Major League Baseball: Top 10 Most Underrated Players of the 2012 Season
Leon Halip/Getty Images
There are always players who sneak through the cracks in the Major League Baseball system and become quietly productive and underrated players.
From surprising rookies to savvy veterans, the 2012 season displayed a dubious amount of underrated veterans worth noting.
The following players were not all-stars, nor were they the standout or franchise player for their respective franchises.
These guys flew quietly under the radar, but had some of the more respectable seasons in the league.
Here are ten players who had some of the most underrated and overlooked statistical seasons in 2012.
10. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies
Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Dexter Fowler was a bright light in a very dark season for the Colorado Rockies.
Fowler had the best season of his young career in 2012, hitting an even .300 with 53 RBI, 13 home runs and 12 stolen bases.
With injuries and poor pitching plaguing the Rockies, Fowler stayed relatively consistent and came up with some clutch hits late in the season.
His stolen bases were down from previous years due to a nagging ankle injury and a dynamic Rockies offense, but he still managed an impressive on-base percentage of .389.
Fowler, who’s been a subject of trade rumors for most of this offseason, will be a key leadoff piece for the Rockies moving forward.
9. Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks
Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero.
Ralph Freso/Getty Images
Like Fowler, Miguel Montero can be placed in the same conversation as Mike Trout, Buster Posey and Ryan Braun when it comes to on-base percentage.
Montero batted .286 with 88 RBI, 15 home runs, and an on-base percentage good for ninth best in baseball at .391. It was undoubtedly the best season of his career.
The 29-year-old is entering what’s sure to be the prime of his career, and has transformed into one of the most untalked about offensive catchers in the game.
Arizona, who ended with a .500 record, has a promising arsenal of great hitting and young pitching.
Montero will play a major role in the Diamondbacks competing with division rivals San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2013.
8. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
You can’t have an underrated players list without including the name Marco Scutaro.
Scutaro has proved to be one of the best fielding, most versatile players in the game, playing a range of positions and playing them well.
Scutaro began 2012 with the Rockies where he batted .271 with 30 RBI, riding the injury wave, bouncing back between utility man and starter.
However, Scutaro is not on this list for his performance in Colorado.
In what may be the most successful and intelligent midseason move, the San Francisco Giants acquired Scutaro, giving up only minor league infielder Charlie Culberson. After that July trade, Scutaro batted .362 with 44 RBI and played a flawless second and third base.
He would lead the Giants to the promise land and walk away with the NLCS MVP.
7. Jason Vargas, Seattle Mariners
Angels starting pitcher Jason Vargas.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
The Los Angeles Angels, who traded Kendrys Morales for Jason Vargas last month, may have just acquired the most overlooked pitcher in the game.
Vargas was a member of the 2012 Seattle Mariners, a team that ended with one of the worst team batting averages in MLB history at .234.
With virtually no offensive backing, Vargas still managed 14 wins and an ERA of 3.85 in a tough offensive division.
Now, throw Vargas on the best offensive team in that same division and we could see a surprising 20-game-winner in 2013.
6. Wandy Rodriguez, Pittsburg Pirates
Pirates pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
The 33-year-old Wandy Rodriguez has never won any major MLB award and has never been elected to an All-Star Game, making him the most underrated pitcher of the last decade.
Here’s a statistic that will blow your mind: Wandy Rodriguez has posted a sub-four ERA in each of his last five seasons, only recording a record greater than .500 just once.
He’s also played the majority of his career in Houston, who’s compiled some of the most pathetic rosters we’ve ever seen over the last few years.
But, we’re talking about 2012 here, where Rodriguez, once again, ended under .500 with a sub-four ERA. He also was tied for second in games started at 33 with 205 inning pitched, showing the 33-year-old is still a workhorse.
Expect another great season to add to a career of many for Rodriguez in 2013.
5. Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee Brewers
Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki.
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
The 31-year-old Japanese rookie Norichika Aoki was the least talked about rookie in 2013, but managed to end fifth in Rookie of the Year voting.
Aoki gave the Brewers 520 quality at-bats, ending his rookie stint with a .288 average, ten home runs, 50 RBI and an impressive on-base percentage of .355.
He also had just three errors and 30 stolen bases, making Aoki a borderline five-tool player.
Look for him to continue his hot hitting in 2013.
4. Brandon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays
Blue Jays starting pitcher Brandon Morrow.
Brandon Morrow spent the entire month of July and the majority of June on the disabled list, but gave the Toronto Blue Jays quality innings when healthy.
In Morrow’s 2012 stint the 28-year-old went 10-7 with a 2.96 ERA and 108 strikeouts. He also had three complete games and averaged almost six innings a start.
Morrow was just plain nasty against some of the best teams in baseball, including Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Oakland and New York.
Since coming into the league in 2007, Morrow has succumbed to numerous injuries and has a career high of 179 innings pitched, which came in 2011.
If Morrow can go an entire season keeping his health in check, he could help this already stacked Toronto team to their first World Series since 1993.
3. Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics
Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Athletics would not have won the American League West without the production and leadership of 25-year-old Josh Reddick.
Reddick, who was given his first opportunity as an everyday starter with Oakland, shined, batting .242 with 32 home runs and 85 RBI.
It wasn’t just his bat that made him such a valuable asset. The young outfielder also took home the Gold Glove to add to his list of accomplishments last season.
Reddick came up short in the ALDS where he had just two hits in 17 at-bats.
After his highly respectable season in 2012, Reddick’s name will be inserted into that of the coveted rising young stars in Major League Baseball.
2. Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds
Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey during his no-hitter in September.
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
I’ve been waiting for this kid to have a breakout season, and 2012 was that season.
Home Bailey posted a 13-10 record with a 3.68 ERA and a 168 strikeouts, managing to stay relatively consistent down stretch.
Bailey also pitched his way to the first no-hitter in PNC Park history on September 28. The no-hitter was arguably the most impressive of the season. Bailey fanned ten in just 115 pitches, closing out a 1-0 Reds’ win.
The Reds can only hope Bailey will improve upon his impressive 2012 season and carry his momentum into 2013.
1. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The 25-year-old Diamondbacks’ first baseman was by far the most underrated player in Major League Baseball in 2012.
Goldschmidt batted .286 with 20 home runs, 82 RBI, 18 stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .359. The kid was also a rock at first base with a fielding percentage of .995.
Goldschmidt, an eighth round draft pick out of Texas State University, had a quick ascent to the majors after he ripped through the minors with unexpected numbers.
His numbers reflect that of a true five-tool player, a rarity in baseball these days.
Look for Goldschmidt to be the newly acclaimed leader of a lineup which includes Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Cody Ross and Aaron Hill.
Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell.
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Seth Smith, Oakland Athletics
Smith, who’s been a consistent .280 hitter/ 50 RBI guy over his career, underachieved a little last season, but he came up with some clutch hitting over the latter half of the season.
Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
While Santana, oddly enough, strikes out a great deal, he also knows how to get on base with an on-base percentage of .365 (.363 career).
Clayton Richard, San Diego Padres
Richard was an innings eater in San Diego for Bud Black, starting 33 games and pitching 218 innings. He ended 2012 with a 3.99 ERA and 107 strikeouts.
Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels
Aybar has never put up standout numbers, but his .290 average, 45 RBI and 20 stolen bases, in combination with decent fielding, has solidified his role as the Angels’ every day shortstop.
Lucas Harrell, Houston Astros
Harrell had a 3.76 ERA and a .500 record in 32 starts for the Houston Astros last season. Enough said.
Post a comment and let me know who you think are the most underrated players of 2012!
Follow this Featured Columnist on Twitter @cucch22