Trueblood: The Boricua Bonanza in baseball

From Matthew Trueblood at Baseball Prospectus on July 17, 2018:

Javier Baez took part in last night’s Home Run Derby and tonight he’ll take the field as the starting second baseman for the National League in the All-Star game. Francisco Lindor will start at shortstop for the American League. As the game unfolds, it’s possible we’ll see Jose Berrios, Joe Jimenez, and Edwin Diaz all take the mound for the AL squad, and it’s likely that Yadier Molina will catch the later innings for the NL.

If that happens, it will make 2018 the first season since 2001 in which six players hailing from Puerto Rico play in the Midsummer Classic. Even that undersells this moment, though. In 2001, the six Puerto Rican All-Stars were:

  • Bernie Williams, then 32, a backup in the outfield
  • Roberto Alomar, then 33, a reserve entry at second base
  • Juan Gonzalez, then 31, who started in right field
  • Edgar Martinez, then 38, the DH
  • Ivan Rodriguez, then 29, who started at catcher; and
  • Jorge Posada, also 29, to whom Rodriguez gave way

This year’s set is much, much younger. Molina turned 36 years old last week, but of the rest, Baez is the oldest, at 25. Jimenez is the youngest, at 23. Relative to the early 2000s (or even any time in the 1990s), MLB is a sport dominated by youth, and these six stars reflect that nicely. It’s also worth noting that the group could be even larger. Only the roster rules for the All-Star game (each team being represented, for instance) and injuries kept Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario and Houston’s Carlos Correa from joining the AL squad. Rosario is 26; Correa is 23. Somewhere just below the level of All-Star recognition lurks Enrique Hernandez, who is also 26.

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