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Latinos Take Blue Jays Back to Playoffs

Latinos Take Blue Jays Back to Playoffs

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on October 01, 2015

When Joe Carter delivered that unforgettable home run through the left field, against Mitch Williams in the sixth game of the 1993 World Series, which made Toronto Blue Jays win the second title in a row, Edwin Encarnacion was barely 10 years old and, in La Romana, Dominican Republic, he dreamed about becoming a baseball player.

Twenty-two years after the home run that brought down the “Skydome”, Encarnacion has played a leading role in a new version of the Blue Jays that has also made history because, since the team won the East Division of the American League, it left behind its status as the only Major League team without a postseason game in over two decades.

The presence of Latin American players was a key element to the victories achieved by the Blue Jays in two championships, 1992 and 1993. The member of the Hall of Fame, Puerto Rican Roberto Alomar, stood out in the roster of champions as he was a great second base and an unrivaled batter, so his average in two World Series was 347. On the other hand, Dominican Tony Fernandez also shined with nine runs scored against Philadelphia Phillies, in the 1993 Autumn Classic. Moreover, from the mound, Dominican Juan Guzman also contributed to take these two titles back home.

After the 1994 strike, which interrupted the season, the Blue Jays went into two decades of ostracism. First, New York Yankees, followed by Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays: they all conquered the division and Toronto was dragged to the last position.

For the 2015 season of Major League, the general manager of Blue Jays, Alex Anthopoulos, put together a team in which the Latin American presence was strong again; although neither this executive nor director John Gibbons could certainly forecast how important the contribution of Latin American baseball players would be.

Two Dominican players have shined in the center of the lineup: 32-year-old Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, 33. They, along with the potential winner of the award to the Most Valuable Player of the American League, Josh Donaldson, have stood out as the most powerful trio in all MLB.

Encarnacion has been with Blue Jays for six years and his average for this year is 273, with 36 home runs and 106 runs scored. Upon reviewing the Dominican player’s statistics we find that he had better numbers back in 2012, with 42 balls sent out of the field and 110 runs scored; but Toronto has finished with 73 and 89 over the past three years, in the fourth position of the East and it’ll go to the playoffs.

Bautista has stayed healthy (149 games played) and his offensive performance has helped skyrocket the Blue Jays. The veteran player’s average, in his eighth season with this organization, is 252, but he already counts 39 home runs and 111 runs scored. If we take the numbers of Encarnacion and Bautista and add them up to Donaldson’s 41 home runs and 122 runs scored, we have a better idea of how valuable this trio is.

Another two Latin American players, Venezuelans, have done a great job. Fielder Ezequiel Carrera averages 276, with 3 home runs and 24 races; while, catcher Dioner Navarro, who has shared the position with Rusell Martin, totals 249, with 5 home runs and 20 runs scored.

The Latin American contribution to the division title won by the Blue Jays has also been felt by the hand of pitchers. Mexican Marcos Estrada came from Milwaukee Brewers, where he strengthened his position as a starter. His work in Toronto can be described as excellent, with 13 games won and 8 lost, WHIP of 1.07 and effectiveness average of 3.15. Estrada has joined David Price —the best move the general manager could do near the end of the transfer season—, Mark Buerhle and R.A. Dickey for a complete quartet of starters.

When the Blue Jays are playing the ninth inning with scoring lead, director Gibbons summons another Latino, 20-year-old Mexican Roberto Osuna, characterized by enviable physical conditions (weight: over 230 pounds; height: 6.2 feet) and he pitches over 95 miles.

Osuna made his debut this year in MLB and his first season has been very good. He didn’t begin as a closer, but as reliever, but he hasn’t disappointed Gibbons since he’s playing that role. The Mexican pitcher has saved 20 games; he has only wasted two opportunities and totals 73 strike-outs in 68 games, with average 2.36.

This will be the first time in over two decades that Toronto Rogers Centre is going to host a postseason game. Toronto Blue Jays might not be the main favorites of the American League to go to World Series, because of the stability shown by Kansas City Royals; but, with so much talent in the roster, it wouldn’t be too risky to say that the Autumn Classic could be played on Canadian soil again.

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