Five Cuban Baseball Players that Shone in MLB 2015
Five Cuban Baseball Players that Shone in MLB 2015
Cuban baseball players showed in MLB’s 2015 season that their potential is huge and, perhaps in the near future, they could equal the Dominicans and Venezuelans in terms of the overall number of players in Major League Baseball.
The about-to-finish season counted on the participation of 27 baseball players that had played in the Cuban National Series. Who was the best man on the field? According to what he meant to his team and his presence in the World Series, Granma-born Yoenis Cespedes would be given most of the votes, but he wasn’t the only star. Among the Cuban baseball’s records in MLB, it’s important to highlight that this was the first time that three players finish with over 100 RBI: Cespedes, who played with the Tigers and later joined the Mets; Kendrys Morales, with the Kansas City Royals and Jose Dariel Abreu, with the Chicago White Sox.
Yoenis Cespedes (Fielder, Tigers / Mets) Wage in 2015: 10.5 million dollars
“La Potencia”, the nickname given by the people to well-built fielder Yoenis Cespedes, kicked off the season with the Detroit Tigers. The Cuban baseball player joined that team after having spent some time with the Boston Red Sox and his numbers were great (18 HRs, 61 RBI in 102 games); nevertheless, the owners of the team were disappointed by the overall performance of the team and they decided to transfer the main players. Starter David Price went to Toronto and several teams were trying to attract Cespedes, until the New York Mets finally got him.
Before his arrival, the Mets were doing their best to stay above 500 and fighting for the wild-card, since the first position of the National League’s East division was likely to be taken by the super favorite Washington Nationals. Offensive was the weak spot for the team directed by Terry Collins, so the Cuban baseball player’s mission was clear: he had to lead a lineup that was missing its injured captain David Wright.
Cespedes’ impact could be felt since the very beginning. The Cuban batter delivered key hits and the team started to climb positions until the Nationals were left way behind. In 57 games with the New Yorker team, Cespedes’ average was 287, 44 RBI and 35 extra-base hits, 17 of which were home runs. If we add up the results obtained with the Tigers and Mets, the numbers are astonishing: 35 HRs and 105 RBI.
Afterward, in the postseason, Cespedes also contributed —not only with his offensive skills, but with his tremendous defense and powerful arm— to the return of the Mets to the World Series, after a 15-year drought. When facing the Dodgers, the Cuban star scored five runs, with 2 home runs; and he got 3 RBI against the Cubs. In different moments of the season, especially in August, many people were talking about the possible candidature of Cespedes as the Most Valuable Player of the National League. The Cuban fielder is unlikely to be given that distinction, but he’ll certainly be in the ballot paper.
Jose Dariel Abreu (First base, Chicago White Sox) Wage in 2015: 8.6 million dollars
In 2014, Jose Dariel Abreu was named Rookie of the Year in the American League. The baseball realm was dazzled by the batting strength of the Cienfuegos-born player, who was also capable of keeping his average above 290, nothing usual among sluggers.
“Pito” Abreu’s biggest challenge in 2015 was to prove that his achievements from the previous year had nothing to do with chance. Upon analyzing the statistics, although the numbers are kind of lower than his results when he made his debut, it’s easy to say that Abreu had another remarkable year; however, his team, the Chicago White Sox, didn’t make to the postseason.
Abreu participated in more games in this campaign (154), with 30 home runs and 101 runs batted in; moreover, his batting average was 290. The player’s name was written on the MLB’s record book, since he became the second baseball player in the history to total over 30 HRs and 100 RBI in his first two seasons. The first one was Dominican Albert Pujols.
Kendrys Morales (Designated hitter, Kansas City Royals) Wage in 2015: 6.5 million dollars
After two campaigns with poor results (2013 and 2014), Morales’ performance with the Kansas City Royals was excellent and he’s one of the candidates to win the award as the Best Return of the Year; although Alex Rodriguez is the favorite.
Morales joined the Kansas City Royals as designated hitter after the departure of Billy Butler and the owners were certainly pleased with the performance of this 32-year-old player. Kendrys barely lost four games in the season and his batting average was 290, with 22 HRs and 106 RBI, the second time he surpasses those numbers in his nine-year career in Major League Baseball. He played a leading role in the harmonic performance of the Royals, a team that won its first division title in 30 years.
Yunel Escobar (Third base, Washington Nationals) Wage in 2015: 5 million dollars
Escobar had barely played third base in his career. This player from Havana made his debut in MLB back in 2007 and most of the time he spent in Tampa Bay, Toronto and Atlanta, he did it as shortstop. Since he joined the Washington Nationals, he was sent to play third base. It was quite a challenge for Escobar, but he did a great job (was ranked second among the third bases of the National League, with defensive average of 970 and only 7 mistakes in 134 games) and he especially stood out in the offensive.
Escobar was the sixth batter with the best average in the so-called Old Circuit, with 314: 25 doubles, 9 HRs and 56 RBI. Escobar and Bryce Harper made a powerful pair, but they weren’t supported by the rest of batters and the performance of the Washington Nationals’ pitchers wasn’t good either, so the favorite team to the National League’s East title finished seven games behind the Mets.
Aroldis Chapman (Closer, Cincinnati Reds) Wage in 2015: 8 million dollars
This 27-year-old southpaw has positioned his named as the fastest pitcher in Major League Baseball. Back in 2010 he amazed everybody by setting a speed record of 105.1 miles per hour and, five years later, although he hasn’t been that fast, he has championed his position as the fastest pitcher. In the 2015 season, according to Statcast, Chapman delivered the fastest 62 pitches in MLB, one of which was 103.92 miles per hour. The Reds were never in the battle to go to the playoff, but not even playing in one of the worst teams of the National League stopped Chapman from shinning.
He saved 33 games, ERA 1.63, and he eliminated 116 batters in 66.1 outings, nearly two strikeouts per inning. The Cuban star added another record to his list: he became the fastest pitcher to total 500 strikeouts in MLB, since he only needed 292 innings.