MLB: The American League's Silent Assassins

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MLB: The American League's Silent Assassins
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

All teams have those players who, outside the team's fans, people do not seem to recognize as important.  Whether they don't get the press, aren't flashy, or are simply too boring to care about, we owe them our apologies—and more importantly, a thank you.

You will rarely see these players in front of a camera due to the fact they do not say anything stupid.  They do not stand and watch their home runs, scream after striking someone out, or get thrown out of games. 

ESPN will forgo talking about them to push Tim Wakefield to the All-Star game or dissect every inning of a Red Sox or Yankee game.

It is time, however, to give them their due applause.  

 

AL EAST

Baltimore Orioles

Nick Markakis—.308 BA, 15 HR, 85 RBI, 72 R, .360 OBP, 4 SB

Brad Bergesen—7-5, 3.43 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 65 K, 123.1 IP

Markakis started off the season on fire, but cooled off considerably before the All-Star break, hence his name wasn't even whispered for the All-Star game. 

The press for him was only amongst fantasy players and only at the beginning of the season.  Otherwise, there isn't much said about Markakis, although he is fourth amongst all outfielders in RBI. 

Bergesen's numbers are extremely impressive for a 23-year-old rookie.  Unfortunately, he has not pitched in about a month due to injury. 

 

Boston Red Sox

Jacoby Ellsbury—.300 BA, 6 HR, 43 RBI, 66 R, .347 OBP, 54 SB                                   Ramon Ramirez—6-3, 2.21 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 41 K, 53 IP
Hideki Okajima—4-0, 2.77 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 47 K, 52 IP
Takashi Saito—3-3, 2.93 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 38 K, 43 IP

It seems a bit like an oxymoron to talk about any Red Sox players in an article regarding players who deserve more press.  ESPN was apparently too infatuated with the dying career of a steroid user to notice the amazing season Ellsbury is having in just his second full season—apart from throwing him into the top web gems every now and then. 

There are two sides to every story.  Stealing a lot of bases does not necessarily mean productivity, but doing so with a percentage of 87 does.  Ellsbury has only been caught eight times this season. 

Last season he stole 50 while being caught 11 times in 31 more games than where we are.  Be careful, pitchers and catchers, he's learning.  

You could feasibly put the entire Red Sox bullpen in the category of silent assassins except the one who is loud, obnoxious, and thinks he's tough because he pitches one inning every now and then.  Ramirez was a great pick up from the Royals and Saito was a great pick up from the Dodgers.  The Red Sox have a smart GM.

 

New York Yankees

Johnny Damon—.284 BA, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 85 R, .364 OBP, 9 SB                                       Phil Hughes—5-3, 3.39 ERA,  1.20 WHIP, 75 K, 69 IP

With all the massive contracts we've been watching on the Yankees, did anyone realize how well Johnny Damon has been doing?  I had no idea he was second on the Yankees in home runs.

Yes, Hughes has received a lot of press, but that was more when he was trying to be a starting pitcher.  He has been the most solid part of the Yankees bullpen outside of that "Enter Sandman" guy. 

 

Tampa Bay Rays

Jeff Niemann—11-5, 3.71 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 86 K, 133.1 IP

J.P. Howell—6-3, 15 saves, 2.15 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 71 K, 58.2 IP

You have all heard of Ben Zobrist's season, so I did not include him in this. 

Jeff Niemann and J.P. Howell's seasons, however, I'm not sure you've taken note.  These two 26-year-old pitchers have stepped in perfectly for the Rays. 

With only five games under his belt in is career, Niemann stepped in when Andy Sonnastine and Scott Kazmir were not getting things done and hurt.  Howell stepped in as the closer after Troy Percival got hurt and some experimentation with a committee failed.

Sidenote: Carlos Pena is batting .214? Yikes.

 

Toronto Blue Jays

Jason Frasor—6-2, 6 saves, 1.87 ERA, .99 WHIP, 38 K, 43.1 IP

You've heard of Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Marco Scutaro, and rookie Ricky Romero, so I left them out.  Frasor has been the most solid part of the Blue Jays bullpen and has stepped in as the closer after injuries to B.J. Ryan and Scott Downs.

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox

Scott Podsednik—.296 BA, 4 HR, 36 RBI, 55 R, .347 OBP, 18 SB

Matt Thornton—6-2, 2.70 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 63 K, 53.1 IP

You've heard a lot about Mark Buehrle, Jon Danks, and rookie Gordon Beckham.  I'm assuming you know of the season of Jermaine Dye, one of the ultimate underrated players in baseball.  This is why I bring Scott Podsednik and Matt Thornton to you.  

Podsednik was put on this list because he has come completely out of nowhere at the age of 33.  He was literally unemployed before the Sox picked him up a month into the season and during that unemployment, someone taught him to take pitches. 

He has walked the same amount of times in 94 games this season as he did in his previous 155.  His work on the base-paths has been nothing special, however, stealing only at 66 percent. 

He's been good this year because of his hitting surprisingly, but his terrible outfielding and mediocre base-stealing leave his future up in the air.

Thornton is simply one of the best bullpen pitchers in baseball and probably the best left-handed setup man.  He also looks exactly like Woody from Toy Story.

Sidenote: Gavin Floyd is another player to look into.

 

Cleveland Indians

Asdrubal Cabrera—.316 BA, 5 HR, 51 RBI, 64 R, .365 OBP, 15 SB

Shin-Soo Choo—.298 BA, 14 HR, 68 RBI, 69 R, .399 OBP, 17 SB

Two of the greatest names in baseball at this moment.  Asdrubal (ass dribble) Cabrera missed 24 games and has still put up solid numbers.  Look out for him next season.

Shin-Soo Choo (God bless you) is easily the MVP of the Cleveland Indians, which isn't hard, but his numbers are impressive no matter what you look at.  

 

Detroit Tigers

Edwin Jackson—10-5, 2.86 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 128 K, 163.2 IP

Brandon Lyon—6-4, 2.78 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 41 K, 58.1 IP

I know Edwin Jackson was an All-Star, but I felt I had to reiterate how great of a season the 25-year-old is having.  I know he won't win the Cy Young, but shouldn't he be mentioned?

Brandon Lyon has been the perfect setup man for Fernando Rodney and that has been a huge difference between this year and the last couple of years for the normally shaky Tigers bullpen.

 

Kansas City Royals

Billy Butler—.300 BA, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 54 R, .353 OBP

Alberto Callapso—.296 BA, 7 HR, 45 RBI, 58 R, .347 OBP

Solid work from a couple of Royals amongst talent that refuses to pan out. 

Sidenote: 299 strikeouts between Mark Teahen, Mike Jacobs, and Miguel Olivo.

 

Minnesota Twins

Jason Kubel—.306 BA, 20 HR, 68 RBI, 52 R, .376 OBP

Michael Cuddyer—270 BA, 19 HR, 58 RBI, 70 R, .338 OBP, 5 SB

Denard Span—.305 BA, 6 HR, 47 RBI, 70 R, .391 OBP, 19 SB

Matt Gurrier—5-1, 2.28 ERA, .86 WHIP, 40 K, 59.1 IP

Jose Mijares—1-2, 2.14 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 40 K, 46.1 IP

Imagine the offense this team could have had if Delmon Young panned out.  Span's .391 on-base percentage is extremely impressive.  Kubel is showing the player he should have been had it not been for injury and Cuddyer is feasting off batting behind Mauer, Morneau, and Kubel. 

Twins have an incredible bullpen, as always.  They were a starting rotation away from being great.  Unfortunately for them, that's the biggest piece to the World Series puzzle.

AL WEST

Los Angeles Angels

Kendry Morales—.302 BA, 27 HR, 82 RBI, 66 R, .349 OBP

Juan Rivera—.308 BA, 19 HR, 69 RBI, 54 R, .344 OBP

Mike Napoli (in 86 games)—.297 BA, 17 HR, 48 RBI, 51 R, .375 OBP

Bobby Abreu—.310 BA, 11 HR, 81 RBI, 74 R, .403 OBP, 26 SB

I could essentially name the entire Angels lineup, which a couple days ago was the first lineup in baseball history to have every player batting .300 or above.  The offense has saved a team stricken with tragedy and injury in their starting rotation.  

Sidenote: Maicer Izturis is another player worth looking at.  Jered Weaver is another pitcher who gets no recognition, as well.

 

Oakland Athletics

Dallas Braden—8-9, 3.89 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 81 K, 136.2 IP

Michael Wurtz—6-1, 3.05 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 75 K, 59 IP

Brad Ziegler—1-3, 2.59 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 39 K, 55.2 IP

Absolutely no offense to support a good young pitching staff, which unfortunately for the A's, was stricken with injury.  

 

Seattle

Jose Lopez—.274 BA, 17 HR, 75 RBI, 51 R, .301 OBP

Franklin Gutierrez—.290 BA, 14 HR, 52 RBI, 60 R, .348 OBP, 9 SB

David Aardsma—3-5, 28 saves, 2.43 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 65 K, 55.2 IP

I'm assuming you know the year Russell Branyan is having, so I didn't waste your time with him.  With such a terrible offense, Lopez and Gutierrez are part of the reason the Mariners are above .500.  Aardsma stepped in brilliantly when the Mariners were in closer crisis, as well.

Sidenote: Jose Lopez's OBP is awful.   

 

Texas Rangers

Marlon Byrd—.286 BA, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 52 R, .329 OBP, 9 SB

Hank Blalock—.240 BA, 23 HR, 57 RBI, 53 R, .277 OBP

Kevin Milllwood—9-8, 3.48 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 97 K, 155.1 IP

C.J. Wilson—4-5, 14 saves, 2.91 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 61 K, 55.2 IP

Byrd and Blalock have given the Rangers a boost in offensive production with a lineup that is already pretty stacked.  Millwood has been the ace and most consistent starter on that staff and Wilson has stepped in perfectly every time Frank Francisco has gotten hurt. 

Sidenote: Hank Blalock's OBP is much worse. 

The National League silent assassins will be next, so watch out because they are sneaky.

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