Baseball is undoubtedly one of the sports with the greatest importance and roots in a good part of the American continent. In the Latin American region, players from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic or Venezuela dream of succeeding in their leagues, shining in the Caribbean World Series, and ultimately achieving the dream of playing in the MLB.
Since 1995, the MLB has conducted an annual count of the participation of foreigners with the closing of the Opening Day 40-men rosters. In these countings, a record of 291 foreigners is set exactly this season, which represented 28.36% of the total registered players.
But, let’s talk a bit about the active 25-men Opening Day rosters for the 2020 MLB season because it will say even more about the domination of Latin players in the league. This season, MLB has 108 foreigners from 15 countries (22 countries counting the wider 40-man rosters) with 36% of the total players. The Latinos are represented here with 8 countries (12 considering wide rosters) and 98 of the 300 registered players in the league. In other words, Latin Americans have 32.6% of the places in rosters. A research piece from Betway points out the Dominican Republic contributes with 35 players, Venezuela 31, Puerto Rico 12, Cuba 11, Curaçao 4, Colombia 3, and Aruba and Honduras 1 each.
Of course, the majority of players in MLB are American, which is logical given it’s one of the USA’s four major professional sports leagues. Four Latin countries follow the USA on the list of countries with the most players in the league. The country with the second-biggest number of players on 2020 opening day lineups is the Dominican Republic, with 35, or 11.6%. In a close third is Venezuela, having 31 players that found their names on the Opening Day – a bit over 10%. There are two more countries in double figures: Puerto Rico and Cuba, with 12 and 11 players respectively.
Analyzing the impact of Latino players in the MLB on the wide rosters of the last decade, from 2010 to 2020, the following conclusions can be made.
The season with the highest number of Latinos was 2020 with 258 and 25.15% of the total 1,026 players. The season with the fewest numbers was 2010 with 195 and 23.41% of the total of 833 players. The record for the highest number of nationalities came in the 2018 season with 21, one more than in 2019 and 2020. The lowest percentage came in the 2014 season with 23.21% of the 853 players in total. The last decade has seen an increase of about 32.31%, from 195 players in 2010 to 258 in 2020.
A total of 12 Latin American countries have contributed MLB with its players: Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Curaçao, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, Colombia, Aruba, and Honduras. The best contributions by country in the Top-5 were: the Dominican Republic with 110 in 2020, Venezuela with 77 in 2017, Cuba with 23 in 2016 and 2017, Puerto Rico with 21 in 2010, and Mexico with 14 in 2013.
As for the distribution of the players in the last decade per country, the Dominican Republic topped each year, always followed by Venezuela. Cuba and Puerto Rico exchanged No.3 on several occasions during the observed period.
The MLB teams with the highest number of foreign players in a season were the New York Mets with 18 in 2010 and the New York Yankees with 16 in 2011. The Texas Rangers broke records in 2015 with players from 9 different countries.
With 13 players born outside the USA, the Seattle Mariners enlisted the most internationals in 2020. The Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, and New York Yankees are tied for the number of players from different countries at 7 apiece.
All in all, according to the data, Latinos have given a very special flavor and prominence to the MLB.