Fourth-most internationally born players featured on Opening Day rosters

March 29th, 2024

We may call baseball "America's pastime," but the sport clearly belongs to the world.

Last year's MVP Award winners were Venezuelan-born Ronald Acuña Jr, who created the 40/70 home run/stolen base club, and Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani, who took home the AL Award before signing with the Dodgers in the offseason for a record-setting $700 million. He was joined in L.A. by generational pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, fresh off three consecutive Sawamura Awards -- the NPB's version of the Cy Young.

The Dodgers and Padres started the season in Seoul, playing baseball's first regular season games in Korea -- coming on the heels of Ha-Seong Kim winning the first Gold Glove Award for a Korean-born player -- while Jung-Hoo Lee went from KBO star to the Giants' biggest offseason signing.

The Red Sox and Rays played games in the Dominican Republic this Spring Training, with Boston showcasing slugger Rafael Devers while promising young pitcher Brayan Bello -- from Samana -- signed a long-term extension with the team while in Santo Domingo.

The point is simple: Baseball is a global sport, and that's reflected on every roster and at every ballpark. This year, a total of 264 players -- nearly 28 percent of the league -- representing 19 different countries and territories outside the United States were featured on 2024 Opening Day rosters, injured and inactive lists. That number is the fourth-most all-time on Opening Day rosters, trailing behind 2020 (291 players) which was played with expanded 30-man rosters; 2022 (275), which featured 28-man rosters; and is just a slight dip from last year when 270 international ballplayers made it onto Opening Day rosters.

The league has been tracking this information since 1995, with the Dominican Republic leading every year. That's no different this year, with 108 players from the D.R. on big league rosters -- just below the 110 that featured in 2020.

Here's the full country rankings:

  1. Dominican Republic - 108
  2. Venezuela - 58
  3. Cuba - 18
  4. Puerto Rico - 17
  5. Canada - 13
  6. Mexico - 12
  7. Japan - 10
  8. Colombia - 5
  9. Panama - 5
  10. Curaçao - 4
  11. South Korea - 3
  12. Australia - 2
  13. Aruba - 1
  14. the Bahamas - 1
  15. Brazil - 1
  16. Germany - 1
  17. Honduras - 1
  18. Nicaragua - 1
  19. South Africa - 1

For the fourth consecutive year, the Astros continue to pace the league with internationally born players as their roster features 16 on the roster. That includes Tayler Scott, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, who became the second South African-born player on Opening Day rosters in Major League history, joining Gift Ngoepe who made Toronto's Opening Day roster in 2018.

Here are the teams whose rosters feature the most internationally born players:

  1. Astros - 16
  2. Padres - 15
  3. Red Sox - 14
  4. Marlins - 14
  5. Guardians - 12
  6. Twins - 11
  7. Mets - 11
  8. Pirates - 11
  9. Rays - 11

With baseball interest continuing to rise around the globe in the wake of last year's World Baseball Classic and Minor League rosters featuring players from countries like Uganda, Slovakia and New Zealand, it would be shocking if numbers like these didn't continue to rise in the future.