BASEBALL'S THIRTY GREATEST FOREIGN PLAYERS
by Craig Tomarkin
The thirty best; are largely based on a combination of lifetime stats (where available), awards, subjective opinions from various baseball historians and McNeil's terrific book Baseball's Other Stars, using clues from his All-World All Star Team. (Note: BOLD indicates first team)
C: Katsuya Nomura-Japan
1B: Sadaharu Oh-Japan
1B: Tetsuharu Kawakami-Japan
1B: Hector Espino-Mexico
1B: Julian Castillo-Cuba
2B: Morimichi Takagi-Japan
3B: Shigeo Nagashima-Japan
3B: Canena Marquez-P.R.
SS: Yoshio Yoshida-Japan
SS: Perucho Cepeda-P.R.
SS: Silvio Garcia-Cuba
Francisco Pancho Coimbre-P.R.
Ramon Arano (1959-95)-Mexico
Alfredo Ortiz (1963-87)-Mexico
Sun Dong Yol-Korea
Kazuto Tsuruoka -Japan's all time winningest manager with Nankai for 24 seasons.
Future players, who are not yet eligible:
Koji Yamamoto, OF (Japan) - 536 homers (4th), .290 career avg. and .923 OPS; 10 Gold Gloves
Hisashi Yamada, P (Japan)- 284-166; 3 MVPs in a row.
Special International Contribution:
Lefty ODoul, OF and Manager - Credited with initiating pro baseball in Japan (1932). The first U.S. Major Leaguer to be elected by Japans HOF (2001). Played in the inaugural MLB all-star game in 1933. MLB lifetime batting average .349 in brief career.
Descriptions of some of the 30 best
Katsuya Nomura, C - 4 time MVP, 657 HRs (2nd in Japan behind Oh)
Sadaharu Oh, 1B - 9 time Japanese MVP. More details: The Case for Sadaharu Oh and the Hall of Fame
Tetsuharu "God of Hitting" Kawakami, 1B Won 3 MVPs in Japan; .313 lifetime average (5th )
Shigeo Nagashima, 3B - 5 time Japanese MVP
Isao Harimoto, OF all time Japanese hits leader with 3,085 and .319 lifetime avg. (3rd); 504 HRs (6th) and 4th in career RBIs
Yutaka Fukumoto, CF - all time Japanese SB leader with 1,065 (safe 78.1%); hit 208 HRs; won 12 Gold Gloves
Cristóbal Torriente, CF and LHP .352. Lifetime average in Cuba and roughly .334 in the Negro Leagues. Great fielding range and arm. Led in SBs 3 times and HRs 4 times. Batted .402 in 1916. C.I. Taylor, longtime manager and Negro League executive, said, "If I should see Torriente walking up the other side of the street, I would say, `there walks a ball club.'"
Alejandro Oms, OF & RHP .351 lifetime avg in Cuba and roughly .325 in Negro Leagues. Won three batting crowns in Cuba and once led in SBs. Top defensive Venezuelan OF in 1943. Played in championships for 4 different teams.
Masaaki Koyama, P 3rd in Wins; 320-232 record in Japan; 3rd in strikeouts with 3,061
Masaichi Kaneda, P - Japans greatest pitcher, 400 game winner (1st), 2.34 era, 3,388 Ks (1st);
Victor Starfin, P - 303 wins in Japan with 2.09 career era (5th)
Kazuhisa Inao, P 1.98 era, .668 pct, 2,574 Ks
Sun Dong Yol, P - ERA ranged from 1.70 to 0.78 before he switched to relief and led all Koreans in saves. Five-time leader in Ks.
Jose Mendez, RHP, Infielder and playing Manager In 1909, he was 44-2 for the Cuban Stars (some games were against semi pro teams). Led the Monarchs to 3 straight Negro National League pennants (1923-25) as a player manager. His was 20-4, with 7 saves over that span. John Henry Lloyd said he never saw a better pitcher.
CLICK HERE TO VOTE SADAHARU OH INTO THE HOF
The Case for Sadaharu Oh and the Hall of Fame