Dominican Republic is the second country with the largest number of Major League teams’ players, only surpassed by the United States. Since Ozzie Virgil debuted in the Majors, in 1956, over four hundred Dominican players have worn the uniform of a franchise. Who have been the most outstanding? Panamericanworld proposes an All-Star of that spectacular Caribbean nation, which breathes baseball and feels proud of so much talent that has left the streets to shine in the main baseball competition in the world.
CATCHER: TONY PEÑA
In his 18 years in the Majors, Peña played in six teams. His best moments were with the Pittsburgh Pirates, in the eighties, when he was elected to five All-Star Games. In total, he received four Gold Gloves, for his defensive excellence, which was always his strong point, since with the bat he only averaged 260, with 107 homers and 708 Run Batted Ins (RBIs).
FIRST BASE: ALBERT PUJOLS
During the first decade of the 21st century, when playing with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols was considered the most complete hitter in the Major Leagues. Then, after signing a multimillion-dollar contract with Los Angeles Angels, his numbers have not been the same, although, in any case, he has a safe place in Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame: in 17 years in the Majors he has shot 614 homers, which is why he occupies the seventh place in the ranking of all times. He has also promoted 1918 runs and averages 305. His curriculum is impressive: two World Series rings (2006 and 2011), three MVP awards, two Gold Gloves, six Silver Bats and 10 All-Star appearances.
SECOND BASE: ROBINSON CANÓ
Canó played nine years (2005-2014) in the New York Yankees, with which he won a World Series ring and became one of the best hitters in the Major Leagues. Then he signed a huge multi-million dollar contract with the Seattle Mariners and still, with that team, he hasn’t participated in a postseason game. In his 13 years in the Majors, he has participated in five All-Star Games, has two Gold Gloves, five Silver Bats and, in addition, was the 2013 World Classic champion, where he was chosen as the Most Valuable Player. In the Majors, he has shot 301 homeruns, with 1183 RBIs.
THIRD BASE: ADRIÁN BELTRÉ
Beltré is known as a very integral player, for his great offensive power and excellent defensive skills. In 20 years in the Majors, he has won four Silver Bats and five Gold Gloves. He is still in search of his first champion ring. So far, he has connected 462 homers, with 1642 RBIs.
SHORT FIELD: MIGUEL TEJADA
Tejada played for 16 years in the Majors and in that span he achieved very good numbers: 307 homeruns, 1302 RBIs and finished with an offensive average of 285. In 2002, he was chosen as the American League’s Most Valuable Player, for the great year he had with the Oakland Athletics; he also won two Silver Bats and participated in six All-Star Games.
DESIGNATED HITTER: DAVID ORTIZ
“Big Papi” has been, without a doubt, the most complete designated hitter of all time in the Major Leagues. His first five years (1997-2002), with the Minnesota Twins, weren’t very flashy; but, after reaching the Boston Red Sox, everything changed. In the 14 years he was with that franchise, Ortiz was a key player in the conquest of three World Series titles (2004, 2007 and 2013), connected in total 541 homeruns and drove 1768 runs.
“Vlad” played 16 years in the Majors and in that period he wore the uniform of four teams. His powerful arm and great offensive power began to make themselves felt with the Montreal Expos, in which he was between 1996 and 2003. Then he also had good results with Los Angeles Angels (2003-09), declined something with the Texas Rangers (2010) and ended his successful career with the Baltimore Orioles (2011). In 2004, he was chosen as MVP of the American League and in his formidable curriculum appear eight Silver Bats and nine participations in the All-Star Game. He hit 449 homeruns, drove in 1496 runs and closed with an average of 318.
Alou was born in Atlanta, but was raised in the Dominican Republic. His father, Felipe, was an excellent outfielder and the son followed his example. In 17 years in the Majors, Moses hit 332 homers and drove in 1287 runs. In 1997, he was a key player in the triumph of the Florida Marlins in the World Series.
The link with steroids has kept him (and predictably will continue so) away from Cooperstown; but, in reality, Sammy Sosa had numbers to enter the Hall of Fame. We decided to include him in the All-Star because the accusations against him seem vague. In 18 years in the Majors, in which he was in four teams, Sosa hit 608 homeruns; in addition, he dove in 1667 runs and stole 234 bases.
In the waiting circle:
Two “emerging hitters” of this All-Star would be Manny Ramírez and Julio Franco. Ramírez was one of the most feared hitters in the Major Leagues, but his relationship with steroids (this time proved) affected his exclusion from the list of three outfielders. During the seven years he was in the Cleveland Indians he became a superstar and then consolidated that status in the next seven years (2001-2008) with the Boston Red Sox, where he won two World Series rings. He shot 555 homers and drove in 1831.
Franco is an example of baseball longevity. He played in the Major Leagues until he was 49 years old and, in his time in eight teams (between 1982 and 2007), he connected 173 homeruns, with 1194 RBIs and 281 stolen bases.
The two best pitchers in Dominican Republic’s baseball history are the only players in that country who, so far, have been exalted to the Hall of Fame.
Juan Marichal made history with the San Francisco Giants, for whom he worked between 1960 and 1973. He then had brief stays in the Boston Red Sox (1974) and retired in 1975, with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the decade of pitching (the last century’s sixties), Marichal was the pitcher with more victories in the Majors (161). In total, he got 243 wins, suffered 142 setbacks, struck out 2303 batters and finished with a 2.89 earned run average and a 1.101 WHIP. In 1983, he was elected to Cooperstown.
Another brilliant Dominican pitcher was Pedro Martinez, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox, in 2004. Martinez was considered one of the most dominant pitchers of the 20th century’s last decade and the first of the 21st. He shined with the Montreal Expos and became famous with Boston, where he spent six years.
He then moved on to the Mets and finished his 18-year-long career with the Philadelphia Phillies. He participated in eight All-Star Games, won 219 games, struck out 3154 batters, with an Earned Run Average (ERA) of 2.93 and a WHIP of 1.054. In 2015, in his first year of eligibility, he entered Cooperstown and the Red Sox withdrew his number.