Davies: The past, present, and future of baseball in Puerto Rico

From Chris Davies at The Hardball Times on April 17, 2018, with mention of SABR member Adrian Burgos Jr.:

More than six months after Hurricane Maria shattered Puerto Rico, reliable electricity is still scarce in parts of the island, communication can be difficult, and infrastructure is in various states of disrepair. But as Major League Baseball makes its way to San Juan for a two-game series between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins, one thing that needs no rebuilding is the island’s love for baseball.

It’s impossible to deny the allure of the million-watt grin of “Mr. Smile” Francisco Lindor, the indomitable swagger of Javier Baez, or the show- and heart-stealing performance of Carlos Correa in the World Series. These young men stand out for their remarkable baseball skill and their dynamic personalities, and watching them perform small feats of great athleticism night-in and night-out is a reminder of how great baseball players from Puerto Rico can be.

This cadre of incredibly gifted young men inspires kids around the globe to pick up a ball and glove and imitate their heroics. But as the recovery from the most devastating hurricane in island history drags on, these players also inspire a question: How will the aftermath of Hurricane Maria affect the next generation of Puerto Rican ballplayer?

For 65 years, Puerto Rican players have graced the ballparks of major league baseball, with 262 players appearing in major league games (as of the 2017 season) since Hiram Bithorn debuted as the first Puerto Rican big leaguer in 1942 with the Chicago Cubs. Talent from the island, as measured by WAR, took a decidedly upward climb through the 20th century, though it waxed and waned in its ascent.

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/the-future-of-baseball-in-puerto-rico/

Originally published: April 17, 2018. Last Updated: April 17, 2018.