By Paul Casella

Baseball has been a part of the American landscape across three centuries, but how often have we examined where the best Major League talent actually comes from?

It should come as no surprise that California has produced more Hall of Fame players and is responsible for more Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards than any other state.

After all, California is easily the most populous state in the nation -- and has been since 1970, according to the U.S. Census. In fact, it has more than double the number of residents than all but three other states (Texas, New York and Florida).

So if we examine the best breeding grounds for MLB stars, it would be pointless to simply rank the overall talent produced by each state. Instead, let's break down which states have been the most efficient at producing high-level Major League talent.

The results were based on three main categories -- the number of players from each state with a career WAR of at least 50, the number of Hall of Fame players from each state and the total number of MVP or Cy Young Awards won by players from each state. Though some of the categories certainly had overlap, that simply served as a way to further reward states for producing top-notch talent.

The totals from those three categories were added together, and the sum was divided by the number of players from each state to give every state an overall value. The states were then ranked Nos. 1-50, with the highest value representing the most efficient state.

To prevent states with only a handful of Major Leaguers from skewing these rankings, only the 25 states with at least 200 big leaguers were considered for the purposes of this list. Otherwise, the state of Idaho and its 29 total Major Leaguers would have checked in atop the list, thanks entirely to the Hall of Famer career of Harmon Killebrew. Elsewhere, Curt Schilling -- one of just 11 MLB players to be born in Alaska -- would have single-handedly carried Alaska to a top-three finish with his 80.7 career WAR.

Click on the pins on this map to see which players with a 50-plus career WAR were born in which states.

Before getting down to the actual list, it's also worth noting that all birthplace data is courtesy of Baseball-Reference, which recognizes that the "information is not complete and some player's birthplace information is either unknown or unentered." And, yes, even though a player may have been born in a certain state, it's entirely possible that he didn't spend much time there as a child, so that player may identify more with a different state as their "home state" (for instance, Derek Jeter grew up in Michigan, but was born in New Jersey). But for the sake of simplicity, we're just tallying the state where each player was born.

Anyway, here we go: the 10 most efficient states when it comes to generating elite Major League talent.

10. Ohio
50-plus WAR players: 10
MVP and Cy Young Awards: 21

Ohio has produced 1,020 big league players, making it one of only five states responsible for at least 1,000 Major Leaguers. Ohio falls right in the middle of those five states in terms of efficiency, beating out both Illinois and Pennsylvania to make the list, but ranking behind California and New York. As far as pitching goes, Hall of Famers Phil Niekro, Cy Young and Rollie Fingers all hail from Ohio, as does Roger Clemens, the winner of a record seven Cy Young Awards. Another non-Hall of Famer may also be the most recognized hitter from the state, as Pete Rose was born in Cincinnati in 1941. Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt was born in Dayton, Ohio, and later attended Ohio University before going on to hit 548 home runs in his Hall of Fame career.

9. Florida
50-plus WAR players: 7
MVP and Cy Young Awards: 12

Florida has actually produced as many Hall of Fame managers (two) as it has players. Former skippers Tony La Russa and Al Lopez, who combine for 4,138 wins, both began their life journey to the Hall of Fame in Tampa. The two players from Florida to reach the Hall of Fame are Steve Carlton -- the only Floridian pitcher with at least a 50 WAR -- and Andre Dawson. That list could grow in the coming years, as current superstars Zack Greinke (48.7 WAR) and Andrew McCutchen (38.2) were both born in the Sunshine State.

8. Michigan
50-plus WAR players: 8
MVP and Cy Young Awards: 8

Despite ranking 10th by producing 427 total Major Leaguers, Michigan's five pitchers with a 50-plus WAR are tied for the fourth most by any state. It's also one of only two states, along with Iowa, to generate more 50-WAR pitchers than hitters. John Smoltz sits atop the list with his 66.5 career WAR, followed by Hal Newhouser, Frank Tanana, Eddie Cicotte and Billy Pierce. The three hitters to make the cut are Charlie Gehringer, Bobby Grich and Ted Simmons. No active player from Michigan has a career WAR of even 15.

7. California
50-plus WAR players: 37
MVP and Cy Young Awards: 46

California's 37 players with a 50-plus WAR are more than double any other state. That said, the populous state has also produced more than double the number of overall players than all but two other states (Pennsylvania and New York). In fact, the 2,150 players from California are more than the entire bottom 15 states combined. The 25 states with the fewest Major Leaguers have sent a combined 2,007 players to the big leagues. Thus, there has obviously been no shortage of talent to come from California, a state responsible for Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson, Dennis Eckersley, Joe DiMaggio, Barry Bonds and Ted Williams, among many others.

6. New York
50-plus WAR players: 16
MVP and Cy Young Awards: 27

Though New York has produced just slightly more than half the number of big leaguers as California, the Empire State has manufactured Hall of Famers at a much better rate. New York is responsible for 17 Hall of Fame players, only five fewer than California -- though New York actually has the most overall Hall of Famers (26) when including managers and players from the 19th century. Warren Spahn is the best pitcher ever to come out of New York, while Alex Rodriguez (118.9 WAR) currently sits second behind Eddie Collins (123.9), though many will consider Lou Gehrig (112.4) the state's all-time best player.

5. Louisiana
50-plus WAR players: 7
MVP and Cy Young Awards: 3

Louisiana ranks 21st with 246 big leaguers, but seven of those players went on to post a 50-plus WAR. That not only ties the state for 10th in that category, but it also means that one in every 35 players from Louisiana reached that plateau. That's the second-best mark among states with at least 200 Major Leaguers, behind only Maryland (more on that later). Mel Ott, Ted Lyons and Bill Dickey all reached the Hall of Fame, while fellow Louisianan Andy Pettitte will hope to join them at some point after joining the ballot in 2019.

4. Georgia
50-plus WAR players: 9
MVP and Cy Young Awards: 6

Similar to Louisiana, Georgia cracks the top five by making the most of its limited opportunities. The state has sent 342 players to the big leagues, nine of whom racked up a WAR of at least 50 during their playing days -- and one of whom changed the game forever. The legendary Jackie Robinson, responsible for breaking the color barrier in MLB, was born in Cairo, Ga., on Jan. 31, 1919. He is one of five Hall of Fame players from the state, along with Ty Cobb, Frank Thomas, Johnny Mize and Bill Terry.

3. Oklahoma
50-plus WAR players: 5
MVP and Cy Young Awards: 8

It's very possible that Dallas Keuchel will establish himself over the next decade as the best pitcher ever born in Oklahoma. After all, no Oklahoman pitcher has ever racked up a career WAR of at least 50, yet the state finds itself checking in at No. 3, thanks largely to the Hall of Fame quartet of Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, Paul Waner and Willie Stargell. The fifth and final Oklahoman Hall of Famer was actually Waner's brother, Lloyd, whose 24.1 WAR is the lowest among any Hall of Fame hitter whose entire career took place after 1900.

2. Alabama
50-plus WAR players: 7
MVP and Cy Young Awards: 8

Out of the 319 Major Leaguers to come from Alabama, nine went on to make the Hall of Fame. That equates to one out of every 35 players from the state, which is the best rate among any state with at least 200 big leaguers. To further put that in perspective, the next-best rate among the seven states to generate at least nine Hall of Famers belongs to New York, which produced a Hall of Famer in one out of every 70 players. The other five states all have rates of at least 90 players per Hall of Famer. Those Alabamians enshrined in Cooperstown, by the way, include the likes of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ozzie Smith, Willie McCovey and Early Wynn, among others.

1. Maryland
50-plus WAR players: 9
MVP and Cy Young Awards: 7

No state responsible for at least 200 big leaguers produced 50-WAR players at a greater clip than Maryland. Despite producing only 303 total players, nine -- or one in every 33.7 players -- have gone on to reach that plateau. Seven of those nine have a plaque in Cooperstown, including Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Cal Ripken Jr. and Al Kaline. Though Maryland has helped produce some of the game's biggest stars, its hold on this top spot could be in jeopardy in the coming years, as only one active hitter from the state, Mark Teixeira, has a career WAR above even 3.0. Pitching-wise, Gavin Floyd is the only active Marylander with a double-digit career WAR.

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Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com.

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