For Rangers, Diversity Soaring to New Heights

T.R. Sullivan, MLB, January 3, 2014

A movement that was really started by former general manager Tom Grieve and scouting director Sandy Johnson in the mid-1980s and lost steam at the turn of the millennium could reach a new level for the Rangers on Opening Day 2014 after the free-agent signing of outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.

Assuming that Yu Darvish–second in American League Cy Young Award voting last season–is the starting pitcher, the Rangers’ Opening Day lineup could have players representing eight World Baseball Classic countries.

In addition, the Rangers’ lineup could have just three players born in the United States. That includes right fielder Alex Rios, who was born in Alabama but grew up in Puerto Rico and plays for them in the Classic. The other two USA-born players are first baseman Prince Fielder and designated hitter Mitch Moreland.

The 2014 Opening Day lineup projects to include catcher Geovany Soto (Puerto Rico), second baseman Jurickson Profar (Curacao), shortstop Elvis Andrus (Venezuela), third baseman Adrian Beltre (Dominican Republic), center fielder Leonys Martin (Cuba), Darvish (Japan) and Choo (South Korea) in left.

That would represent a massive change from Jon Daniels’ first year as general manager in 2006. The Rangers’ lineup on Opening Day that year consisted of 10 players born in the United States, none of whom were African-American.

The transformation in diversity reinforces the Rangers’ goal of acquiring players from every possible venue through both amateur and professional scouting. Besides being willing to compete at the top of the free-agent market for players like Beltre and Choo, the Rangers over the past eight years have greatly increased their time, effort and expenditures in Latin America and the Far East.

In addition to the projected Opening Day lineup, 10 of the Rangers’ top 20 prospects as ranked by MLB.com are from Latin America.

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  • Puggg

    Because this worked out so well for the Mets.

    Shin-Soo Choo

    Gesundheit.

  • sbuffalonative

    Baseball, the Great Foreigner Pastime.
    MLB organizations wonder why they’re losing fans.

    • Northerner

      Even if the MLB was 100% White, I doubt they would have substantially more fans. Baseball is boring.

  • dd121

    Who?

  • shmo123

    Has anyone ever bothered to ask them why? What is the ostensible purpose of having a team which consists of the whole of south America? I can’t believe for a minute that there aren’t enough prospects right here. They have to be getting these guys (except for Fielder) cheap–real cheap.

    • Eagle_Eyed

      I heard a college baseball coach speak once and he briefly talked about the lower levels of minor league baseball (Rookie Ball, which is below Class A). The coach’s son was maybe “one of two white guys” in a field of about thirty total players, the vast majority being from Latin America.

      Frankly it is much cheaper to sign 18 year old Latin players than it is 21 year old white Americans. Teams are looking for only a small percentage of their minor-leaguers to have success and get to the Majors, thus they can save money by signing poor black and brown Hispanics overproportionately.

      The parallels with baseball and American capitalism are thus quite stark. Management views the game as purely business, any grander sense of nationalism or patriotism is ignored in place of money.

      • shmo123

        Thanks Eagle. I kind of figured the smell would lead to a money trail.

    • So CAL Snowman

      They are not getting them cheap, they are spending money like they are the Obama administration. And just like the Obama administration they are seeing negative ROIs.

  • D.B. Cooper

    SOLUTION:
    Do NOT watch MLB, and let them know why you are not watching it.

    • dd121

      That’s only one reason. It’s boring too.

  • Eagle_Eyed

    Rangers used to be one of my favorite teams, alas not so much anymore.

    Both the Red Sox and Cardinals (2013 World Series teams) had a majority of white native-born Americans in the line ups. Should be a lesson in there somewhere…

  • bigone4u

    Where are the big, strong, white farmboys who used to dominate baseball? Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Joe di Maggio were memorable human beings, not like the interchangeable Haysoos, Sum Ting Wong, and other foreigners. Baseball is no longer American as apple pie, but I’ll take apple pie over baseball any day.

    • Eagle_Eyed

      Look at any good pitching staff, whites generally have better arms and the required mental toughness to pitch.
      And for position players, look to people like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Dustin Pedroia, Chris Johnson, Eric Hosmer, David Wright, Josh Hamilton, Freddy Freeman.

      • So CAL Snowman

        Hey don’t leave out the best position player in the NL – Paul Goldschmidt

  • JackKrak

    I know it’s a weird jump, but this reminds me of the women’s pro golf tour now, where the predominance of Asian, mostly Korean, women has lead sponsors, television and fans to run for the exit. They can’t even interview the winner of major tournaments on tv as she accepts the trophy because she speaks next to no English.

    Keep it up, MLB.

    • Northerner

      The first step to solving this problem is for everyone to admit that no one watches women’s golf to see skill. If they want that, then they’ll go to the men’s game. The rise of female Asian stars basically made the women’s game about talent instead of looks.

  • Spartacus

    That’s quite a pathetic “success”… You think they’d brag about trophies and victories, but apparently “diversitry” is more important than actually achieving something.

  • Marc Zuckurburg

    Now that’s how diversity is done and done right.

    Make my immigration reform comprehensive, please!

    • Extropico

      Facebook’s diversity is not comprehensive; gnomesayin.

  • MekongDelta69

    So – one whole White guy. Now – THAT’S ‘die-versity.’

  • So CAL Snowman

    And the Rangers will continue to NOT win the world series. But hey anytime you can pay $130 million to 31 year old lead off hitter with a .285 batting average, no defensive skills, and 133 strike outs in 2013, you have to jump at the opportunity. The Texas Rangers obviously employ the accountants and economists that work for the White House.

  • LACounty

    Since the integration of hispanic Laker fans, the Lakers now give out coupons for free tacos when the team holds their opponent to under 100 points. The Dodgers have an annual “Viva Los Dodgers Day”.
    Not sure how involved the Kings hockey team are, but I’m sure they’ll eventually cave if they haven’t already.
    Anyone notice during the Anderson Silva/Chris Weidman rematch how the crowd cheered Silva and booed Weidman? The match was held in Vegas.
    So much for the southwest.

  • Northerner

    To be fair, Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish is pretty awesome.

  • MBlanc46

    I used to follow baseball (and played it a lot-if not very well-when I was a kid). I’m glad that people in other countries have come to appreciate the game. They ought to have leagues in their own countries for their own people, and we can have our leagues in our country for our own people.

    • Northerner

      They do have their own leagues. MLB teams recruit talented international players because they care about winning, not about race.

      • MBlanc46

        Or perhaps as another poster in this thread suggests, it’s just cheaper to hire foreigners.

      • BernieGoetzFan

        Not true. As the article notes, they specifically went out to create a diverse team. Problem is, diverse teams don’t play in the World Series. The Red Sox and Cardinals were 80% white. They won because they chose the best players – not the most diverse players. Just like Spain in soccer.

        • Northerner

          The Rangers weren’t exactly winning titles to begin with, even with an all-white lineup

          • BernieGoetzFan

            The Rangers made it to two World Series with a mostly white lineup.
            Read the article – they most certainly are intentionally trying to become diverse (with only one white starter, which is racist). So did the Mets a few years ago and they came in last.

    • Dr. Verita

      I too used to follow baseball, even played in high School. However Dye-verity has come and I cannot identify with these people. So I don’t watch nor do I care.

      • MBlanc46

        I gave up major league baseball after the 1994 strike, but the invasion of Latin players would doubtless have put me off eventually.

  • IstvanIN

    I thought a Darvish was some kid of dancer…..

  • White Light

    The most Diverse team would be one with NO White Americans. Just more proof that “diversity” = “Non-White”

  • Hunter Morrow

    I miss the days when Beanball meant pitchers throwing it at guy’s heads.