Once again, Latin American baseball players took center stage in the 2017 season of Major League and their performances contributed to the qualification of their teams to the playoff. Who were the top 10 men on the field? Completing this list is not easy at all if we take into account that we witnessed great performances, specially delivered by Venezuelan Jose Altuve and pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Ervin Santana. Panamericanworld dared propose a ranking where batters play the leading role. Who else would you include? We are always open to debate.
JOSE ALTUVE (VENEZUELA – HOUSTON ASTROS)
The Venezuelan players kept on challenging the “rules” of baseball and showed that, although he is 1.68 meter high and weighs 74 kilograms, he is a MLB super star and the main figure of Houston Astros, one of the best MLB teams in this season. For four years in a row, Altuve surpassed the 200 hits (204) and won his third batting crown in the American League, with an average of .346. Moreover, he showed the power of his wrists with 24 HRs and 81 RBIs. He also made history during the playoff, by connecting three home runs in a game against southpaw Chris Sale, so he became the ninth ball player to make it in the postseason.
JOSE RAMIREZ (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – CLEVELAND INDIANS)
The Cleveland Indians gave Ramirez a long-term contract that will keep him in that franchise through 2023. If we assess his achievements in 2017, both fans and executives of the Indians are certainly happy with this player, who had a great season, headed MLB with 56 doubles, 29 HRs and 83 RBIs, with average of .318. He was also good at defending second and third bases.
JOSE DARIEL ABREU (CUBA – CHICAGO WHITE SOX)
The fact that the Cuban athlete is playing in such a mediocre team as the White Sox, has stopped him to make more headlines and he hasn’t even played a playoff game. Nevertheless, there is no doubt about Abreu’s tremendous quality, who became the fourth ball player (the second Latin American player, along with Albert Pujols) to kick off his MLB career with four seasons and 25 or more HRs and 100 or more RBIs. Amazing! “Pito” Abreu showed that he is not only a great slugger, with 33 HRs and 102 RBIs, but he is also a batter with an impressive average (.304).
MARCELL OZUNA (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – MIAMI MARLINS)
The Dominican player joined Giancarlo Stanton as the best pair of batters in the season. Stanton was the leader of Major League with 132 RBIs and Ozuna was third with 124 and sixth with 191 HRs. Anyway, not even these great numbers were enough to give the Marlins more wins than defeats.
NELSON CRUZ (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – SEATTLE MARINERS
We can find several common elements between Dominican players Cruz and Ozuna: they had a great season in terms of home runs and runs batted in, but their teams finished way below expectations. Cruz shot 39 home runs and pushed the highest number of runs in his 13 years in MLB: 119.
FRANCISCO LINDOR (PUERTO RICO – CLEVELAND INDIANS)
The Puerto Rican player remarkably improved his numbers from the two previous campaigns and he was a key figure during the impressive second half of the championship lived by the Cleveland Indians, with a record of 22 wins in a row. Lindor finished with 33 HRs and 89 RBIs, the best numbers in the short career of this shortstop.
EDWIN ENCARNACION (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – CLEVELAND INDIANS)
The Cleveland Indians opened its wallet to hire the Dominican player as freelance, after having spent eight years in Toronto. The megabuck movement was worth it, since Encarnacion did it as expected: he stood out as the fifth man with more home runs (38) and runs batted in (107) in this season of Major League.
LATIN AMERICAN PITCHERS
This ranking issued by Panamericanworld is mostly made up of Latin American batters, but several pitchers stood out as well as were included in the Top 10 of the season.
CARLOS CARRASCO (VENEZUELA – CLEVELAND INDIANS)
The Venezuelan player had the best season of his life by far. He won 18 games and went up the top of MLB, along with another three pitchers (his teammate Corey Kluber, Clayton Kershaw and Jason Vargas); moreover, he delivered 226 strikeouts (seventh in the championship).
LUIS SEVERINO (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – NEW YORK YANKEES)
The director of the Yankees, Joe Girardi, appointed Severino as starting pitcher in the game against the Minnesota Twins. The Dominican player made his way up and finished as the best pitcher of the New York Yankees. In his third campaign at the Bronx, Severino won 14 games, lost six and took 230 batters out (the sixth man in MLB). With his 2.98 ERA, he finished in the eighth position in the championship. The experience against the Twins wasn’t the very good, but it doesn’t affect the 23-year-old fast pitcher.
ERVIN SANTANA (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – MINNESOTA TWINS)
This veteran had an excellent season. He had a great beginning and, during April and first half of May, he was described as the best player in MLB. His performance went down a little bit, although his final numbers are very good: 16 wins, eight defeats and effectiveness average of 3.28 (the fifth in the American League).