The influence and impact of Puerto Rican baseball players in the big leagues seems to grow with each passing year. While the American territory is known for a lot of things, many of the best Puerto Rican sportspeople are big leaguers.
On top of that, some of the best Puerto Rican baseball players of both today and yesteryear are and were bonafide stars.
Puerto Rican baseball players
Over the years, there have been so many great Puerto Rican MLB players that it became tough to keep our list to just 10 players. Of course, if you truly want to separate the best Puerto Rican baseball players, you have to draw the line somewhere.
Admittedly, this list could easily change in the years to come as baseball fans get to know a new generation of Puerto Rican baseball players. However, here is our current list of the 10 best Puerto Rican baseball players in MLB history.
10. Juan Gonzalez
As a hitter during the live-ball era, it’s easy to overlook Juan Gonzalez a little. However, he smashed 434 home runs during his career while also hitting .295.
Some fans may forget that he also took home MVP honors in 1996 and 1998. Somehow, he won MVP twice and led the American League in homers twice but was only an all-star three times. Of course, Gonzalez was linked to steroids, which hurts him a little but not enough to keep him out of our list of the top-10 Puerto Rican baseball players.
9. Vic Power
Vic Power is an old-timer but still among the best Puerto Rican baseball players in MLB history. He played during the 1950s and 60s, mostly for the Athletics and Indians but also the Twins, Angels, and Phillies late in his career.
Granted, he wasn’t quite true to his name, as he only had 126 career home runs, averaging around 10 per season during his career. However, he did win seven straight Gold Gloves at first base and was selected as an all-star six times.
8. Jorge Posada
Jorge Posada is more than a legendary Yankee, he’s also among the best Puerto Rican baseball players of all time. Of course, fans know him as an integral part of four championship teams in the Bronx. But he’s also one of just five catchers to collect at least 1,500 hits, 275 home runs, 350 doubles, and 1,000 RBIs in his career.
He was a five-time all-star and a five-time Silver Slugger winner, which means that for a few years in the early 2000s, he was arguably the best catcher in baseball.
7. Bernie Williams
Before he was a great guitarist, Bernie Williams was one of the top Puerto Rican MLB players for many years. Much like Posada, he was a part of four World Series wins with the Yankees. Williams was also a five-time all-star and won four straight Gold Gloves from 1997 to 2000.
That time also coincided with Williams winning a batting title in 1998. He spent 16 amazing seasons in pinstripes, hitting .297 over his career while collecting over 2,300 hits and 287 home runs. He may not be a Hall of Famer, but Williams had a great career and knew how to play winning baseball.
6. Carlos Delgado
Carlos Delgado has long been overlooked, perhaps because he spent some of his best seasons in Toronto, out of the spotlight. Despite only being named an all-star twice, Delgado won the Silver Slugger Award three times, including 2003 when he led the American League in RBIs.
He finished his career with over 2,000 hits and 473 home runs. To date, he is one of six players to hit 30-plus home runs in 10 consecutive seasons, which puts him in some rarefied air.
5. Carlos Beltran
His connection to Houston’s cheating scandal aside, Carlos Beltran is surely one of the best Puerto Rican baseball players to ever come out of the island. He hit the ground running as Rookie of the Year in 1999 and continued to be a productive player for nearly two decades, collecting over 2,700 hits and 435 home runs.
He is one of five players with both 400-plus home runs and over 300 stolen bases.
Beltran was selected to nine All-Star Games and won three straight Gold Gloves during the prime of his career. In fact, he won both the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger in 2006 and 2007. Beltran was a true five-tool player who also came through in the clutch in October on more than one occasion.
4. Orlando Cepeda
Younger audiences may not know Orlando Cepeda, but he’s surely one of the more memorable Puerto Rican MLB players. We’re talking about a Rookie of the Year winner, an MVP, and an 11-time all-star.
Perhaps more importantly, Cepeda undoubtedly had a positive influence over just about every other Puerto Rican player on our list. In fact, he was the first Puerto Rican player to start an All-Star Game. He finished his career as a .297 hitter with over 2,300 hits and 379 home runs.
3. Roberto Alomar
Despite some rough years on the back end of his career, there is a strong argument that Alomar is the best second baseman in baseball history. Starting with his third season in the majors, Roberto Alomar made 12 consecutive all-star teams while also winning 10 Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger Awards during that stretch.
He was a core member of the Blue Jays when they won back-to-back World Series titles.
Among second basemen, Alomar ranks top-10 in most major statistical categories both offensively and defensively. Even with those subpar years on the tail-end of a 17-year career, Alomar finished his career as a .300 hitter and one of the best defensive players at the keystone in baseball history.
2. Ivan Rodriguez
Nicknamed Pudge, Ivan Rodriguez is so much more than one of the best Puerto Rican baseball players, he’s one of the best catchers in baseball history. He is the all-time record holder in caught-stealing percentage and put-outs by a catcher.
Over 21 seasons behind the plate, he won 13 Gold Glove Awards and was an all-star 14 times. But Rodriguez wasn’t just a defensive specialist; the guy could mash.
He finished his career with a .296 average and 311 home runs, falling 156 hits shy of 3,000. He also won the Silver Slugger Award seven times and even won MVP honors in 1999. Needless to say, he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
1. Roberto Clemente
Even among the very best Puerto Rican sportspeople of all time, Roberto Clemente stands out. He was an amazing player but an even better person, tragically passing away in a plane crash while trying to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Perhaps fittingly, the final hit of his big league career was the 3,000th hit of his career, coming less than three months before his untimely death.
Clemente finished his career with a .317 average and .240 home runs. He played 18 seasons in the majors, all with the Pirates, going to the All-Star Game 15 times and winning the Gold Glove in each of his final 12 seasons.
Clemente also won four batting titles and was MVP in 1966. He also helped the Pirates win the World Series twice, being named MVP of the 1971 Fall Classic. After his death, baseball writers waived the waiting period for the Hall of Fame and voted Clemente into Cooperstown the following year.
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