Placido Polanco and the Most Underrated MLB Players of the 2000s by Position
Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Chase Utley...
These are the players that come to mind when people are asked the best players by position. However there are others that are overlooked because of the performance by their peers. Some of these players are Hall of Fame worthy, some aren't.
But the one thing these players have in common is that they are all valuable players for their respective ball clubs. Ladies and Gentlemen let the debate begin.
Starting Pitcher: Tim Hudson
Tim Hudson has proven himself to be a reliable pitcher with the Atlanta Braves and the Oakland Athletics. After returning from Tommy John surgery in 2010, Hudson became the ace for the Braves. He has also been very consistent every season.
As of 2011, he has yet to have a losing season. He has been selected to three All-Star Games and was fifth in Cy Young voting last year.
Career Stats: Win/Loss record: 176-94 ERA: 3.41 Strikeouts: 1,647
Catcher: Jason Kendall
Even though he has never won a Silver Slugger or a Gold Glove, Kendall has proven to be a great hitter and an above-average defender. The reason why Kendall has never been given much attention is because he is not a power hitter.
When he suffered a grisly ankle injury in 1999, many people doubted he would be the same player if he returned. In 2000 Kendall hit .320 and caught 136 games, proving he was still a remarkable player. Kendall also has 189 stolen bases, a rare feat for a catcher.
Career Statistics: AVG: .288 Hits: 2,195 Doubles: 394 Home Runs: 75 RBI: 744
First Base: Paul Konerko
In recent years it seems like Konerko is finally getting his due. Konerko is the captain of the White Sox and led them to their first World Series since 1917. Konerko is also coming up on two huge career milestones, as of this writing he is twenty hits away from 2,000 and only nine home runs away from 400. Konerko is a five-time All-Star and was the 2005 ALCS MVP.
Career Statistics: AVG: .282 Hits: 1,980 Home Runs: 391 RBI: 1,235
Second Base: Placido Polanco
Since Polanco has played the majority of his career at second base, I've decided to list him there rather than at third. Polanco is without a doubt the best contact hitter in the game right now. He is closing in on 2,000 hits and is a career .301 hitter.
He has won two Gold Gloves at second base and is a two-time All-Star. He averages only 45 strikeouts a year. He also won a Silver Slugger for his offensive output at the second base position in 2007 in which he hit an astounding .341.
Career Statistics: AVG: .301 Hits: 1,931 Home Runs: 100 RBI: 671
Shortstop: Omar Vizquel
Vizquel is still an excellent fielding shortstop despite being 44 years old. In fact he's the only active player to have played in the eighties. The only other shortstop with more hits than Vizquel is Derek Jeter.
His .985 fielding percentage is the best in MLB history and is the all-time leader in games played at shortstop with 2,697. Vizquel has the most hits out of any player from Venezuela. He has won 11 Gold Gloves, two of which came at the ages of 38 and 39. This makes him the oldest recipient of the Gold Glove award at the shortstop position. He has also been voted to three All-Star games.
Career Statistics: AVG: .272 Hits: 2,835 RBIs: 944 Stolen Bases: 401
Third Base: Scott Rolen
Despite being elected to seven All-Star games and winning eight Gold Gloves, Rolen never seems to be on anyone's best third basemen lists. This is because Rolen has constantly been on the disabled list. He has still managed to put together a great career for himself at the hot corner. Rolen has recently reached several milestones and if he can stay consistent and healthy, he just might make a case for the Hall of Fame. The key words in that sentence though are "just" and "might."
Career Statistics: AVG: .282 Hits: 2,005 Doubles: 500 Home Runs: 308 RBI: 1,248
Outfield: Garret Anderson
Anderson was a fan favorite while with his hometown Angels. He was a three-time All-Star and was the 2003 All-Star Game MVP. He won two Silver Sluggers while playing in left field. In 2002, Anderson drove in a career-high 120 runs to lead the team to a World Series victory.
Career Statistics: AVG: .293 Hits: 2,529 Doubles: 529 Home Runs: 287 RBI: 1,365
Outfield: Johnny Damon
If Damon can reach the 3,000 hit milestone, he'll be guaranteed a place in the Hall of Fame. He's still had an excellent career regardless of this. He and Eric Hinske are the only two living players to have won a World Series with the Red Sox and the Yankees.
Damon was the leadoff hitter for the legendary 2004 Boston Red Sox and drove in 94 runs. Damon is one of only four players to drive in 90 runs or more while batting leadoff. He is also a two-time All-Star.
Career Statistics: AVG: .286 Hits: 2,680 Doubles: 506 Triples: 104 Home Runs: 224 RBI: 1,097
Outfield: Vladimir Guerrero
Guerrero is without a doubt the greatest bad ball hitter ever. He has hit balls that have bounced off the plate into the outfield. He can hit balls with authority that are in the dirt and over his head. He is a nine-time All-Star and an eight-time Silver Slugger for his hitting at the right field position, and won the Edgar Martinez award last year as the Rangers' DH. He is the 2004 American League MVP. He has also hit for the cycle.
Career Statistics: AVG: .318 Hits: 2,528 Home Runs: 445 RBI: 1,469