HOUSTON — Yordan Alvarez was the Most Valuable Player in the American League Championship Series. Yuli Gurriel was the American League batting champion. Aledmys Díaz is a key players off the bench.
Those three Houston Astros' stars are among the Cuban-born players who have taken baseball up a notch in the postseason.
But they're not alone. Several teams have Cuban-born stars on their rosters.
The Chicago White Sox – who the Astros beat in the American League Divisional Series – had four Cuban-born players in their starting lineup. The Rays had two.
A USA Today article published before the postseason started showed that you could make a full and powerful American League lineup of just Cuban-born players.
Here’s that lineup, which is impressive since, according to USA Today, there were only 19 Cuban-born players on Major League rosters to start the season.
C: Yasmani Grandal, White Sox (.240, 23 HR, 62 RBI)
1B: José Abreu, White Sox (.261, 30, 117)
2B: Yoán Moncada, White Sox (.263, 14, 61)
3B: Yandy Díaz, Rays (.256, 13, 64)
SS: José Iglesias, Red Sox (.271, 9, 48)
RF: Randy Arozarena, Rays (.274, 20, 69)
CF: Luis Robert, White Sox (.338, 13, 43)
LF: Yordan Álvarez, Astros (.277, 33, 104)
DH: Yuli Gurriel, Astros (.319, 15, 81)
Alvarez couldn’t be more proud as he told our Daniel Gotera, in Spanish.
Gotera translated Alvarez, who said, "Being a part of that group makes me feel special, first and foremost. No one besides the Cuban people understand the sacrifices that we have to make not just in Cuba, but to get here. I think every Cuban that is able to get here and succeed ... I'm very proud of that group."
And this was Gurriel after the team won the American League pennant.
And the pipeline of Cuban-born players heading to the Astros continues.
As for the Astros, here are several players and their places of birth.
USA Today highlighted the impact Cuban defectors have had on Major League Baseball over the course of the last decade and a half. You can read more about it here.