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MLB Power Rankings: Carlos Ruiz and the 15 Most Underrated Players in History

Mark MillerCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: Carlos Ruiz & The 15 Most Underrated Players in MLB History

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    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Baseball has been around for so many years that players are bound to be forgotten eventually. A new breed of talent always seems to find it's way to the surface and players of yesteryear fall by the wayside.

    It takes a special type of talent to remain in baseball discussions for generation after generation, and an even more special talent to end up in the Hall of Fame.

    Carlos Ruiz has been an important part of the Philadelphia Phillies since joining the team in 2006. Yet his name falls by the wayside playing alongside superstars like Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay.

    Ruiz isn't alone however, as there have been many players throughout the history of this great game that haven't gotten their fair share of credit.

15. Todd Helton

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Todd Helton has put together a very strong career in his 14 major league seasons. A career .324 hitter, he's gone yard 333 times and gotten over 2,200 hits while driving in 1,239 runs.

    A five time All-Star, Helton ranks near the top of the all-time lists for career on-base percentage and OPS.

    Unfortunately for Helton, he spends half the season within the mile-high confines of Coors Field.

    Thin air or not, Helton's name can't be ignored when discussing great ball players.

14. Luis Tiant

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    With Bert Blyleven's recent election to the Hall of Fame, Luis Tiant's name is being thrown around when discussing the best pitchers not in Cooperstown.

    Tiant was one of the best pitchers in the league during his 19-year career.

    He went 229-172 with a 3.30 career ERA and averaged over six strikeouts per nine innings during a 19-year career in which he won 20 games four different seasons.

13. Craig Biggio

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    When it comes to analyzing baseball's best, it can take some time to decide whether or not a player is undervalued for the contributions they made.

    In the case of Craig Biggio, it seems that his consistency hasn't been as appreciated as it could warrant.

    Biggio spent 20 productive seasons with the Houston Astros playing the majority of the time at second base, as well as the outfield.

    Biggio was effective at all positions, fielding above .980 at each position and .985 overall. 

    Add to that his seven All-Star appearances and four Gold Gloves, and you'd have to believe that Biggio will get strong HOF consideration when his time comes.

12. Jeff Reardon

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    With the recent retirement of Trevor Hoffman, conversations regarding the all-time great relief pitchers are more and more frequent.

    In these conversations, former Kansas City Royals closer Dan Quisenberry is thrown around as a great pitcher who has somehow been left out of the Hall of Fame.

    A name you won't hear as frequently is Jeff Reardon, even though he earned over 100 more saves than Quisenberry and managed nearly double the strikeouts.

11. Lee Smith

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    Lee Smith was certainly an intimidating force on the mound during his tenure.

    His sheer size (6'6'' and 250-lbs+) certainly didn't hurt as he stared down the opposition.

    His 478 career saves currently rank third all time. Smith's best season came in 1991 when the hard-throwing right-hander compiled a 6-3 record while earning 47 saves.

    Averaging just under nine strikeouts per nine innings, and compiling 1251 career strikeouts, Smith still finds himself on the outside looking in at Cooperstown.

10. Tris Speaker

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    It's hard to consider Tris Speaker underrated, since he is considered by many to be one of the greatest defensive center fielders ever to play the game.

    What is often overlooked from his time in the Major Leagues is his offensive prowess.

    Speaker finished his career with over 3,500 hits and 1,500 RBI.

    Combine that with his career .345 batting average and you'd have to believe that his name should come up more frequently in discussions of the best players of all time.

9. Omar Vizquel

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    When talking about the best defensive infielders of all time, Omar Vizquel's name has to come up. Vizquel's 2,799 hits and career .273 batting average speak to his well-rounded abilities.

    However, playing in an era with great infielders such as Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken Jr. left many to overlook Vizquel's true talents.

    Vizquel was a key part to six Division Championships for the Cleveland Indians, fielding virtually every ball that came his way without fail.

    Vizquel won nine straight Gold Gloves from '93 to '01, and won two more after leaving Cleveland for the San Fransisco Giants.

8. Alan Trammell

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    Throughout his career, Alan Trammell was the definition of consistency.

    During his 20 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, he was a six time All-Star and very solid defender with a .977 fielding percentage.

    With 2,365 hits and a .285 lifetime batting average, Trammell definitely deserves to be a part of Hall of Fame discussions.

7. Fred McGriff

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    Tom Hauck/Getty Images

    After spending the first seven seasons of his career playing in Toronto and San Diego, Fred McGriff had a big opportunity to make a significant impact in 1993 after being traded to the Atlanta Braves.

    McGriff helped the Braves earn 104 wins that season in outdueling the San Fransisco Giants for a spot in the postseason.

    The Braves would fall short of a championship, however McGriff would win a World Series ring with the Braves in 1995.

    The five time All-Star finished his career just shy of 500 home runs (493), but did hit at least 30 home runs in 10 different seasons.

    He wasn't able to reach the 3,000 hit mark (2,940) but still managed a career average of .284.

6. Stan Musial

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    Stan Musial is certainly a name that most baseball fans know. He was a great player in his time and is considered one of the greatest Cardinals in team history.

    Stan Musial spent 22 seasons in the Major Leagues, compiling a .331 batting average and winning seven batting titles. His 3,630 hits and 1,951 RBIs add to his impressive resume.

    At the time of his retirement in 1963, Musial held 17 major league, 29 National League, and nine All-Star game records. He was an All-Star 20 times and was given MVP honors three times.

    Musial certainly has the numbers of one of the all-time greats, but I have to believe that had Musial played for a team like the Yankees, people would see him as one of the top five players to play the game.

5. Dave Parker

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    Dave Parker is certainly one of the more underrated players of his time. The 1978 NL MVP winner finished his career with 2,712 hits, 339 home runs and a .290 batting average.

    He receives consistent votes from the Hall of Fame committee, but never seems to garner enough support to get him over the hump and will likely need to be inducted by the Veterans Committee if he's ever going to make a home in Cooperstown.

    Off the field issues surrounding Parker likely hindered his standing with the voters, but Cooperstown or not, he's definitely one of the best players not in the Hall of Fame.

4. Eddie Murray

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    During the '80s Eddie Murray was one of the most consistent first baseman around. After winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1977, Murray set himself on the fast track to success.

    Spending 21 seasons in Major League Baseball, Murray found himself with a career .287 average.

    The most impressive attribute that he has on his resume is his place in the 500 home run/3,000 hit club, an exceptionally exclusive club of four (Hank Aaron, Rafael Palmeiro, and Willie Mays as the others).

    His contributions to the game are well-known, but he likely would've received more credit for his achievements had he been a more vocal player on and off the field during his time.

3. Ron Santo

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    The baseball world lost a great player last year with the passing of longtime Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo.

    The nine-time All-Star finished his career with a .277 batting average, .826 OPS and 342 career home runs.

    In over 2,100 games at the hot corner, Santo managed to maintain a very strong .954 fielding percentage.

2. Tim Raines

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    It's unfortunate that Tim Raines spent as many years as he did in Montreal, as it most definitely hurt his chances at getting the visibility that a player of his caliber deserves.

    In many ways, Raines was simply a cocaine-carrying copy of Rickey Henderson that played for a team north of the border.

    Raines garnered a solid .385 on-base percentage, 808 stolen bases, 1,571 runs and an .810 OPS during his time in the Major Leagues (18 of 23 seasons with Montreal and the Chicago White Sox).

    It's still possible that Raines will find his way into the Hall of Fame, but either way he certainly deserves more consideration than he's gotten thus far.

1. Edgar Martinez

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Edgar Martinez likely won't ever get the credit he deserves due to the fact that he wasn't a position player. It's certainly an injustice as his career at the plate more than made up for not putting on a glove.

    Martinez finished his career with a .312 batting average, .515 slugging percentage and a .933 OPS.

    The seven-time All-Star also won two batting titles during his career and garnered 2,247 career hits on his way to driving over 1,200 runs.

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