What if MLB followed the NHL’s lead and set-up its All-Star game using the North America vs. the World format…or in baseball’s case Latin America vs. the World?
As baseball’s reach extends further throughout the world, the idea of Latin American competing with the best from around the globe seems increasingly likely.
Could Latin America hold it’s own against the best from the United States, Japan, Canada, and anywhere else in between? In one word; certainly.
It won’t happen, at least this year, but let’s take a look at what the 2010 Latin American All-Stars might look like.
C Miguel Olivo (Dominican Republic)
1B Albert Pujols (Dominican Republic)
2B Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic)
3B Adrian Beltre (Dominican Republic)
SS Hanley Ramirez (Dominican Republic)
C Victor Martinez (Venezuela)
2B Martin Prado (Venezuela)
SS Jose Reyes (Dominican Republic)
Miguel Olivo is the surprise starter, but there is simply no denying that in 2010 he has been the best catcher Latin America has at its disposal.
The all Dominican infield reads like a dream with Albert Pujols and Adrian Beltre holding down the corner infield spots, and Robinson Cano and Hanley Ramirez making up a double play combo for the ages.
The reserve catcher is Venezuela’s Victor Martinez who would provide a nice option off the bench, but wouldn’t see much time behind the plate due to his questionable defensive skill set.
Also on the bench are Martin Prado, who can play nearly every position in the field, and Jose Reyes who would make a more than adequate pinch runner if need be.
LF Bobby Abreu (Venezuela)
CF Carlos Gonzalez (Venezuela)
RF Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic)
DH Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela)
RF Jose Bautista (Dominican Republic)
DH Vladimir Guerrero (Dominican Republic)
The Latin American outfield is loaded with Abreu getting the nod in left field, and young fellow Venezuelan Carlos Gonzalez in center.
In right field, the impossibly strong Nelson Cruz gets the start, while Miguel Cabrera gets into the line-up at designated hitter. I know. He isn’t a designated hitter, but he and Pujols both deserve to be in the line-up.
Perhaps baseball’s biggest surprise, Jose Bautista provides pop off the bench, and Vladimir Guerrero also makes the squad based on the fine season he is having.
SS Hanley Ramirez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Albert Pujols
DH Miguel Cabrera
RF Nelson Cruz
LF Bobby Abreu
3B Adrian Beltre
CF Carlos Gonzalez
C Miguel Olivo
You could argue until you’re blue in the face about the best way to set this line-up, but the truth is that you could pull names out of the hat to set the order and you still couldn’t find a weak spot.
The speed of Ramirez and on base skills of Cano, followed by the raw power of Pujols, Cabrera, and Cruz makes the line-up any pitcher’s nightmare.
Ubaldo Jimenez (Dominican Republic)
Jamie Garcia (Mexico)
Yovani Gallardo (Mexico)
Francisco Liriano (Dominican Republic)
Felix Hernandez (Venezuela)
Ubaldo Jimenez would anchor the Latin American rotation that would also include the team’s only two Mexicans.
Jamie Garcia is having a rookie season for the ages, and his numbers are simply too good to be ignored. The 23-year-old lefty is a star in the making.
Following Garcia is fellow Mexican Yovani Gallardo who has been outstanding for the Brewers and is amongst the NL leaders in strikeouts.
The rotation is rounded out by a finally healthy Francisco Liriano, and one of baseball’s elite arms in King Felix Hernandez.
Mariano Rivera (Panama)
Jose Valverde (Dominican Republic)
Neftali Feliz (Dominican Republic)
Francisco Rodriguez (Venezuela)
Rafael Soriano (Dominican Republic)
Carlos Marmol (Dominican Republic)
Hmmm…what is there to say?
In addition to having arguably the greatest closer in baseball history, the Latin American club would boast five of baseball’s best and brightest stoppers. It is safe to say that Latin America’s biggest strength would be this stellar bullpen.