In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, MLB.com presents a series of round tables, discussing the best players from across Latin America. Today’s topic: The best players from Venezuela.
Alison Tutter, moderator/editor: I was looking forward to this discussion, given the amount of talent we’ve seen come from Venezuela over time. While Luis Aparicio is currently the only Venezuelan citizen of the Hall of Fame, this will change dramatically in the next several years. Miguel Cabrera is the first on the ballot, and Felix Hernandez will be on the ballot in the not too distant future. Then we have Jose Altuve and Ronald Acuna Jr. on the horizon next. But for now, I think we can all agree that Meggi is the best Venezuelan player ever? discuss.
Anthony Castrovins, reporter/columnist: no doubt. Shortlisted for the greatest right-handed hitters of all time.
Sarah Lange, Researcher/Analyst: I think so! No disrespect for Aparicio. But more than 500 hours, more than 3,000 clicks, a triple crown…
Efrain Ruiz, Editorial Editor, Las Mayors: Yes, there is really no question here. An easy one, with all due respect to Mr. Aparicio.
footer: This thread is fun because in another decade we might be fighting for Miggy and Acuña.
Langs: I love the horizon though. Akuna’s start to his career follows Hoover’s, if we look at the revised stats. I can’t wait to discuss in 10 years.
Castrovins: Acuña has clearly been compromised in returning from knee surgery this year. However, even in a down year, he managed to deliver above-average production for a great team. But hopefully next year it will be up to the MVP performance of the caliber we expected.
Of all the players I was around at the time I was covering baseball, Meiji reached another level in terms of his style of hitting and reading rival shooters. Absolute world.
Ruiz: We can throw in thousands of stats and facts, but I love these two: Cabrera, Hank Aaron and Albert Pujols are the only players in MLB history with 3,000 hits, 500 home points, and 600 doubles. He is one of only seven players to have hit 3,000 hits and 500 hits home. Among Venezuelans, he was the leader in home sprints (506, 107 more than Andrés Gallaraga), achieved (3,081), doubles (607), sprinting (1529), RBI (1,842), batting (.524), OPS ( .909) and OPS+ (142), significantly higher than Bobby Abreu (128).
Miggy also has 12 All-Stars, two MVP awards, four hit titles and is the only Triple Crown winner since 1967 — at least for the next two weeks, since this guy Aaron Judge who plays for the Yankees (did you hear about him?) might join him soon . Miggy may not be as far ahead of the pack in WAR (the Baseball-Reference version) as people might think – 67.9 vs 60.2 for Abreu and 55.9 for Aparicio – mainly because his production was largely limited by his great bat. However, that’s not really close.
Castrovins: Miggy has hinted that this may be his last season (although he is still under contract next year). If he pins them, it would be a Hall of Fame row with the Pujols, who as we discussed that day has a very strong case as the greatest player ever from the Dominican Republic.
Ruiz: That would be a very boisterous day in Cooperstown, Anthony.
Castrovins: Wave those flags!
Langs: My favorite part of Miggy is just his transformation. From that kid on the 2003 Marlins World Championship Team, to someone we celebrate on all these cumulative stats. This kind of staying power is very impressive and important.
footer: It doesn’t hurt that he has one of the most beloved characters in baseball. very gif-y.
Ruiz: Entirely and especially the second half of his career.
footer: What will Akuna have to do to make this argument real two decades from now?
Castrovins: Only 2500 visits or so…
Ruiz: Stay on the field, which is something Meiji has been able to play for a long time, playing at least 148 games in every season from 2004 to 2016, with 2015 being the only exception.
Castrovins: Exactly, Evren. Acuña is the most dynamic player in terms of what he can do on the field and more specifically on the base lanes. But that also makes it more difficult to post the way Meiji has for so long.
Langs: Definitely win an MVP award or two. And like someone who loves to watch Acuña play, I can’t wait for him to win the World Championship and not sit on the bench recovering from injury, but instead get his moment with a great moment and a decisive introduction at home. He needs those signature moments. I know he already has a lot of them! But earn more, now that the team won the World Championship last year without him.
Ruiz: Then, sustainable production, which is harder than staying in the field. I love Acuña and its capabilities, but there is still a long way to go. We always like to compare players in the first several years of their careers – who’ve made more home runs up to the age of 25, etc. – but the hard thing is to keep going.
Castrovins: We haven’t really discussed another active player that could be associated with Cooperstown, and that’s Altuve. He won’t overtake Meiji as the greatest player from Venezuela, but at 32, he’s already an eight-times All-Star, nearing 2,000 hits, and about 600 additional base strokes, and while some people will understandably be put to death over the Astros cheating scandal (Although we have reason to believe he didn’t get caught in it), he was a vital member of a consistent winner.
Ruiz: At 32, Altuve overtook Vizquel’s age in WAR (45.9 to 45.6) and from what he’s shown this year, it certainly looks like there’s a lot left in the tank. I really think he has a chance to challenge the Cabrera war sum if he can stay healthy. Four 200-hit seasons, three hit titles, MVP award, 2019 ALCS MVP, eight All-Star games, 2017 World Championships… Yes, there’s an entire Astros controversy, but there’s good evidence that he basically did not use this cheat system and may It fared better on the road (.381/.449/.633) than it did at Minute Maid Park (.311/.371/.463) in 2017.
Castrovins: Incidentally, although Aparicio is the only Venezuelan currently in the hall, there is an argument that Dave Concepcion is at least in the Cooperstown conversation. Nine All-Star appearances, five Gold Gloves, two Silver Carpathians, and two World Championships with the Big Red Machine.
Ruiz: Santana’s Peak was definitely something else.
Between 2004 and 2009, Santana was able to say something only Cabrera could say among Venezuelan players: that he was the best baseball player — or in this case, the best bowler. think about it. Aparicio was great but never the best baseball player. Abreu, same thing. Hernandez? Yes, perhaps the best pitcher for a short while. During that period between 2004 and 2009, of the shooters who had at least 1,000 rounds, Santana led the Majors in WAR (39.0), wins (99), ERA (2.86), ERA+ (154), and strike ( 1335) and WHIP (1.046)). Johan Santana must be a Hall of Famer celebrity.
Castrovins: While scrolling through the list of players from Venezuela there are quite a few Hall of Very Good types – Johan, Abreu, King Félix, K-Rod, Carlos Zambrano, Vizquel…
It’s hard to fully endorse any of them for the hall, but they’ve had great jobs.
Ruiz: Yes, the tricky thing here is choosing from 2 to 5.
Castrovins: Turns out these were just stories, but I saw more people bring up the Abreu issue in print and online last winter. His vote percentage increased from 8.7 to … 8.6. So it did not amount to anything. But he got seven more attempts. In fact, we had a round table on his case!
Ruiz: Abreu definitely has some numbers.
I hit base 3,979 times, hit 921 extra base strokes, and steal 400 base hits in 2,425 games.
She hit base 3,955 times, hit 763 extra base strokes, and stole 319 base strokes in 2,440 games.
Player A is Abreu. Player B is Tony Gwen.
Not to say that Bobby is a Hall of Famer, because I think the “fame” factor, for whatever reason, is missing, but he was a great player.
Castrovins: Yes, while I personally am still not a good fit on Abreu as a Hall of Famer, I must say his case was stronger than I would have assumed without delving into the numbers. And the Internet has the power for that! So with the benefit of another seven years on the ballot, he will probably see an increase in support.
Ruiz: The numbers stay forever, it’s true, but the narratives change. Among the Venezuelans, Abreu has a better warfighter than all but Meiji, and is five points ahead of Aparicio.
Castrovins: When you look at the list of players from Venezuela and rank them by WAR, the boom in talent coming from there just in the past two decades really stands out. I was fortunate to have Victor Martinez covered when he showed up in Cleveland, and he’s one of those guys in the Hall of Very Good. Just a massive presence to hit the key for a very long time.
Langs: Maglio Ordoñez is another one – what a great hitter in his day. And watching very interesting.
footer: Let’s rank the top five Venezuelan players. he goes!
Castrovins: 1. Meiji, 2. Aparicio, 3. Altuff, 4. Johann, 5. King Felix.
I expect Acuña to be on my list when all is said and done. And I think Altuve will end up in Cooperstown.
Langs: 1. Meiji, 2. Aparicio, 3. Santana, 4. Altuff, 5. King Felix.
I will get Acuña here one day for sure. I have Altuve here because I fully expect him to make the Hall of Fame.
Ruiz: 1. Meiji, 2. Aparicio, 3. Santana, 4. Abro 5. Altuff. Aparicio is the only one in the hall, he helped change the game by regaining pace, he was a great central defender and he came at a time when things weren’t easy for Latinos or African Americans. Altuve still has a real chance of getting to the top if he can stay healthy.