Top MLB Puerto Rican Baseball Players

If Puerto Rico were a state, it would likely produce more big-league stars than any other.

Baseball is the most popular sport on the island, which has been an American territory for more than a century. It's home to three Hall of Famers so far, with several more likely on the horizon. And catchers? Perhaps no place produces great catchers like Puerto Rico has in the last two generations. But not as many great pitchers. In fact, there are none even close to the top 10.

A look at the top players in MLB history -- and more -- to come out of Puerto Rico (stats as of July 23, 2013, for active players):

01
of 10

Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente
Morris Berman/Getty Images Sports/Getty Images

Position: Right fielder

Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates (1955-72)

Stats: 18 seasons, .317, 3,000 hits, 240 HR, 1,305 RBI, .834 OPS

It all starts with Clemente, a 15-time All-Star, and two-time World Series champion legendary figure in Puerto Rico and Pittsburgh. Clemente, who had one of the strongest arms in big-league history, was the first Latin American enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1973, just a year after his death at age 38 in a plane crash off the coast of Puerto Rico. Clemente, from Carolina, was on a plane headed to Nicaragua, carrying relief supplies after an earthquake. Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award annually honors the player who is most involved in community work.

Position: Catcher

Teams: Texas Rangers (1991-2002, 2009), Florida Marlins (2003), Detroit Tigers (2004-08), New York Yankees (2008), Houston Astros (2009), Washington Nationals (2010-11)

Stats: 21 seasons, .296, 311 HR, 1,332 RBI, .798 OPS

Rodriguez, a native of Manati, is on the short list as one of the best catchers in big-league history, especially defensively. He won 13 Gold Gloves and was a 14-time all-Star. The American League MVP in 1999, he also won a World Series in his lone season with the Florida Marlins and was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame in 2013. An upgrade to Cooperstown seems very likely when he's eligible. More »

03
of 10

Roberto Alomar

Position: Second baseman

Teams: San Diego Padres (1998-90), Toronto Blue Jays (1991-95), Baltimore Orioles (1996-98), Cleveland Indians (1999-2001), New York Mets (2002-03), Chicago White Sox (2003, 2004), Arizona Diamondbacks (2004)

Stats: 16 seasons, .300, 2,724 hits, 210 HR, 1,134 RBI, 474 SB, .814 OPS

Perhaps the greatest defensive second baseman ever, Alomar won more Gold Gloves than any second baseman (10). A native of Ponce, he starred in back-to-back World Series victories by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993 and was a 12-time All-Star. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Position: Designated hitter/third baseman

Teams: Seattle Mariners (1987-2004)

Stats: 18 seasons, .312, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI, 2,247 hits, .933 OPS

Born in New York, his family moved back to Puerto Rico when Edgar was 2, and he was raised in Dorado and graduated from American College in Puerto Rico. A two-time batting champion, he starred as the designated hitter in Seattle and won two batting titles, in 1992 and 1995. A seven-time All-Star, he retired with a .312 career batting average. He hit .571 in a five-game upset of the Yankees in the 1995 playoffs and was honored with the Roberto Clemente Award in 2004 for his charity work. More »

05
of 10

Carlos Beltran

Position: Outfielder

Teams: Kansas City Royals (1998-2004), Houston Astros (2004), New York Mets (2005-11), San Francisco Giants (2011), St. Louis Cardinals (2012-)

Stats: 15 seasons (active), .283, 353 HR, 1,298 RBI, 308 SB, .857 OPS

Beltran is the top active player (as of 2013) on this list, a true five-tool player who has starred in the big leagues since 1998. A native of Manati, he has speed, power, an arm, hits for average and has three Gold Gloves. An eight-time All-Star, he was AL Rookie of the Year in 1999 and is the all-time postseason leader in OPS (1.252) as of 2013. In seven postseason series, he has 14 home runs, including eight hit in two postseason series with the Astros in 2004.

06
of 10

Orlando Cepeda

Position: First baseman/outfielder

Teams: San Francisco Giants (1958-66), St. Louis Cardinals (1966-68), Atlanta Braves (1969-72), Oakland A's (1972), Boston Red Sox (1973), Kansas City Royals (1974)

Stats: 17 seasons. .297, 379 HR, 1,365 RBI, 142 SB, .849 OPS

A star from the same era as Clemente, Cepeda was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1999 after a solid career in which he was one of the best hitters in baseball. Born in Ponce, he was the first Puerto Rican player to start in an All-Star game, and he played in seven of them. He was a two-time RBI champion, the 1958 NL Rookie of the Year and the 1967 NL MVP when he helped lead the Cardinals to a World Series title.

Position: Catcher

Teams: New York Yankees (1995-2011)

Stats: 17 seasons, .273, 275 HR, 1,065 RBI, .848 OPS

Posada is another Hall of Fame-caliber catcher from Puerto Rico. A career Yankee, the native of Santurce was behind the plate for four World Series champion teams and made five All-Star teams in a 17-year career. A switch hitter, he is one just five catchers with at least 1,500 hits, 350 doubles, 275 home runs and 1,000 RBI. More »

Position: First baseman

Teams: Toronto Blue Jays (1993-2004), Florida Marlins (2005), New York Mets (2006-09)

Stats: 17 seasons, .280, 473 HR, 1,512 RBI, 2,038 hits, .929 OPS

Born in Aguadilla, Delgado was one of the best power hitters of his generation and has more home runs and RBI than any other native of Puerto Rico. He is the all-time leader in Blue Jays hitter in many categories, including home runs, doubles, RBI, and walks. He was a two-time All-Star and once hit four home runs in a game. He also won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2006. More »

Position: Center fielder

Teams: New York Yankees (1991-2006)

Stats: 16 seasons, .297, 287 HR, 1,257 RBI, .858 OPS

A teammate of Posada's on four World Series champions, Williams was in the middle of things as well as the Yankees' center fielder. With a .297 career batting average, the native of San Juan was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves. More »

Position: Outfielder

Teams: Texas Rangers (1989-99, 2002-03), Detroit Tigers (2000), Cleveland Indians (2001, 2005), Kansas City Royals (2004)

Stats: 17 seasons, .295, 434 HR, 1,404 RBI, 1,936 hits, .904 OPS

Gonzalez was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball in the 1990s and was a machine at driving in runs. A two-time American League MVP (1996 and 1998), he led the AL in home runs in 1992 and 1993 and was a three-time All-Star. He was named by Jose Canseco as a steroid user, a charge that was never proven and one he has vehemently denied.

Next five: Jose Cruz, OF (19 seasons, .284, 2,251 hits, 165 HR, 1,077 RBI); Javy Lopez, C (15 seasons, .287, 260 HR, 864 RBI, .828 OPS); Mike Lowell, 3B (13 seasons, .279, 223 HR, 952 RBI, .805 OPS); Ruben Sierra, OF (21 seasons, .268, 306 HR, 1,322 RBI, .765 OPS); Danny Tartabull, OF (14 seasons, .273, 262 HR, 925 RBI, .864 OPS)

Six best pitchers: Javier Vazquez (14 seasons, 165-160, 4.22 ERA); Juan Pizarro (18 seasons, 131-105, 3.43 ERA); Guillermo "Willie" Hernandez (13 seasons, 70-63, 3.38 ERA, 147 saves); Roberto Hernandez (17 seasons, 67-72, 3.45 ERA, 326 saves); Joel Pineiro (12 seasons, 104-93, 4.41 ERA); Ed Figueroa (8 seasons, 80-67, 3.51 ERA)

Four more great Puerto Rican catchers: Sandy Alomar Jr. (20 seasons, .274, 112 HR, 588 RBI); Benito Santiago (20 seasons, .263, 217 HR, 920 RBI, .722 OPS); Bengie Molina (13 seasons, .274, 144 HR, 711 RBI, .718 OPS); Ozzie Virgil (11 seasons, .243, 98 HR, 307 RBI, .740 OPS); Yadier Molina (active, 10 seasons, .284, 84 HR, 518 RBI, .742 OPS)

Honorable mention: Sixto Lezcano, OF (12 seasons, .271, 148 HR, 591 RBI, .799 OPS); Carlos Baerga, 2B (15 seasons, .291, 134 HR, 774 RBI, .754 OPS); Vic Power, 1B (12 seasons, .284, 126 RBI, 658 RBI, .725 OPS); Jose Valentin, SS (16 seasons, .243, 249 HR, 816 RBI, .769 OPS); Jose Cruz Jr, OF (12 seasons, .247, 204 HR, 624 RBI, .783 OPS)

Five best active players (as of 2013): Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, Alex Rios, Angel Pagan, Geovany Soto More »