Under the Radar: A Grab Bag of Overlooked MLB Stars in 2010
A fistful of names in baseball this year are steadily producing, but not necessarily gaining the recognition that they deserve. Many of these performances that are flying under the radar are overshadowed by those of early Cy Young and MVP candidates.
By now, Ubaldo Jimenez, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and others are household names this year. But who else will stand tall with these names as the season rolls on, and who will be surprising contributors in baseball?
Here is a handful of players in Major League Baseball who seem to be getting lost in translation behind the league leaders and flashiest of names.
Rajai Davis, OF, Oakland Athletics
He definitely doesn't belong with any elite names in baseball, but one aspect of Davis' game sure is impressive.
Rajai Davis won't be powering his way into the hearts of Major League Baseball fans anytime soon, but he is on the verge of becoming very well-known for his speed.
Learning from the best, Ricky Henderson, out in Oakland, Davis' baserunning has flourished. Davis has swiped 26 bases, just one behind league leader Juan Pierre. This puts Davis ahead of much bigger names like Carl Crawford and Ichiro.
Rajai Davis isn't necessarily the model Major League hitter, but he certainly makes for a formidable lead-off hitter with his impressive speed. He's also reliable in the outfield.
With more notorious names out there, and being on a relatively weak Oakland team, Davis is getting little to no recognition. But his speed, should at least be acknowledged.
David DeJesus, CF, Kansas City Royals
Again, here is a player who doesn't belong with the best names in baseball, but hasn't failed to impress in 2010.
He doesn't really put up the flashy numbers on offense, but that isn't why David DeJesus deserves recognition. He is standing out with ease in a Kansas City lineup he has cemented his name into.
A career .289 hitter, David DeJesus' name isn't often associated with top-notch hitting in baseball. However, in 2010, he's reached a new level of consistency. Through 69 games, he's batting .323, tenth in the American League. His .395 OBP is also thirteenth in the Majors.
His plate discipline is definitely worth noting, especially his ability to force long at bats and his 37 strikeouts to 28 walks.
DeJesus gets credit for his consistency, something that many ballplayers simply don't possess.
Josh Johnson, RHP, Florida Marlins
Probably the biggest name on the list, Josh Johnson is probably closest in numbers to winning any kind of award. He's an early Cy Young threat to Ubaldo Jimenez in the NL.
This season is big for Johnson. He pitched through a spring training in which all the talk was about Ricky Nolasco. Johnson, however, is the one who has turned his experience into big time success.
He simply doesn't get recognition because he pitches in the same league has Ubaldo Jimenez and Jaime Garcia, and in the same division as names like Roy Halladay and Johan Santana.
Johnson is third in the NL with a 1.80 ERA through 15 starts. His record 8-2 and he has struck out 98 through 100 innings of work. His WHIP is also a dominant 0.98.
His performance merits plenty of praise, and if he continues on this streak, the National League will be talking about him on a more permanent basis.
Alex Rios, CF, Chicago White Sox
Here is a name that faded out amongst baseball fans a few years ago. Rios' production dropped off with the Blue Jays and he moved on to the White Sox.
Rios seems revitalized this year, as expectations of him had been lowered. Rios is back with 30-30 potential.
At the moment, he's clocked 13 home runs and stolen 20 bases, all while posting a .317 batting average. These numbers will likely be good enough for him to win an All-Star appearance.
Rios' name is buried behind that of Paul Konerko on the ChiSox, who is out-slugging him. But Rios' unexpected turnaround should gradually begin to receive more praise.
Scott Rolen, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
Speaking of revitalized careers, Scott Rolen has spent plenty of his career battling injury, and has provided the Reds with a healthy third baseman who can anchor the team's offense. Rolen is batting .301, alongside a slew of under-appreciated Major Leaguers who are also hitting well.
His 14 home runs lead the Reds and have him tied for 15th in the league.
Between 1997 and 2004, Scott Rolen hit at least 20 home runs during each year of that stretch. Rolen seems to be back for the Reds who have been one of the biggest surprise teams in baseball.
Again, a lot can be said for his plate discipline, and his patience as a veteran hitter. For all intensive purposes, despite being behind Mark Reynolds in home runs, Rolen is putting up the best all-around offensive numbers at third base in the NL.
Jonathan Sanchez, LHP, San Francisco Giants
The lack of run support that Sanchez receives really knocks down his record and reputation a few pegs.
He's started 14 games and has a 5-5 record to his name. His ERA is a solid 2.90. Opposing batters are hitting .205 against him and he has struck out 82 in 83.2 innings.
Sanchez can be murder on left-handed batters, and tends to give up less hits than the next pitcher. He won't appear at the top of leaderboards because of the pitchers he shares a division with. However, the former no-hit pitcher is turning in a solid season and with more run support, will have a couple more wins attributed to his record.
Rafael Soriano, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Soriano may not be regarded as an elite closer in baseball, but his numbers in 2010 certainly speak otherwise. He might not be leading baseball in saves, but he has only blown one opportunity in 17 tries.
Through 25.2 innings, Soriano has only surrendered 15 hits and four earned runs. His 1.40 ERA doesn't really do his power pitching and pinpoint control any justice.
He's walked only five and struck out 24 this season. His WHIP stands out as a most impressive 0.78, third best amongst closers next to Mariano Rivera and Jose Valverde.
To not recognize Soriano as an elite closer in baseball is to do him a great disservice.
Jered Weaver, RHP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
What are the odds of any given baseball fan correctly answering: Who is leading the Majors in strikeouts at the moment. Jered Weaver is that guy, and he's on pace to shatter any of his strikeout numbers in previous years.
Through 15 starts, and with a 3.04 ERA and 7-3 record, Weaver has struck out 107 in 94.2 innings. His previous career high in strikeouts in a season was 174 last year.
Weaver's stellar strikeouts numbers are above perennial k-king's like Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo, and Dan Haren.
His strikeouts don't even take his command fully into account. He's walked just 23 this season, dropping his WHIP to 1.11, a very good looking number to his name.
With all the talk of the best pitcher in the American League in 2010 being a complete jumble, more of the same power pitching will help Weaver become the talk of the town.