With 30 teams spread across the nation, big markets teams soaking up media coverage, and each team playing every night, it becomes easy for a baseball player to be overlooked. Baseball is the one sport where an athlete can be truly underrated, due to the localized sentiments of many of the games fans. Most Detroit Tiger fans don’t watch games of other teams due to the lack of consistent national television for example, and it is up to us, the bloggers of the world, to educate and shape the minds of the chosen. Ahhh the power entrusted to us…
Since Cutch (If you don’t know, now you know) is unquestionably the breakout player of the year, I have taken the privilege to unveil some of the top unadvertised talents in the game today. Keep in mind this is an no certain order, but rather a freeform, player vomit. I also have approached this using the one player per division format to preserve some level of conspicuity for others flying below the radar. Behold the greatness and also add your own favorite little-known star in the comments section!
Adam Jones, CF-Baltimore Orioles
This is a guy that arguably is a five tool player. Certainly is a four tool guy, and some may differ on the speed tool, depending on who you are talking to. He has a continually rising .278 career average, rising power numbers, is a two time all star, and one of the best center fielders in the sport. Playing in a division with the Red Sox and Yankees certainly does not help, but Jones has been a lonely bright spot on some dismal Baltimore teams over the past 4 seasons. Jones was rewarded heavily with a contract extension as the Orioles look to build around him moving forward.
Honorable Mention: David Price, SP-Tampa Bay Rays
Jake Peavy, SP-Chicago White Sox
Peavy was undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in the game a few years ago as a Padre, but a few injuries had him fall to also-ran status. A mid-season trade and some good luck has Peavy rejuvenated and healthy, and the guy has begun dealing again. This season marked Peavy’s first All Star Game appearance in five years, and while he doesn’t win as many games as he perhaps should given his peripheral numbers, Peavy is second in the league in complete games. While age is now going to become a factor with Peavy, he is starting to quietly reassert himself as a legitimate top of the order starter again, and baseball is taking notice.
Honorable Mention: Paul Konerko, 1B-Chicago White Sox
Felix Hernandez, SP-Seattle Mariners
Ok, so King Felix is a legit superstar with some hardware in the cabinet. But think to the last time you discussed the game’s best starting pitchers. You certainly discussed Verlander, Weaver, Sabathia, and so on. There wasn’t a lot of thought to the team in the great northwest. If King Felix was pitching on a winning team, he would undoubtedly be far more well-known and better off statistically. This is a guy who won a Cy Young with a barely above .500 record because of his peripherals. He is a workhorse pitcher who annually ranks among league leaders in quality starts, ERA, WHIP, innings pitched, and strikeouts.
Honorable Mention:Michael Young, DH/INF-Texas Rangers
Josh Johnson, SP-Florida Marlins
What? They’re referring to themselves as the Miami Marlins now? Don’t care! While it’s a bit exaggerated, the price tag Johnson carried around the 2012 speaks volumes to what he brings to the table. Injuries have slowed him at times, but he continues to shine as one of the best, still reasonably young pitchers in baseball, often as a one man wrecking crew as the Marlins struggle to find the right mix of talent. Having survived the most recent liquidation, Johnson is one of the more respected pitchers in the sport and would bring quite a haul in an offseason move.
Honorable Mention:Carlos Ruiz, C-Philadelphia Phillies
Johnny Cueto, SP-Cincinnati Reds
It took a couple go rounds and an injury-shortened 2011, but Cueto has been nearly dominant as the ace of the Redlegs in 2012. Cueto has quietly put together a Cy Young campaign while helping the Reds to the best record in the majors (at the time of writing). He leads the NL in Wins, WAR for Pitchers, and is second in complete games. Cueto can be a bit erratic and temperamental, but I like an ace with a bit of an edge.
Honorable Mention:Kyle Lohse, SP-St. Louis Cardinals
Dexter Fowler, CF-Colorado Rockies
This may be a bit premature as well as a wildcard. Fowler has really put it together in 2012, is young enough to continue developing at this rate. It also doesn’t hurt I am a sucker for guys who can run, which Fowler can. This pick also benefitted from the fact there isn’t much competition in this division for an underrated player.
Honorable Mention:Trevor Cahill, SP-Arizona Diamondbacks
There you have it folks, the people you should be well aware of if you’re a baseball fan. Keep your eye on these guys, as they tend to quietly go about their business, then sneak up and getchya!