In honor of Hispanic & Latine Heritage Month, NESN takes a look at the best Major League Baseball players from Hispanic and Latin American nations. Today we compile our picks for the all-time Venezuelan team.

Baseball grew in popularity in Venezuela in the early 20th century, becoming the country’s national sport. Over 400 players in MLB history have traced their origins to the country, the second-most behind the Dominican Republic among Latin American countries.

That rich history makes it difficult to decide who makes the all-time lineup for Venezuela. There are plenty of modern players, such as Luis Arraez, building their legacies. But here, we’re looking at the best of the best.

For this exercise, we’re choosing eight position players and a designated hitter, three starting pitchers, two relievers and three bench position players.

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Let’s start with the position players.

C Salvador Pérez
1B Andrés Galarraga
2B Manny Trillo
SS Luis Aparicio
3B Miguel Cabrera
RF Bobby Abreu
CF Carlos González
LF Ronald Acuña Jr.
DH José Altuve

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BENCH Dave Concepción
BENCH Magglio Ordóñez
BENCH Omar Vizquel

We have some obvious names on this list. Aparicio is the lone Baseball Hall of Famer, as of 2023. Pérez has an interesting case for Cooperstown as an eight-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, five-time Gold Glove winner and a World Series MVP.

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Trillo gets the edge at second base over Altuve since he won three Gold Gloves, but the Houston Astros star deserves to be part of the lineup in some way, so we’re going to utilize his bat. We’ve also moved players around to get the best in there.

Galarraga primarily played first base, and he’s deserving as a five-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner and 1993 National League batting champion. Cabrera has experience playing third base, so he can slot there, and his career speaks for itself.

Acuña is a younger addition, but he’s already primed to be among the all-time greats even after six MLB seasons, having won two Silver Sluggers and being named an All-Star four times. He’s the favorite to win the NL MVP this season, so this was a bet on talent. Abreu and González were great bats in their careers, with the former a Philadelphia Phillies icon.

Concepción’s placement on the bench has more to do with how deep the infield position is. He was a nine-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion to go along with five Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards.

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The same case was made for Vizquel, who was a three-time All-Star and won the Gold Glove 11 times. Ordóñez deserves a spot as a six-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger, including a 2007 American League batting title.

Let’s get to the pitchers.

SP Félix Hernández
SP Johan Santana
SP Carlos Zambrano
RP Francisco Rodríguez
RP Ugueth Urbina

Hernández and Santana started their careers slowly, but once they got going, they were among the best of their era. Hernández has a chance at the Baseball Hall of Fame with a Cy Young, six All-Star appearances and two ERA titles. “King Félix” also leads the Seattle Mariners in strikeouts, and he threw the 23rd perfect game in MLB history. Santana has a more extensive résumé with two Cy Youngs, four All-Star appearances, a Gold Glove, three ERA titles and the pitching Triple Crown in 2006. He also was the first New York Mets pitcher to throw a no-hitter when he did it against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012.

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Zambrano — also known as “Big Z” or “El Toro” — had a solid career with the Chicago Cubs. He was a three-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger, which is why he arguably is one of the best-hitting pitchers of all time not named Shohei Ohtani. His 24 career home runs are the most by a pitcher in Cubs history, and he was called on to pinch-hit 20 times as a switch hitter.

Rodríguez, or “K-Rod,” became a postseason hero after he was called up in September and helped the Los Angeles Angels win the World Series in 2002. His five wins in the playoffs are tied with Randy Johnson and later Stephen Strasburg for the most in postseason history. He owns the single-season record for most saves in a season with 62, and he’s among eight pitchers with 400 or more career saves.

Urbina’s inclusion is not an endorsement of him as a person. As a player, he was a two-time All-Star and led the NL in saves with 41 for the Montreal Expos in 1999. He also helped the Florida Marlins win the 2003 World Series.

There’s sure to be more talent coming from Venezuela in the future, but with players like Cabrera and Hernández, it shows there’s a high standard to be considered one of the best of all time for the Latin American nation.

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Featured image via Eric Seals/USA TODAY Sports Images