Myworld has identified three Puerto Rican teams to classify as dream teams. One of them came totally unexpected with a roster composed of underdogs, but entierely Puerto Rican, one was purposefully put together as a dream team with a smattering of foreign players and the other became a dream team when younger players with superstar tools produced but were short of any Puerto Rican players. Only the first team did not become a champion.
2013 World Baseball Classic Team
They were not expected to go far in this tournament. The Dominican Republic beat them three times and their record was only 5-4. They won when they had to, beating the United States and Venezuela, two teams considered to have more talented players than their roster. Nelson Figueroa pitched the game of his life against the United States, throwing six shutout innings to allow Puerto Rico to take a 4-0 lead. The United States crawled back for three runs against the bullpen but they hung on to eliminate the United States from the World Baseball Classic. They upset two time WBC winner Japan in the semi-finals using six different pitchers to pull out a 3-1 win, Alex Rios with the two run homerun that proved the difference in the game. They ultimately lost to the Dominican Republic dream team for the third time in the championship game 2-0.
The biggest name player on the team was catcher Yadier Molina (.273). Carlos Beltran (.188) played while at the end of his career. Unheralded players like Angel Pagan (.364) and Mike Aviles (.323) shined for the Puerto Rican team, with Aviles knocking one of the two homeruns and leading the team with 9 RBIs.
The pitching staff got two big wins from Nelson Figueroa (1.80) and three saves from Fernando Cabrera (0.00). It was a team that finished with a modest 5-4 record, but it was good enough for second place in the World Baseball Classic.
The lineup - C Yadier Molina, 1B Carlos Rivera, 2B Irving Falu, 3B Andy Gonzalez, SS Mike Aviles, LF Jesus Feliciano, CF Angel Pagan, RF Alex Rios, DH Carlos Beltran, SP Nelson Figueroa, Orlando Roman, Mario Santiago, Giancarlo Alvarado, RP Fernando Cabrera, Hiram Burgos, Xavier Cedeno, J.C. Romero, Jose de la Torre, Randy Fontanez
Not a lot of familiar names, but Puerto Ricans are proud of them just the same.
The Real Puerto Rican Dream Team 1995
They played in the 1995 Caribbean Series held in Puerto Rico. Many ex-major leaguers decided to play for the winning Puerto Rican team San Juan in the Series del Caribe. That team had to battle Mayaguez in a best of nine series to advance. San Juan had finished second to Mayaguez during the regular season one game behind. Once San Juan escaped Mayaguez they did not disappoint once they played in the Series del Caribe winning all six of their games including the Dominican Republic twice with Pedro Martinez and Jose Rijo on the bump.
The lineup: C Carlos Delgado, 1B Carmelo Martinez 2B Roberto Alomar, 3B Carlos Baerga SS Rey Sanchez, DH Edgar Martinez, LF Juan Gonzalez, CF Bernie Williams, RF Ruben Sierra Pitchers Ricky Bones, Roberto Hernandez and a number of non-Puerto Rican pitchers.
Roberto Alomar was voted the MVP of the series.
1954-1955 Santurce Crabbers
Unlike the dream team the Crabbers dominated the Puerto Rican regular season and won the Series del Caribe, losing a last meaningless game. They had a couple future Hall of Famers on the team and some negro league stars finishing out their careers playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.
Just the outfield will impress with Willie Mays, who won the MVP of the league with a .395 average, Roberto Clemente who was third in the league in hitting with a .344 average and Negro leaguer Bob Thurman who at 37 batted .323 with 14 homeruns and 60 RBIs. He also spent some time on the mound with a 2-0 record. His 120 homeruns in his 12 Puerto Rican seasons is more than any other player has hit in the Puerto Rican winter league.
Their infield had Don Zimmer at shortstop and Ronnie Samford at second. Negro leaguer Buster Clarkson played third. Satchel Paige was so afraid pitching to him he intentionally walked Buster with the basses loaded because he preferred to give up only one run rather than three or four. That year Buster led the Puerto Rican league in homeruns (16) and RBIs (61). First baseman and another player from the Negro Leagues George Crowe sent 12 balls over the fence.
The pitching was solid led by Sad Sam Jones (14-4), Ruben Gomez (13-4) and Bill Greason (8-2). Ruben played 29 seasons in the Puerto Rican League and his 174 wins tops all players.
The lineup - C - Valmy Thomas, 1B - George Crowe, 2B Ronnie Samford, SS - Don Zimmer, 3B - Buster Clarkson, LF - Bob Thurman, CF - Willie Mays, RF - Roberto Clemente, Pitchers Sad Sam Jones, Ruben Gomez and Bill Greason
The next super star Puerto Rican team? Try looking at the 2017 World Baseball Classic Team. That lineup:
Catcher - Christian Vazquez, 1B - Kennys Vargas, 2B - Javier Baez, SS - Francisco Lindor, 3B - Carlos Correa, LF - Jon Garcia CF - Eddie Rosario, RF - Steven Moya and DH if he is still playing Alex Rios.
Pitchers - Jose Berrios, Edwin Diaz, Andres Santiago, Jose de Leon, Hiram Burgos
May have missed a few here and they still have a couple more years to find additional prospects.