MLB Power Rankings: The 50 Most Underrated Players in Baseball History

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IApril 20, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: The 50 Most Underrated Players in Baseball History

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 09:  Brian Giles #24 of the San Diego Padres fields against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 9, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    A quick Google search will turn up the following definition of "underrated” (or "underrate"): “to underestimate the extent, value or importance of (someone or something).” In Major League Baseball, the word underrated typically refers to a player that consistently puts up solid numbers but doesn't get the recognition he deserves because he doesn't play for a high-profile team or a team that's always in the press.

    Another definition for underrated in baseball could also be: a player who consistently plays at a high level, but doesn’t get proper recognition because he’s playing in the shadow of a more famous player on his own team.

    Either or both of those definitions could certainly apply. And those are the two definitions that we followed in making a list of the most underrated players in the history of Major League Baseball.

    As always, the list is subjective and information is culled from a variety of sources, and we are also sure that you will have your own ideas of ballplayers through the years that are underrated. We invite your suggestions and input.

    For continuing coverage of Major League Baseball, follow Doug on Twitter @Sports_A_Holic.

50. Larry Hisle: 1968-1982

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    Center fielder Larry Hisle broke into the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies back in 1968, and the following year finished fourth in Rookie of the Year balloting.

    Hisle’s career didn’t flourish until he played with the Minnesota Twins in 1973 and became the first player ever to bat as a designated hitter in spring training that year. Hisle was not a household name, often playing in the shadows of the more famous Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew.

    However, in 1977, Hisle did lead the American League in runs batted in with 119. He finished his career with a .273 average and 166 home runs, and was selected to two All-Star teams.

    Hisle was also the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays during their championship years of 1992 and 1993.

49. Wally Moses: 1935-1951

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    Wally Moses was a gifted left-handed hitter with speed who enjoyed an excellent 17-year-career in the majors. The problem was, most of those years were spent playing for one of the worst teams in baseball.

    Moses spent his first seven seasons with the Philadelphia A’s, who were perennial last-place finishers during the 1930s and '40s, along with the St. Louis Browns. Moses was traded to the Chicago White Sox following the 1941 season, but again was stuck on a sub-.500 team.

    Moses finally gained recognition after being sold to the Boston Red Sox during the 1946 season and helping them to an American League pennant. He hit .417 in the ’46 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

48. Freddie Patek: 1968-1981

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    When shortstop Freddie Patek was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 22nd round of the 1965 Major League Baseball draft, he was the smallest player of his generation at just 5’5” tall. He was diminutive in size, but Patek's reputation grew, especially later in his career with the Kansas City Royals.

    Patek was part of a great double-play combination in Kansas City, along with second baseman Frank White, and was part of the Royals teams that won the American League West from 1976-78.

    He hit just .242 for his career, but Patek’s speed and defensive abilities set him apart, while playing in the shadow of George Brett and John Mayberry.

47. Jeff Conine: 1990-2007

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    Baltimore Orioles first baseman Jeff Conine rounds third base and scores  against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on July 22, 2006.  (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Jeff Conine was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 58th round of the 1987 amateur draft after finishing his collegiate baseball career at UCLA.

    After he floundered in Kansas City for a couple of years, the Florida Marlins selected Conine in the 1993 expansion draft. Conine enjoyed success for a few seasons, placing third in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1993, and garnering a selection to the National League All-Star team in the following two seasons.

    Conine has the distinction of being the only player to debut with the Marlins in 1993 and play for both World Series teams (1997 and 2003). While he was not a flashy player, Conine finished his career with a .285 average and 214 home runs.

    And here's a little-known fact: Jeff and his wife, Cindy, were world-class racquetball players, teaming together to win a national title in 1999.

46. Bill White: 1956-1969

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    Many may remember Bill White as the longtime voice of the New York Yankees, calling games on both radio and television from 1971-1988 and becoming the first African-American to broadcast games.

    However, Bill White was also a pretty fair ballplayer. Playing most of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies, White was a five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner, finishing his career with a .286 average and 202 home runs.

    White was part of the great Cardinals teams of the early ‘60s that featured Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Tim McCarver and Curt Flood; White was a key component, content to play in their shadows.

    White also served as President of the National League from 1989-1994.

45. Roy Sievers: 1949-1965

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    First baseman/outfielder Roy Sievers played almost his entire career in relative obscurity, with such teams as the St. Louis Browns, the new and old Washington Senators, the Chicago White Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies.

    A lifetime .267 hitter, Sievers was a four-time All-Star, won the 1949 American League Rookie of the Year Award and clubbed 42 home runs in 1957.

    Sievers was also the first man with 300 lifetime home runs not to be elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

44. Dan Quisenberry: 1979-1990

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    He finished his career with only 56 wins and 244 saves, but for a five-year stretch, there may not have been a better closer in the majors than Dan Quisenberry.

    Quisenberry led the American League in saves for four consecutive seasons, and in each season, he was overlooked for the Cy Young Award, finishing either second or third all four times. In 1984, "Quiz" was beaten out for the award by closer Willie Hernandez of the Detroit Tigers, who also won MVP honors the same season.

    Quisenberry didn’t have the power of a Goose Gossage or Bruce Sutter, but for that one stretch of time, "Quiz" was the best at his craft.

43. Don Buford: 1963-1972

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    During his 10-year career, Don Buford was a mostly unheralded leadoff hitter who holds the distinction of grounding into fewer double plays per at-bat than any other player in history. (He hit into 34 total, or one in every 138 at-bats).

    Buford was also part of the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s, playing alongside Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Boog Powell and Mike Cuellar.

    Buford was also the first player ever to lead off a World Series with a home run (1969), a feat duplicated by Dustin Pedroia in the 2007 World Series for the Boston Red Sox.

42. Mark Belanger: 1965-1982

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    Shortstop Mark Belanger may have been a weak link at the plate with a .228 career batting average, but few were as slick with the glove at the shortstop position. Over his 18-year career—he played all but one season with the Baltimore Orioles—Belanger won eight Gold Glove Awards, yet made only one All-Star appearance, in 1976.

    Belanger ranks fifth all time in Defensive Wins Above Replacement at 20.9.

41. Don Money: 1968-1983

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    He was not a flashy player, but Don Money was aptly named—he certainly was "money."

    After spending the first five years of his career in relative obscurity with the Philadelphia Phillies, Money was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers following the 1972 season. Money played alongside Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Gorman Thomas and Sal Bando, and quietly put together a solid career, being named to the American League All-Star team four out of five seasons.

    Money finished his career in 1983 with a .261 career batting average and 176 home runs.

40. Doc Cramer: 1929-1948

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    In the 20-year career of Doc Cramer, he played with four different teams in the American League (Philadelphia A’s, Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators and Detroit Tigers), and never bowled anyone over with great statistics.

    Yet, by the time his career was over, only two players had played more games in center field than Cramer (Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb), and he had become the only player with as many as 2,705 hits before 1975 not elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

    Playing for the cash-strapped A’s and perennially bad Red Sox teams, Cramer never received his due as a ballplayer. Cramer led the American League seven times in at-bats, and three times collected over 200 hits.

39. Hal Chase: 1905-1919

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    Hal Chase may be more well known for gambling allegations than his accomplishments as a ballplayer, but Chase was pretty good.

    During his 15-year career with five teams—the New York Highlanders (1905–1913), Chicago White Sox (1913–1914), Buffalo Blues (1914–1915), Cincinnati Reds (1916–1918), and New York Giants (1919)—Chase was considered one of the best first basemen of his generation.

    With a lifetime batting average of .261 and 363 stolen bases, Chase’s quickness at the position was legendary, leading Babe Ruth to call Chase the best first baseman he had ever seen.

    Chase was banned from baseball following the 1919 season after more allegations of gambling were levied against him. He was also suspected for being part of the gambling operation during the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal.

38. Ken Keltner: 1937-1950

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    Most baseball fans would probably not know much about Ken Keltner except for one fact: he almost single-handedly ended Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941.

    Keltner, a slick-fielding third baseman, played 13 seasons in the American League, all but one with the Cleveland Indians.

    On July 17, 1941, the Indians were playing the New York Yankees. Joe DiMaggio, who had broken the consecutive-game hitting-streak record two weeks earlier (set by Willie Keeler in 1897) was vying for a 57th straight game with a hit.

    Keltner made two outstanding backhanded plays at third to rob DiMaggio, and along with a walk and a groundout, the streak ended.

    However, Keltner was a pretty good player before (and after) he stopped DiMaggio’s streak. In 13 seasons, Keltner compiled a lifetime batting average of .276 and was a seven-time All-Star.

37. Roy White: 1965-1979

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    A switch-hitting left fielder who played his entire career with the New York Yankees, Roy White wasn’t able to enjoy the fruits of his labor until his 13th season in pinstripes.

    White wasn’t flashy, but he became one of the most popular Yankees during the 1970s with his no-nonsense style of play. As the Yankees came back to prominence in 1976, White continued to excel on a team loaded with stars with his excellent play and steady bat.

36. Bob Watson: 1966-1984

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    Signed as a free agent by the Houston Astros in 1965, Bob Watson not only played in relative obscurity for 13 seasons with the Astros, but also had his home-run total reduced by the cavernous Houston Astrodome.

    Watson became famous for scoring the 1,000,000 run in MLB history on May 4, 1975.

    As an example of the disadvantage of playing at the Astrodome, consider this: in 1977, of Watson’s 22 total home runs, 18 were hit on the road.

35. Steve Finley: 1989-2007

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    DENVER - APRIL 4:  Steve Finley #12 of the Colorado Rockies bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field on April 4, 2007 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies won 11-4. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Steve Finley, selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 13th round of the 1987 amateur draft, was an everyday player for several years with the Orioles and Houston Astros. However, his career didn’t take off until he was 31 years old and playing for the San Diego Padres.

    Later in his career, Finley was a pivotal member of the Arizona Diamondbacks club that won the World Series in 2001.

    Finley was a classic “late bloomer,” and did most of his damage after the age of 30.

34. Jim Wynn: 1963-1977

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    Jim Wynn was another player who played in the cavernous Houston Astrodome for the vast majority of his career. In a more hitter-friendly ballpark, Wynn would have approached the 400-mark for home runs in his career; instead, he ended up with 291.

    Wynn was also known for his remarkable eye at the plate. A .250 career hitter, Wynn’s career on-base percentage was .366, and he led the National League in walks twice during his career, reaching a high of 148 in 1969.

33. Tim Wallach: 1980-1996

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 19:  Tim Wallach #23 of the California Angels bats during the game against the Chicago White Sox at Anaheim Stadium on June 19, 1996 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Tim Wallach, drafted by the Montreal Expos in the first round of the 1979 amateur draft, was one of the more versatile players of his time. Wallach could play both corner-infield and outfield positions, and even took the mound twice for the Expos, in 1987 and 1989.

    Wallach ended his career in 1996 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and quietly amassed 2,085 hits during his 17-year career.

32. Hal Morris: 1988-2000

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    16 Apr 2000: Hal Morris #23 of the Cincinnati Reds walks on the field during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Reds defeated the Dodgers 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck  /Allsport
    Tom Hauck/Getty Images

    First baseman Hal Morris, taken in the eighth round of the 1986 amateur draft by the New York Yankees, was given up on by the Yanks and sent packing to Cincinnati in 1989 in exchange for Tim Leary.

    Morris hit .340 in his first full season with the Reds and was an instrumental part of the team that upset the heavily favored Oakland Athletics in the 1990 World Series.

    Morris never made an All-Star team and never achieved superstar status; however, he ended his career with a .304 lifetime average and was beloved by Reds fans throughout the 1990s.

31. Placido Polanco: 1998-Present

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    CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 10: Placido Polanco #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies keeps his eyes on a pitch thrown by teammate Cole Hamels against the Cincinnati Reds during game 3 of the NLDS at Great American Ball Park on October 10, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. T
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Placido Polanco, first drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 19th round of the 1994 amateur draft, is now in his 14th season in the majors, and while he has never been the featured star on any of the teams he has played for, he has compiled a lifetime average of .303 and is capable of playing all infield positions.

    Now in his second stint with the Philadelphia Phillies, Polanco is once again off to a hot start, hitting .375 in the first 15 games.

    A synonym of underrated is undervalued; Polanco’s value to the Phillies now, and to other teams in the past, can never be understated.

30. Brian Doyle: 1978-1981

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    His career was brief, but for one shining moment, second baseman Brian Doyle was the talk of the town in New York.

    Doyle made his major-league debut with the New York Yankees in 1978, filling in at second base for the injured Willie Randolph. After the Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox in a one-game playoff to claim the American League East title, Doyle hit .286 in the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals, and then hit a remarkable .438 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the six-game World Series victory for the Yanks.

    It’s even more remarkable considering that Doyle was a lifetime .161 hitter during the regular season and was out of baseball three seasons later.

    But for one stretch of three weeks, Doyle truly was an underrated star.

29. Dutch Leonard: 1913-1925

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    Hubert Benjamin “Dutch” Leonard played on three World Series-winning Boston Red Sox teams in the 1910s, yet largely played in the shadow of Babe Ruth and "Smoky" Joe Wood.

    Leonard had a career record of 139-133 with a 2.76 ERA, and in 1914, he led the American League with a remarkable 0.96 ERA. Leonard also had two complete-game victories in both the 1915 and 1916 World Series, allowing just two runs and eight hits.  

28. Bobby Doerr: 1937-1951

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    COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 31: Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr attends the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction ceremony on July 31, 2005 at the Clark Sports Complex in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    In a 14-year career with the Boston Red Sox, Bobby Doerr was a nine-time All-Star and part of a trio of Sox players, along with Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio, who were lifelong friends.

    Despite his achievements on the field, Doerr was not selected to the Hall of Fame until the Veterans’ Committee finally enshrined him in 1986.

    Doerr should be in the conversation about the greatest second basemen of all time, but rarely is.

27. Jay Bell: 1986-2003

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    23 Jul 1998:  Infielder Jay Bell #33 of the Arizona Diamondbacks in action during a game against the San Diego Padres at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Padres defeated the Diamondbacks 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck  /Allsport
    Tom Hauck/Getty Images

    Drafted by the Minnesota Twins with the eighth pick of the 1984 amateur draft, Jay Bell was part of the trade with the Cleveland Indians that sent Bert Blyleven to the Twins in 1985. After three years of limited playing time in Cleveland, Bell was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1989, where he became the everyday shortstop for the team that went to the NLCS in three consecutive seasons.

    Bell, somewhat overshadowed by Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke, was a guiding force in the infield before finally leaving the cash-strapped Pirates following the 1996 season.

    Bell finished his career with 1,963 hits and a .265 lifetime batting average.  

26. Steve Rogers: 1973-1985

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    Steve Rogers played his entire 13-year career with the Montreal Expos, compiling a lifetime record of 158-152. While the record may seem fairly unremarkable, Rogers had a lifetime ERA of 3.17, and was often the victim of terrible run support during many offensively challenging years in Montreal.

    In 1976, Rogers was 7-17, but he finished the season with an ERA of 3.21 and only allowed 212 hits in 230 innings.  

25. Wally Berger: 1930-1940

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    Wally Berger was a power-hitting center fielder who played on the first four All-Star teams for the National League from 1933-1936. In 1935, Berger led the National League in both home runs (34) and runs batted in (130).

    Yet, of the 18 players who started in the 1934 All-Star game, Berger is the only one not in the baseball Hall of Fame.

    Berger suffered a shoulder injury in 1936, and retired from baseball in 1940 at the age of 34.

24. Carl Furillo: 1946-1960

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    Carl Furillo played his entire 15-year career with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, playing alongside the likes of Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Gil Hodges.

    Furillo compiled a lifetime batting average of .299, winning the National League batting title in 1953 with a .344 average. However, Furillo was only selected for the All-Star team twice during his career.

23. Larry Bowa: 1970-1985

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    25 Feb 2002: Larry Bowa, Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies poses during media day at Carpenter Field in Clearwater, Florida. DIGITAL IMAGE  Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    When Larry Bowa made his debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1970, there was nothing flashy about his style of play, and no one skill that made him stand out in particular. However, what did stick out was his passion and fiery demeanor.

    In his 16-year career, Bowa became a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner, playing his first 12 seasons with the Phillies before finishing his career in 1985 with the New York Mets.

    Bowa later returned to manage his former team in Philadelphia for four seasons, and was named Manager of the Year in 2001.

22. Amos Otis: 1967-1984

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    When Amos Otis was redrafted by the New York Mets in 1966 after being taken by the Boston Red Sox in 1965, the Mets looked at Otis as a third baseman. After clashing with manager Gil Hodges, Otis was sent to the minors, and was then traded by the Mets to the Kansas City Royals for third baseman Joe Foy.

    It turned out to be one of the worst trades in Mets history.

    Otis blossomed with the Royals after returning to his more natural center-field position. He was an All-Star in each of his first four years, and also won three Gold Gloves.

    By contrast, Joe Foy was out of baseball by 1971 after drugs derailed his career. Clearly, Otis was undervalued and underrated by the Mets organization.

21. Brett Butler: 1981-1997

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    1992:  LOS ANGELES DODGERS CENTER FIELDER Brett BUTLER SLIDES INTO THIRD BASE DURING THE DODGERS VERSUS SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS GAME AT SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA.
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    During his 17-year career, Brett Butler was an effective, speedy, slap-hitting center fielder, even though he wasn’t selected in the 1979 amateur draft until the 23rd round by the Atlanta Braves.

    Butler stole 558 bases during his career, ranking 24th all time. Yet, he was only selected for one All-Star team during his career.

20. Jim Fregosi: 1961-1978

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    Jim Fregosi was signed by the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in 1960, and the following season, the Los Angeles Angels selected Fregosi with the 35th pick in the expansion draft.

    Fregosi became the face of the Angels franchise—and its most popular player—during the 1960s and early 1970s. Fregosi was a six-time All-Star in California, but injuries hampered his career from 1971 until his retirement in 1978.

    Fregosi also managed the Angels to their first-ever postseason appearance in 1979, and is still widely regarded as one of the most popular Angels of all time.

19. Hal McRae: 1968-1987

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    Hal McRae was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth round of the 1965 amateur draft and he made his major-league debut three years later.

    However, McRae was stuck behind Pete Rose and Bobby Tolan on the outfield depth chart, and after four years of limited playing time, McRae was dealt to the Kansas City Royals following the 1972 season.

    McRae shined for the Royals, helping them to their first-ever American League West title in 1976 while leading the AL in both on-base percentage and OPS.

    McRae would become a three-time All-Star during his career, and in later years, served as the designated hitter for the Royals.

18. Frank White: 1973-1990

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    1986:  Frank White #20 of the Kansas City Royals stands ready at the plate during a game in 1986.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Frank White was an undrafted free agent, signed by the Kansas City Royals in 1970. When he made his debut for the Royals in 1973, he was not very popular with Royals fans, as he replaced the well-respected Cookie Rojas at second base.

    White became one of the slickest-fielding second basemen of his generation, winning eight Gold Glove Awards and being selected for five All-Star teams. White was also the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, leading the Royals to their first World Series appearance.

    By the time he retired in 1990, White had joined Cookie Rojas as one of the most popular Royals of all time. The team had a statue of White erected outside Kaufman Stadium in 2004.

17. Jim Northrup: 1964-1975

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    When outfielder Jim Northrup signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1960, no one knew anything about the youngster who had been a multi-sport star with tiny Alma College in Michigan.

    However, after Northrup debuted with the Tigers, he quickly showed his versatility in the outfield, regularly playing multiple games each season in each outfield position.

    In 1968, Northrup was one of the principal offensive weapons for the Tigers, leading them into the World Series against the favored St. Louis Cardinals. Northrup delivered the game-winning hit against Bob Gibson in Game 7, leading the Tigers to their first World Series victory since 1945.

    Northrup retired seven years later with the Baltimore Orioles, and while he never made an All-Star team or won any individual awards, the kid from tiny Alma College found glory in Detroit.

16. Brian Giles: 1995-2009

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 09:  Brian Giles #24 of the San Diego Padres fields against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 9, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Brian Giles was a 17th-round pick of the Cleveland Indians in the 1989 amateur draft. It took six-and-a-half years for Giles to make it to the majors and earn a starting job—he started out by playing with the Indians for four years with mixed results.

    Following the 1998 season, Giles was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ricardo Rincon. He became a fixture in the Pirates outfield, and was selected for the All-Star team twice.

    However, in August 2003, the Pirates, knowing they wouldn’t have the resources to re-sign Giles at the end of the season, traded him to the San Diego Padres for Jason Bay.

    Giles played the final six years of his career in San Diego, becoming one of the Padres' most popular players in the process. He finished his career with a .291 average, and his keen eye at the plate led to a lifetime on-base-percentage of .400.

15. Doug DeCinces: 1973-1987

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    When Doug DeCinces started his career with the Baltimore Orioles, he was replacing the great Brooks Robinson at third base. When he was traded by the Orioles to the California Angels in 1982, it was to make room for future "Iron Man" Cal Ripken Jr.

    But in between, DeCinces was a pretty good player for the Orioles, and provided a steady hand for the Angels during their postseason years of 1982 and 1986.

14. A.J. Pierzynski: 1998-Present

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 07: A.J. Pierzynski #12 of the Chicago White Sox watches the ball after an attempted bunt against the Tampa Bay Rays during the home opener at U.S. Cellular Field on April 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Rays 5
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Drafted in the third round of the 1994 amateur draft by the Minnesota Twins, A.J. Pierzynski may never be looked at as one of the great catchers of all time. However, he has fashioned a pretty good career for himself.

    Only twice since 2002 has Pierzynski not appeared in at least 130 games at catcher, the most physically demanding position in baseball. A fixture behind the plate for the Chicago White Sox since 2005, Pierzynski tasted victory for the first time that season, as the White Sox won their first World Series championship since 1917, beating the Houston Astros in four games.

13. Norm Cash: 1958-1974

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    Norm Cash, better known as "Stormin’ Norman" to Tiger fans, started his career with the Chicago White Sox back in 1958. However, Cash never received a lot of playing time, and was banished to the bench when the White Sox traded for Ted Kluszewski for the 1959 pennant race.

    Cash was then traded to the Cleveland Indians, but before playing a game there, he was traded again by the Indians for Steve Demeter in a deal that haunted Cleveland for Cash’s entire career.

    Unwanted by both the White Sox and the Indians, Cash flourished in Detroit, winning a World Series title in 1968 and becoming the franchise’s runner-up in all-time home runs behind his teammate and friend, Al Kaline.

12. Bob Johnson: 1933-1945

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    Bob Johnson spent 10 of his 13 seasons playing in obscurity with the Philadelphia A’s, yet his statistics were remarkably consistent year after year.

    Johnson’s career prompted this quote from Bob Carroll, published in an article written for the National Pastime in 1985:

    "Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds," wrote Carroll, "but it can also make certain ballplayers nigh unto invisible.

    "Indian Bob Johnson never had one of those super seasons that make everyone sit up and whistle. While phenoms came, collected their MVP trophies, and faded, he just kept plodding along hitting .300, with a couple dozen homers and a hundred "ribbies" year after year...like a guy punching a time clock [sic]."

11. Rico Petrocelli: 1963-1976

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    Rico Petrocelli started his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1963, becoming their everyday shortstop in 1965.

    Petrocelli was part of the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox team that won the 1967 American League pennant in one of the closest races in history, and was also with the Red Sox in 1975 when they again won the AL pennant and played in one of the most thrilling World Series in history, losing in seven games to the Cincinnati Reds.

    In 1971, Petrocelli took over at third base for the Red Sox when they traded for shortstop Luis Aparicio, and then stayed at third when minor-league prospect Rick Burleson took over at short.

    Petrocelli enjoyed his best season in 1969, with 40 home runs and a .297 average, and retired with a .251 lifetime average and 210 home runs. Though Petrocelli never drew the attention of the media like his more famous teammate, Carl Yastrzemski, Petrocelli is still one of the most popular Red Sox players in recent history.

10. Sal Bando: 1966-1981

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    A sixth-round draft pick by the Kansas City Athletics in 1965, third baseman Sal Bando debuted with the A’s one year later, and by the time the A’s moved to Oakland in 1968, Bando was their everyday third baseman.

    Part of the great Oakland A’s teams of the early 1970s that won three consecutive World Series championships, Bando was overshadowed by flashier players like Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Vida Blue and Gene Tenace, but Bando was the glue that held the A’s dynasty together.

    A four-time All-Star and runner-up to teammate Vida Blue in the 1971 AL MVP balloting, Bando ended his career with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1981, helping to mentor budding stars Robin Yount and Paul Molitor in the process.

9. Mike Piazza: 1992-2007

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    FLUSHING, NY - APRIL 16:  Mike Piazza #31 of the New York Mets bats against the Florida Marlins during the game at Shea Stadium on April 16, 2005 in Flushing, New York. The Mets won 4-3. (Photo by Ezra Shaw /Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    In 1998, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda was asked by his childhood friend, Vince Piazza, to draft his son as a personal favor. Lasorda used his 62nd-round pick to draft Mike Piazza out of Miami Dade Community College.

    Lasorda convinced Piazza, a former first baseman, that he had to make the switch to catcher if he wanted any shot of making it in the big leagues.

    Piazza debuted with the Dodgers in 1992, and by the time his career was over in 2007, Piazza was only the ninth player in major-league history to hit 400 home runs, hit over .300 and to have never struck out more than 100 times in a single season.

    That's not too shabby for a player picked 1,390th overall.

8. Dave Concepcion: 1970-1988

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    1987:  Dave Concepcion of the Cincinnati Reds grips his  bat during a MLB game in the 1987 season. ( Photo by: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    A nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove Award winner during his 19-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, Dave Concepcion was very much like Sal Bando from the Oakland A’s. On a team loaded with stars, Concepcion consistently went about his business day after day without accolades or recognition.

    Concepcion was finally given his due in Cincinnati in 2007, when his jersey, No. 13, was retired by the organization.

    One can only wonder if the Hall of Fame voters might recognize him some day as well.

7. Bert Campaneris: 1964-1983

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    When Bert Campaneris was signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1961, he was just a scrawny, 19-year-old kid from Cuba. When he debuted with the A’s three years later, he became only the second player in major-league history to hit two home runs in his first game.

    Campaneris was a key figure on the A’s World Series championship teams from 1972-1974. Six times, he led the American League in stolen bases, and he was selected for the All-Star team six times.

    When he retired, Campaneris was seventh all time in steals with 649, and he still holds several of Oakland's career records today.

6. Ron Santo: 1960-1974

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    A nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove Award winner during his 15 major-league seasons—including 14 years with the Chicago Cubs and one season with the White Sox—Ron Santo has yet to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and many wonder why.

    Playing alongside the great Ernie Banks for much of his career, Santo hit for power, fielded his position with grace, had a keen eye at the plate and was one of the most popular Cubs in franchise history.

    Santo later became a radio broadcaster for the Cubs for 20 years before his death in December of last year.

5. Edgar Martinez: 1987-2004

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    SEATTLE - JULY 20:  Edgar Martinez #11 of the Seattle Mariners bats during the game against the Boston Red Sox on July 20, 2004 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington.  The Red Sox defeated the Mariners 9-7.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Edgar Martinez was certainly not the greatest third baseman ever to play the game, and Martinez was not gifted with great speed. But he was an absolute hitting machine.

    During his 18-year career with the Seattle Mariners, Martinez was a seven-time All-Star and a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and he ended his career with a batting average of .312 and 309 home runs.

    Martinez became a full-time designated hitter in 1995 after a torn hamstring sidelined him for the entire 1994 season.

    While he is one of only nine players in history with 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a career batting average higher than .300, a career on-base percentage higher than .400 and a career slugging percentage higher than .500., Martinez didn’t receive much love from Hall of Fame voters in his first year of eligibility in 2010, collecting only 36.2 percent of the votes.

4. Freddie Sanchez: 2002-Present

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 18:  Second baseman Freddy Sanchez #21 of the San Francisco Giants throws out a runner against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 18, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Freddie Sanchez was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2000, but he had already beaten all odds before even stepping on a major-league baseball field.

    Sanchez was born with a severely pigeon-toed left foot and a clubfoot on his right, and his parents were told that he may never walk. After surgeries and many years of physical therapy, Sanchez was not only walking, but starring on baseball fields in his high-school years.

    Still, Sanchez was not considered to be a potential star by the Red Sox. They traded him and Mike Gonzalez to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003 at the trade deadline for Brandon Lyon, Jeff Suppan and Anastacio Martinez.

    A year-and-a-half later, Sanchez became the starting second baseman for the Pirates, and the following year, Sanchez won the National League batting title with a .344 average.

    Sanchez was traded again at the 2009 trade deadline, this time to the San Francisco Giants for minor-leaguer Tim Alderson. The following season, Sanchez was part of the team that won the franchise's first World Series championship in 56 years.

    That's not bad for a kid with a clubfoot.

3. David Eckstein: 2001-2010

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    PHOENIX - MAY 26:  David Eckstein #3 of the San Diego Padres bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the major league baseball game at Chase Field on May 26, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Padres 6-5.  (Photo by Christian Pet
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    In 1997, David Eckstein was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 19th round of the amateur draft. However, the Sox never really gave Eckstein a chance, and the Anaheim Angels took him off waivers in 2000.

    Two seasons later, Eckstein was an integral part of an Angels team that won its first-ever World Series championship, and four years later, he won another ring with the St. Louis Cardinals.

    That's not bad for a player who was given up on.

2. Ben Oglivie: 1971-1986

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    When the Boston Red Sox drafted Ben Oglivie in the 11th round of the 1968 amateur draft, they were drafting a wiry right fielder with not much meat on his bones. At 6’2” and 160 pounds, Oglivie was not considered to be a power hitter by any stretch of the imagination.

    In three years with the Red Sox, Oglivie never saw a whole lot of time on the field, playing behind the likes of Joe Lahoud, Billy Conigliaro and, later on, a young Dwight Evans. Oglivie was traded to the Detroit Tigers following the 1973 season for second baseman Dick McAuliffe.

    After four relatively pedestrian seasons in Detroit, Oglivie was traded again, this time to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jim Slaton and Rich Folkers.

    It was then that Oglivie’s talent finally surfaced. Armed with lightning-quick bat speed, Oglivie became a big part of the Milwaukee "Brew Crew" teams, hitting 41 home runs in 1980 and earning a spot on the All-Star team three times while with the Brewers.

    Oglivie, with his wiry frame, was certainly not built like a typical power hitter. However, many considered Oglivie to have the fastest bat in the majors.

    For the record—and for those of you who might be counting—that makes three players in a row that were left for dead by the Boston Red Sox.

1. Omar Vizquel: 1989-Present

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    08  Apr 2002 : Omar Vizquel #13 of the Cleveland Indians in action  during the opening day game against  the Minnesota Twins at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians won 9-5. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Tom Pidgeon /Getty Images
    Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    For me, Omar Vizquel is, without question, the most underrated player in baseball history.

    Vizquel, currently in his 23rd season and playing with the Chicago White Sox, is one of the slickest-fielding shortstops in history, with 11 all-time Gold Glove Awards, nine of which came consecutively.

    Vizquel, however, only made it to three All-Star games during his career, mostly because he was blocked by more famous players, such as Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter, Miguel Tejada and Alex Rodriguez. While all four players mentioned were terrific offensive stars, none of them held a candle to Vizquel in terms of defensive abilities.

    Vizquel is helping to groom the young Alexei Ramirez in Chicago, and manager Ozzie Guillen made it known that he wanted Vizquel back for his help on and off the field.

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