10 Latin American Ballplayers to Follow in MLB’s 2017 Season
10 Latin American Ballplayers to Follow in MLB’s 2017 Season
Play ball! That’s how MLB’s 2017 season kicked off, so it’s the right time to approach ten Latin American baseball players that will certainly make headlines for their performance on the field.
Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela, Detroit Tigers, 34 years old. Wage: 28 million dollars)
The best batter of the world —although some people point at Mike Trout— is going to play his tenth season by wearing the Detroit Tigers’ uniform. In 2016, “Miggy” had a great campaign, with zero lesions and his numbers speak high of him: he played in 158 out of the 162 games of his team, 38 HRs, 108 RBIs and average .316. With these figure he won his seventh Silver Bat. His list of achievements is impressive: a World Series title in 2003, with the Marlins, four batting crowns (including a Triple crown) and two awards as the Most Valuable Player (2012 and 2013).
Yoenis Cespedes (Cuba, New York Mets, 31 years old. Wage: 22.5 million dollars)
Cespedes signed the most profitable contract for a Cuban ballplayer in the history of MLB: the Mets held him for another four seasons, by paying 110 million dollars. Now it is the time for the strong batter to prove that he can fulfill higher demands. His batting performance was a key, back in 2015, for the Mets to reach the World Series. His numbers were lightly down in 2016, but they were good anyway: 31 HRs and 86 RBIs in 132 games, since lesions made him miss nearly a month of the championship. He got the Silver Bat among the National League fielders and participated in his second All Star Game. Now, in his sixth season in MLB, Cespedes will be in charge of leading the Mets on their way up to winning the division.
Edwin Encarnacion (Dominican Republic, Cleveland Indians, 34 years old. Wage: 14.6 million dollars)
After seven season with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Dominican player signed with the Indians. The present champions of the American League, who were about to conquer the World Series in 2016, are waiting for Encarnacion to introduce more power in a very complete lineup. In 2016, Encarnacion deliver excellent performances with the Blue Jays: he lead the MLB in terms of RBIs, with 127 (matching “Papi” Ortiz) and shot 42 HRs in 160 games. The Indians believed that the veteran player —with 12 years of experience and 310 homers— could repeat similar numbers, so they offered him 55 million dollars for 4 campaigns.
Albert Pujols (Dominican Republic, Los Angeles’s Angelinos, 37 years old. Wage: 26 million dollars)
When several people believed that the Dominican player was “finished”, the veteran answered with a great season in 2016, made up of 31 HMs and 119 RBIs, in 152 games. His batting average (.263) is no longer the one he had during his time with the San Luis Cardinals, but, anyway, Pujols is going to be one of the Latin American ballplayers to keep an eye on in 2017, although his team, The Angelinos, has low chances of making it to the postseason. Pujols leads several of the main categories among active baseball players, scored runs (1,670), doubles (602), RBIs (1,817) and HRs (591). He is likely to reach the fantastic number of 600 homers between April and May, thus climbing to the eight position on the historic list of top homerun scorers in MLB.
Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic, Seattle Mariners, 34 years old. Wage: 24 million dollars)
Three years ago, the Mariners gave Cano a megabuck contract of 240 million dollars for 10 years, so the Dominican player, who had stood out with the Yankees, could guide this franchise into its first postseason since 2001. So far, Cano hasn’t made it, although his performance has gone up and he has adapted to Seattle. In 2016, Cano put an end to most of critics against him with a remarkable season: 39 HRs, 103 RBIs and .298 average. During his 12 years in MLB, the Dominican player has participated in seven All Star Games, has won Golden Gloves and five Silver Bat.
Johnny Cueto (Dominican Republic, San Francisco Giants, 31 years old. Wage: 21.8 million dollars)
In his second season with the San Francisco Giants, Cueto will try to achieve similar results to 2016: stay healthy and win over 15 games (18 in the previous campaign). Cueto will be the second starter of a franchise that looks forward to conquering the title, not only in the National League. In 2016 he started 32 games, won 18 and only suffered 5 failures, with a very acceptable PCL of 2.92 and WHIP of 1.093; moreover, he delivered 198 strikeouts, his second highest number in his nine years in MLB.
Carlos Martinez (Dominican Republic, San Luis Cardinals, 25 years old. Wage: 3.7 million dollars)
This Dominican player was hired to replace Adam Wainwright as the pitching leader of one of the franchises with the longest history in MLB: San Luis Cardinals. The coach of the team, Mike Matheny, trusts in Martinez’s supersonic speed, 100 miles per hour, combined with breaking moves, to position him as winning starter. In 2016, Martinez had the best campaign of his short four-year career: 31 games started, 16 wins, he delivered strikeouts to 174 batters, 3.04 PCL and 1,224 WHIP.
Julio Teheran (Colombia, Atlanta Braves, 25 years old. Wage: 6.3 million dollars)
The Colombian player is going to throw the first ball in the opening game for one of the most mediocre teams in: Atlanta Braves. Playing for a losing team has undoubtedly had an impact on the South American player’s numbers who, even with a negative record in 2016 of seven wins and 10 defeats, participated in the All Star Games. In six campaigns, always with the Braves, Teheran has 47 wins and 40 defeats.
Aroldis Chapman (Cuba, New York Yankees, 29 years old. Wage: 17.2 million dollars)
The fastest pitcher of all time in MLB (at least since the speedometer is used) inked the biggest contract in history for a pitcher: the New York Yankees decided to bring the Cuban back for 86 million dollars for five years. Let’s recall that the so-called “Cuban Missile” began back in 2016 with the New York Yankees, who decided to send him to the Chicago Cubs, when Chapman had a 3-0 record, 20 games saved, and 44 strikeouts in 31 innings. In his new team, the Cuban player was in good shape and took center stage in the Cubs’ win that put an end to a 108-year-old “curse” without a World Series title. Some people were expecting the Cubs to hold Chapman, but it didn’t happen and, as a freelancer, the Cuban player signed up with the team that offered the highest amount of money. With Dellin Betances and Chapman, the Yankees have the best duo in MLB.
Felix Hernandez (Venezuela, Seattle Mariners, 26 years old. Wage: 26.8 million dollars)
“King” Felix no longer intimidates players with his speed, but he still is a strong pitcher and the Mariners count on him as the main starter. In 2016, the Venezuelan pitcher had a setback, with only 11 wins, PCL of 3.82 and the lowest number of strikeouts in his career (122 and he had scored 191 back in 2015); moreover, his lesions only let him play in 25 games, his lowest outcome since he made his debut, in 2005. Could Hernandez be back with his prevailing style?