Once I read about the greatest sluggers in major league baseball history, most of them were remembered by their nicknames.
The greatest of them all, in my opinion, was called “The Babe.”
No matter what is said and written these days, in my opinion the second-best ever is well-known as “The Big Mac.”
In my top-10 all-time slugger list there are such names as “The Mick,” “Say Hey Kid,” “Mr. October,” “The Splendid Splinter” and “Iron Mike.”
Among Latinos the all-time slugger my No. 1 is well-known today as “El Hombre.”
Albert Pujols just turned 30 a short time ago, and as we read about him for the upcoming season, it’s simply amazing the numbers and achievements he has done in his career.
In each of his nine seasons, Pujols has surpassed a .300 batting average, 30 home runs and 100 RBI.
All in one decade.
As we start a new season in a new decade, it has to be seen if he will keep his current pace that already is hall-of-fame bound.
As of this moment, the St. Louis Cardinal first baseman has surpassed at age 30 Latino names such as Roberto Clemente, Rod Carew and Orlando Cepeda.
Pujols’ numbers at 30 years old has better comparison numbers than Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmy Foxx, Hank Greenberg, and Willie Mays.
Simply, Pujols has demonstrated he is the best slugger in the game.
Among all-time Latinos, the Dominican Republic native is No. 1 and he tops my All-Time Latino Greatest Sluggers.
Listed below are my 20 All-Time Latino Greatest Sluggers:
“Never make predictions, especially about the future.”
That was one of the most famous quotes ever from Casey Stengel.
Nobody listens to him. Not these days. Spring training is right around the corner on the calendar, and predictions are starting to pop up all over again.
Baseball is back.
No matter if you are a casual or serious fan or into fantasy baseball, everyone is looking for every opinion of what will happen in 2010.
There is a long way to go, but my preseason crystal ball says it will be the world champion New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies again in the Fall Classic.
As far as the majors’ Latino players, watch Florida Marlin Hanley Ramirez go for his first National League MVP award. Same as Ramirez, watch out in the junior circuit for former Marlin and nowadays Detroit Tiger Miguel Cabrera to be again on the move for his first American League MVP.
I should not make predictions, but I have a vision Seattle Mariner Felix Hernandez will be again a strong candidate for the American League Cy Young Award and young hurler Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers for American League Rookie of the Year.
Fans all over the baseball world love rankings, and this is my preseason Latino player rankings, in which I list the best 15 offensive players and best 15 pitchers who should be of impact for the 2010 season.
My 2010 Preseason Latino Player Rankings Listing
Hanley Ramirez, Florida
Albert Pujols, St. Louis
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Victor Martinez, Boston
Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco
Carlos Lee, Houston
Vladimir Guerrero, Texas
Jorge Posada, New York Yankees
Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Carlos Peña, Tampa Bay
Yunel Escobar, Atlanta
Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
Felix Hernandez, Seattle
Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets
Johan Santana, New York Mets
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee
Neftali Feliz, Texas
Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati
Jose Valverde, Detroit
Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta
Javier Vazquez, New York Yankees
Vicente Padilla, Los Angeles Dodgers
Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati
Joakim Soria, Kansas City
Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay
Joel Piñeiro, Los Angeles Angels
My Preseason 2010 Latino All-Star Team
C: Victor Martinez, Boston
1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
2B: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
3B: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
SS: Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins
OF: Bobby Abreu, Los Angeles Angels
OF: Carlos Lee, Houston
OF: Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
DH: Vladimir Guerrero, Texas
SP: Felix Hernandez, Seattle
RP: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Mark McGwire finally came clean with the truth.
The “Bic Mac” was not different to former performance-enhancing drugs users Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada, Manny Ramirez, Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz.
In the long run, they have to admit it–they were cheaters.
At least, McGwire called it the most “regrettable mistake” in his life.
The question nowadays is “who’s next?”
Next should be Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa.
Both have yet to divulge their personal transgressions.
For years both former sluggers had been named in multiple reports for their steroid use. They know they were not clean, and they know we know it.
Palmeiro and Sosa should know this is their time. It is. Both they know they have to clean their images to have the chance to be immortalized someday in Cooperstown.
Palmeiro quietly built numbers over a 20-year career that can be compared with Latino greats Roberto Clemente and Rod Carew.
The Cuban-born first baseman was a four-time All-Star; three-time Gold Glover, and two-time Silver Slugger.
He ended his career as member of the exclusive 500-home run and 3,000-hit club and is only one of four players in history to be member of both.
However, Palmeiro has never been forgotten for his actions at a Congressional hearing in 2005; while under oath, he pointed his finger, stating “Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids, period. I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never.”
Same with Sosa.
Most fans probably have forgotten that he was the biggest player ever after Ernie Banks in a Cub uniform. He was the “Bambino Latino” from the Dominican Republic that electrified fans for many seasons Wrigley Field.
He and McGwire were the men who gave us that magical 1998 season.
Sosa and McGwire were back-to-back in the pursuit of Roger Maris’ single-season home run record of 61. McGwire wound up with 70 and Sosa with 66.
No doubt his final career numbers are bound for the Hall of Fame.
However, what many fans remember is Sosa with an interpreter telling Congress after many years in the States he did not speak English and he should be excused.
As with McGwire, both Palmeiro and Sosa were liars in the infamous 2005 Congressional hearing on baseball and steroids.
Please, no more lies.
According to substantial media reports, Palmeiro and Sosa are not the only Latinos that should step forward for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Juan Gonzalez, a two-time American League MVP and two-time American League home run champion, had been mentioned often to have used steroids and human growth hormone mainly during his glory days as a Texas Ranger.
Gonzalez is eligible next year in the Hall of Fame ballot, and it should be his time to speak up too.
Other active Latino players highly mentioned by media reports are Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Delgado, Magglio Ordoñez, and José Guillén.
It has been reported that, in Latin America, the reaction of the McGwire news was muted and taken with little fuss.
Probably very true.
South of the border, baseball-loving fans want their heroes to have the courage to come clean on the use of controlled substances.
They want that Palmeiro, Sosa, and many others to at least make the attempt to help close the chapter of the so-called steroid era in Major League Baseball.
Let’s hope they make it soon.
The 2000’s are heading into history.
As in all sports, fans love to know the opinion of who were the best players of the decade.
As Barry Bonds was the man in the 1990’s, this decade was all property of Albert Pujols.
“El Hombre” from the St. Louis Cardinals his offensive numbers made all the talking hitting every year for at least a .300 average, 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in.
He was as good as a hitter, defensively as a first baseman and as a ball player off-the-field that it was a no brainer was MLB’s Player of the Decade.
Both The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated agreed with the latter.
Pujols was the king of the diamonds but there were other bunch of player that excels to their best through the decade.
Only Latino great names from the best of the best of the decade of the 1990’s around major league baseball are Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and Omar Vizquel. Very possibly the duo will be future shoo-ins into the Hall of Fame.
Long gone are those great from the 90’s as Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and Bernie Williams.
There is a great possibility Roberto Alomar and Edgar Martinez will be getting next January their enshrinement into Cooperstown.
As we are approaching the 2010’s this is a good time to select the All-Decade Latino Team for the 2000’s.
Our MLB’s Latino Decade Team 2000-2009:
SP: Bartolo Colón, Liván Hernández, Pedro Martínez, Johan Santana, Javier Vázquez
RP: Mariano Rivera
Every fan knows them. They are cheer. Some times not.
Albert Pujols is known as “El Hombre” in St. Louis and possibly could win his third career National League MVP award.
Felix Hernandez is known as “El Rey” in Seattle and possibly could win his first career Cy Young award.
Elvis Andrus is regarded the next best shortstop in the model of Omar Vizquel in the majors. Fans of the Texas Rangers are waiting to see if he will be this season’s American League Rookie of the Year.
Fans know many more of them and have high regards of them.
Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins is this season’s National League batting champion; superstar New York Yankees Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada; Carlos Lee in Houston and Miguel Cabrera in Detroit.
Of course, there is always in Dodger Blue Manny being Manny in Los Angeles and new names to follow in the other side of Los Angeles’ Angels, Kendry Morales.
All of them Latinos.
They all come from the passionate countries of Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Venezuela.
We know them today but through history all this countries have supplied the best of the best to the majors.
As of the end of the 2009 season, these are the top Latinos by country:
Cuba: Rafael Palmeiro, 10,472
Dominican Republic: Sammy Sosa, 8,813
Panama: Rod Carew, 9,315
Puerto Rico: Roberto Clemente 9,454
Venezuela: Luis Aparicio, 10,230
Cuba: Tony Oliva, .304
Dominican Republic: Albert Pujols, .334
Panama: Rod Carew, .328
Puerto Rico: Roberto Clemente, .317
Venezuela: Magglio Ordoñez, .312
Cuba: Rafael Palmeiro, 3,020
Dominican Republic: Julio Franco, 2,586
Panama: Rod Carew, 3,053
Puerto Rico: Roberto Clemente 3,000
Venezuela: Omar Vizquel, 2,704
Cuba: Rafael Palmeiro, 585
Dominican Republic: Manny Ramirez, 531
Panama: Rod Carew, 445
Puerto Rico: Ivan Rodriguez, 547
Venezuela: Bobby Abreu, 483
Cuba: Tony Taylor, 86
Dominican Republic: Juan Samuel, 102
Panama: Rod Carew, 112
Puerto Rico: Roberto Clemente 166
Venezuela: Luis Aparicio, 92
Cuba: Rafael Palmeiro, 569
Dominican Republic: Sammy Sosa, 609
Panama: Carlos Lee, 307
Puerto Rico: Carlos Delgado, 473
Venezuela: Andres Galarraga, 399
Runs Batted In
Cuba: Rafael Palmeiro, 1,835
Dominican Republic: Manny Ramirez, 1,788
Panama: Carlos Lee, 1,103
Puerto Rico: Carlos Delgado, 1,512
Venezuela: Andres Galarraga, 1,425
Cuba: Luis Tiant, 229
Dominican Republic: Juan Marichal, 243
Puerto Rico: John Candelaria, 177
Venezuela: Johan Santana, 122
All-Time Latino Wins Leader is Nicaragua’s Dennis Martinez, 245
Cuba: Mike Cuellar, 3.14
Dominican Republic: Juan Marichal, 2.89
Puerto Rico: John Candelaria, 3.13
Venezuela: Johan Santana, 3.13
All-Time Latino ERA Leader is Panama’s Mariano Rivera, 2.25
Cuba: Danys Baez, 114
Dominican Republic: Jose Mesa, 321
Puerto Rico: Roberto Hernandez, 326
Venezuela: Francisco Rodriguez, 243
All-Time Latino ERA Leader is Panama’s Mariano Rivera, 526
For more than a century, fans across America have called out Major League Baseball as “The Show”.
It is true is America’s pastime. It is also true in Latin America.
For Latinos beisbol is the greatest show and season after season there is a moment, a feat or an accomplishment that will go to the history books.
These were the 10 Latino season highlights of 2009:
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez with the Houston Astros recorded career game number 2,227 on June 17 against the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez career game 2,227 as a catcher passed Carlton Fisk for most games caught in major league history. Rodriguez was traded on August 18 to the Rangers.
Omar Vizquel of the Texas Rangers became Venezuela’s all-time hits leader on June 25 against the Arizona D’Backs with his career hit 2,678. He surpass hall of famer Luis Aparicio.
Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees on June 28against the New York Mets became the only second pitcher ever to break the 500 save mark. In that game he also hit his first career RBI. Rivera trails Trevor Hoffman in the majors career saves list.
Jonathan Sanchez of the San Francisco Giants tossed his first career complete game in the majors and best was a no-hitter July 10against the San Diego Padres.
Johan Santana of the New York Mets became Venezuela’s all-time winning pitcher on July 11 against the Cincinnati Reds. Santana finished the season with career 122 victories. Freddy Garcia is second in Venezuela’s victories list with 121.
Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers pinch hit his 21st career grand slam on July 22 against the Cincinnati Reds, placing him second behind Lou Gehrig major league grand slam career record 23.
Ramon Castro of the Chicago White Sox joined the Puerto Rican catcher fraternity (Eliseo “Ellie” Rodriguez, Javier Lopez, Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Geovany Soto) that had caught a no-hitter in their careers in the majors. Castro was behind the plate for Mark Buehrle when he tossed his perfect game July 23 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Francisco Rodriguez of the New York Mets became Venezuela’s all-time leader on September 6 against the Chicago Cubs with career save 238 surpassing Ugueth Urbina career 237 saves.
Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees drives an American League record seven RBIs in an inning on a three-run homer and a grand slam on the last game of the regular season October 4 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Rodriguez feat secured his 12th consecutive season of 30 homers and 100 RBIs, tying Jimmie Foxx’s major-league record (1929-1940). Rodriguez’s 13th season of 30/100 is a record.
Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins became only the fourth National League shortstop to win a batting title. Ramirez finished the season with .342.
Joe Girardi is fully enjoying his first appearance in League Championship Series as the New York Yankees manager.
Hopefully he would love that his joyous ride continues all the way to the Fall Classic. However, first of all they have to beat the red hot Los Angeles Angels.
As a manager, Girardi is counting with one of each of its squad members in order to accomplish the wish of all fans, management and themselves. However, publicly he has mentioned that two very important players in order to get to the World Series are All-Star and Reliever of the Year Mariano Rivera and catcher Jorge Posada.
Both Rivera and Posada were part of the three-peat championships (1998-2000) and the not so lucky 2001 and 2003 teams. Both are part of a probable Yankee era that is getting to his end with such luminaries as Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte.
For many years Latino players have been part of the fabric of the success of the New York Yankees. Of course, Rivera, whom probably will be a future hall of famer, and Posada are a big part of history.
This is a good moment to remember, in my opinion, are the top 10 performances by Yankee Latino players in League Championship Series action:
Bernie Williams, 1996, .474, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Bernie Williams, 1998, .381, 0 HR, 5 RBI
Orlando Hernández, 1999, 15.0 IP, 1 W, 13 SO
Mariano Rivera, 1999, 4.2 IP, 2SV, 0.00 ERA
Orlando Hernández, 2000, 15.0 IP, 2 W, 14 SO
Bernie Williams, 2000, .400, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Alfonso Soriano, 2001, .400, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Bernie Williams, 2001, .235, 3 HR, 5 RBI
Mariano Rivera, 2003, 8.0 IP, 2SV, 1.12 ERA, 6 SO
Jorge Posada, 2003, .296, 1 HR, 6 RBI