Before outfielder Nate McLouth joined the Baltimore Orioles last year, he had been discarded by two teams—the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates—who essentially gave up on him.
McLouth was an up-and-coming star for the Pirates in the late 2000s, leading the National League with 46 doubles in 2008, earning a selection to the All-Star team and winning a Gold Glove Award as well.
The Pirates traded McLouth to the Braves in June 2009, where he suffered through a miserable existence. He hit just .229 in parts of three seasons before being granted free agency in 2011.
Last year the Pirates took another chance on McLouth, hoping he could recapture his earlier magic. It never happened—McLouth hit just .140 in 34 games before being released.
The Orioles then took a chance, signing him to a minor-league deal. He spent nearly two months in the minors before earning a call-up in early August. McLouth was a key contributor down the stretch as the Orioles made the postseason for the first time in 15 seasons.
Baltimore signed McLouth to a one-year, $2 million deal during the offseason, and that investment is paying huge dividends thus far. He's hitting .313 thus far, good for 10th in the American League. He's provided a huge spark at the top of the Orioles batting order.
His nine stolen bases also rank second in the league behind Jacoby Ellsbury, so McLouth has clearly been both a nice surprise and a shocking member of this list.