MLB Notebook: Dominican Republic Continues to Set Pace on Big-League Rosters

Dominican native Fernnado Rodney is MLB's elder statesman in uniform© John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

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From the offices of Major League Baseball

Opening Day rosters -- including inactive lists -- included 251 players from20 different countries and territories outside of the United States. That's 28.5 percent of the 882 players (749 on active 25-man rosters and 133 injured, suspended or restricted MLB players).

The 251 foreign-born players are the third-highest total in history, trailing 2017 (259) and 2018 (254), and the percentage of 28.5 is the fifth-highest figure in history, behind 2017 (29.8), 2005 (29.2), 2007 (29.0) and 2018 (29.0).

The Dominican Republic again leads the Major Leagues with a record 102 players born outside the United States, the first time in history that any foreign country or territory has exceeded 100 players on Opening Day rosters. In addition,

Dominican-born players represent 11.6% of the pool of 882 Major Leaguers, marking the second-highest total ever behind only the 11.7 in 2007 (99 of 849). The Dominican accounts for 40.6% of all internationally-born players, eclipsing the previous record of 40.4% in 1995 (57 of 141).

Venezuela ranks second with 68 players, while Cuba places third with 19 players. Rounding out the totals are Puerto Rico (18); Mexico (8); Japan (6); Canada (6); Curaçao (5, tied with 2014 and 2018 for its record high); South Korea (5); Colombia (4); Aruba (1); Australia (1); Brazil (1); Germany (1); Lithuania (1); Netherlands (1); Nicaragua (1); Panama (1); Taiwan (1); and the U.S. Virgin Islands (1).

The Minnesota Twins and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the most internationally-born players with 14 on each roster. They are followed by the Chicago White Sox (13), Miami Marlins (11), Tampa Bay Rays (11), New York Yankees (10), Oakland Athletics (10), Philadelphia Phillies (10) and Texas Rangers (10). The Los Angeles Dodgers, Yankees and Athletics each have players from seven different countries and territories outside the U.S., marking the most in the Majors. They are followed by the Atlanta Braves (5), Boston Red Sox (5), Chicago Cubs (5), Cleveland Indians (5), Houston Astros (5), Twins (5) and Rays (5).

FROM THE MANAGER’S OFFICE

Twenty-six of the current 30 Major League managers previously played in the Majors. The four managers to not appear in a Major League game include Brandon Hyde, Joe Maddon, Mike Shildt and Brian Snitker. Ten of the managers were primarily catchers during their professional careers (Brad Ausmus, Bruce Bochy, Kevin Cash, A.J. Hinch, Hyde, Maddon, Bob Melvin, Scott Servais, Snitker and Ned Yost); five were outfielders (Rocco Baldelli, Clint Hurdle, Gabe Kapler, Dave Martinez and Dave Roberts); five were second basemen (Alex Cora, Craig Counsell, Andy Green, Torey Lovullo and Rick Renteria); three were shortstops (Ron Gardenhire, Charlie Montoyo and Chris Woodward); two were pitchers (Bud Black and Mickey Callaway); two were first basemen (Terry Francona and Don Mattingly); and two were third basemen (David Bell and Aaron Boone).

Other notes about baseball’s current managerial crop:

-- The average age of a Major League manager as of Opening Day was 51.4, almost a year younger than last year’s Opening Day average, and three years younger than 2017’s Opening Day average (54.4). Chicago Cubs manager Maddon is the oldest at 65 years of age, while the youngest is Tampa Bay Rays manager Cash at 41 years old (Green is also 41).

-- The longest tenured managers with their current clubs are San Francisco’s Bochy (2007) and Kansas City’s Yost (2010).

-- Six managers (Ausmus, Baldelli, Bell, Hyde, Montoyo, Woodward) are in their first year with their current team, including five (Baldelli, Bell, Hyde, Montoyo, Woodward) that are making their Major League managing debut (full-time).

-- Seven of the 30 Major League managers at one time played in the organizations for which they now manage (Boone – NYY; Cash – TB; Cora – BOS; Francona – CLE; Martinez – WSH/MON; Roberts – LAD; and Snitker – ATL). In addition, six of the seven (except Snitker) played a game in the Major Leagues with the team they now manage.

-- Seventeen of the 30 skippers are managing a Major League club for the first time; the other 13 held a Major League managerial post prior to joining their current team.

-- Fifteen managed in the Minor Leagues prior to becoming a Major League skipper. The 15 exceptions include: Ausmus, Baldelli, Boone, Black, Callaway, Cash, Cora, Counsell, Hinch, Martinez, Mattingly, Melvin, Roberts, Servais and Woodward.

-- Three managers made the All-Star team at least once as a player (Ausmus, Boone, Mattingly).

AGING GRACEFULLY

On Opening Day rosters this season, the average age of Major League players was recorded at 28.92 years old, barely higher than last year’s Opening Day average of 28.91.

The San Francisco Giants are the oldest club in the Majors with an average age of 30.63, while the Oakland Athletics pace the American League at 30.10. San Francisco and Oakland are the only two Clubs in the Majors with an average age above 30.00. The San Diego Padres are the youngest team in baseball with an average age of 27.11, and the Tampa Bay Rays field the youngest squad in the American League at 27.37 years old.

Oakland A’s right-handed relief pitcher Fernando Rodney is the oldest player in the Majors at 42 years old, while Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill is the oldest player in the National League at 39 years old. Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres is the youngest player in the Majors at 20 years old, and New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres is the youngest in the American League at 22 years old.

PICKING UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF

In a road tilt against the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night, Jacob deGrom tossed 7.0 shutout innings, extending his career-best scoreless streak to 26.0 innings dating back to September 21st of last season. In addition, the 30-year-old struck out a career-high 14, becoming the first Mets hurler to reach that mark in a single game since John Maine on September 29, 2007.

deGrom, who logged 10 strikeouts in his first start of the season on Opening Day last Thursday, became the first hurler in franchise history to post a pair of double-digit strikeout efforts in his first two starts of a campaign. With his next start, the Florida native will attempt to become the sixth pitcher in Major League history to begin a campaign with three such starts. Gerrit Cole (2018), Rich Hill (2015), Hall of Famers Randy Johnson (2000) and Nolan Ryan (1973), and Sam McDowell (1970) previously accomplished the feat.

In addition, Jacob permitted just one walk in each of his first two starts of the 2019 campaign, and became the first pitcher since at least 1908 to begin a season with back-to-back shutout starts in which he notched at least 10 strikeouts, while not allowing more than one walk. There have only been 21 such streaks across any point of a season in MLB history. Furthermore, deGrom, who posted such a start in his final outing of the 2018 season, joined Clayton Kershaw as the only pitchers in MLB history to post a streak of three such starts at any point of a season. Below is a table depicting their stats during their respective streaks.

Moreover, deGrom recorded his 26th straight quality start dating back to May 18th of last season, matching Hall of Famer Bob Gibson (September 12, 1967 - July 30, 1968) for the longest streak since earned run became an official statistic in 1913. Below is a table of the four pitchers who have posted streaks of at least 22 straight quality starts since 1913.

REGULAR GUYS...

-- Yadier Molina made his 15th straight Opening Day start at catcher (2005-19), the most ever by a Cardinals backstop. Molina became the 10th catcher ever to start at least 15 Opening Day contests, joining Hall of Famer Ivan Rodríguez (20), Benito Santiago (16), Sandy Alomar Jr. (15), Bill Dickey (15), Jason Kendall (15), Hall of Famer Al Lopez (15), Lance Parrish (15), A.J. Pierzynski (15), and Hall of Famer Ray Schalk (15). Of those, only Rodríguez, Kendall, Lopez and Schalk did so in consecutive seasons.

-- Xander Bogaerts made his sixth consecutive start at shortstop on Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox (2014-19). In Red Sox lore, only six players have made more than five consecutive Opening Day starts at shortstop since 1901: Everett Scott (8, 1914-21), Joe Cronin (7, 1935-41), Heinie Wagner (7, 1907-13), Rick Burleson (6, 1975-80), Freddy Parent (6, 1901-06) and Rico Petrocelli (6, 1965-70).

-- Backstop Buster Posey started his ninth consecutive Opening Day for the San Francisco Giants, the most by a Giants catcher in Club history. Elsewhere in the infield, Brandon Crawford made his eighth straight Opening Day start, which are also the most by a Giants shortstop since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958.

-- Evan Longoria made his 11th consecutive Opening Day start at the hot corner, and second with the SanFrancisco Giants, which is the longest active streak of any third baseman in the game.

-- Freddie Freeman started his ninth consecutive Opening Day for the Braves on Monday, extending his Atlanta franchise record for a first baseman.

-- Mike Trout made his seventh consecutive Opening Day start in center field, and is already the only player in Angels history to make six Opening Day starts in center field (2013-19). The Club record for consecutive Opening Day starts at any position is held by Tim Salmon, who registered 11 consecutive Opening Day starts in right field from 1993-2003.

-- Julio Teheran started Atlanta’s opener for the sixth consecutive season, extending his Atlanta-era record (since 1966). Teheran matched Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, who started six straight Milwaukee openers (1957-62) for the overall franchise record. Teheran now owns the longest active Opening Day start streak, surpassing Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers (eight), who previously owned the longest streak until 2019.

-- Ryan Braun is the third player in Brewers franchise history to start at least 12 games on Opening Day, joining Hall of Famers Robin Yount (19) and Paul Molitor (12). Braun is also one of four players in franchise history to make starts from at least three different positions on Opening Day. Braun joined Molitor (2B, 3B, SS, CF, DH), Yount (SS, LF, CF) and Charlie Moore (C, LF, RF).

-- Seven-time All-Star Justin Verlander made his 11th career Opening Day start. Only two other active MLB hurlers have made at least 10 such starts: CC Sabathia (11) of the Yankees and Seattle’s Hernández.

--Jon Lester made his eighth career Opening Day start and his fourth with the Cubs. The lefty hurler also made four straight Opening Day starts with the Boston Red Sox from 2011-14. In addition, Lester is the first left-handed pitcher in Cubs history to start consecutive season openers, and is the first lefty hurler in Cubs history to start four Opening Day contests.

-- 2017 AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber made his fifth straight Opening Day start for the Cleveland Indians, becoming just the second hurler in franchise lore to do so, joining Stan Coveleski (5, 1917-21).--

...AND NOT SO REGULAR

-- Because Justin Upton began the season on the Injured List, the 2019 season marked the eighth consecutive year that the Angels had a new Opening Day starting left fielder as Peter Bourjos drew the nod for the Halos. The others include Upton (2018), Cameron Maybin (2017), Daniel Nava (2016), Matt Joyce (2015), Josh Hamilton (2014), Mark Trumbo (2013) and Vernon Wells (2012). The last player to start consecutive Opening Days in left for the Angels was Wells in 2011-12.

-- Jhoulys Chacín made the Opening Day start for the Milwaukee Brewers last Thursday, which marked the sixth straight season in which the Brewers started a different pitcher on Opening Day. The others include: Chase Anderson (2018); Junior Guerra (2017); Wily Peralta (2016); Kyle Lohse (2015); and Yovani Gallardo (2014).

LINE DRIVES (Compiled from Club Game Notes)

PHAM-TASTIC: Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bays Rays outfielder Tommy Pham singled in the first inning to extend his on-base streak to 39 games, eclipsing the franchise record. Pham has reached base in 44-of-46 games since being acquired by the Rays in a trade from the Cardinals, and the Rays are 32-14 (.696) with him in the starting lineup. During the on-base streak, which began August 21st, 2018 against the Royals, he is batting .366 (54-for-146) with seven home runs and 23 RBI.

ZERO TO 500 REAL QUICK: The New York Yankees earned their 500th regular season win at the current Yankee Stadium on Monday against the Detroit Tigers. Since the Stadium opened back in 2009, the Yankees’ 500-315 (.613) home record is the best in the Major Leagues. The second-best record is held by the Los Angeles Dodgers, with a 488-329 (.597) record.

A WIN AND SAVE IN A PAIR OF MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUTS: Merrill Kelly and Jon Duplantier of the Arizona Diamondbacks made their Major League debuts on Monday against the Padres. Kelly earned the victory, while Duplantier picked up a save, becoming the first ever duo to earn a victory and a save while making their Major League debuts in the same game, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

HOT CORNER CATCHER: St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina saw his first career action at third base in the 11th inning on Monday after playing 1,841 games at catcher and 40 at first base. According to Elias, there were only six other players who had played at least 1,800 games in the Majors before making their first appearance at shortstop or third base: Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Nellie Fox, Bill Mazeroski, Joe Morgan and Dave Winfield, as well as Tony Pena.

ALL HE DOES IS WIN: With a win on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales became the sixth pitcher in Club history to start and win each of his first three-or-more starts of a season. The last Mariners pitcher to accomplish this feat was Félix Hernández, who started and won each of his first three appearances in 2014. The others to do so are Rick Honeycutt (6, 1980), Scott Bankhead (3, 1987), Sterling Hitchcock (3, 1996) and Jarrod Washburn (3, 2009).

MAKING PITCHES: According to Elias, Kyle Freeland and German Márquez became the second duo in Rockies franchise history to post back-to-back quality starts while allowing two hits or fewer in two games to begin a season. The only prior instance for Colorado occurred in 2008 (April 6th-7th), which featured Franklin Morales and Aaron Cook.

QUALITY IN QUANTITY: Entering play Friday, Chicago White Sox pitchers have made a combined 1,392 quality starts since the start of the 2003 season, the second-highest total in the Majors behind the Mets (1,395) and 55 more than Oakland, the next-closest American League team.

LONG BALLS: Neither team homered in Monday’s 4-3 Milwaukee Brewers win over the Cincinnati Reds. The game snapped Milwaukee’s 22-game home run streak at Great American Ball Park. The streak was the longest home run streak by any team in GABP’s history. Reds batters homered in 18 straight games at GABP from April 25 - May 29, 2010 (34 home runs), the second-longest home run streak.

LEADING OFF: On Monday, Houston Astros outfielder George Springer hit his 25th career leadoff homer and his ninth career against the Rangers, the most by any player in MLB history. Springer ranks second in franchise history in leadoff homers, trailing only Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio (53).

SANDY’S HOT START: Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins had a memorable season debut on Sunday, tossing a career-high eight innings against the Rockies in a 3-0 win for Miami. He allowed just four hits, did not walk a batter, and struck out six. He retired 18 of the last 19 batters he faced, and was the first Marlins’ starter with eight shutout innings and zero walks since José Fernández did so on September 20, 2016 vs. Washington. According to Elias, Alcantara was the second-youngest pitcher (23 years, 205 days) in Club history to toss eight shutout innings; the youngest was Fernández, who did so at 21 years, 272 days on April 29, 2014 vs. Atlanta.

QUITE A START: Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman threw seven scoreless frames on Thursday against Detroit. His effort, combined with Matt Shoemaker (seven innings on Friday), Aaron Sanchez (five innings on Saturday) and Trent Thornton (five innings on Sunday), gave Toronto starters a combined franchise-record 24.0 shutout innings to begin the season. The previous high for the franchise was eight innings in 1992, all by Jack Morris. The last starting rotation to accomplish such a feat was the 1994 Atlanta Braves (Greg Maddux-eight, Tom Glavine-seven, John Smoltz seven, and Steve Avery- three). The Blue Jays became the fifth team all-time to have their starters toss 24-or-more shutout innings to begin a season.

“WHITTING” STREAK ROLLS ON: Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals went 2-for-5 Detroit on Thursday, extending his Major League-best hitting streak to 26 games. Merrifield is batting .345 (41-for-118) during the 26-game stretch, which is the longest streak in the Majors since Freddie Freeman’s 30-game run from August 24-September 28, 2016. The 26-game streak is the third -longest streak by a Royal, trailing only George Brett (30 in 1980) and José Offerman (27 in 1998).

CHASING 1,000: With 993 RBI in hand, Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals is just seven RBI shy of reaching the 1,000 RBI mark for his career. When he does so, he will become the first Washington National to record his 1,000th RBI in a Nationals uniform.

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