Since my last article regarding my top 10 overrated athletes went over so well with the readers, I have decided to give my list of underrated players. However, since there are so many, I have limited this list strictly to Major League Baseball.
10. Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
You probably have not heard of him, and he maybe too young to warrant this rating, but the Royals' Billy Butler is one of the up-and-coming stars in the league. Thus far, he has hit .375 with one home run, and has drawn respect from other teams in the league.
9. Aaron Rowand, San Francisco Giants
Surrounded by names such as Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard, Rowand was often overshadowed. The fact is, Rowand was an all-star centerfielder last year, belting 27 home runs and 189 hits.
And who can forget his face-first smash into the centerfield wall?
8. Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros
I am not sure how, but for some reason the former back-to-back 20-game winner has gone relatively unnoticed.
Yes, most people have heard of Oswalt, but most do not put him in the same category with the Peavys, the Santanas, or the Becketts of the league.
The truth is, 112 wins in eight years (including the back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2004 and 2005) is a very impressive total. Add that to a career ERA of 3.14, and you have one of the top pitchers in the league.
7. Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays
Playing in Toronto, the former Cy Young award winner doesn't always get the recognition he deserves.
Despite battling injuries, Halladay has been the anchor of the Jays' staff, posting a 3.62 career ERA, and has quietly posted back-to-back 16-win seasons in 2006-07.
6. Jermaine Dye, Chicago White Sox
As a Detroit Tigers fan, I had a really tough time putting Dye in my top 10, but this guy has been a thorn in the Tigers' side since he donned a White Sox uniform.
The Tigers are not the only team that have had problems with Jermaine Dye, who, when healthy, is one of the tougher hitters to face in the American League. Dye is a two-time all-star, most recently in 2006. He was a key component in the Chicago's World Series victory in 2005.
5. Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins
With great closers such as Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, and Francisco Rodriguez getting all of the publicity, nobody has really noticed the work that Nathan has done throughout his years as the Twins' closer.
Nathan has made two all-star appearances, and has recorded 165 saves for one of the better bullpens in the league over the past four years.
4. Carlos Guillen, Detroit Tigers
With all of the big names in the Tigers' lineup this year, the converted first baseman does not get much attention from fans around the country.
However, he seems to be the only Tiger to be on his game this year, hitting .359 as of today. And this is after he belted 21 home runs and drove in 102 RBI last season.
He has made a few all-star appearances. But with other shortstops like Michael Young and Derek Jeter getting such attention in the American League, Guillen has remained in their shadows for much of his career.
3. Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox
When you think of that vaunted lineup that they have in Boston, you think of David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and even Mike Lowell (who could have easily made this list).
However, I don't think that the Boston Red Sox would be the same without Youkilis, who has become a fan favorite in Beantown. He has done a great job setting the table for the big boppers, Ortiz and Ramirez.
Youkilis has not made an error at first base since 2006, and has started off hot this year, batting .375 thus far.
2. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins
Honestly, I had never heard of Ramirez until late last season.
When I heard his stats, I was astonished that a kid this good could go unnoticed by any baseball fan.
After winning Rookie of the Year honors in 2006, he avoided the sophomore slump in 2007 by smashing 29 homers and 212 hits. He also hit .332 last season for the lowly Marlins, and has started hot this season, currently batting .396.
1. Carlos Lee, Houston Astros
Every time I turn on Sports Center and watch highlights of Astros' games, it seems like Carlos Lee is hitting a home run or getting a big RBI.
However, when I hear talk about the big power-hitting outfielders, Lee's name rarely comes up.
Last year, Lee was the only bright spot in a dismal Astro lineup. In fact, Lee has been driving in runs for a while. He has had over 100 RBI in four out of the last five seasons, and in that fifth season (2004), he had 99.