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Where do players come from?

March 20, 2023
One good thing about nationalism is that in sports it gives you an emotional reason to root for a
team. It makes the World Cup in soccer as fun as it is. That nationalist excitement hasn’t yet
extended nearly as much to baseball, perhaps because the U.S. is so dominant in the sport.
Japan and Mexico are the only other very large countries where baseball is hugely popular.
However, both of those countries have exorbitant fees on signing their players to play out of
their country. South Korea is a semi-large country - about twice the size of Venezuela, but has
far fewer players in the Major Leagues. They do extremely well in international tournaments,
but, perhaps, what keeps their players from joining the ranks of Major Leaguers is their 18
month required military duty. Japanese and South Korea might be further discouraged from
playing in North America due to the language differences and geographical distance.
The biggest non U.S. contributors to the Major Leagues currently are the Dominican Republic
13.7% and Venezuela 8.4%. They are followed by Cuba 2.6%, Puerto Rico 2.2%, Mexico 2.0%,
Canada 1.2%, Colombia 1.0%, Panama 0.7%, Japan 0.6 %, Curaçao and Aruba combined for
0.6%, South Korea 0.5%, all other countries other than the U.S. combined 1.4%. That leaves
65.1% for U.S. born players.
In terms of percentage of their populations, the Dutch Caribbean (which includes Curaçao and
Aruba) is the most productive country at producing Major Leaguers - even more than the U.S..
Below, I’ve ranked countries by MLB players per population, except for the U.S., which is broken
down by region. Then within each U.S. region, the state or groups of neighboring small states
are ranked by player/population. Canada’s provinces are ranked within Canada. (No more
players from New Brunswick? Just a few years ago, they had Matt Stairs and Rheal Cormier.)
The one clear conclusion regarding the American players is that there is a strong correlation
between warm winters and quantity of major league players. Even in similar regions: Florida
provided more talent per population than Georgia, which produced more than South Carolina,
which produced more than North Carolina, which produced more than Virginia, which produced
more than the Maryland, D.C. and Delaware region, which produced more than New Jersey &
New York combined, which produced more than southern New England, which produced more
than northern New England. Keep going across the country: Alabama & Mississippi combined to
produced a higher percentage of the population in the Majors than Tennessee and Kentucky
combined, which produced more than Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois which provided more than
Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan; etc. Of course, if you compare all the U.S./Canadian
border states & provinces, the states have far more players per population.
The biggest surprise to me was finding that Washington and Oregon have a slightly higher
proportion of their population in the Majors than Virginia and North Carolina. These states have
the most similar mild climates of any west coast and east coast states. My impression of those
northern southern east coast states as having a rich baseball history. My impression of the
northwest is of snowboarders and frisbee players. I checked back forty years. While, there were
far fewer foreign born players in Majors back then, Washington and Oregon combined for
almost 4.8 percent of their 1960 pre-boom population. Meanwhile, North Carolina and Virginia
had just a mere 2.1 players per their 1960 million persons born - relatively even fewer than they
have now! Thus, those Atlantic states are actually just catching up with their Pacific
Just for fun, I’ve included the brightest stars from each place.
Region MLB Players/Pop. MLBP/million Top Players

Region MLB Players/Pop. MLBP/million Top Players

Dutch Caribbean:     7 /  0.28m 24.7 p/m

Curacao     5 /  0.134m 37.3 p/m A.Simmons, Jansen, Schoop, Albies, Profar

Aruba:     2 /  0.089m 22.2 p/m Bogaerts

Dominican Republic:  172 /  8.5+m 20.2 p/m* Pujols, Cano, J.Ramirez, J.Soto, Alacantara

U.S. V.I.     1 /  0.11m   9.1 p/m Cotton

Puerto Rico:   28 /  3.8m   7.4 p/m Y.Molina, Correa, Lindor, J.Baez, Berrios, E.Diaz

Florida:  114 /16.0m    7.1 p/m* Greinke, Machado, McCutchen, deGrom, Sale

California: 235 /33.9m   6.9+p/m* Judge, Freeman, Arenado, Longoria, Semien

Guam:     1 /  0.16m    6.25 p/m Reid-Foley

Bahamas:                 2 /  0.325m   6.2- p/m J.Chisholm

Hawaii:     7 /  1.2m   5.8 p/m K.Wong, Kiner-Falefa

Texas:    98 /20.9m   4.7 p/m*  Kershaw, Rendon, M.Carpenter, Syndergaard

Deep South: 109 /24.0m   4.5+ p/m

Georgia:   51 /  8.2m   6.2       Wainwright, Cease, M.Harris, Swanson, Olson

Alabama:   21 /  4.5m   4.7- Ti.Anderson, Kluber, Kimbrel, D.Robertson, K.Wright

So. Carolina:   15 /  4.0m   3.75 Merrifield, C.Green, Montgomery, Lyles

Mississippi:   11 /  2.8   3.9 Woodruff, Renfroe, Dickerson, B.Hamilton

Louisiana:   11 /  4.5   2.4+ T.Walker, Loup

Venezuela: 105 /24.4m   4.3 p/m* Mi.Cabrera, Altuve, Acuna, S.Perez, Andrus

Southwest:   61 /15.5m   3.9+ p/m

Nevada:   15 /  2.0   7.5 Harper, Pham, Stott, Sewald, Ty.Anderson

Arizona:   25 /  5.1   4.9 C.Bellinger, A.Verdugo

Colorado:   13 /  4.3   3.0 K.Gausman, K.Freeman, M.Gonzales

New Mexico:     5 /  1.8   2.8 Bregman, Garver, K.Giles, T.Rogers

Utah:     3 /  2.3   1.3 T.Brooks

Northwest Coast:   33 /10.0m   3.3 p/m

Washington   23 /  5.9   3.9 Brantley, Snell, Davies, J.Lamb, Rasmussen

Oregon:   10 /  3.4   2.9+ J.Lowrie, Rutschman, Cinder, Drury

Alaska:     0 /  0.6   0

N.C. & Virginia:   48 /15.1m    3.2 p/m

North Carolina: 27 /  8.0   3.4 Bumgarner, C.Seager, A.Wood, Holland, Mullins

Virginia:    21 /  7.1   3.0- Verlander, B.Lowe, C.Taylor, J.Bradley, N.Lowe

Midwest South:   82 /26m   3.15 p/m

Tennessee:   26 /  5.7   4.6- Betts, Price, Gray, Ray, D.Hudson

Missouri:   21 /  5.6   3.75 Scherzer, D.Williams, D.Phelps, Stanek

Oklahoma:   17 /  3.5   4.9- Realmuto,  Keuchel, Helsley, Gray, Bundy

Kansas:      7 /  2.7   2.6 Wentz

Kentucky:   10 /  4.0   2.5 W.Smith

Arkansas:     6 /  2.7   2.2 Smyly

West Virginia:     1 /  1.8   0.6- Grove

Panama:     9 /  3.0   3.0 p/m Barria, E.Sosa, Camargo, Espino

Cuba:   33 /11.1    3.0- p/m J.Abreu, Y.Alvarez, Grandal, A.Chapman, Cortes

Midwest North: 120 /47.6m    2.5 p/m

Ohio:   33 /11.4   2.9     Schwarber, Ward, Bassitt, Benintendi, J.Harrison

Indiana:   17 /  6.1   2.8 Kiermaier, Manaea, Barnhart

Illinois:    34 /12.4   2.7+ Jansen, Detmars

Minnesota:   12 /  4.9   2.45 Hand, Thielber, Hentges, Puk

Michigan:   19 /  9.9   1.9         Cronenworth, Edman, Haase, Akin, Schreiber

Iowa:     5 /  2.9+   1.7 Wacha, M.Keller

Wisconsin     9 /  5.4-   1.7 Varsho, Lux, Feyereisen, Fairbanks, Walsh

Mid Atlantic: 107 /46.4m   2.3 p/m

New York:    45 /19.0   2.4-       Stroman, S.Murphy, Winkler, Corbin, McKenzie

Pennsylvania:   27 /12.3   2.2 I.Happ, Bednar, Stripling, McCarthy

New Jersey:   18 /  8.4   2.1+ Trout, Heyward, C.Morton, Gallen, LaStella

Maryland, Del.,D.C. 11+6+1 /7.4  2.4+    B.Reynolds, McClanahan | Goldshmidt | Shorz

Prairie & Rockies North:13 / 5.8m   2.2+ p/m

Neb. & Dakotas: 7+2+1 / 3.1   3.2 Bohm, Adam | Strahm, Swanson | Doolittle

Idaho, Mont. & Wyo,:2+0+1 / 2.7 1.1 p/m Stefanic | | Nimmo

New England:   25 /11.9m   2.1 p/m

Conn. & R.I.:   9+1 /  4.5   2.2 G.Springer, Barlow | T.Kelley

Massachusetts:12 /  6.3   2.3- A.Cobb, R.Hill, M.Yastrzemski, Brebbia

Maine, N.H. & Ver.: 0+1+0 / 3.1  0.3p/m | I.Hamilton |

Canada:   15 /30.1m   0.5 p/m

Ontario:     7 /11.7   0.6 Votto, Romano, Quantrill, Naylor brothers

British Columbia:4 /  4.1   1.0 Pivetta, T.O’Neill

Quebec:     3 /  7.4   0.4 V.Guerrero Jr.

Alberta:     1 /  3.0   0.3 Zastryzny

rest of Canada    0 /  3.9   0

Nicaragua     2 /  5.1m   0.39 p/m E.Ramirez, Loaisiga

Colombia:   13 /39.2m   0.33 p/m Quintana, Urshela, Alfaro, Solano, Crismatt

Mexico:   25 /97.9 m   0.26- p/m J.Urias, Kirk, Urias bro, Urquidy, O.Perez

Australia     3 /19.0m   0.16 p/m Hendricks

Honduras     1 /  6.7m    0.15 p/m Dubon

So. Korea:     6 /47.1m   0.13 p/m Ryu, Kim, Bae, Choi, Refsnyder

Germany:     3 /82.2m   0.07 p/m Donovan, Kepler, P.Sanders

Netherlands:     1 /15.9m   0.06+ p/m Gregorius

Japan:     7/126.8m   0.06- p/m Ohtani, Darvish, S.Suzuki, Sawamura

Taiwan:         1 /22.2m   0.045 p/m Chang

Peru:     1 /26.7m   0.04 p/m Luzardo

South Africa:     1 /46.8m   0.02 p/m T.Scott

Brazil:     1 /175.9m   0.006p/m Y.Gomes

Some states and countries have huge stars or oncoming stars whom I didn’t have room to list
above. Thus, I’ve listed them below along with any other player I found with significant
significance. It was an exercise looking to see if Americans or Hispanics received preferential
treatment, but if there is, this doesn’t show it.
You may notice that all the players are listed in approximate order of stardom. I did not take the
time to carefully rank them - consider it ordered very roughly in star brightness.
*other Dominicans: W.Franco, Ju.Rodriguez, Cueto, N.Cruz, C.Santana, L.Castillo, Segura,
Ozuna, F.Valdez, T.Hernandez, S.Marte, K.Marte, Devers, Polanco, Adames, G.Sanchez,
D.Castillo, Sano, Severino, C.Javier, Familia, Villar, A.Rosario, J.Pena, O.Cruz, Laureano,
E.Jimenez, F.Reyes, J.Mateo, Lagares, DeLaCruz, Clase, Montas, Margot, J.Sanchez,
E.Cabrera, Doval, Vizcaíno, V.Robles, H.Robles, Espinal, Morel, R.Lopez, Neris, W.Peralta,
F.Peralta, B.Abreu, D.German, M.Andujar, Dominguez, Urena, Jh.Duran, Cisnero, F.Bautista,
Payamps, Moronta, Lamet, R.Contreras, G.Soto, A.Abreu, D.Acevedo, Estevez, Leclerc,
Leury.Garcia, Lu.Garcia, Y.Garcia, L.Taveras, W.Peralta, F.Mejia, R.Castro, R.Montero,
E.Duran, M.Castro, Minaya
*other Floridians: T.Turner, Donaldson, JD.Martinez, P.Alonso, Bichette, Rizzo, O’Day, K.Tucker,
Hosmer, Clevinger, Rodon, McCullers, Mancini, J.DeJong, N.Castellanos, Strange-Gordon,
Monoah, Mikolas, Taillon, L.Gilbert, V.Grissom, Singer, Bleier, Givens, Ma.Moore, B.Miller,
MA.Taylor, India, B.Rodgers, Mountcastle, Hays, Zunino, R.Greene, Slater, Arroyo, N.Martinez,
Elfin, Melendez, Hergot, Woodford, Kinley, Almora, B.Phillips, Vogelbach, N.Gordon, E.Morgan,
K.Carpenter, Casas, Dunning, Lange, Baker, Y.Almonte, Ragans, Castano, Vespi
*other Californians: Strasburg, J.Turner, Stanton, Yelich, Cole, Bieber, Burnes, B.Crawford,
Fried, LeMahieu, K.Hendricks, Chapman, McNeil, Moustakas, Britton, I.Kennedy, McNeil,
Giolito, Musgrave, Lodolo, L.Webb, H.Greene, R.Lewis, Flexen, Pillar, Hicks, Gonsolin,
R.Hoskins, Canha, Cron, France, Richards, J.McCann, Pederson, Mondesi, JP.Crawford,
Boxberger, B.Shaw, J.Wilson, Floro, J.Ryan, A.Sanchez, Mahle, Kremer, Pallante, Piscotty,
Vesia, Sandoval, Okert, D.Lee, B.Shaw, Bender, McGee, McMahon, Carlson, Wisdom, Hoerner,
Kwan, G.Mitchell, Grossman, Nootbar, Irvin, Straw, Tate, Outman, Haniger, Skubal, A.Barnes,
G.Cooper, Joe, Pratto, M.Duffy, D.Peterson, Brogdon, T.Williams, Lorenzen, Kaprielian,
d’Arnaud, Fletcher, Sulser, Wittgren, Barraclough, Bellatti, Bush, T.Thompson, Newman, Hiura,
J.Castro, D.Moore, T.Taylor, JD.Davis, Marisnik, J.Kelly, Casali, Higashioka, Vogt, N.Allen,
Madrigal, Dickerson, Stubbs, Bickford, C.DeJong, Garneau, Stassi, Hedges, Wolters, Bouchard,
Mathias, Hensley, Falter, V.Valasquez, G.Hill, N.Ramirez, T.Hill, Chavez,
* other Texans: Story, Blackmon, Muncy, Belt, Eovaldi, Grichuck, Bard, J.Bell, B.Witt, M.Kelly,
Minter, Pressly, H.Dozier, C.Biggio, T.Duffey, Knebel, Stephan
*other Cubans: L.Robert, Gurriel bro., Moncado, R.Iglesias, J.Iglesias, Arozarena, Y.Diaz, Soler,
A.Garcia, C.Perez, A.Diaz, G,Heredia, Vargas
*other Venezuelans: E.Suarez, Contreras, Carrasco, M’wn Gonzalez, A.Sanchez, O.Herrera,
C.Torres, R.Suarez, E.Escobar, Chirinos, C.Hernandez, P.Lopez, M.Perez, G.Marquez,
A.Gimenez, L.Garcia, A.Garcia, A.Escobar, E.Rodriguez, D.Peralta, J.Aguilar, M.Rojas, Arraez,
Tovar, Santander, Flores, Narvaez, Inciarte, Alvarado, J.Alvarez, Odor, Estrada, Rengrifo,
K.Ruiz, Daza, El.Diaz, Guillorme, Arcia, Y.Sanchez, Chacin, Leon, M.Pina, M.Garcia, J.Suarez,
Senzatela, R.Suarez, Chirinos, Alzolay, Zerpa
Thanks to Baseball-Reference, Wikipedia, & for the data, New York Times , and - the latter two for explanations as to why so few South Koreans and Mexicans
are in MLB compared to other large baseball playing countries.

COMMENTS (6 Comments, most recent shown first)

I think it needs reminding that Puerto Rico is NOT a "non-U.S. contributor."
8:38 PM Mar 21st
Tony - interesting - makes sense.

Brock - That would have taken much more time. I would have had to look up each player's birth town. Going by state I was able to use Baseball-Reference's functionality to sort and count players accurately.

A player's high school matters more than their birth town, I would guess, but I chose birth town due to B-R's functionality. They have high school data, but it isn't sortable.
8:37 AM Mar 21st
Brock Hanke
Would it be easy for you to list Southern California (L. A. and south) from Northern California (the rest)? The temperature differences are significant, I think.
9:29 PM Mar 20th
In the 80s I played high school travel ball in NJ/PA. We considered ourselves pretty elite. The we started going to Florida for spring training and the local boys beat the living tar out of us.
2:27 PM Mar 20th
Of course, he should - just missed him somehow.
1:57 PM Mar 20th
Great data. Wondering why Kris Bryant does not exceed Stott and Sewald in Nevada-based stardom?
1:09 PM Mar 20th
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