Underrated Players Of the Decade: Two Months Too Early

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Underrated Players Of the Decade: Two Months Too Early
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

With the 2009 Major League Baseball season ending shortly it is time to examine the underrated players of the decade. One of the most important features of this article is the amount of time played so not only a couple of years, but I will also take a look at the stats put up at their primary position.

If a player started out as an infielder and was moved to the outfield then the stats the player produced as the outfielder will be shown.

Catcher:

Ramon Hernandez: He has bounced around the league playing for four teams in the decade but he's always been a solid backstop. Especially when he came up with Oakland's big three of Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, and Barry Zito.

Offensively he's got the ability to hit 15-20 homers a year and drive in 60 plus rbis, he's not going to hit for a high average he'll be around .270, he doesn't strikeout that much he puts the ball in play, and defensively he's not going to blow you away since he's up there in age and actually has played a little first base now.

For his career so far as a catcher he's hit for an average of .264 with 128 homers and 590 rbis. Hernadnez did make the all-star game in 2003 and he may be most known for his bunt in the 2003 playoffs against the Boston Red Sox in the bottom of the 12th inning that won game one for the Oakland A's.

Honorable mention:

Jason Kendall

Bengie Molina

First Base:

Todd Helton gets the call at first base. He's been overshadowed by big names throughout the decade. From the beginning of the decade it was Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and now it's Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, and Albert Pujols.

Yet, Helton has put up the biggest numbers of any first basemen of the decade. One of the reasons is that he's played in every year of the decade, although he did miss a lot of games in 2008.

Helton so far for the decade has numbers that look like this, 256 homeruns, 955 rbis, 1693 hits, 423 doubles, and a .331 batting average. On top of that Helton has three gold gloves and has been selected to five all-star games.

Honorable Mention:

Paul Konerko

Derrek Lee

Second Base:

Ray Durham

Durham constantly gets overlooked, but he was a good defender at the position and he had some pop, he could find the gaps, he could drive in runs, and if needed to he could steal a base.

For the decade he hit 123 homeruns, drove in 537 runs, batted .278, 263 doubles, 40 triples, and 111 stolen bases.

He made one all-star team, three times in the decade was in the top 10 in runs scored, had one year where he was in the top 10 in doubles, four times top 10 in triples, and once was in the top 10 in sacrifice hits.

Honorable Mention:

Craig Biggio

Mark Grudzielanek

Short Stop:

Omar Vizquel he constantly gets overlooked he wasn't known for carrying a big bat, but he was a slap hitter and he could get on base. He was the best defensive short stop in this decade.

Names that you will hear over Vizquel include Derek Jeter, Miguel Tejada, and even Alex Rodriguez who spent the first part of the decade at short.

Vizquel is now primarily a backup for the Texas Rangers but he has helped the mentoring process of young rookie short stop Elvis Andrus.

For the decade Vizquel's numbers look like this .274 batting average, 39 homeruns, 396 rbis, 186 doubles, 47 triples, and 126 stolen bases.

He made an all-star game apperance in 2002 and has four gold gloves in the decade.

Honorable Mentions:

Michael Young

David Eckstein

Third Base:

Eric Chavez has been totally underrated throughout his career. He's put up some good power numbers in the middle of the Oakland A's lineup. This was the toughest competition between Chavez and Scott Rolen.

Both have lead injury plagued careers but have played outstanding defense throughout their careers. Both have won six consecutive gold gloves. What puts Chavez over the top though is that he's just a little bit better defender. Again a very tough decision to make.

For his career at third base Chavez has put up a .268 batting average, 210 homeruns, 703 rbis, 249 doubles, again the six gold gloves, a silver slugger in 2002, three times in the top 10 with doubles, lead the league once in walks, twice in the top 10 in rbis, and three times in the top 10 in intenional walks.

Honorable Mentions:

Scott Rolen

Adrian Beltre

Left Field:

Carl Crawford is underrated due to the fact a majority of his time in the league was playing for some horrible teams in Tampa Bay. Crawford has the mixture that any team in the leauge craves.

He can hit for power, he can hit the gaps, he can steal bases, and he plays excellent defense in left.

Since arriving in Tampa Bay his numbers so far have looked like this a .300 batting average, 76 homeruns, 456 rbis, 164 doubles, 87 triples, and 324 stolen bases.

He has been to three all-star games, he's lead the american league in stolen bases five times, has lead the league in triples three times, and four times in the top 10 in hits.

Honorable Mentions:

Carlos Lee

Jason Bay

Raul Ibanez

Center Field:

Mike Cameron is arguably one of the better defensive centerfielders this past decade. A lot of talk is about how good a defender Torii Hunter, Jim Edmonds, and with the new young studs of Curtis Granderson who I believe is a little underated as well, Andruw Jones, and Grady Sizemore, but Cameron has been around the entire decade and keeps making sparking defensive plays.

He was also involved in one of the more scarier incidences in San Diego when he was running after a short popup and ran into his own teammate.

Cameron can hit for power and can drive in some runs. He is not going to hit for a high average though and he tends to strikeout a lot, but you will take it due to this defensive abilities in center and he hasn't shown signs of slowing down.

For the decade he's hit .253, 212 homeruns, 735 rbis, 281 doubles, and 41 triples. He has three gold gloves, one all-star game appearance, and twice in the top 10 in stolen bases.

Honorable Mentions:

Mark Kotsay

Juan Pierre

Right Field:

Bobby Abreu is underrated as a right fielder considering the competition he has out there, but he is a consistent producer and has six straight years and is on pace for his seventh straight 100 rbi season.

He used to be able to hit 30 homeruns in a season, but since he particpated in the homerun derby he hasn't gotten close to that mark. He can hit 15-20 homeruns a season though and he doesn't need the homerun for him to be productive.

He also plays solid defense in right and has a decent arm in the outfield as well.

For the decade so far his stats look like this he has hit .295, 204 homers, 934 rbis, 383 doubles, 36 triples, and 275 stolen bases.

Abreu has made two all-star games, once has been in the top 10 in batting average, six times in the top 10 for on-base percentage, fives times been in the top 10 in games played, five times in the top 10 in runs scored, four times in the top 10 in doubles, eight times in the top 10 in walks, twice in the top 10 in rbis, three times in the top 10 in intentional walks, and six times in the top 10 in stolen bases.

Honorable Mentions:

Jermaine Dye

Brian Giles

Designated Hitter:

Garret Anderson played mostly in the outfield, but since I already have the outfield set he gets to be here. When you think of run producers in the decade his name does not come to mind, but he has a pretty swing and he can drive in runs.

He's not going to hit too many homeruns, but he can drive the ball into the gap. In the decade Anderson has hit 209 homeruns, driven in 1039 runs, 343 doubles, and he will hit for a .300 average as well.

He has made three all-star games, two time silver slugger, three times in the top 10 in doubles, three times in the top 10 in rbis, and three times in the top 10 for intentional walks.

Honorable Mentions:

Moises Alou

Luis Gonzalez

Steve Finley

Starting Pitchers:

Mark Buehrle was a rookie at the start of the decade and he consistently gets overlooked. He has thrown a perfrect game for the Chicago Whitesox which happened this year against the Tampa Bay Rays.

For the decade he has a record of 133-92 with a 3.80 ERA, he has 24 complete games, eight shutouts, has struck out 1162 while walking 453, and a whip of 1.26.

He's been to four all-star games, four times in the top 10 in ERA, fives times in the top 10 in wins, and has been among the top 10 in innings pitched eight times.

Dan Haren I believe is underrated even though he's been a starter in the all-star game as well as being one of the most dominating pitchers in the National League. He first came into the league in 2003 with the St. Louis Cardinals he started in the rotation but was moved to the bullpen until he was traded to the Oakland A's.

That's when Haren began to take off. His split is quite possibly the best in baseball it is down right nasty and what makes Haren even more nasty is that he does not walk very many hitters.

In seven seasons in the big leagues he has a record of 76-58, with a 3.54 ERA, has nine complete games, two shutouts, has struck out 961 batters while walking 255, and a whip of 1.17.

He's made three all-star games, has twice come in the top 10 in ERA, twice in the top 10 in wins, four times in the top 10 for whip, five times in the top 10 for innings pitched, five times for being in the top 10 in strikeouts, fives times in the top 10 for games started, and three times in the top 10 for complete games.

Honorable Mention:

Tim Hudson

Ted Lilly

Closer:

Troy Percival for some reason Percival seems to get overlooked when going over closers. He had a nasty fastball he struck out a lot of batters over his time. Sure, injuries have slowed him down recently, but he was one of the better closers of the decade.

For the decade he recorded 219 saves and he struck out 370 batters while walking 168 batters.

Honorable Mentions:

Danny Graves

Jose Valverde

 

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