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:
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.
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