Who is the tallest baseball player ever? And right now?

by Fred Hofstetter on December 8, 2020

Baseball’s height-iest players never made the major leagues. Learn about them and some of the tallest in MLB history, both active and all-time.

Tallest MLB Baseball Player All Time Jon Rauch

Jon Rauch is one of the tallest baseball players ever to play. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Let’s skip the introductory pleasantries and get right to the list(s) you’re here for:

  • The tallest baseball players of all-time are pitchers Loek van Mil and Ryan Doherty, both logging a height of 7 foot, 1 inch (7’1”).
  • The tallest MLB baseball player of all time is pitcher Jon Rauch at 6 foot, 11 inches (6’11”).
  • Pitchers are usually the tallest. The tallest position players in MLB history are first basemen Nate Freiman and Tony Clark at 6 foot 8 inches (6’8”).

The tallest active players

  • The tallest active/current player in major league baseball as of the 2020 season is pitcher Aaron Slegers of the Tampa Bay Rays at 6 foot 10 inches (6’10”).
  • The tallest active/current position players in major league baseball are Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees and Taylor Jones of the Houston Astros at 6 foot 7 inches (6’7”).

Now that the important stuff is out of the way, let’s get into the extemporaneous blather.

Ryan Doherty, tallest baseball player ever

You can’t put together a list of really tall people without bringing up basketball. Standing north of seven feet, Doherty chose to pursue a pitching career rather than basketball, citing an affection for Randy Johnson as a significant influence.

He crushed it in high school, killed it in college pitching for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and eventually signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005.

Doherty became the tallest minor leaguer in history after appearing in a game for the Yakima Bears in June of 2005.

Although he never reached beyond high A, Doherty put up some impressive-looking stat lines, painting black as a relief pitcher between the D-backs’ A ball affiliates in his age 21 and 22 seasons. For whatever reason they didn’t think he was worth any more development and cut him loose.

Fortunately Doherty has carved out a nice career in beach volleyball. Big, athletic guys like him won’t be denied for long.

Loek Van Mil, also tallest baseball player ever

Doherty’s reign as tallest minor leaguer ever didn’t last all that long. All lanky 7’1” of Loek van Mil took the mound for the 2006 GCL Twins (you guessed it, a Minnesota Twins Rookie league affiliate) and joined Doherty as one of the tallest pitchers to ever take the mound in the minor leagues—and anywhere else.

van Mil bounded his way all over the world, pitching in the minor leagues for the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians; then internationally in Japanese, Australian and Dutch baseball leagues. He suited up with the Netherlands in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Due likely to some uninspiring peripherals out of the bullpen in his early 20s in the minors, he never made the big leagues. But he put together a nice professional pitching career and certainly made his mark on all sorts of different baseball teams.

Unfortunately this story ends sadly. van Mil died tragically at age 34 after a fatal accident.

Jon Rauch, usually who people think of

Jon Rauch is the tallest MLBer of all time at 6’11”.

Hard to believe it’s already been seven years since Rauch last pitched in the big leagues with the Miami Marlins.

In 11 years of service with 8 different teams, Rauch amassed a career ERA of 3.90 working almost exclusively out of the bullpen. His age 28 season was his best, logging a career high in games pitched (88) and career lows in FIP (3.38) and WHIP (1.099), earning him some reps as the closer for the Washington Nationals in his age 29 season.

Speaking as a tall person myself (compared to normal humans, anyway), I’m guessing Rauch is a little annoyed his height may be his lasting legacy. He a pretty good and sometimes really good pitcher too, folks. It’s not easy to log 11 years in the major leagues and he earned them all.

The all-time tallest—notables:

  • Andrew Brackman, 6 foot 10 inches (6’10”)
  • Randy Johnson, 6 foot 10 inches (6’10”)
  • Chris Young, 6 foot 10 inches (6’10”)
  • Mark Hendrickson, 6 foot 9 inches (6’9”)
  • Jeff Niemann, 6 foot 9 inches (6’9”)
  • Dellin Betances, 6 foot 8 inches (6’8”)
  • Doug Fister, 6 foot 8 inches (6’8”)
  • Tyler Glasnow, 6 foot 8 inches (6’8”)
  • Brandon McCarthy, 6 foot 8 inches (6’8”)
  • Jeff Nelson, 6 foot 8 inches (6’8”)
  • Logan Ondrusek, 6 foot 8 inches (6’8”)
  • Angel Perdomo, 6 foot 8 inches (6’8”)
  • Chris Volstad, 6 foot 8 inches (6’8”)

Who is the shortest baseball player ever?

All this talk of height and nothing yet about the shortest players.

  • The shortest MLB baseball player of all time is Eddie Gaedel at 3 foot 7 inches (3’7”).
  • The shortest active/current major leaguers are Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and Tony Kemp of the Oakland Athletics, each standing 5 foot 6 inches (5’6”) tall.
  • The shortest active/current MLB pitcher is Rico Garcia of the San Francisco Giants at 5 foot 9 inches tall (5’9”).

Between Taylor Jones and Jose Altuve the Houston Astros are the height extremists of MLB. With Altuve at 2B and Jones at 1st, you can see the tallest and shortest position players in the league standing right next to each other. Without looking I’m guessing this was charmingly featured on Astros broadcasts the couple times this happened in August 2020, but it’s news to me. Only in baseball, so it seems.

All height data courtesy of the wonderful Baseball Databank. As far as I know there aren’t any professional baseball players who have eclipsed 7’1”. If you know of someone who has let me know on Twitter. I want to be right about this.

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