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Best Puerto Rican Baseball Players

The Cincinnati Red Stockings was the first Major League Baseball team, established in 1869.  During the first seven-plus decades the league consisted of mainly players born in the United States. The influx of talent from the Caribbean began with Hiram Bithorn, a native of Puerto Rico, who played for the Cubs in 1942, 1943, and 1946, and two games with the White Sox in 1947. Bithorn posted a career record of 34-31 with a 3.16 ERA.

Today, there are dozens of Major League players from Puerto Rico. In fact, only the United States, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Cuba have more players in the league. The top current players from Puerto Rico are Carlos Correa, Edwin Diaz, and Francisco Lindor.

Correa was the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. He made his MLB debut with the Houston Astros as a 20-year-old on June 8, 2015. Correa went on to win Rookie of the Year and has made two AL All-Star teams. He’s hit at least 20 home runs in a season six times. Correa has spent the past two seasons in Minnesota and finished the 2023 season with 18 home runs and 65 RBI.

Lindor, like Correa, is another stellar shortstop from Puerto Rico. The nine-year MLB veteran spent his first six seasons with Cleveland and made the AL All-Star team four times. He’s won two Gold Glove Awards and hit at least 30 home runs in a season four times. Lindor will enter the 2024 season with 215 career home runs and 156 stolen bases.

Diaz spent his first three MLB seasons with the Seattle Mariners, leading the league in saves with 57 in 2018. He’s pitched for the Mets over the past four seasons, saving at least 30 games in each of the past two years. Diaz is a strikeout pitcher, averaging nearly 15 strikeouts per nine innings spanning 404 career games.

Best Puerto Rican Baseball Players of All Time

Roberto Alomar

Alomar made his MLB debut with the San Diego Padres on April 22, 1988. He spent his first three seasons in San Diego, making the first of 12 consecutive All-Star appearances in 1990.

He won 10 Gold Glove awards and hit at least .300 in a season ten times. Alomar played with seven teams over a 17-year MLB career.

He retired with 2724 hits, 1508 runs, and 474 stolen bases. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Carlos Beltran

Beltran made his MLB debut with the Kansas City Royals in 1998 and won AL Rookie of the Year in 1999 after hitting .293 with 22 home runs and 108 RBI.

He made his first of nine All-Star teams in 2004, spending half of his season with the Royals and half with the Houston Astros.

Beltran began a seven-year run with the New York Mets in 2005 and also played for five other teams before retiring following the 2017 season.

Beltran hit at least 30 home runs in a season four times, won three Gold Glove Awards, and retired with 435 home runs and 1587 RBI.

Orlando Cepeda

Cepeda made an immediate impact in his first MLB season with the San Francisco Giants, winning Rookie of the Year in 1958.

He began a streak of six straight All-Star seasons in 1959, leading the league in home runs and RBI in 1961. While most of his best seasons were with the Giants, Cepeda won NL MVP honors as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1967 when he led the league in RBI with 111.

He also played four seasons in Atlanta as well as brief stops in Kansas City, Boston, and Oakland.

Cepeda retired with 2351 hits, 379 home runs, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1999.

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Roberto Clemente

Clemente is arguably the best player to come from Puerto Rico. He spent his entire 18-year MLB career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Clemente made his first of 12 All-Star appearances in 1960. He was also arguably the best defensive right fielder in MLB history, winning 12 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.

A terrific all-around hitter, Clemente hit over .300 12 times and led the league in hitting four times.

Clemente won NL MVP in 1966 after hitting .317 with 29 home runs and 119 RBI. He was tragically killed in a plane crash during the 1972 offseason.

Clemente had 3000 hits and a .317 batting average and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by Special Election in 1973.

Jose Cruz

Cruz played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball. He started his career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1970 but has his most success with the Houston Astros from 1975 through 1987.

Cruz made NL All-Star teams in 1980 and 1985. He was third in the NL MVP vote in 1980 when he led the Astros to the NL West title.

Although he never led the league in hitting, Cruz was an underrated player of his career.

He was a steady hitter who compiled 2251 hits and over 1000 RBI and 1000 runs scored.

Carlos Delgado

Delgado is the top power hitter that ever came from Puerto Rico. He belted at least 30 home runs in a season 10 straight seasons and 11 times in his career that spanned from 1993 through 2009.

Delgado spent 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, making two All-Star appearances during that time.

He also knocked in at least 100 runs in a season nine times. He retired with 473 home runs and 1512 RBI.

Also read: Shortest MLB Players

Edgar Martinez

Arguably the greatest designated hitter of all-time, Martinez spent his entire 18-year career with the Seattle Mariners.

He made seven AL All-Star teams and led the league in hitting twice. Martinez hit at least .300 in a season 10 times with a high of .356 in 1995.

Martinez retired with 2247 hits, over 1200 RBI and over 1200 runs scored, and a batting average of .312.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.

Yadier Molina

Molina spent his entire 19-year career with the Cardinals and will go down as one of the best defensive catchers of All-Time.

He made 10 NL All-Star teams and won nine Gold Glove Awards. Molina was also proficient at the plate, hitting over .300 four times and finished with 2168 hits, over 1000 RBI and a batting average of .277.

Jorge Posada

Posada was instrumental in the success of the New York Yankees during his career that spanned from 1995 through 2011. He made five AL All-Star teams and won four World Series championships.

Posada was a solid hitter, hitting at least 20 home runs in a season eight times and hit .336 as a 36-year-old in 2007.

Posada retired with 275 home runs, 1065 RBI and a .273 batting average.

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Ivan Rodriguez

Rodriguez played 21 seasons in MLB, 13 of them with the Texas Rangers. He is the all-time leader in games caught, won 13 Gold Glove Awards, and made 14 All-Star teams.

In addition, he was part of the 2003 Florida Marlins World Series championship team. Rodriguez was not only an excellent defensive catcher, but one of the best hitters during his era.

He hit at least .300 10 times and retired with 2884 hits, 311 home runs, 1332 RBI, and .296 batting average. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.

Javier Vasquez

Vasquez is the only pitcher on this list and while his career numbers aren’t stellar, he had longevity and had some good moments.

Vasquez pitched for six teams over a 14-year-career from 1998 through 2011. He won at least 10 games 12 consecutive seasons with a high of 16 in 2001.

Vasquez made one All-Star team and struck out at least 200 in a season five times. He retired with 165 wins, a 4.22 ERA and 2536 strikeouts.

Bernie Williams

Williams played his entire 16-year career with the New York Yankees. He was steady as they came both in the field and at the plate.

Williams won four Gold Glove Awards in centerfield and made five AL All-Star teams. He was part of four World Series championship teams.

Williams hit at least .300 in eight straight seasons, leading the league with a .339 average in 1998.

He retired with 2336 hits, 287 home runs, 1257 RBI, and a batting average of .297.

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