The Most Underrated Athletes in Philadelphia Sports
I've written about Brad Lidge being the best closer in baseball. I've written about Trent Cole being the most underrated defensive end in football. Oh, and I've also written about Charlie Manuel being the most underrated manager in baseball.
Now I'm back to drink some more of the kool-aid that is underrated players. This time, I'm including the entire city of Philadelphia. Just note that I will not be counting the 76ers. I know squat about that "junior" team, and personally don't think there's anyone too underrated there.
The order goes from least underrated to most underrated. Here it goes!
(Oh and ignore the Utley/Howard photo...did not want to give away any of the selections)
No. 10: Quintin Demps
Other than his return for a touchdown against the Ravens, there isn't a lot of talk about Quintin Demps. Nor are there stats for me to back this up with. But with my memory, I can honestly say I have not seen a better Eagles punt coverage man than Demps in a long time.
He's always down there to make crucial tackles, and has made amazing plays to pin teams down inside the five. I can remember at least four times this season in which I've seen the man stop the ball inside the five. The man is a special teams machine.
No. 9: Shane Victorino
Yes, Shane Victorino may not be as underrated as he used to be, but that's why he is only number ten. He was given a Gold Glove, so I had to reduce his spot a big.
Even before the 2008 playoffs, I loved the little man, and I obviously still do. His speed and explosiveness drives the Phillies to success, and his offensive skill makes him that much better. Plus, he led the Phillies in average this season with a .293 average, clearly showing off his potential. The youngster should only improve next season, so watch out.
No. 8: Stewart Bradley
This pick may be a surprise to you, but that's why he is underrated.
Stewart has quickly become one of the staples of the Eagles defense, and his linebacking skills are getting better and better. I mean, 90 tackles thus far for this kid! Who saw that coming? Not that many people.
That just shows how good he is at stopping the run. Add to that the fact that he's mobile and smart, something that is essential in a Jim Johnson defense, and we can expect many great years from this kid.
No. 7: Jamaal Jackson
What a center this guy is! At least to me, that is.
Jamaal Jackson has played in 53 games in his career, and has started all 53. He may not be as good as Jon Runyan and a healthy (and mentally stable) Shawn Andrews, but he sure is not appreciated as much as he should.
He never gives up many sacks, and is always right in line with Donovan McNabb. You never see a mistake on a snap by this kid, and when someone does get by him, he gets right back into the groove.
No. 6: Matt Carle
If you aren't a Flyers fan, than you probably don't know Matt Carle. That's exactly why he's number six on my list.
Ask any decent Flyers fan, and they'll tell you that ever since his arrival, Carle has not only played at a very high level, but has taken the entire defensive core to a very high level.
Even though he is currently battling a small injury, Carle should be back soon to get back in the groove. The Flyers need him, and when he comes back, watch the Flyers and you'll see why this guy is good.
No. 5: J.C. Romero
In the city of Philadelphia, J.C. Romero is a very well known and acknowledged relief pitcher. Around the rest of the bigs, he's not so recognizable.
With the Phils in 2007, he recorded a 1.27 ERA. This past season, he put up a 2.75 ERA. Yet, Romero does not get nearly enough attention as he should.
His role in the Phillies bullpen puts him in a spot where he needs to contribute more than he is used to, and he has stepped up to the challenge. Some say he's been overworked, but with numbers like his, why not use him?
No. 4: Trent Cole
Here he is again! I'm still high on Trent Cole, as you can see. Why shouldn't I be? His 7.0 sacks this year may not be outstanding and as good as his recent years, but he still is contributing in other ways.
The Eagles' site has Cole down for 83 total tackles, while NFL.com and ESPN.com have him down for 65 total tackles. Also, the Eagles have him at three forced fumbles while NFL.com and ESPN.com have him at two.
To whom I should believe, I'm unsure. Either way, that's a lot of tackles for a defensive end. (Remember, I predicted 80 total tackles for Cole this season, and was laughed at by some...)
No. 3: Greg Dobbs
Not too many people list Greg Dobbs as one of the pivotal pieces to the Phillies' World Series title. That's not too surprising, because he's "only" a pinch hitter.
Well, he's "only" the best pinch-hitter in baseball. He led the majors this past season with the most pinch hits, and broke the Phillies record for pinch hits in a season. Even in 2007 season Dobbs filled in as a very fine role player for the Phillies and may eventually do the same again this season at third base, right field, and second base.
Either way, Dobbs gets nowhere near as much credit as he should.
No. 2: Jayson Werth
Jayson Werth has grown into a very consistent option in right field, earning himself the starting job for the Phillies.
Over the past two seasons, Werth has been the main starter in right for the Phillies. In 2007, he batted .298 with a .404 OBP. In 2008, Werth played more than he did in 2007, but he stats did decline a bit. He batted .273 with an OBP of .363.
But this time, Werth was able to contribute 67 RBI's compared to his 49 in 2007. Sure, Werth played in 40 more games in 2008, but he definitely was more consistent.
Besides his hitting stats, Werth is a guy who just lightens up the place. His surprising speed gives the team plenty of crucial stolen bases (20 in 2008). Also, his personality keeps many of the guys loose and on their heels, something you need on a baseball club.
No. 1: Mike Knuble
Some want to trade him, some want to keep him. Others are indifferent to the matter. Personally, I am greatly surprised that anybody would want to trade Mike Knuble.
Sure, he's 36 years old, but his production is not dropping at all. Knuble is second on the Flyers in powerplay goals, fourth on the team in goals, and tied for fourth on the team in points. He is also one of the team's best leaders.
But most all, he's their John LeClair. LeClair was a big guy who could shout from outside, but mostly stayed in front of the net to bully his way around. He would wait for the opportunity whenever a puck game in front of the net, and he would jab it in whenever he could. He truly fought for the puck.
Knuble is the same way. He may not have the same kind of shot, but his aggressiveness and toughness in front of the net is irreplaceable on the team. The only other player close to Knuble on the Flyers is Scott Hartnell, and he's barely a guy who is willing to sit in front of the net and take a beating.
That's why Mike Knuble is the most underrated athlete in Philadelphia sports.