The San Francisco Giants are a team cluttered with stars. But they also have underrated players who are essential to the success of the team, but don't receive the credit they deserve.
Every team that wins a World Series needs contributions from up and down the roster, and that was no different with the Giants in 2012.
When Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Angel Pagan were struggling at the plate in the playoffs, players at the bottom of the order picked up the slack. That's the mark of a championship team, and it was critical to the Giants sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
Here's a list of four underrated players on the Giants who deserve recognition.
The emergence of a competent backup catcher at the start of the regular season was a welcome sight for San Francisco Giants fans.
In 2011, fans were subjected to watching Eli Whiteside catch every night after Buster Posey went down with a gruesome ankle and leg injury. Whiteside was exposed when he was forced into the starting lineup. He could not hit for average or power, and threw out only 25 percent of baserunners who attempted to steal.
Hector Sanchez, on the other hand, showed that he has all the tools to become a starting catcher in the big leagues. He has raw power and a strong and accurate arm to throw out runners, as evident from this unbelievable throw from his knees.
Sanchez will need to improve his patience at the plate. He only had five walks in 218 plate appearances. His 2.2 walk percentage was the lowest mark in the majors among players with at least 200 at-bats.
Gregor Blanco made Brain Johnson, a scout for the San Francisco Giants, look like a genius at times this season. Johnson was the man who spotted Blanco playing in Triple-A during the 2011 season and sent the Giants' front office a report on what he noticed.
After the Giants signed him the following offseason, he surprisingly became an integral part of the Giants' success in 2012.
He got his batting average up to .291 in mid-June and was the prototypical leadoff hitter with his ability to work a count and coax a walk. However, he then went through an awful slump and eventually lost his job in the middle of the season.
But when Melky Cabrera was suspended for the rest of the season, Blanco stepped up and took his place in left field, and he did a decent job filling the enormous void created by Cabrera's absence.
He batted .283 in September and played solid defense. He also drove in five runs during the postseason and covered as much ground as any left fielder in the league.
Blanco should be brought back as the fourth outfielder in 2013.
The San Francisco Giants bullpen was dominant during the 2012 postseason, but one player in particular who stuck out was Jeremy Affeldt.
The Giants' lefty logged 10.1 innings during the postseason and didn't allow a single run. In fact, he only allowed eight baserunners in those 10.1 innings pitched.
Affeldt is a rare breed. He's a power lefty who's able to pitch to both righties and lefties with his big, sweeping curveball. He's a valuable piece of the bullpen for just that reason. Bruce Bochy isn't forced to take him out of the game if a right-handed hitter is sandwiched between two lefties in the lineup.
The Giants' brass recognized his importance and rewarded Affeldt with a three-year, $18 million contract.
If there was one player who made the biggest strides toward becoming a better ballplayer during the 2012 postseason, it was Brandon Crawford.
He came through with big hits throughout the playoffs and accumulated seven RBI, which is a considerable amount coming from the eighth-place hitter—a spot in the lineup that generally isn't supposed to generate any runs.
Crawford had been playing well all season, with the exception of the first couple of months of the year when he made 12 errors in the first 60 games.
However, once he got settled in at the plate and became more comfortable with his role on the team, something clicked and Crawford started playing like the Gold Glove-caliber shortstop that everyone knew he could become. As of September 18, he had the second-best fielding percentage (.985) among shortstops in the NL.
Crawford progressed nicely throughout the season and showed that he has the potential to be the Giants' starting shortstop for years to come.