MLB’s 10 Most Underrated Players
MLB's 10 Most Underrated Players
For whatever reason, there are players in every sport who are always overlooked despite their talent. In baseball, that might be more true than in any other sport because the disparity between large and small market teams is so great. A number of other factors are at play, but nonetheless, there are countless players in the majors who deserve more recognition than they receive.
There are several different things that can cause a player to be underrated from a logistical standpoint. Sometimes a player can be overshadowed by a superstar on their own team. Other times a player plays in a small market that doesn't get as much publicity as the Yankees and Dodgers of the world.
Another thing that qualifies someone as underrated is that in general, fans outside of the players' fanbase don't realize just how good they are. Since local media coverage can help local fanbases follow solid players in their own cities, local fanbases generally have an idea if they have an underrated player on their roster or not. However, players on small market teams have to play out of their minds to get the national media coverage that is necessary to "turn them into" a superstar.
Keeping these things in mind, let's take a look at some underrated players currently in major league baseball. Based on statistical output in 2013 and possibly earlier, here are the 10 players who don't get the recognition they deserve, but that every single baseball fan should know.
No. 10: Edwin Encarnacion
2013 Stats: .272/.370/.534 with 34 home runs and 104 RBIs
The younger brother of former All-Star Juan Encarnacion, Edwin has really come into his own in the past few seasons and become a borderline superstar in the league. While his power numbers have exploded over the past two years, his overall approach at the plate has been improving for the last three. Playing in Toronto, he doesn't get as much recognition, but he produces at a high level.
No. 9: Domonic Brown
2013 Stats: .272/.324/.494 with 27 home runs and 83 RBIs
As a top prospect coming up through the Phillies' organization, Brown developed some pretty high expectations. He had disappointed so far in his career until he finally realized his potential last season. He was fourth in the National League in home runs and was a rare bright spot in Philadelphia. There's a small body of work for Brown so far, but since he established a stigma as a disappointment, not many people realized that he's coming into his own.
No. 8: Matt Carpenter
2013 Stats: .318/.392/.481 with 11 home runs, 78 RBIs, 55 doubles and 126 runs
Until last season, Carpenter was nothing but a role player for the Cardinals. That all changed in 2013. Calling it a breakout year for Carpenter would be an understatement as he led the National League in runs, hits and doubles while hitting .318 and contributing average power. Whether he can produce similar results in 2014 remains to be seen, but his stat line was deserving of consideration for MVP a season ago and he's still not a household name.
No. 7: Jose Altuve
2013 Stats: .283/.316/.363 with five home runs, 52 RBIs and 35 steals
Altuve's name is gaining more recognition as he continues to stockpile solid seasons, but playing in Houston isn't doing him any favors in terms of publicity. Obviously, he's not a huge power threat, but he steals bases and is a very good top-of-the-order hitter that isn't well-known by the general population of baseball fans.
No. 6: Alex Cobb
2013 Stats: 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA and 134 strikeouts
Cobb has yet to pitch a huge amount of innings in the pros, but in his two partial seasons, he's been very effective. Last year he pitched his highest amount of innings with 143.1 and was lights out for large portions of the season. Especially if the Rays end up having to get rid of ace David Price, Cobb could step into a larger role. As his workload increases, his popularity also may grow.
No. 5: Chris Johnson
2013 Stats: .321/.358/.457 with 12 home runs and 68 RBIs
Johnson was in the race for the batting title in the National League for most of last season, yet most non-hardcore baseball fans would think you were talking about the Tennessee Titans running back if you mentioned "Chris Johnson." Last season could prove to be an outlier in terms of Johnson's entire career, but for now, a season like that deserves more recognition.
No. 4: Carlos Gomez
2013 Stats: .284/.336/.506 with 24 home runs, 73 RBIs and 40 steals
In the past two seasons, Gomez has quietly been putting together a very solid body of work in Milwaukee. He especially broke out a season ago by hitting for a good average, hitting for power and stealing bases. He's shown that he can be a dual-threat and contribute in a number of ways. The Brewers are lucky to have Gomez who could be one of the most underrated players for one of the most underrated teams in baseball.
No. 3: Josh Donaldson
2013 Stats: .301/.384/.499 with 24 home runs and 93 RBIs
Donaldson was very much in the discussion for American League MVP last season and for good reason. His power numbers were an extremely pleasant surprise for the Athletics a season ago. He will only be 28 this season, so there's a chance that he could produce like this year in and year out, but he will have to duplicate his 2013 performance several times in order to gain more national notoriety.
No. 2: Hyun-Jin Ryu
2013 Stats: 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA and 154 strikeouts
After coming to the Dodgers from South Korea last season, Ryu was even better than advertised. Likely because he pitches in the same rotation as star pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, Ryu is largely overlooked by the national media. However, he's just as important to the Dodgers' success as the other two pitchers are. He pitched in nearly 200 innings last year and going into his prime, he could get even better in years to come.
No. 1: Wilin Rosario
2013 Stats: .292/.315/.486 with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs
It's amazing how little people in baseball talk about Rockies' catcher Wilin Rosario. In less than 450 at-bats in 2013, he hit 21 home runs and in less than 400 at-bats in 2012, he hit 28 home runs. That's elite power production. The scariest thing about Rosario is that he will only be 25 this season and he's only getting better.
While his power is holding steady, his approach at the plate is getting better as evidenced by his 22-point jump in batting average between 2012 and 2013. If he produces like this for much longer, everyone around baseball will have no choice but to start talking about the extremely underrated Rosario.