This spring, Elian Herrera came to Arizona to work. Herrera is 28 years old. He was born in the Dominican Republic. He has dark skin, and though he speaks English, he does so deliberately, in a way that reveals that his first language is Spanish.
In Los Angeles, Herrera is a backup outfielder with the Dodgers. Here at spring training, he's the type of guy who could arouse "reasonable suspicion." A person who's "reasonably suspicious," according to Arizona's immigration law, is one who looks like he or she might be in the United States illegally. That means Herrera faces the same dilemma as a Latino day laborer in Nogales or a Hispanic attorney from Phoenix. If Herrera is pulled over — if he fails to use his blinker, say — a police officer can ask to see his papers.
"Right now, if they want, they can stop and ask," Herrera says. "If there's no ID, they can take you down."
Career .317 BA. 3000 career hits. MVP. 12 time gold glove. 12 time allstar. Hall Of Famer. World Series MVP. Beyond the numbers Clemente was an icon of humanity who's life was cut short in an airplane accident that was delivering earthquake relief aid to Nicaragua on December 31, 1972. The man has a statue, and he deserves it.
Currently fighting for a World Series title against the Texas Rangers where he put in a hitting performance for the century. Since beginning his career, Pujols has been Mr. Consistent, hitting over 30 homeruns in each of his 11 seasons, over 100 RBI in 10 consecutive seasons, and batting over .300 in his first 10 seasons, narrowly missing an 11th with a .299 BA in 2011. Getty Images
Carlos Delgado had a long and successful career from 1993 to 2009. Arguably his best seasons were 2000 and 2003. In 2000 he clubbed a league leading 57 doubles, hit 41 homeruns with 137 RBI and a .344 batting average. In 2003 Delgado smashed 42 homeruns and led the league with 145 RBI.
Injuries have slowed down Beltran over the last few years, but since winning Rookie of the Year in 1999, Beltran has been one of the best hitters in the game. Period. After being traded to the Giants and stipulating they need to beef up their hitting in order to keep him, there is no certainty on where he'll play in 2012.
David "Papi" Ortiz
The Big Papi had monster seasons from 2004 to 2007 and is still the big gun in the Red Sox lineup. A seven time allstar with 378 career homeruns and two World Series rings, Ortiz should be on any greatest Latino baseball players list.
Alex Rodriguez is a three time MVP with 629 career homeruns, 2775 career hits, and a career .302 BA. And the man is still going. Even after a down year in 2011, if he stays healthy he could catch Barry Bonds for the career homerun crown.
Fernando Valenzuela was a bulldog. One of the best pitchers during the 1980s, Valenzuela exploded on the scene in 1981 with a Rookie of the Year award <em>and</em> a Cy Young. He arguably had a better season in 1986 but lost out to Tom Seaver for the Cy Young.
"King Felix" Hernandez
The young King Felix won a Cy Young with a 13-12 record in 2010. With the Seattle Mariners. That should tell you something as to this mans talent for throwing a ball. He might not be the greatest yet, but he definitely has the potential.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez
This man has had a long career with 20 seasons in the bigs. As a catcher no less. That takes staying power. An MVP with 10 consecutive allstar appearances and 13 gold glove awards, over 300 career homeruns and nearly 3000 hits, Pudge is one of the greatest.
High leg kicking San Francisco Giant Juan Marichal won over 25 games three times in his career, had 30 complete games in 1968 when he went 26-9, and finished his career with 243 wins, 2303 strikeouts and a 2.89 ERA. Potential top five candidate.
While Santana's stats have dropped off somewhat over the last two years, this two time Cy Young winner has been one of the hardest throwing hurlers in the game since 2000.
A shortstop that can do it all, Ramirez had an awful season in 2011. He's still young and at the beginning of his career, so if he can turn it around he could end up high on this list in the future.
Where did this guy come from? 2010 and 2011 were breakout seasons for Bautista after a fairly unremarkable career. Bautista went from 13 homeruns in 2009 to <em>54</em> in 2010 and 43 in 2011, leading the league both seasons. Assuming he can keep up this pace for the rest of his career, he'll be remembered.
Another young gun and former RoY is one of the speediest in the game already having notched 370 career steals. If the three time allstar and triples leader can manage to stay healthy and not have his hamstrings explode, he could end up among the ranks of the Stolen Base Elite.
229 career wins. 2416 career strike outs. He led the league in ERA in 1968 with a 1.60 mark. That year he also notched up 21 wins and 264 strike outs.
1956 RoY, perennial allstar and Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio was the speediest man in the league during his hey-day. Aparicio led the league in steals from 1956 to 1964 while with the White Sox and Orioles.
While some might not like the man for his surly and difficult to manage attitude, there is no denying that this 12 time allstar and beast of a hitter was one of the best in the game during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The man had 165 RBIs in 1999. That's <em>insane</em>.
This closer makes $15 million a year. There's a reason for this. Mainstay Rivera has 603 career saves and a career 2.21 ERA. He's been the Yankees' save master for 15 years running it would be hard to imagine him not playing baseball until he retires at the age of 56.
Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda is known mostly for his time as a Giant from 1958 to 1965 where he won RoY and played in 6 allstar games. In 1967 he was MVP while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Miggie hits for average, power, percentage and basically is feared by pitchers league wide. Since his first full season in 2004 his RBI totals have not dropped below 100 per season and he's currently holding a .317 career batting average and led the league in 2011 with a .344 BA.
Omar "Little O" Vizquel
11 time gold glove winning short stop. Little O soars in the field and has often drawn comparisons to the master, Ozzie Smith.
Three time Cy Young award winner and most definitely future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez was one of the, if not the most dominant pitcher from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s. His 23-4 win, 2.07 ERA, and 313 strike out season in 1999 is considered one of the best ever in baseball. And he did this during the long ball era. Mark McGuire hit 65 steroid infused homeruns that year.
Alomar, a 12 time allstar and 10 time gold glove winner was a prime example of what an all around great baseball player should be. A rubber band at second base, speed, agility, can hit for average, some power (for a second baseman) and a body that held up under the rigors over the years.
One of the new generation of great Latino ballplayers, Cano can't be considered as the greatest ever, but he has the potential to go far if he continues on the pace he's currently on.
Vladamir "The Impaler" Guerrero
Vlad The Impaler Guerrero has consistently been of the best hitters in the game since 1998. He hits for average, power, percentage, has speed (well, <em>had</em> speed. He's slowed down over the years), is a nine time allstar and has an MVP under his belt for his monster year in 2004.
It's Rod Carew. Hall of Famer. 3053 career hits. .328 career BA. RoY, MVP. Hero. Lover. It's Rod Carew. The man is a legend.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000, Perez had a long and storied career of success. He won back-to-back World Series Championships as a part of the Cincinnati "Big Red Machine".