Athletes Who Don't Get Enough Credit

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2015

Athletes Who Don't Get Enough Credit

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Now, I'm not saying that everything a person does deserves to be acknowledged with praise, balloons or a pat on the back, but, more times than not, it does feel good when someone tells you that a job was well done.

    And, in sports, it seems like the same athletes are always the ones receiving that praise, whether it be from fans or media.

    There's no rhyme or reason as to why one guy gets more credit than another, but, generally speaking, there are others who seem to get completely ignored, nearly forgotten or criticized for what they've accomplished.

    Since those guys need some love, too, I figured the best thing to do would be to honor them with an article, as these athletes don't get enough credit.

Ondrej Palat

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    For someone who was drafted as the 208th overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft, Tampa Bay Lightning left winger Ondrej Palat sure has established himself as a formidable sidekick to star Steven Stamkos.

    It's too bad he doesn't get enough credit for it, though.

    A member of the All-Rookie Team during the 2013-14 season, Palat had a breakout season in 2014-15, finishing with 63 points during the regular season, with his 47 assists leading to a top-12 finish in the league in that category.

    Palat raised his game in the postseason, though, finishing with 16 points in 26 games for the Lightning as they marched on to the Stanley Cup Final—eventually losing to the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Playing the role of Robin, Palat has been superb. It might be time to take notice, people.

J.D. Martinez

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Still just 27 years old, the Detroit Tigers' J.D. Martinez is starting to really come into his own, playing outside of the shadow of better-known teammates, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.

    Even after earning his first career All-Star appearance this week, though, he's still only the second-most recognizable Martinez in the Tigers lineup behind Victor—but he shouldn't be.

    After having an incredible 2014 season in which he batted .315, bopped 23 homers and drove in 76 RBI, the right fielder has been raking in 2015 so far, already blasting 24 homers and collecting 58 RBI to date. He's providing huge protection for his aforementioned teammates.

    Martinez is starting to get the attention he deserves, but this kid might just be the second-best hitter in the Tigers lineup—fans outside of Detroit just don't seem to notice.

T.Y. Hilton

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    It's pretty hard to believe that Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has only been in the league for three seasons.

    After being drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft out of Florida International, the guy just seems to be a stats collector, putting up huge numbers in his first three years in Indy.

    Going from 861 yards to 1,083 yards and, finally, 1,345 yards in 2014, Hilton is beginning to establish himself as one of the very best in the league, making an Antonio Brown-like leap up the receivers hierarchy.

    A Pro Bowler last year, Hilton is set for a huge year in 2015 with the departure of Reggie Wayne from the Colts, which should give him some of the attention that he deserves—and quite possibly a huge contract in the near future.

Pekka Rinne

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Just completing his ninth season in the NHL, all with the Nashville Predators, goaltender Pekka Rinne seems to be on the top of his game these days.

    Posting his second-best GAA during the regular season with a 2.18 average in 2014-15, Rinne has quietly become one of the best netminders in the league.

    A three-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy, which is handed out to the best goalie in the league each season, Rinne has only made one Second All-Star Team, proving that he's underrated among his peers and fans alike.

    After tying for the second-most wins by a goalie during the regular season with 41 and helping guide the Preds to a second-place finish in the Western Conference's Central Division, it might be time for Rinne to start getting a little bit more recognition.

Paul Goldschmidt

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Maybe it's because he plays in the desert for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but first baseman Paul Goldschmidt continues to be ignored by casual fans as one of the best all-around players in baseball.

    After a 2013 season that saw him make his first of three straight All-Star trips, finish second in the NL MVP race and win a Gold Glove for his defense, an injury-shortened 2014 campaign seemed to knock him out of people's minds.

    Bad move, guys.

    He's back with a vengeance in 2015, currently leading the NL with a .348 batting average and in runs with 58, all while blasting 20 homers and driving in 67.

    Goldy is an absolute stud. It just seems that a few people may not know about him for some reason.

Charles Johnson

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    If I were to tell you that a defensive end had recorded 52.5 sacks over the past five NFL seasons, would you think that said player has at least found his way onto a Pro Bowl roster at least once? I certainly would.

    However, in the case of the Carolina Panthers' Charles Johnson, that has yet to happen, even after he has proved to be one of the best pass-rushers in the game.

    An eight-year vet who was drafted in the third round in 2007 out of Georgia, Johnson has been a major anchor for the Carolina D over the years, helping it wreak havoc on quarterbacks and stifling opposing offenses.

    Still just 28 years old, Johnson has plenty of time to pile up even more stats to earn the praise he deserves, which, hopefully, ends with a few Pro Bowl appearances and possibly awards, too.

Nolan Arenado

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    Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    You know a guy is underrated when his peers tweet out their personal opinions about a guy's All-Star credentials during the regular season.

    That's what happened to Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, though, getting some love from Brett Anderson of the Los Angeles Dodgers a few weeks ago through a Twitter post.

    Although the fans voted hometown Cincinnati Reds player Todd Frazier to start at the hot corner, Arenado was still honored by being selected to the Midsummer Classic as a backup, proving Anderson's point.

    Currently leading the NL in RBI and sitting fourth in homers, the Rockies youngster could use the All-Star Game as a stepping stone to get a little bit more respect from casual fans who don't see him everyday—because he's one of the best all-around players in the game right now.

Nikola Vucevic

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    He may be playing for a team in the Orlando Magic who aren't really all that good, but Nikola Vucevic is still one hell of a player.

    Finishing in the top five with 45 double-doubles during this past season and averaging 19.3 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, the former first-rounder has slowly become one of the best big men in the league—some just may not know about him, though.

    Increasing his scoring average in each of his first four years, as well as posting double-digit rebounding numbers in that time, too, Vucevic would, arguably, be considered an All-Star if he played on any other team.

    A machine at doing exactly what he's supposed to do—score and rebound—here's to hoping the guy gets the recognition he deserves over the next couple of years.

    His next task? Making the Magic a contender in the Eastern Conference.

Ryan Tannehill

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    One of the easiest choices to put on this list, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has shown that he was worthy of being the No. 8 overall selection in the 2012 draft, as well as a huge extension this offseason thanks to his superb play.

    While he has yet to lead his team to the postseason in his three seasons, Tannehill has shown a penchant for being the leader of a team that had long searched for a replacement following Dan Marino's retirement in 2000.

    After finishing fifth in completion percentage in 2014 and posting a 92.8 passer rating—which has gone up in each of his three years—Tannehill is slowly becoming one of the best young signal-callers in the entire league.

    Take notice, fans, because it's not just Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson who are becoming elite stars from that 2012 draft class.

Chris Sale

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    A three-time All-Star, Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale seems to fall under the radar as one of the best hurlers in the game.

    It's a bit surprising, too, as he has a 47-30 record and 2.77 ERA in the past four years, all but proving he has some of the nastiest stuff in the majors.

    Just completing a ridiculous streak of eight games with at least 10 strikeouts, Sale did it in style, pitching a complete game win. If a streak like that is going to end, that's the way to do it.

    Never finishing higher than third in the AL Cy Young vote, it's time for Sale to be mentioned among other aces who have similar or lesser skills. After all, this guy is playing in Chicago in a major market, so it's not like he's buried somewhere else in the Midwest where people shouldn't know much about him.

    If he keeps dominating as he is, people will be forced to respect him.

Mike Conley

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Does anyone else find it mind-blowing that Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies has yet to make an NBA All-Star Game?

    He may not be putting up league-leading stats on the offensive end, but when it comes to all-around point guards in the Association, there are few better than the eight-year player.

    He is the catalyst behind the Grizz's rise toward the top of the Western Conference. The team's performance is directly associated with the play of its leader, who, when healthy, makes Memphis a serious contender.

    Conley has shouldered all the doubts that came his way following an extension a couple of years ago yet still needs to prove himself to fans and media each and every year—which just seems unfair at this point.

Eli Manning

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    I totally get it: Eli Manning is one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the entire league right now, seemingly incapable of putting together back-to-back seasons of solid football.

    With his older brother Peyton putting up ridiculous stats each and every year, fans seem to think that Eli isn't living up to the Manning last name because of his performances and penchant for turning the ball over all the time.

    Ahem, let's not forget who has more Super Bowl rings.

    Yeah, that would be Eli, who proved to be one of the most clutch athletes in both of his appearances in the Super Bowl.

    So many fans get caught up in this fantasy football stuff, forgetting that Eli is still a pretty damn good signal-caller, shouldering the burden and distinction as being one of the most criticized quarterbacks in the NFL today.

    Even after winning those two titles, fans still believe he's a fluke who got lucky—which is unfortunate. It's time to accept Eli Manning for what he is: a hell of a player who, one day, could be in the Hall of Fame.