Puerto Rican baseball on the island is dying. But their elite players are doing well in Major League Baseball. When they assembled for the 2017 World Baseball Classic it became obvious that the Puerto Rican roster was packed. They have not had as impressive a stock of talent since the great 1994 dream team that represented Puerto Rico in the Serie de Caribe.
So far, Puerto Rico went undefeated in their three pool matches and advanced easily to the second round where they will play the Dominican Republic, defending champions of the Classic.Let's make a comparison of stars between the two best baseball teams Puerto Rico has ever assembled.
2017: Puerto Rican World Baseball Classic Team
Javier Baez (World Series Champion: Chicago Cubs)
Carlos Beltran (Houston Astros)
Carlos Correa (Houston Astros)
Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians)
Yadier Molina (St. Louis Cardinals)
Angel Pagan (Free agent)
Roberto Perez (Cleveland Indians)
1995: San Juan Senators
Carlos Delgado (Toronto Blue Jays)
Ivan Rodriguez (Texas Rangers)
Roberto Alomar (Toronto Blue Jays )
Edgar Martinez (Seattle Mariners)
Juan Gonzalez (Texas Rangers)
Bernie Williams (New York Yankees)
Ruben Sierra (New York Yankees)
Carlos Baerga (Cleveland Indians)
Rey Sanchez (League Batting champion)
The Senators were made possible due to the 1994 baseball strike that convinced many of their stars to play the winter ball season. The lineup was so packed that Rey Sanchez, batting champion, was ninth in the lineup. "What a nice problem to have because usually in baseball all your lineups are set except the eighth and ninth hole," Juan Nieves, former pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers and pitching coach of that team said, "This one was top to bottom."
San Juan went on to go 6-0 in the Caribbean Series defeating Pedro Martinez and Jose Rijo of the Dominican Republic along the way. The island nation would win again in 2000 but go dry until this season when Caguas surprised all with capturing the Caribbean series this year. The momentum of their stars MLB post-season heroics has spilled into this "classic." It should be interesting to see how far this unit can go and if it can match their forbears.