Brett Gardner and MLB's Top Unsung Impact Players
There's no doubting that franchise players are the foundation of team's successes. After all, they wouldn't be paid the amounts of money they are if they weren't difference makers—at least in theory.
For every one of those players, there are at least a couple players out there that may not get the notoriety of their counterparts, but still definitely contribute well beyond the recognition they receive.
It's hard to parse down a list that could include so many players that don't get the credit they deserve, but here are a few less heralded players that definitely make contributions.
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Ryan Dempster has definitely had enough of a track record for success throughout his career that it's somewhat difficult to call him "unsung" in any regard.
But with a winless track record in nine starts this season, Dempster has still been remarkably good, posting a sub-3.00 ERA as his strikeout-to-walk ratio has improved, even though the offense behind him hasn't been able to get the job done.
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The Minnesota Twins have a very well-paid catcher on their roster in Joe Mauer, but with his recent health concerns and a slow transition to more time at first base, Ryan Doumit is seeing plenty of action in 2012.
He's provided much-needed stability in the backup catcher role, and with the ability to play at first base and in the outfield, the slugger doesn't spend many days on the bench.
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Emilio Bonifacio saw his most consistent action in 2011, as he played in more than 150 games for the Miami Marlins, batting a career-high .296 and stealing 40 bases in 51 attempts.
He's off to a relatively strong start in 2012, and though his average has dipped a bit he does lead the league in stolen bases and will play a big role in helping the Miami Marlins live up to the lofty expectations they're playing with.
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In recent years in Milwaukee, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun got much of the attention when it came to the Brewers offense, and for good reason.
With Fielder off to Detroit, Braun is his old self, and players like two-time All-Star Corey Hart are getting plenty of attention when it comes to making up for the newly found void.
Jonathan Lucroy may not get as much attention as other names on the roster, but he's been big for the Brewers in 2012, driving in 30 runs already and batting nearly .350 in 43 games.
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An asset both in the batter's box and in the outfield, Brett Gardner's presence has certainly been missed in the Yankee lineup since he went on the disabled list in mid-April.
The career .265 hitter was off to a hot (albeit brief) start this season, and the team will definitely welcome him back with open arms when he returns to the lineup, something he hopes to do relatively soon.