Last week, we looked at the Diamondbacks players who were born in the 50 states of the United States of America, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico, and broke down the numbers. We found that Puerto Rico and North Dakota were the places of birth that over-performed the most based on their population, while Minnesota was the state which had been most under-represented, compared to its number of residents. But baseball is becoming an increasingly global game: one of the groups in the World Baseball Classic will take place at Chase Field next month. So let’s now take a look at the foreign-born players to have pull on a D-backs shirt.
There are considerably less of these. 439 players fell into the first category, but there are only 127, which is 22.4%. That’s not too far off the expected number. This year, on the Opening Day rosters, 275 of the 975 players in the majors were born in the fifty states, a 28.2% figure. However, we included Puerto Rico in our tally. If we moved those 14 players to the other side of the balance sheet, and called them “foreign”, the D-backs percentage rises to 24.9%. It’s also worth noting the overseas percentage has been higher of late. The 275 players was the second-highest figure, behind only the 291 from 2020 - and that year, rosters were also larger on Opening Day.
Looking at the 127, there’s one country that dominates, far out of proportion to its size. The Dominican Republic has a population of about 11.1 million, which would rank it between seventh-placed Ohio and eighth-ranked Georgia among US states. For comparison, they provided 10 and 16 players respectively, to the list of US Diamondbacks. But the Dominican Republic placed no less than fifty-four players among those 127 born overseas, a whopping 42.5% of all foreign D-backs. It’s not just Arizona either: on Opening Day, the DR had 99 players on Opening Day rosters, representing 36% of all overseas major-leaguers, and almost half as many again as any other country.
This season tied a franchise record set in 2006, with seven Dominicans appearing for Arizona: Sergio Alcántara, Wilmer Difo, Luis Frías, Ketel Marte, Reyes Moronta, Geraldo Perdomo and Edwin Uceta. On April 9th this year, the starting line-up for the D-backs was one-third from the DR, with Alcantara, Marte and Perdomo all present. Though the MLB record there appears to belong to the Toronto Blue Jays, who had six Dominicans in their line-up for a 2014 game against the Red Sox. When the Rays had an all-Latino line-up last September, there were three Dominicans present - as well as a former Diamondback, David Peralta, who hails from Venezuela.
Which is a nice segue to the country ranking second, both for Arizona and across all MLB. There have been 31 D-backs from there, including the Freight Train, and 67 across various rosters on Opening Day 22. Peak Venezuela was most recently in 2020, when Arizona had six: as well as Peralta, the team saw contributions by Silvino Bracho, Eduardo Escobar, Junior Guerra, Héctor Rondón and Ildemaro Vargas from that country. Rounding out the podium, only one other country has produced double-digit D-backs: it’s Mexico, with 14. They rank higher for Arizona than in MLB currently; Mexico came fourth in 2022, behind Cuba. There have been eight to appear for Arizona from Mrs. SnakePit’s ancestral home.
Those four - the DR, Venezuela, Mexico and Cuba - represent the great majority of foreign D-backs, combining for 107 of the 127, north of 84%. No other country has more than three, with the other twenty players spread across twelve different nationalities. Various spots in the Americas, from Canada down to Curacao, cover most of those other players, though there are five from Asia, two from Oceania and a pair from Europe. I think the two which stand out most in terms of “non-baseball countries” are likely the Philippines and Germany. The former is Bobby Chouinard, the first and only person born there to reach the majors; the latter is no-hitter pitcher Edwin Jackson, whose father was stationed there in the Army.
Here’s the full list, in descending order.
- 54 - Dominican Republic
- 31 - Venezuela
- 14 - Mexica
- 8 - Cuba
- 3 - Panama
- 3 - Japan
- 3 - Canada
- 2 - Nicaragua
- 2 - Australia
- 1 - US Virgin Islands
- 1 - Philippines
- 1 - Netherlands
- 1 - Korea
- 1 - Jamaica
- 1 - Germany
- 1 - Curacao
We’ll have a Sporcle about the best player from each country coming this weekend: it’ll be relatively short, and this piece should definitely help with a couple of the answers, so I hope you were paying attention...