Catchers From Venezuela
I am constantly researching big league players (typically catchers) and looking at their statistics, usually on Baseball Reference.
A neat thing about that site is that it places a little flag next to a player's name based on the player's place of birth.
Most of the time it's an American flag, and often you also see the flag of the Dominican Republic, or Cuba.
Yet a flag that has been standing out to me more and more is the flag of Venezuela.
It seems to me like an increasing number of MLB catchers are from the country.
This piqued my curiosity, so I decided to take a closer look.
¡Sigue leyendo para aprender más sobre catchers venezolanos en grandes ligas!
Venezuelan Catchers as a Percentage of MLB Total
As detailed in our article on MLB catchers in 2022, around two thirds of current big league catchers are from the United States.
This generally aligns with trends across the majors for all positions.
One might think the nationality with the next largest number of pro catchers might be the Dominican Republic.
After all, the Dominican lays claim to a large number of stars currently in the MLB.
Yet it's not the Dominican Republic - it's Venezuela.
During the 2022 season, there were 19 catchers from Venezuela on big league rosters, which is about 16% of the overall total.
Other than American catchers, there are currently more Venezuelan catchers in the major leagues than there are catchers from any other nationality.
This isn't just a new development either. If you rewind to ten years earlier, in 2012, you would see similar figures.
During the 2012 MLB season, approximately 18 catchers from Venezuela played in the bigs.
There were less overall catchers in 2012 when compared to 2022, so these 18 Venezuelan catchers represented about 17% of all MLB catchers. The list of Venezuelan-born MLB catchers in 2012 are below:
- Carlos Maldonado
- Dioner Navarro
- Francisco Cervelli
- Guillermo Quiroz
- Hector Gimenez
- Héctor Sánchez
- Henry Blanco
- Humberto Quintero
- Jesus Flores
- Jesus Montero
- Jose Lobaton
- Manny Piña
- Miguel Montero
- Ramon Hernandez
- Salvador Perez
- Sandy León
- Wilson Ramos
- Yorvit Torrealba
It's clear: they are doing something right with catchers in Venezuela. The country has produced a substantial number of elite catchers in recent times.
The next section zooms in to look at many of those standout Venezuelan catchers.
Catchers from Venezuela in 2022
As mentioned in the previous section, 19 catchers from Venezuela played in the MLB in 2022.
Each of those 19 Venezuelan catchers are listed below along with some statistics from their 2022 season.
Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
2022 Stats and Highlights: 3.9 bWAR, .243/.349/.466 slash line with 101 hits, 22 home runs and 55 RBIs.
Fielding percentage behind the plate was .994 with 21 runners caught stealing (66%).
Named to NL all star team alongside his brother, William Contreras.
William Contreras, Atlanta Braves
2022 Stats and Highlights: 2.7 bWAR, .278/.354/.506 slash line with 93 hits, 20 home runs and 45 RBIs.
Fielding percentage as a catcher was .986 with 23 runners caught stealing (79%).
Named to NL all star team alongside his brothers, Willson Contreras.
Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
2022 Stats: 2.7 bWAR, .254/.292/.465, 113 hits, 23 home runs, 76 RBIs, .995 fielding percentage.
Keibert Ruiz, Washington Nationals
2022 Stars: 1.6 bWAR, .251/.313/.360, 99 hits, 7 home runs, 36 RBIs, .992 fielding percentage.
Gabriel Moreno, Toronto Blue Jays
2022 Stats: Rookie season. 0.7 bWAR, .319/.356/.377, 22 hits, 1 home run, 7 RBIs, .986 fielding percentage.
Elias Díaz, Colorado Rockies
2022 Stats: 0.4 bWAR, .228/.281/.368, 80 hits, 9 home runs, 51 RBIs, .985 fielding percentage.
Omar Narváez, Milwaukee Brewers
2022 Stats: 0.3 bWAR, .206/.292/.305, 54 hits, 4 home runs, 23 RBIs, .993 fielding percentage.
Luis Torrens, Seattle Mariners
2022 Stats: 0.1 bWAR, .225/.283/.298, 34 hits, 3 home runs, 15 RBIs, .997 fielding percentage.
Robinson Chirinos, Baltimore Orioles
2022 Stats: 0.1 bWAR, .179/.265/.287, 35 hits, 4 home runs, 22 RBIs, .994 fielding percentage.
Francisco Álvarez, New York Mets
2022 Stats: Rookie season. 0.0 bWAR, .167/.286/.500, 2 hits, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1.000 fielding percentage (13 innings).
José Godoy, Minnesota Twins
2022 Stats: 0.0 (Twins), -0.3 (Pirates) bWAR, .050/.136/.050, 1 hit, 1 RBI, 1.000 fielding percentage (59.1 innings).
Carlos Pérez, Chicago White Sox
2022 Stats: Rookie season. 0.2 bWAR, .222/.222./.333, 4 hits, 2 RBIs, .981 fielding percentage.
Freddy Fermin, Kansas City Royals
2022 Stats. Rookie season. -0.2 bWAR, no hits in 7 at bats, 1.000 fielding percentage (19 innings).
Israel Pineda, Washington Nationals
2022 Stats: Rookie season. -0.2 bWAR, 1 hit in 14 at bats, 1.000 fielding percentage (34 innings).
Sebastian Rivero, Kansas City Royals
2022 Stats: -0.2 bWAR, 4 hits in 26 at bats, 1.000 fielding percentage (73 innings).
Manny Piña, Atlanta Braves
2022 Stats: - 0.2 bWAR, 2 hits in 14 at bats, 2 RBIs, 1.000 fielding percentage (44 innings).
René Pinto, Tampa Bay Rays
2022 Stats: Rookie season. -0.2 bWAR, .213/.241/.325, 17 hits, 2 home runs, 10 RBIs, .986 fielding percentage.
Sandy León, Minnesota Twins
2022 Stats: - 0.2 bWAR (Guardians), - 0.3 bWAR (Twins), .169/.298/.211, 12 hits, 4 RBIs, .992 fielding percentage.
Jose Herrera, Arizona Diamondbacks
2022 Stats; - 0.3 bWAR, .189/.250/.207, 21 hits, 5 RBIs, .983 fielding percentage.
Cities Where Venezuelan Catchers Are from
The majority of catchers from Venezuela are from the northwestern part of the country.
This is a region with a strong baseball culture that has produced MLB talent for some time.
Based on a catcher's place of birth, 10 of the 19 Venezuelan MLB catchers in 2022 were from just three neighboring cities:
- Valencia. Salvador Perez, Keibert Ruiz, Luis Torrens and Carlos Pérez.
- Maracay. Omar Narváez, Israel Pineda, Sebastian Rivero and René Pinto.
- Puerto Cabello. Willson and William Contreras.
Other key cities home to multiple Venezuelan big league catchers include Maracaibo (Elias Díaz, José Godoy and Sandy León) and Barquisimeto (Gabriel Moreno and Manny Piña).
The remaining four catchers from Venezuela that played in the 2022 MLB season were from:
- San Carlos. Jose Herrera
- Puerto Ordaz. Freddy Fermin
- Punto Fijo. Robinson Chirinos
- Guatire. Francisco Álvarez
Who is the Best Catcher from Venezuela?
In our opinion, Salvador "Salvy" Perez is the all time best among catchers from Venezuela based on his MLB career achievements to-date.
Through the 2022 season, Salvy has built a 32.3 bWAR and a .268/.301/.463 slash line over his career.
He has nearly 1,300 hits and approximately 223 career home runs, including a record breaking 48 homers in 2021.
Salvy is a seven time all star, a four time silver slugger award winner, and he has won five gold glove awards.
He has earned an estimated $77,500,000 in salary during his career, which does not include multi-millions in future salaries.
In 2015. he earned a World Series ring with the Royals and he was named World Series MVP to cap it off.
That’s A Wrap!
Thanks for reading our article on major league catchers from Venezuela. We hope you enjoyed it.
I'd you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.