NUEVA YORK– Today is the 60th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC, as we celebrate the culture of this U.S. commonwealth. It doesn’t matter if you hail from the archipelago itself but if you truly grew up in NYC and not the suburbs, you already have some Nuyorican, as part of your fabric. Whether it’s the food (pasteles and mofongo) or drink (coquito and Bacardi) or music (Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri) – it’s all good today. Oh yeah, the sport of beisbol is a way of life for Puerto Ricans everywhere and thus, today is my compilation of the All-Time MLB Puerto Rican team. While many of the following have spent time in NY, this truly wasn’t my intention.
1B– Carlos Delgado (Aguadilla, PR) Finished his career twenty-seven dingers short of the magic 500 Home Run club and its subsequent Hall of Fame association. The overall body of work is very good but similar to Fred McGriff, very good isn’t what Cooperstown is supposed to be all about. He’ll have to settle for membership in the Canadian Baseball HOF for all the Toronto Blue Jays team records he holds.
2B– Roberto Alomar (Ponce, PR) How in the world did this guy manage to play on eight MLB teams considering he is regarded as the best second baseman ever? A .300 switch-hitting, gold-glove, run-producer (1,134 RBI) who could steal a base (474 thefts) are players hard to come by and you would think are enough of a commodity to keep on a ball club. He was nothing to spit at. I couldn’t resist.
3B– Edgar Martinez (Dorado, PR via NY) Selecting a third baseman wasn’t easy among Boriquens which is why I’m using the pre-eminent DH of all-time here lest we forget he started his career at the hot corner. I don’t know how many .300 hitters aren’t in the HOF but his one-dimensional play might be enough to keep him out. What do you people think?
SS– Jose Oquendo (Rio Piedras, PR) This is another thin position among Puerto Ricans but I do remember some dazzling displays of leather while playing for the Mets early in his career. He is also one of a few major leaguers to play all nine positions in a game and word has it that Matt McCarthy has done the same for the Harlem Shaskys.
C– Ivan Rodriguez (Manati, PR) As a former catcher, I enjoyed watching this guy behind the plate. He was The Sh!t. Pudge could hit (.296), field his position (most games caught lifetime) and threw out attempted base stealers (all-time best 46% success rate) with laser-launched throws from a kneeling position. First ballot HOFer this year and deservedly so.
OF– Roberto Clemente (Carolina, PR) Five-tool player, maybe you’ve heard of him.
OF– Bernie Williams (San Juan, PR) By now, you all know I’m not a Yankees fan but there was one player I liked and it was Bernie Williams. Much is made about the Core Four and while Jeter, Pettitte, Posada, and Rivera were Bronx legends, let’s not forget #51 who was as clutch as any of the aforementioned. Williams just went about his business as smooth as his Latin Grammy-winning guitar playing. A very good ballplayer with some nice stats of his own.
OF– Carlos Beltran (Manati, PR) Is Beltran a HOFer judging by the following: .281 AVG, 2664 H, 428 HR, 1557 RBI, 9x All-Star, 3x Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year (’99)?
DH– Juan Gonzalez (Vega Baja, PR) There was no more feared hitter during his playing career than “Juan Gone”. The guy averaged 37 homers* and 117 RBI* during the ’90’s and was MVP twice during the span as a member of the Texas Rangers. *-listed on the Mitchell Report and said by Jose Canseco to have taken steroids.
Starting Pitcher– Javier Vazquez (Ponce, PR) Puerto Rico’s winningest pitcher at 165 wins and when you win 51% of the time you also lose 49% of the time as 160 losses is also tops among his nationals. He’s also PR’s leader in games (443), innings pitched (2840), and strikeouts (2536). Not even John Candeleria could top those numbers.
Relief Pitcher– Willie Hernandez (Aguada, PR) I know Roberto Hernandez has better stats but I’m going Old School all the way for this one. Willie Hernandez pitched when relievers put in a hard days work. His 1984 is a season for the ages as a member of the Detroit Tigers when he become one of a very select group by winning the AL MVP, Cy Young Award, and a World Series. He pitched 140 innings that season.
That’s it. Please comment below and come back tomorrow for a man who wears the Buffalo Bills logo on his chest, DJ Eberle. And please follow us on Twitter – @CheesyBruin & @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.