MLB's 10 Most Underrated Players
10. Jose Lopez (2B, Seattle Mariners)
Most casual fans have never even heard the name of this skillful second baseman buried in the grave that is the Seattle Mariners. The team that he plays on contributes greatly to the lack of recognition for one of the more productive second baseman's in the league.
An all star two years ago, last season was a major disappointment for Lopez due to the death of his brother (.295 hitter before the death, .223 after). This season, he has returned to form, and despite not having tremendous power or walking a whole lot, is hitting nearly .300 with 52 RBIs.
9. Pat Burrell (LF, Philadelphia Phillies)
Generally regarded as a guy who has a little pop but not much else, Burrell has actually been a solid power hitter for several years. Although never eclipsing 37 home runs in a season, which he did back in 2002, he has averaged 28 home runs over his career, along with 92 RBIs.
This season, he is on pace to shatter his averages, and possibly even his career high for home runs, with 25 home runs and 59 RBIs. Along with that, he has carried a .281 batting average and a .996 OPS, one of the best in baseball.
8. Roy Halladay (SP, Toronto Blue Jays)
Yes, I know that Halladay is regarded as one of the better pitchers in baseball and has been selected to five all star games along with winning a Cy Young. Still, it feels that this guy doesn't get anywhere near the credit he deserves.
Pitching on a terrible team for the last several years, with a great number of starts coming against division rivals, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, he has still managed to compile fantastic numbers season after season.
A complete game machine, he has led the majors in that statistic for the past several years. This season, he already has seven complete games. Despite horrible run support on the season, Halladay has a 12-7 record to go along with his 2.82 ERA and his incredible 1.04 WHIP.
7. Justin Duchscherer (SP, Oakland Athletics)
Overshadowed by Rich Harden for the first half of the season, Duchscherer has quietly become one of the top pitchers in baseball. Although his record may not be extremely impressive at 10-6, pretty much every other stat is off the chart.
He leads the American League in ERA (1.87) and has an unreal 0.89 WHIP. It would be extremely difficult for him to keep these numbers going for the rest of the season, but even so, he is one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball who has received almost no publicity.
6. Garrett Atkins (3B/1B, Colorado Rockies)
Flying under the radar, Atkins has been a solid producer for the Rockies the past few seasons. Last year, after a very slow start, he hit .321 with 21 home runs after the all star break.
Although he has not posted the same power numbers so far this season, he has still been effective across the board, carrying a .302 batting average with 14 home runs and 61 RBIs. At only 28 years old, look for many more great seasons out of this kid.
5. James Shields (SP, Tampa Bay Rays)
He is receiving slightly more notice this season because of a drastically improved team, but a solid 2007 season was basically ignored by the sports world due to the irrelevance of the Rays. His winning percentage was not great due to his team's lack of run support, but he did possess a 3.85 ERA and struck out 184 batters.
This season, Shields is performing even better, with the ERA down to 3.66 with 111 strikeouts and only 24 walks, one of the better ratios in the majors. Like Atkins, Shields is very young (26 years old) and has his best baseball ahead of him.
4. Nick Markakis (RF, Baltimore Orioles)
Like Shields, team irrelevance is a huge factor on why nobody has noticed the super talented 24 year old's career taking off to a fast start. After a decent rookie campaign in 2006, he hit .300 with 23 home runs, 112 RBIs, and an impressive 43 doubles.
This season, he looks to better some of those stats, as he has hit 15 home runs with an OPS near .900. A five-tool player, Markakis is solid in the field as well, and steals (on pace for 16 this season) are not something you expect out of a power hitter.
Markakis is the total package, and at 24 years old, it is a name you will be hearing for a long time.
3. Michael Young (SS, Texas Rangers)
Many other bats in the explosive Texas offense, such as Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler, have been receiving enormous recognition this season. But do not let Young, arguably the most consistent player over the past five seasons, pass you by.
In his entire career, he has never hit under .300 or had less than 10 home runs, and has topped 20 home runs twice. This season has actually been below average for Young, who has hit .294 with 8 home runs and 54 RBIs.
Out of a shortstop, though, these numbers are something nearly every team in baseball would die for (aside from the Mets, Phillies and Marlins). Expect the batting average to improve over the second half of this season from one of the most solid hitters in baseball.
2. Robinson Cano (2B, New York Yankees)
I know, this season has not been as good as expected for Cano, but due to his recent hot streak, his season is not lost. Buried in a lineup with multi-million dollar players such as Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi, Cano has arguably been one of the most productive members the past two seasons.
As a 23- and 24-year-old, Cano has batted well over .300 in both seasons, and is an absolute machine after the all star break. There has been some power showing through last season and this season, and over the next few years, expect to see an increase in home runs and RBIs.
1. Jermaine Dye (RF, Chicago White Sox)
Dye's career has been a mixed bag of disappointments and successes. For several years in Oakland, he was never able to play a full season due to injuries, and earned a reputation of being a very brittle player.
Since being acquired by Chicago, though, Dye has been fantastic, and really looks to be putting all of his tools together. The 2006 season was an absolutely historic one, batting .315 with 44 home runs and 120 RBIs.
The next year was not quite as dominant, but after the all star break, Dye hit 16 home runs in just 67 games, and appeared to be swinging the bat well.
This season, Dye is looking to repeat his 2006, and has done a very good job of it so far, batting .314 with 21 home runs and 60 RBIs. A guy who has never been considered one of the top players in the game, Dye will continue to solidify himself with an excellent 2008 season and beyond.
Let me know if you think I missed anybody or if you think some of the players aren't in the right spots. I look forward to seeing everyone's opinions. My next article will look into 10 of the most overrated players in baseball.
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