theBRKDWN: The Best Canadian MLB Players in History

We’ve selected one player per position,three starting pitchers and two relief pitchers for inclusion in our list.

Catcher: Russel Martin (2006-Present)

Statistics: BA: .248 H: 1416 HR: 191 RBI: 771 WAR: 38

Accomplishments: 4x All-Star, Gold Glove Award, Silver Slugger Winner 

The veteran catcher who has played for the LA Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees and hometown Toronto Blue Jays is considered one of the better catchers in the league during his prime, as evidenced by his four all-star appearances. The now-36 year-old is contemplating his future as a free agent this offseason after a disappointing end to the season with the Dodgers.  

First Baseman: Joey Votto (2007-Present) 

Statistics: BA: 307 H: 1866 HR: 284 RBI: 944 WAR: 60.2

Accomplishments: 2010 NL MVP, 6x all-star, Gold Glove winner 

Considered one of the best Canadian players in history, Joey Votto has also been one of the best first basemen in the league for a number of years. While father time may be calling his name the past few seasons, Votto is still a valuable piece of the Cincinnati Reds and it’s a shame that he may never win a World Series title.    

Second Baseman: Freddie Freeman (2010-Present) 

Statistics: BA: .293 H: 1451 HR: 227 RBI: 805 WAR: 37.4

Accomplishments: 4x all-star, Gold Glove Winner 

While Freeman may have been born in California, both of his parents were born in Ontario, Canada and he represented Canada in the 2017 Baseball Classic, something that he was keen to do. Freeman, like Votto, is considered one of the best first basemen of his generation but he slots into the second base spot, beaten by Votto for first. Freeman and the Atlanta Braves are bound to break through sooner rather than later as he continues to be a potential MVP candidate year in and year out. 

Third Baseman: Vladamir Guerro Jr. 

Statistics: BA: .272 H: 126 HR: 15 RBI: 69 WAR: 2.1 

Accomplishments: N/A

Unlike Freeman, Vlad Guerro Jr. was born on Canadian soil in Montreal, Quebec when his dad played for the Montreal Expos. Guerro Jr. just finished his first MLB season which turned out to be a solid one. He is only 20 years-old and is only scratching the surface of his potential. Guerro Jr. is already the best Canadian third baseman and could potentially be one of the best Canadian third basemen in MLB history.     

ShortStop: Jason Bay (2003-2013) 

Statistics: BA: .266 H: 1200 HR: 222 RBI: 754 WAR: 24.6

Accomplishments: 2004 Rookie of the Year, 3x all-star, Silver Slugger Award Winner 

With no other Canadian short-stops to speak of, outfielder Jason Bay will be taking this spot. Bay was an extremely productive player for the Pittsburh Pirates with multiple 30+ HR seasons as well as another all-star season with the Red Sox.  

Outfielder #1: Larry Walker (1989-2005)

Statistics: BA: .313 H: 2160 HR: 383 RBI: 1311 WAR: 72.7

Accomplishments: MVP, 5x all-star, 7x Gold Glove Winner, 3x Silver Slugger

Currently trying to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Larry Walker was the first true Canadian superstar. Hailing from Maple Ridge, Canada, Walker put up HOF numbers with the Colorado Rockies from the mid-’90s to early 2000s. While it may be diminishing his chances of getting in due to a hitter’s paradise in Coors Field, it would be an amazing moment for the country of Canada to celebrate one of its most beloved ball players. 

Outfielder #2: Jeff Heath (1936-1949)

Statistics: BA: .293 H: 1447 HR: 194 RBI: 887 WAR: 37

Accomplishments: 2x all-star 

The first notable Canadian player in the MLB, Jeff Heath is most remembered for suited up for the Cleveland Indians in the mid-1930s to mid-1940s. Heath was truly a pioneer for Canadian baseball players in that he made it possible for a Canadian player to take the field and be an impact player in Major League Baseball.  

Outfielder #3: Justin Morneau (2003-2016)

Statistics: BA: .281 H: 1603 HR: 247 RBI: 985 WAR: 27.2

Accomplishments: MVP, 4x all-star, 2x Silver Slugger Winning, Batting Title 

Another Canadian first baseman being repositioned on this list, Morneau from 2006-2010 was one of the best power-hitting first basemen in the league. Monreau at the time was supposed to be the next Larry Walker but injuries and inconsistent play caught up to him in his later years. Monreau still put together a respectable career and his 2006 AL MVP solidifies that.  

Starting Pitcher #1: Ferguson Jenkins (1965-1983)

Statistics: W/L: 284-226 ERA: 3.34 WAR: 84.1

Accomplishments: Hall of Fame, Cy Young Winner, 3x all-star

Fergie Jenkins has the honor of being the first Canadian player ever to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and he had a remarkable career. More famously, he played for the Chicago Cubs where he won his one and only Cy Young award in which he pitched 325 innings (!) and had 30 complete games in 1972. 

Starting Pitcher #2: James Paxton (2013-Present)

Statistics: W/L: 56-32 ERA: 3.50 WAR: 12.8

Accomplishments: N/A

Originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays, Paxton was re-selected by the Seattle Mariners and has been a solid left-handed pitcher over the past few seasons. Now a member of the New York Yankees, Paxton will be looking for a World Series title with the contending Yankees, something only a select few Canadian players have done. 

Starting Pitcher #3: Ryan Dempster

Statistics: W/L: 132-133 ERA: 4.35 WAR: 18.8 

Accomplishments: 2x all-star, 2013 WS Champion

While not a very popular name on this list and having somewhat of an average career, Ryan Dempster managed to put some solid seasons together with the Florida Marlins in the early 2000s and the Chicago Cubs in the mid-2000s with his best season coming in 2008. Dempster however, ended his career on the highest of notes by winning a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. 

Relief Pitcher #1: John Hiller (1965-1970, 1972-1980)

Statistics: W/L: 87-76 ERA: 2.83 WAR: 30.5 SVS: 125

Accomplishments: 1x all-star, 1968 World Series 

One of the most well-known relief pitchers during the 1970s, Hiller pitched his entire career for the Detroit Tigers while taking a two-year break from baseball. When Hiller returned in 1972, he was a better pitcher, earning his one and only all-star appearance in 1974.  

Relief Pitcher #2: John Axford (2009-Present)

Statistics: W/L: 38-34 ERA: 3.87 WAR: 4.0 SVS: 144

Accomplishments: Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year (2011) 

John Axford, who is now pitching in the Blue Jays minor league system as his career winds down, has quietly been a solid reliever during his time in the Majors. During a three-year stretch with the Milwaukee Brewers he posted 105 saves and led the league in saves with 46 during the 2011 season.

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