It's time to get the "other" guys some recognition. Sure, America loves Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, and Dustin Pedroia, but too many players this year are flying under the radar.
Chances are, if you follow any of these players on a regular basis, you'll likely feel like me—they deserve to be in the spotlight.
The following players on my All-Underrated Team are a diverse bunch, but they all have one thing in common: they are having fantastic seasons despite not getting the media attention of others.
Mike Napoli, Angels
Napoli, 27, is second among catchers in home runs with 16—he trails Joe Mauer, who you may have heard of. Napoli plays in Los Angeles on a division-leader, but doesn't get the attention of guys like Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek. His .527 slugging percentage is good enough for me, though, and he makes my team.
Kendry Morales, Angels
Another Angel, another star flying under the radar. Morales has a better batting average (.291) than Mark Teixeira, more RBI (71) than Adrian Gonzalez, a better on-base percentage (.341) than Ryan Howard, and more home runs (23) than Miguel Cabrera. Why haven't we been talking about this 26-year-old superstar in the making?
Ben Zobrist, Rays
Zobrist leads all second basemen in OPS, enough said. He also has 13 stolen bases and a .290 batting average, just for good measure. Though he did not originally start for the Rays, he has made the most of his opportunities in an injury-plagued Rays infield.
Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks
What has gotten into this guy? The 25-year-old leads all third basemen in home runs—by 10. He is also third in stolen bases with 20. His power and speed numbers are off the charts, and the fact that he plays third—a position usually reserved for the not-so-fleet-of-foot—only enhances his value.
Look away from the 150 strikeouts (I know, it's an eye-sore) to find an on-base percentage of .372—well above average.
Jason Bartlett, Rays
The other All-Star member of the Rays' middle infield, Bartlett, 29, is having a terrific season. His .334 batting average leads American League shortstops, and his 21 steals are good for second in baseball among shortstops. His .530 slugging percentage is behind only Hanley Ramirez. Pretty good by my account.
Shane Victorino, Phillies
Poor Shane. On a team with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, and even Jayson Werth, there's not enough love to go around. But the Flyin' Hawaiian is third among outfielders in baseball with 74 runs scored. A .377 on-base percentage, .313 batting average, and 17 steals make him a worthy addition to the All-Underrated team for 2009.
Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Tied for fifth among all outfielders in home runs with 23, Ethier too often takes a back seat to other members of the Dodger outfield—most notably Manny Ramirez. Ethier's batting average (.273) and stolen bases (5) may not look too glamorous, but his numbers overall put him in the top-tier for an otherwise down year of outfielders.
Shin-Soo Choo, Indians
Choo's .402 on-base percentage puts him third among all outfielders in baseball, but he is stuck on the Indians, which really hurts his popularity. Choo is a guy who offers a little bit of everything. Good power (13 HR, 61 RBI), good speed (15 steals), and a good bat (.295 batting average) make for a good addition to the All-Underrated team.
Of course, I'm open to debate the members of this team and some of the notable absentees. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts on who should be in or out. Pitchers have been excluded from this team—for now—but will be added at a later date.