Here's a list of players by position that I think have been overlooked by the majority of baseball fans so far this season. Whether they play on the west coast, have been overshadowed by superstar teammates, or are on a bad team that doesn't get attention, for whatever reason these guys haven't been getting the recognition they deserve.
Some of the players haven't been starting the entire year and have just recently started putting up good numbers, but I am still giving them recognition. So here it is, Patrick Murray's All-Overlooked Team:
*Stats as of Saturday, August 9.
C Ryan Doumit, Pittsburgh Pirates: .331, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 53 R, .913 OPS. Doumit has finally wrestled the starting catcher job from Ronny Paulino and has done nothing but hit since. Doumit is nestled in the cleanup spot in the revamped Pirates offense that includes Nate McClouth and the LaRoche brothers.
1B Aubrey Huff, Baltimore Orioles: .304, 22 HR, 73 RBI, 71 R, .907 OPS. The former Tampa Bay Devil Ray leads the last place O's in home runs and batting average. Huff had a great July, hitting .386 with eight homers and 26 RBI.
Honorable Mention: Mike Jacobs, FLA: .249, 24 HR, 66 RBI, 48 R
2B Jose Lopez, Seattle Mariners: .309, 9 HR, 63 RBI, 58 R. Lopez has been a bright spot in a Mariners offense that has struggled terribly. At 24 years old, he looks to be an important part of Seattle's future, and he made the All-Star team in 2006.
Honorable Mention: Mark DeRosa, CHC: .276, 13 HR, 64 RBI, 70 R.
SS Mike Aviles, Kansas City Royals: .343, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 37 R, .904 OPS. Aviles has played in just 57 games this year, but has been a great table setter for the Royals since he began playing in June. Manager Trey Hillman has been using Aviles as his leadoff hitter for the past seven games due to his .398 average since the All-Star break.
Honorable Mention: Jhonny Peralta: .277, 19 HR, 64 RBI, 73 R.
3B Jorge Cantu, Florida Marlins: .284, 20 HR, 64 RBI, 68 R, .807 OPS. Cantu had a great year as a second baseman for Tampa Bayin 2005 when he smacked 28 homers and drove in 117 runs. After struggling the next year, he was sent to the minors. Angered by this he asked to be traded and was sent to Cincinatti where he didn't get much playing time either. The Marlins signed him in the offseason and he beat out Jose Castillo and former Angels prospect Dallas McPherson to earn the starting third base job and he has been an excellent contributor for the Fish ever since. Hitting mostly in the third spot in the lineup, Cantu is a part of the first NL infield to have all its members hit 20 home runs in a season.
Honorable Mention: Casey Blake, LAD: .292, 13 HR, 63 RBI, 52 R, .838 OPS.
OF David Murphy, Texas Rangers: .275, 15 HR, 74 RBI, 64 R. Murphy is an AL Rookie of the Year candidate and the Rangers' top ranked offense has struggled since he recently went to the DL with a strained knee. Texas acquired him from Boston in the Eric Gagne deal at last year's trade deadline and he showed promise immediately, hitting .340 in 103 major league at bats at the end of the season. He looks to be a big part of this high powered offense in the future.
OF Brad Hawpe, Colorado Rockies: .284, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 47 R. Hawpe quietly had a great year last year for the National League Champs, driving in 116 runs and hitting 29 bombs. Hawpe struggled mightily at the beginning of this year and went on the disabled list with a leg injury in late May. After returning from a rehab assignment in Triple-A, Hawpe has raked. He's hitting .385 with four homers and 21 RBI since the All-Star break.
OF Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies: .289, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 75 R, 27 SB. Victorino has been integral to the Phillies offensive succcess this year. With Jimmy Rollins struggling, Victorino has done an excellent job setting the table for the big boppers Howard and Burrell. He also plays great defense in center field and has an excellent arm. Thanks to Victorino the Phillies haven't missed Aaron Rowand one bit.
Honorable Mention: Skip Schumaker, STL: .302, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 67 R
SP Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers: 11-9, 3.01 ERA, 151 K's, 1.25 WHIP, 1 SO. Billingsley has quietly emerged as the ace of the Dodgers staff. Billingsley was once a highly touted prospect and after using him in relief for portions of last season and the beginning of this year, the Dodgers have finally committed to him as a starter. It has paid off. Billingsley had a great July, going 4-2 with a 2.32 ERA and 43 strikeouts.
Honorable Mention: Ervin Santana, LAA: 13-5, 3.45 ERA, 150 K's, 1.13 WHIP
SP Jorge Campillo, Atlanta Braves: 7-4, 2.83 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 81 K's, 114.1 IP. After starting the year in the bullpen Campillo has emerged as a possible NL Rookie of the Year candidate since becoming a starter. He has had five excellent starts since the All-Star break, going 3-0 with a 2.17 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Combine him with Jair Jurrjens and the Braves look to be putting together another excellent group of young starters for the future.
RP Grant Balfour,Tampa Bay Rays: 3-1, 1.30 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 12.98 K/9. Balfour has been excellent for Tampa Bay since being called up on May 31. He is second in the majors in strikeouts per nine innings and has allowed just two hits and one run in 12.2 innings since the All-Star break. He dominated International League hitters in April and May as closer of the Durham Bulls. Balfour converted eight save chances while allowing just one run and striking out 39 batters in 23.2 IP with Triple-A Durham and has continued his dominance in the major leagues.
Honorable Mention: Hong Chih Kuo, LAD: 3-1, 1.79 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 5.13 K/BB
RP Joe Nelson, Florida Marlins: 2-1, 1.64 ERA, 1.18 WHIP. The 33-year-old Nelson has spent much of his career in the minors. He had very brief stints with the Braves and Red Sox, but didn't get a real chance until 2006 with Kansas City. He has been stellar for the Marlins this year since being called up in May. Right handed batters are hitting just .176 against Nelson this year.
Honorable Mention: Taylor Buchholz, COL: 1.72 ERA, 0.90 WHIP
CP Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals: 1-2, 1.57 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 32 SV. Since locking down the closer's role in Kansas City in his rookie season last year, Soria has been incredible. His nasty curveball has been locking up hitters and Soria made the All-Star team after not allowing a single run in April. I still think Soria doesn't get much recognition, mostly because he plays in Kansas City. Soria has blown only two saves in 34 chances.
There you have it, my all-overlooked team. Feel free to let me know if you think I've left anyone out.
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