I know Lance Berkman is having a career year. I am aware that K-Rod is on pace to break the single season saves record. I have heard endless stories about Josh Hamilton and the breakthrough season he is having. But what about the players that no one is talking about?
The people contributing under the radar to their team's (or in some cases, simply their own) success? Below are my top five players who are not getting the love from the media that they deserve.
1. Grady Sizemore—I know, I know, he was chosen to play in the All-Star game and he participated in the HR Derby, but Sizemore is not getting the type of attention he deserves.
All he has done since he started playing full time in 2005 is average 20+ HR and SB's, 80 RBI's and 110 runs scored, and this year he looks to make the leap to the 30-30 club. Also on pace to set a career high in SLG percentage, Sizemore is one of the most gifted athletes in the game yet he gets overlooked on a daily basis.
2. Joakim Soria—An all-star as well, but Soria's numbers have been overlooked this year due to Rivera's career year and K-Rod chasing the saves record. George Sherrill of Baltimore has been receiving a large amount of media attention and praise this year because of his extraordinary season, yet his numbers are dwarfed by Soria's.
Soria's ERA is nearly three points lower than Sherrill's and he has converted 30 of 32 save opportunities, while Sherrill is slightly less effective, going 30-36. Soria also boasts a 5:1 K/BB ratio and has given up only 25 hits in 49 innings. While he may not break any records this year, Soria deserves more credit than he is getting, as he is one of the few bright spots on the Kansas City Royals.
3. Carlos Lee—Overlooked on his on team due to Lance Berkman's monster year, Carlos Lee is quietly putting together a tremendous year. On pace to set a career high in RBI's, Lee is third in the majors behind only Hamilton and Ryan Howard.
While he might not surpass his current best 37 HR mark, Lee will no doubt finish with 30+. I respect what Corey Hart and David Wright are doing this year, but for Lee not to receive one of the last two spots for the All-Star game is a travesty.
4. Chad Billingsley—Who? That was my first thought after I saw his name fourth in the league in K's, but after doing some research and watching some of his recent highlights I am convinced this guy has the tools to be a dominant pitcher in the years to come. With a 3:1 K/BB ration and a 3.05 ER, Billingsley is a legitimate pitching presence and will no doubt pass his previous career high in wins (12) within the next month.
5. Mark DeRosa—I'm not 100 percent on this, but I think DeRosa has played every fielding position, racked up two wins, notched a save, and managed a game or two so that Pinella can hit up a pub. It seems DeRosa is everywhere for the Cubs this year and he is an integral part of their success.
He is on pace to set a career high in both RBI's and HR's, as well as make a run at setting a new career high in hits. Easily overlooked on a team that has Soriano, D-Lee, and Big Z, DeRosa is quietly putting together a career year and giving the Cubs the extra bump they need.