Canada’s 10 Best Baseball Players According to World Baseball Network

WORLD BASEBALL NETWORK

Even though there wasn’t a Major League team in Canada until 1969, baseball has been played in Canada almost as long as it has in the United States. Two hundred sixty-two Canadians have gone on to play in the Major Leagues – here are World Baseball Network’s top 10.

*Denotes active player

10. Rheal Cormier – Born April 23, 1967, Moncton, New Brunswick – St. Louis, 1991-94; Boston, 1995, 1999-00; Montreal, 1996-97; Philadelphia, 2001-06; Cincinnati, 2006-07.

Cormier began his career as a starter before becoming  a workhorse out of the bullpen starting in the 1999 season with Boston. He pitched in the 1988 and 2008 Summer Olympics for Canada. 

9. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.* – Born March 16, 1999, Montreal, Quebec – Toronto, 2019-22.

You didn’t know he was Canadian, eh? Guerrero was born in Montreal while his father was playing for the Expos. In four seasons, he’s made two all-star appearances and finished second in the American League MVP vote in 2021.

8. Kirk McCaskill – Born April 9, 1961, Kapuskasing, Ontario – California, 1985-91; Chicago (A.L.), 1992-96.

McCaskill’s dad, Ted, played professional hockey in the minor leagues, and so did Kirk, who played 78 games with the American Hockey League’s Sherbrooke Jets in 1983-84. In 1985, he was brought up the big leagues by the Angels, where he was a serviceable starting pitcher for 12 years. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

7. Paul Quantrill – Born Nov. 3, 1968, London, Ontario – Boston, 1992-94; Philadelphia, 1994-95; Toronto, 1996-2001; Los Angeles (N.L.), 2002-03; New York (A.L.) 2004-05; San Diego, 2004-05; Florida, 2005.

Quantrill had a respectable 14-year career, appearing in 864 games, mostly out of the bullpen, for seven different teams. He’s coached for Canada in the 2007, 2009, and 2013 World Baseball Classics, and was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.

6. Ryan Dempster – Born May 3, 1977, Sechelt, British Columbia – Florida, 1998-02, Cincinnati, 2002-03; Chicago (N.L.), 2004-12; Texas, 2012; Boston, 2013.

A two-time all-star, Dempster’s best year came with the Cubs in 2008, when he went 17-6 and finished sixth in the Cy Young balloting. He was a solid, if not elite, starting pitcher over his 16 major league seasons, going 132-133 in 579 career games with an ERA of 4.35 and an ERA+ of 98.

5. Terry Puhl – Born July 8, 1956, Melville, Saskatchewan – Houston, 1977-90; Kansas City, 1991.

Puhl quietly put together a solid career in Houston, where he helped the Astros reach the National League Championship Series in 1980, 1981, and 1986. A 1978 All-Star, Puhl batted .280/.349/.388 in 1531 career games. When his playing career ended, Puhl coached the University of Houston-Victoria from 2008-22. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

4. Russell Martin – Born Feb. 15, 1983, East York, Ontario – Los Angeles (N.L.), 2006-10, 2019; New York (A.L.), 2011-12; Pittsburgh, 2013-14; Toronto, 2015-18.

Martin was born outside of Toronto and grew up in the Notre Dame de Grace neighborhood of Montreal, where he played hockey and baseball. His best season came in 2007, when he was an all-star and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger with the Dodgers. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound backstop appeared in the 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics for Canada, but missed the 2017 WBC after knee surgery.

3. Joey Votto* – Born Sept. 10, 1983, Toronto, Ontario – Cincinnati, 2007-Present

Votto, the 2010 N.L. MVP and a six-time all-star, has been the Reds franchise player for the bulk of his career. Through the end of the 2022 season, he’s socked 347 homers while batting .297/.412/.13, and will be back with the Reds for the 2023 season. With a few more years in the majors, he has a chance to be Canada’s first first-ballot Hall of Famer.

2. Larry Walker – Born Dec. 1, 1966, Maple Ridge, British Columbia – Montreal, 1989-94; Colorado, 1995-04; St. Louis, 2004-05.

Walker’s athletic focus was on ice hockey until he was cut from two different junior teams in Western Canada as a 16-year-old, when he turned his attention to baseball. He hit .313/.400/.565 in 17 major league seasons and won the 1997 National League MVP with Colorado, a season that saw him knock 49 homers and slash .366/.452/.720. It took 10 ballots, but the Baseball Writers’ Association of America finally voted Walker into the Hall of Fame in 2020. 

1. Ferguson Jenkins – Born Dec. 13, 1942, Chatam, Ontario – Philadelphia, 1965-66, Chicago (N.L.), 1966-73, 1982-83; Texas, 1974-75, 1978-81; Boston, 1976-77.

Jenkins was Canada’s first Hall of Famer, getting in on his third ballot in 1991 after pitching 19 seasons in the big leagues. His 284 wins are the most of any Black pitcher in baseball history, and in 1974 he was the first baseball player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s best athlete. A four-time Canadian Press male athlete of the year, Jenkins is one of four pitchers (Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martinez are the others) to post more than 3,000 strikeouts while allowing less than 1,000 walks. In retirement, Jenkins