MLB Under the Radar: Matt Joyce & 5 Hot Starts That Are Going Largely Unnoticed

Christopher CzarContributor IMay 20, 2011

MLB Under the Radar: Matt Joyce & 5 Hot Starts That Are Going Largely Unnoticed

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 09:  Right fielder Matt Joyce #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays runs for a play against the Texas Rangers during game 3 of the ALDS at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty I
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Jose Bautista is continuing his surprising career turnaround.  Adrian Gonzalez is fitting in just fine in Boston.  Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman have ignited the Cardinals offense.

    MLB Network, ESPN, any sports website...they'll all let you know in no uncertain terms that these guys are off to a hot start.

    As with every year, there are players having career years who are being completely ignored.

    They're guys that you never heard of, were left for dead or have had mediocre-at-best careers.  Now they're playing out of their minds, and you still don't notice them.

Matt Joyce

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 30:  Outfielder Matt Joyce #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays scores the game winning run in the tenth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Tropicana Field on April 30, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Matt Joyce is batting .354 good for second in the AL.  He's also 10th in runs and second in OPS and is batting between Evan Longoria and BJ Upton in the surprising Tampa Bay lineup.

    If you're not a Rays fan, Tigers fan (who he was drafted by) or playing fantasy baseball in a 20-team league, I would call you a Jim Tressel if you said you knew who he was before this season.

    Joyce's season is even more amazing when you consider he went 1-for-20 to start the season.

    Since then, he's batting .409.

    You know most of the rest of the Rays lineup; pretty soon you'll know Matt Joyce too.

Kyle Farnsworth

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    TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 18: Kyle Farnsworth #43 and John Jaso #28 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate win against the Toronto Blue Jays during MLB action at the Rogers Centre May 18, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
    Abelimages/Getty Images

    Yup, another Ray.  This is the last one.  I promise.

    You probably laughed when you saw the name.  Yes, that Kyle Farnsworth is now closing for the first place team in the AL East.

    Farnsworth is 2-0 and has converted nine of 10 save opportunities.  His start to the season is all the more impressive when you consider he has more blown saves than saves in his career (37-36) and he's played for seven(!) teams in his 13-year career.

    Most impressive is that his walks are way down this year, and he's not relying on strikeouts as much.

    It's still too early to get too excited about Farnsworth—he's shown plenty of flashes in his career—but he's off to a tremendous start to this season and is pitching the best he ever has.

Adrian Beltre

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    SEATTLE - MAY 04:  Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers bats against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on May 4, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    A lot was made of Adrian Beltre's search for a new home after the Red Sox made a huge splash in the free-agent market indirectly parting ways with the third baseman.

    After taking his time in free agency, Beltre signed somewhat quietly with the Texas Rangers in January.

    Despite a modest .255 average, Beltre has had excellent power numbers.  He currently leads the AL in RBIs with 37 and has 10 home runs.

    He's been especially vital to the Rangers offense with Josh Hamilton on the mend.

    Beltre is a big name that you might have forgot about, but he's playing better than ever out of the limelight of Beantown.

Brandon Phillips

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    CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 14: Brandon Phillips #4 of the Cincinnati Reds turns a double play over Tyler Greene #27 of the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on May 14, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds defeated the Cardinals 7-3. (Photo by Joe Ro
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Brandon Phillips is off to a tremendous start with the Reds.

    Phillips has already had a great career, but he's on a pace to break his career-best batting average and RBIs.

    Normally when you hear about NL second basemen it's Chase Utley, Dan Uggla and then maybe a footnote about Brandon Phillips.

    That won't be the case if Phillips keeps up his production.

    Phillips has been incredibly consistent this season and has drastically out-produced the injured Utley and struggling Uggla—say that 10 times!

Sergio Santos

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 17: Sergio Santos #46 of the Chicago White Sox pitches for a save in the 9th inning against the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field on May 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Rangers 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The forgotten man in the White Sox bullpen heading into the season has been their savior.

    With the heralded Matt Thornton and rookie-phenom Chris Sale expected to battle for the closer spot in the White Sox pen, it's been Sergio Santos that has quickly grabbed the closer role.

    While Thornton, Sale and most of the rest of the Sox bullpen has struggled, Santos has pitched twenty innings without allowing a run.

    He's averaged more than a K per inning and holds opponents to a ridiculous .125 batting average.

    As the White Sox begin to heat up, it's clear that Santos will be a key part of their team.