The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League

 

Current Structure

For many years the league was structured by a solely division of six teams, before the 1991 expansion. With the addition of the Oilers and the Caribbeans, there are now two divisions of four teams, which played against each other and interdivisional series with the rest of the teams on the League.

Western Division Central-Eastern Division
Zulia Eagles Caracas Lions
Lara Cardinals Magallanes Navigators
Aragua Tigers La Guaira Sharks
Los Llanos Pastora Eastern Caribbeans

The playoff is called "Round Robin"; the best two teams of each division qualify to the post-season plus a wild card, which is the best of third places. The best two teams pf this mini tournament of 16 games per team dispute the Grand Final and the winner represents Venezuela in the Caribbean Series, a six-game series with the champions of the winter leagues from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Business

The Venezuelan League has the support of many sponsors and all the teams are privately owned. Profits in recent years have been amazing for the teams and the principal sponsor, Polar Beer. The league have local, national and international (Fox Sports) TV coverage and each team owns their radio broadcasts, with a chain of more than 18 stations nationwide per team.

Competitive FactsTony Armas, Manny Trillo and Bo Diaz were among the stars of the 70's for Caracas

The most successful team of all time is the Caracas Lions with 11 titles, however in recent years it has not qualified even for a post season, because their stars such as Andres Galarraga, Omar Vizquel and Bob Abreu, prefer not to play in Venezuela to avoid injuries that could affect their career in the Majors. Magallanes have been also a hard competitor and the main rival of Caracas; they have had recognized stars thru the years like Dave Parker and Barry Bonds and recently Major Leaguers Edgardo Alfonzo and Freddy Garcia.

Luis Aparicio with Zulia in their Inaugural yearZulia have won five titles and two Caribbean titles, making them also one of the most successful franchises, leaded by distinguished players like pitchers Wilson Alvarez and Geremi Gonzalez; big league stars like Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux wore the Eagles uniform.

La Guaira have had some of the best players in the country, especially during the 80's when most of their prospects arrived to the Major Leagues leaded by shortstop Ozzie Guillen. Aragua won titles in the 70's, with its eternal captain, Dave Concepcion, and have been in finals several times supported by new generation stars like outfielder Juan Rivera.

In recent years, Lara became the strongest team with the development of a dynasty driven by Major Leaguers Luis Sojo and Robert Perez. Pastora and Caribbeans have been competitive but they are still looking for their first titles. However, they have developed stars in the Major Leagues such as Magglio Ordoñez, Ramon Hernandez, Tony Armas Jr., and Japan Home Run king, Alex Cabrera.

Andres Galarraga owes his development in the Majors to his performance with Caracas

[Early Years]