StaTuesday: The Twins’ Max Kepler and German-born players

When this season’s Southern League’s Most Valuable Player takes the field for the first time he’ll become the 43rd German-born player to appear in the majors.

When it comes to producing major leaguers, Germany has actually had the third-most players of any European country, trailing only Ireland and the United Kingdom, with 47 each. (However, only one player born in Ireland has appeared in a major-league game since 1918, and that was for one game in 1945.)

There are actually three other active major leaguers who were born in Germany: Miami’s Jeff Baker, Atlanta’s Edwin Jackson and Philadelphia’s Aaron Altherr.

Of the 42 previous players born in Germany, only 16 have been since 1947. In fact, there was a a30-year game between Heinz Becker (1943-47) and Mickey Scott (1972-77).

That isn’t to say Kepler has an easy path to being the best German-born player ever. Here’s the list of the top-10 German-born players by plate appearances (as to knock out the pitchers, although one of the below both pitched and played outfield in the 19th century). Included are: several with nicknames which we’d probably consider politically incorrect nowadays, the first baseman who took over for Hall of Famer George Sisler when he had to miss a season and a former Twins manager:

PLAYER YEARS GAMES HR SB BAVG OBP SLG
Glenn Hubbard 1978-89 1,354 70 35 .244 .328 .349
Bill Kuehne 1883-92 1,085 25 150 .232 .258 .337
Mike Blowers 1989-99 761 78 7 .257 .329 .416
Jeff Baker 2005-active 748 54 14 .264 .318 .432
Fritz Mollwitz 1913-19 534 1 70 .241 .278 .294
Fritz Buelow 1899-1907 431 6 20 .192 .238 .251
Pretzels Getzien 1884-92 303 8 17 .198 .257 .275
Ben Koehler 1905-06 804 2 31 .233 .295 .281
Ron Gardenhire 1981-85 285 4 13 .232 .277 .296
Dutch Schliebner 1923 146 4 4 .271 .333 .362

If Kepler can live up to his promise and his minor-league statistics — he batted .322 with a .416 on-base percentage and .531 slugging percentage with 18 steals in 112 games for Double-A Chattanooga this season — he should be able to climb up this list in no time and have a chance to be just the third German-born player to make an All-Star team, joining Hubbard and Jackson.

Follow Dave Heller on Twitter