school: Lehman

One of the most beloved players in Yankees history was technically born in Akron. But if NBA superstar LeBron James counts that as Cleveland, why can't we? Munson is buried in Canton, where he went to high school, a mere 50 miles from downtown Cleveland.

Honorable mention: Chris Bando, Bill Bradley, Elmer Flick**, Rube Marquard**, Roger Peckinpaugh, George Uhle, Joe Vosmik, Gene Woodling

Uhle starred in Cleveland

Active players: Derek Dietrich, David Lough, Ryan Rua, Joe Smith

** Indicates a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.