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With the 12th largest population of any state in the United States, and a trio of high school sporting powerhouses in the Richmond, Virginia Beach and Northern Virginia regions, it’s no surprise that the Old Dominion has churned out some of the best players in the history of MLB.
Take a look at players like Ryan Zimmerman, for instance. While he was born in North Carolina, Zimmerman moved to Virginia at a young age, playing on an AAU team with fellow future MLB stars (and Virginia Beach locals) David Wright and B.J. Upton. He deserves an honorable mention when it comes to listing the best ball players from Virginia because of his long-standing relationship with the state and its sports fans.
Zimmerman graduated from high school in Virginia Beach. While he was a stud on the diamond, it wasn’t enough for him to earn many Division 1 offers until the end of his senior season, when he committed to play for the University of Virginia. Zimmerman established himself as one of the greatest baseball players in UVA history during his three years as a starter on his way to becoming one of the top draft picks.
The Washington Nationals, who made their debut season in 2005 after moving from Montreal, selected Zimmerman in the first round of the 2005 MLB Draft, their first pick in franchise history. Nicknamed Mr. National because of how his fate tied in with that of the Nats, Zimmerman played his entire 16 year major league career in Washington, D.C., racking up 284 home runs and more than 1800 hits. At the tail end of his career, Zimmerman’s story came full circle when he was a part of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series Championship team, their first in franchise history. It wouldn’t have felt right for the team to win it all without Zim, and he played a valuable role in the run, earning 14 base hits and a pair of home runs, including one in the World Series itself.
Zimmerman isn’t the only impressive sports star to hail from the state of Virginia: BetMGM Virginia's MLB betting options are almost as impressive as Zimmerman’s illustrious career, especially with the added bonus of using a bonus code.
With all due respect to Zimmerman, when it comes to the best MLB players from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the list begins and ends with a single name. New York Mets hurler Justin Verlander grew up just north of Richmond in Goochland County, playing for Old Dominion University for three years in the early 2000s while performing well enough to entice the Detroit Tigers to pick him second overall in the 2004 MLB Draft. Verlander played for Detroit for the better part of 13 seasons, helping to elevate a team that was always good… but never quite good enough to win it all. Detroit made the World Series in Verlander’s first full year as a starter in 2006, but couldn’t overcome a feisty St. Louis Cardinals team that snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the season.
Verlander won his first of three Cy Young awards in 2011, a season where he also won the MVP award after claiming the Triple Crown, leading the American League in strikeouts, wins and ERA. He led the Tigers on another unsuccessful World Series bid in 2012, before Detroit traded him to the Houston Astros in 2017. There, Verlander enjoyed a late career renaissance, winning a pair of World Series rings in 2017 and 2022, as well as the Cy Young award in 2019 and 2022, the second coming in his age 39 season, fresh off Tommy John surgery.
Verlander is a shoe in for the hall of fame with 77.5 career WAR, and he’s got a good shot at adding to his trophy case this season: his Mets have the sixth-best odds (+1100) of winning it all this season at BetMGM Virginia.
Chris Sloan is a former baseball league commissioner and travel baseball coach who has made significant contributions to the sport. In 2018, he founded selectbaseballteams.com, a website that helps parents find youth and travel baseball teams in their local areas. Since its launch, the website has experienced impressive growth, offering a wealth of resources including teams, news, tournaments, and organizations. Chris's unwavering passion for baseball and his innovative approach to connecting parents with quality baseball programs have earned him a respected reputation in the baseball community, solidifying his legacy as a leading figure in the world of youth and travel baseball.
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