Ranking the Top 10 Under-the-Radar Players in the AL East
The AL East has not gone as planned so far in 2013, as the standings are nearly the opposite of what many predicted.
The Blue Jays are not in first. The Yankees and Red Sox are not struggling at all. The Orioles haven't regressed. And the Rays haven't done much of anything.
Each team's success, or lack thereof, can be partially attributed to the play of their high-profile names.
Robinson Cano has been great for the Yanks. The combo of Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester has been marvelous for the Sox. Chris Davis and Adam Jones are having career years for the O's. While David Price is struggling for the Rays and pretty much everyone has been disappointing in Toronto.
Still, all of the teams in the East have also had a number of low-profile players who've contributed in a positive manner. Some have been more influential than others, but all have contributed
Here are the top ten players in the AL East who are flying under the radar.
2013 Stats: .245 AVG, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 9 R
As a last-minute replacement for Mark Teixeira, Overbay hasn't been revolutionary at first base for the Bronx Bombers, but he's been adequate.
The 36-year-old veteran signed with the Red Sox in the offseason, then was cut near the end of of spring training. He immediately signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees, and with the rash of injuries the Yanks have experienced, Overbay has found himself starting the majority of the games at first.
While the impending return of Tex will move the veteran to the bench, he's been a decent stop-gap for the surprising Yankees.
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2013 Stats: 5-1, 7 GS, 41.1 IP, 26 K, 4.10 ERA, 1.37 WHIP
Jason Hammel's statistics aren't great, but he has racked up five wins.
As the Orioles' "ace", the 30-year-old hasn't had an overly impressive outing so far in 2013, but he's given the O's the chance to win in each of his seven starts.
Baltimore's not known for their rotation, but Hammel brings the much needed consistency to a team that has a good enough lineup and bullpen to win any game.
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2013 Stats: .385 AVG, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 13 R
Did you know that if he was qualified, which he's one plate appearance short of being, James Loney would be tied with Miguel Cabrera for the best average in the majors?
Since his call-up as a Dodger in 2006, Loney has always been known as a solid contact hitter capable of putting up a batting average near the .300 mark. It wasn't until last season where the wheels fell off for J'Lo.
After signing with the Rays in the offseason, much wasn't expected of the 29-year-old. But he's put up very solid numbers, including a team leading 10 doubles.
2013 Stats: 2-1, 16 G, 14.1 IP, 18 K, 2.51 ERA, 0.98 WHIP
Now Boston's newly appointed interim closer, Tazawa was the most calming influence in the Sox somewhat volatile bullpen in 2012.
Despite already allowing more homers (2) than he did last year (1), Tazawa continues to be solid.
And with the injuries to Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan, he could run away with the closing role for the much improved Red Sox.
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2013 Stats: 4-2, 6 GS, 42.0 IP, 33 K, 2.79 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
Tampa Bay is starting to get known for their ability to develop starting pitching through their organization. Alex Cobb is another example of this.
The 25-year-old has improved since last season, and has produced five quality starts out of a possible six.
Cobb, along with Matt Moore, have carried the Rays' struggling rotation. If not for them, the Rays, who's record is a measly 14-18, could be in even deeper trouble in their pursuit of another playoff appearance.
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2013 Stats: .284 AVG, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 18 R
After struggling to break Boston's major league lineup over the last couple years, it seems Daniel Nava has finally broken through.
So far in 2013, the 30-year-old Nava has outperformed the more recognizable names on the Sox roster, including Jacoby Ellsbury and the struggling Will Middlebrooks.
Currently, Nava is slugging an impressive .505, while his OPS is also an impressive .891.
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
2013 Stats: 0-0, 9 SV, 12 G, 12.0 IP, 13 K, 0.75 ERA, 0.25 WHIP
Not much has gone right for the Blue Jays this season. However, their closer has been lights out.
A perfect 9-for-9 in save opportunities, Casey Janssen has been near perfect so far in 2013. In his 12 innings of work, he has only allowed three hits and has yet to allow a walk.
Janssen's cutter has been terrific so far in 2013, and if it wasn't for him shutting the door, the Blue Jays could possibly have an even worse record.
2013 stats: .288 AVG, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 15 R
Back in the mid-2000s, Travis Hafner was one of the scariest names in a solid Indians' lineup. But not since 2007 has the power hitting lefty been overly impressive, as injuries and ineffectiveness have limited his offensive output.
When the Yankees signed him in February of this year, no one expected the veteran to put up the numbers that he has.
Hafner leads the injury-plagued Yankees in OBP (.412), OPS (.987) and walks (15).
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
2013 Stats: .313 AVG, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 25 R
It seemed the Nate McLouth's best days were behind him after he was cut by the Pirates in the middle of last season. But McLouth has resurrected his career with the Orioles.
After helping the O's reach the playoffs last season, McLouth has been even better in 2013.
The 31-year-old has been the quintessential leadoff hitter for the Birds, as he's sixth in the AL in OBP (.414), second in stolen bases (10) and fourth in runs (25).
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2013 Stats: 5-0, 6 GS, 37.0 IP, 41 K, 1.95 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
Matt Moore's "under-the-radar" status may be questionable, but hey, he's on a small-market Tampa team and he's not David Price.
Other than Boston's Clay Buchholz, Moore has been the best pitcher this year in the AL East. And that's saying something in a division that has the likes of former Cy Young winners CC Sabathia, R.A. Dickey and the aforementioned Price.
The 23-year-old is still young and had a strong 2012, so his start to the 2013 season may not be the most surprising. However, Moore's been impressive nonetheless and he could blossom into a Cy Young candidate.