Willson and William Contreras are now part of MLB history.
According to Baseball Almanac, 435 pairs of brothers have played in MLB all time. Per MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, only five sets have earned All-Star Game starting berths in the same league in the same season: Mort and Walker Cooper (NL, 1942-43); Dixie and Harry Walker (NL, 1947); Joe and Dom DiMaggio (AL, 1949); Roberto and Sandy Alomar Jr. (AL, 1991-92); and now, the Contreras brothers (NL, 2022).
Willson Contreras was voted the National League’s starting catcher; William Contreras will replace the injured Bryce Harper as the NL’s starting designated hitter. It’s an accomplishment that got its start on fields in Venezuela and is culminating in a trip to the Midsummer Classic in Los Angeles.
Willson said it was a dream come true:
William Contreras will start at DH for the NL while his bro Willson starts at C. Here’s Willson on the accomplishment:
“We were just two kids dreaming of making it to the big leagues and now making it to the all-star game. It’s a dream.”
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) July 10, 2022
Where do the Contreras brothers’ seasons rank among all those brother duos who have played the game? Do they have a case for best season ever by brothers? The Sporting News takes a look.
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Best MLB seasons by brothers
1. Joe and Dom DiMaggio, 1942
DiMaggio is truly one of the standout names in MLB history. Joe was a legend who waltzed into Cooperstown after starring in Yankee Stadium’s center field for more than a decade.
Don’t sleep on Dom, though. While he didn’t quite reach the heights of his big brother, he was an ever-present figure in the Red Sox’s lineups of the 1940s and ’50s. He earned seven All-Star Game nods. (The family also boasted a third MLB outfielder at the time, Vince DiMaggio, who became a star in the National League.)
In 1942, Dom was named to the AL All-Star team for a second consecutive year, and he ended up posting his one of his best seasons, with 14 home runs and 48 RBIs as Boston’s primary leadoff hitter. He racked up a career-high 5.4 bWAR, one of the best totals in the league among center fielders.
Joe, meanwhile, did Joe things. A year after he set the record with his 56-game hitting streak, he clubbed 21 homers while posting a .305/.376/.498 slash line. Those weren’t the gaudy numbers that Joltin’ Joe typically put up, but in a low-scoring league, his performance stood out; he had a 147 OPS+, confirming his status as one of the best hitters in the big leagues.
Together, the brothers put up 11.4 bWAR. They were elite center fielders at the same time playing for rival clubs.
2. Joe and Dom DiMaggio, 1949
You thought they were finished?
The DiMaggio brothers destroyed AL pitching in 1949. Joe was a force of nature: he was limited to just 76 games because of a heel injury he suffered the previous season, but he batted .346/.459/.596 (1.055 OPS) with 14 home runs. His 178 OPS+ was bested only by his 1939 and 1941 seasons.
Dom was slightly less productive, but he still got on base over 40 percent of the time, scored 126 runs and accrued a 3.7 bWAR.
The brothers combined for 7.7 bWAR. Given Joe’s furious second-half display — he still got MVP votes despite missing half a season — it’s hard to look past their work in ’49 as one of the greatest brotherly seasons ever.
3. Harry and Dixie Walker, 1947
The Walkers both earned NL MVP votes after tearing it up in the second full post-World War II season.
Harry was the better of the two that season, with a .363/.436/.924 slash line in 140 games for the Cardinals and Phillies. He led the senior circuit in batting average and on-base percentage and also notched a league-leading 16 triples. He finished the season with a 150 OPS+, better than Hall of Famers Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson and Joe DiMaggio, among others.
Dixie wasn’t any slouch, though. He drew 96 walks (to 26 strikeouts) and hit .306 (121 OPS+) as he contributed 4 wins of value to the Dodgers, according to Baseball Reference. In all, the Walkers combined for 10.7 bWAR in ’47.
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4. Bret and Aaron Boone, 2001
The 2001 season was a historic one for the Mariners with their record-tying 116 wins, and Bret Boone was a big reason why.
While teaming up with AL MVP and Rookie of the Year Ichiro Suzuki, All-Star center fielder Mike Cameron and Hall of Fame DH Edgar Martinez, Boone was the team’s top slugger. He belted 37 home runs, drove in a league-leading 141 runs and accrued a massive 8.8 bWAR en route to a third-place AL MVP finish.
Aaron was far off his older brother’s pace, but with an .834 OPS, his season with the Reds was more than respectable.
The Boones accounted for 10.5 total bWAR in 2001. Disparity in contributions aside, they posted the third-best combined season by brothers.
5. William and Willson Contreras, 2022
What can you say about the Contreras brothers? Despite playing the most grueling position on the diamond, they not only are contributing, they’re thriving.
William doesn’t quite have the defensive skills of his older brother, but with a 152 wRC+, second-best among MLB catchers (behind AL All-Star starter Alejandro Kirk of Toronto), he’s still making an impact.
William Contreras has adjusted beautifully to his role of sharing time with Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate. Just one year ago, he batted .215/.303/.399. Through Sunday, he’s at .273/.358/.566 with 11 home runs in just 162 plate appearances.
He certainly has a good role model in his older brother. The Cubs have been a dumpster fire this year, but not Willson Contreras. He has compiled 2.9 bWAR, one-tenth of a point behind Kirk for first among catchers.
And although it seems very possible that Willson will be moved come the trade deadline, his contributions to the Cubs’ 2016 World Series squad, as well as his consistency, are sure to be honored by the franchise.
The Contreras brothers had combined for 4.4 bWAR prior to William’s All-Star selection Sunday. With about half a season still to be played, it’s worth wondering how they’ll finish the year.