Even though it’s known as America’s (that is, the United States’) pastime, players from Latin America have long carried the sport of baseball.
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That began with the legendary Roberto Clemente, who is to Latino players what Jackie Robinson was to breaking the color barrier in baseball. Nearly one-third of players in Major League Baseball today are of Latino origin, making the Caribbean and Central American nations some of the most important to the history of the sport.
While the Latin American nations fell short in the World Baseball Classic—the Dominican Republic didn’t make it out of pool play, a shocking turn of events for the powerhouse nation; Puerto Rico suffered an upset loss against Mexico in the quarterfinals, even with one of the most famous Latino players in MLB history, Yadier Molina, managing the team; the United States knocked off Venezuela and blew out Cuba, and Mexico fell to Japan with a walkoff loss in the semifinals—that’s not an indictment of the talent of Latin American baseball players.
Right now the title of best-known Latin American ball player is in a state of flux. After Molina and three-time MVP Albert Pujols (who retired following the conclusion of the 2022 season, the mantle is up for grabs. Those two legends defined the game for a generation of players from the Caribbean, leaving legacies that won’t soon be forgotten. Even so, the sport is in good hands. Here’s a look at some of the best and most popular Latino players in MLB for this upcoming season: keep in mind that it’s impossible to do adequate justice to the influence of Latino players in the sport given how prevalent they are. Stars like Juan Soto barely missed the cut in this list.
First and foremost is Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcántara. His combination of durability and finesse is unmatched by any other pitcher in the big leagues. Alcántara won the National League Cy Young Award in 2022 as the best pitcher in the league, and he’s one of the favorites to run it back this season, listed at or around +500 to win the award for a second consecutive year. If you are looking to put some bets on the Cy Young Award (or any other sporting event or outcome) make sure to use a WynnBET promo code, and you will have big chances to maximize your opportunity of winning big.
Alcántara was the best pitcher in either league by a significant margin, turning in 207 strikeouts across 228.2 innings pitched, including a major leagues-leading six complete games. His 8.0 bWAR in 2022 was the best by a player whose primary position is pitcher: as great as he is, we can’t count the inimitable Shohei Ohtani, whose stats are boosted by his ability to serve as a designated hitter as well.
Up next is superstar Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. He had a down year (by his lofty standards) in 2022, missing 43 games as he continued to recover from an ACL tear in his right knee that caused him to miss the second half of the 2021 season, including Atlanta’s run to a World Series championship. Like Alcántara, part of Acuña’s greatness (and ensuing popularity) comes from his versatility. Not only is he one of the fastest and canniest players in the sport, stealing 107 bases in less than five full seasons, he’s got incredible pop too, slugging 120 home runs in that same time span… and making him a legitimate threat to become just the fifth member of the vaunted 40-40 club. Now that he’s had a full season to get healthy, watch out for Acuña in 2023.
This is a list full of juniors: next is the son of an MLB Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Just like his pops, Guerrero’s power stroke is a sight to behold. He smacked 48 dingers in 2021, and he’s always going to be in the thick of the MVP race with those kinds of numbers. Guerrero is one of the best bats in the league, and part of one of MLB’s most exciting lineups in the Toronto Blue Jays, making it must-see TV whenever he steps to the plate.
Last on this too-short list is San Diego Padres phenom Fernando Tatís Jr. The man who revitalized baseball in the city of San Diego, Tatís took a year off from the sport in 2022 after a shoulder injury and subsequent suspension for using PEDs, which he vehemently denied. His comeback is going to be a sight to behold: like Acuña, his ability to slug, run and play defense makes him one of the flashiest and most exciting players in the league. He’s barely 24 years old, giving him plenty of time to turn his story around with another MVP caliber season.