What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
During Radio J-Dub’s Post-Mother’s Day Muthaf–kin’ Baseball Blowout, there was a mention of the league’s most over-rated and under-rated players. You already heard about the guys who get more love than they should on that podcast. As far as the under-rated players are concerned, Dubsism’s own J-Dub and JFI rubbed their non-bald-denier skulls together, and out popped a definitive list of guys who don’t get the press they deserve, but would make a pretty damn solid ball club.
The main reason why we did this is because coverage of baseball in today’s sports media stinks. If the World Wide Bottom Feeder can be bothered to even mention baseball, all you hear about is Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, or steroids. There are a lot of talented players in MLB that don’t get nearly enough attention. Hence, we’ve compiled an All Under-Appreciated Team. These are guys who don’t get the coverage they should. This is a perfect example of the old “if he played for the Yankees” tag; meaning that most of these guys would be stars if they played in New York.
We also opened this up to our readers, so here’s where you can see the picks of both J-Dub and JFI and how they stack up against the thoughts of the best blog audience out there…the Dubsists.
J-Dub’s Pick: Francisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh Pirates
Here’s a guy who began his career in New York, and still managed to be under-appreciated, namely because in the Bronx, he followed in the footsteps of Russell Martin. He’s doing the same thing in Pittsburgh. Martin got the attention, but once again, he left and Cervelli but look at their last complete seasons:
• Martin: 129 G, 507 PA, .240 AVG, .329 OBP, .458 SLG
• Cervelli: 130 G, 510 PA, .294 AVG, .370 OBP, .401 SLG
Cervelli’s biggest problem is his suspension for being involved in the Biogenesis scandal, but he continues to prove he is a top-level full-time backstop.
JFI’s Pick: Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
There aren’t a lot of great hitting catchers right now. Lucroy is a career .280-ish hitter with some decent power. He’s also a solid defensive catcher. When you play in Milwaukee though, you aren’t going to get much attention. Obviously, we see him getting traded before the deadline.
The Dubsists’ Pick: Derek Norris, San Diego Padres
J-Dub’s Pick: Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
In Toronto, this pick gets the “WTF” award because Jays fans are well aware of Encarnacion’s exploits. But too many people don’t know that since the 2011 All-Star break, the only player with more HRs than Encarnacion is Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. Encarnacion also has a higher slugging percentage that usual 50-HR suspect Jose Batista. Not to mention in today strikeout-happy era, Encarnacion only K’d 63 times against 36 dingers in 2015.
JFI’s Pick: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Baseball fans will know this name well. He was an MVP candidate last year, and if his team didn’t stink he may have won it. He was a Triple Crown candidate for most of the year, all while he had almost no protection in that lineup. His position hurts him too as there’s a logjam of elite first basemen right now…Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto, and Miguel Cabrera just for starters. Goldschmidt belongs on that elite list as well.
The Dubsists’ Pick: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
J-Dub’s Pick: Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays
It took injuries for Forsythe to get a starting opportunity with the Rays last season, and it’s injuries which are slowing his production this year. But those in the the baseball know realize his 2015 slash lines of .273/.353/.375 against righty pitching and .299/.373/.599 against lefties gave all signs of not being a fluke. Put those numbers on a slick-fielding middle infielder, and you have a guy rumored to be filling out those change of address cards come the trade deadline.
JFI’s Pick: Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs
I know Zobrist has built a reputation as a super sub, and he got voted to the All-Star game as a second baseman, but nobody outside of Chicago realizes how he did that. Outside of the fact he’s having a career year, his resume is built on being a dependable switch hitter who is the classic jack of all trades, yet master of none.
The Dubsists’ Pick: Joe Panik, San Francisco Giants
J-Dub’s Pick: Adeiny Hechavarria, Miami Marlins
As much as I hate this kind of comparison, it’s actually pretty accurate to describe Hechavarria as poor man’s Andrelton Simmons. After a breakout 2015, Hechavarria amongst the elites in the game at the postion. Right now, he offers a talent level defensively comparable to Andrelton Simmons or Brandon Crawford, and for now he doens’t include the “elite” price-tag. That’s going to change, even with his lass-than-specatacular bat.
JFI’s Pick: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants
When you think of the Giants, you think of the stars like Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, and manager Bruce Bochy. The Giants are a team based on pitching and defense, so you wouldn’t normally think of them having a secret weapon at shortstop in Brandon Crawford. Most baseball fans already know what a talented fielder, but most would lose a bar bet if you told them last year he was a 20+ HR, 30+ doubles, and 80+ RBI guy batting near the bottom of a national league lineup. Oh, and he bagged a Gold Glove on top of that.
The Dubsists’ Pick: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
J-Dub’s Pick: Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota Twins
Don’t look now, but here’s a guy whose had back-to-back 35+ double and 80 RBI seasons. He also did this on a Twins team which is regressing offensively as we speak. He also did this in a world where whe as rumored to be on the bus out of town to make room for Miguel Sano. That’s not happening now. On top of that, he’s improved enough defensively over those years to rate as a more-than-adequate fielder.
JFI’s Pick: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Another guy who if he were a Yankee, he’d be a household name. Machado has power to burn, and he’s young, so he may achieve superstar status at some point. He was on that path before a string of injuries, and he’s rounding back into that form.
The Dubsists’ Pick: Matt Duffy, San Francisco Giants
J-Dub’s Pick: Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics
This guy is only in his fourth MLB season, but in that small sample, Davis has done some eye-opening things. For example, he and Jose Abreu are the only players to hit at least 60 home runs while playing in 325 or fewer games since the start of the 2013 season. Despite the fact Davis had had some injury issues, in that aforementioned small sample gives us a 162-game average of 33 doubles, 30 HR, and 90 RBI.
JFI’s Pick: Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates.
This guy could be Pittsburgh’s version of Ben Zobrist, because not many people outside die hard baseball or Pirates fans ever heard of him. That’s why this guy borders on being an All-Star in anonymity, and why this is the All-Underappreciated Team, not the Under-rated team. It’s the casual baseball fan who doesn’t realize Marte is a career .287 hitter who runs well and has some pop in his bat, and is one of the better defenders in the game.
The Dubsists’ Pick: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
J-Dub’s Pick: Angel Pagan, Denard Span, and Gregor Blanco, San Francisco Giants
You don’t need to tell me it’s a tad unconventional to nominate three guys for one position, but if you stop and think about what these three offer manager Bruce Bochy, it’s pretty hard to ignore the options they present to the best manager in baseball. When you consider the injury bug biting the Giants right now, and especially when you consider these guys all have “ouchy” issues of their own, the “Three Amigos” are a big reason why the Giants look both like a MASH unit and a likely candidate to keep their “Even Year Mogambo” going.
JFI’s Pick: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
I know what you’re probably thinking…McCutchen has been an MVP and the best player on a team which has made the playoffs multiple times. Yet, if you ask the casual baseball fan to list the best center fielder in baseball, you’ll get a lot of Mike Trout. Not like that’s a bad pick, but once again, if McCutchen were a Yankee, he’d be eating into Trout’s dominance as a favorite.
The Dubsists’ Pick: Coco Crisp, Oakland A’s
J-Dub’s Pick: Ender Inciarte, Atlanta Braves
Here’s a guy who was essentially a “throw-in” in what Diamondbacks fans call the “Shelby Miller trade” and what Braves fans call the “Dansby Swanson trade.” There’s a lot of discussion right now about the glut of young talent in baseball, and this guy’s name never gets mentioned. He offers a top-flight glove in either center or right field, and he’s got the speed to be a serious steal threat on the basepaths.
JFI’s Pick: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Yeah, I know this guy had a “coming out” party at this year’s Home Run Derby, and he’s probably going to top that next year when the show is in his home ball park. But between now and then, he will sink back to anonymity among casual baseball fans because he is in a place where nobody cares about baseball. Stanton is possibly the strongest baseball player I’ve ever seen. The guy’s a monster, and he has zero around him for protection. That’s why he’s not a superstar.
The Dubsists’ Pick: J.D. Martinez, Detroit Tigers
This is a bit like the All-Star voting in the sense that while we gave you the opportunity to nominate players for this list, we kept control over choosing the pitchers. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but the biggest one is that out of the multitude of submissions we received, there was a distinct trend among Dubsists to select their favorite hurlers from their favorite teams. That means we didn’t get any real consensus on underappreciated moundsmen, so we sifted through those suggestions, combined it with out own research, and voilà…another list like you can only get here at Dubsism.
Starters (listed alphabetically):
Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays
This guy was everybody’s darling a while back, but a rough start to this season coupled with the fact he’s leading the league in losses dropped him off the casual fans’ radar. The real fans know that Archer’s stuff is still there; it isn’t his fault the Rays couldn’t score in a women’s prison if they had a Hefty Bag full of keys. Since that rough start, Archer’s WHIP has been going down consistently despite the fact he’s pitches his home games in a very hitter-friendly park. Give him a little bit of run support so he doesn’t feel like he has to strikeout every hitter he faces, and/or let him pitch in a non-launching pad park, and the “scary” numbers like ERA and homers allowed drop overnight.
J.A. Happ, Toronto Blue Jays
Jake Arrietta has the best ERA in baseball since the 2015 All-Star game. There’s a list of “usual suspects” right behind him, and we’d bet you name a bunch of guys like Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Zach Grienke, etc. without mentioning Happ. Well, he’s there, and he’s a major reason why the Jays have overcome a slow start and are currently challenging for first place in the American League East.
Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox
If asked to name a White Sox lefty who over the last three seasons notched a 3.4-ish ERA, 200+ innings pitched, and is under a club-friendly contract for the next few years, how many of you would say Chris Sale? Well, that description also fits Quintana.
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
“Mad Max” tied the major-league record for strikeouts in a single game earlier this year, yet when the conversation about “dominant” pitchers occurs, his name doesn’t come up nearly as often as it should. Scherzer has had a sub-1.00 WHIP in 2 of his last 3 full seasons and is headed that way again in 2016. He’s also on track to pass 2,000 career strikeouts in less than 300 career starts. That has him on a strikeouts per 9 innings pitched clip which is better than anybody in baseball right now except Chris Sale of the White Sox. As it stands now, Scherzer ranks ahead of such notables as Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens in K/9.
Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays
J-Dub is a firm believer that it takes 600 innings to learn how to pitch in the bigs. As of this writing, Stroman has right around 300, and the signs point to nothing but a bright future, barring injury. If you take away the early portion of this season where he struggled coming off an injury, he shows every indication of blooming into a ~3-ish ERA, 15 win, 200 innings pitched, 1.15-ish WHIP-type starters. There’s a lot guys in this league making big cash who don’t have that much upside.
Relievers (listed alphabetically):
Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians
While you likely haven’t heard of this guy, his numbers will get your attention rather quickly. He’s a darling of the Sabremeticians, but we’ll stick to number people actually understand, like a strikeout per nine innings pitched mark north of 11 to go along with a 3.29 strikeout to walk ratio.
Santiago Casilla, San Francisco Giants
You don’t truly appreciate Casilla’s value until you see the role he plays in Bruce Bochy’s bullpen. Over the past few years, the Giants’ have field one of the best bullpens in baseball, and Casilla plays a major role in that success. One reason is his flexibility; he can be a long reliever, a setup guy, or closer. Toss in that he’s got a career 2.33 against National League hitters, and it isn’t hard to see why he’s a good guy to have.
Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
Here’s another guy languishing in a place which doesn’t get a lot of attention, yet he’s another guy putting up gaudy numbers, like a .242 ERA, a 3.44 strikeouts to walks ratio, and strikeout per nine innings pitched mark of 12.1.
Mark Melancon, Washington Nationals
We were literally writing this when the news broke that Nats had acquired Melancon from Pittsburgh. Why does Washington want this guy at the back of their bullpen, since at first glance his number aren’t spectacular? Remove his two disastrous stints with the Yankees and the Red Sox, and you quickly see this guy has a long record of dominating National League hitters; 2.07 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 4.29 strikeout to walk ratio when pitching in the Senior Circuit.
Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers
Once again, you may wonder why the guy who has the most saves of any active pitcher makes this list? It’s really about stuff you don’t know rather tha the stuff you already do. K-Rod has been on our radar ever since he burst on the scene the 2002 World Series Champion Angels. But in the middle of career, he disappeared after a 2011 trade from the Mets to Milwaukee, where he languished in mediocrity.
But he’s resurrected himself as of late, and coming off back-to-back All-Star appearances with the Brewers. Those All-Star appearances came a full decade after his first in 2004. Rodriguez has tallied 82 saves over the last two years, but here’s the most attention getting fact about K-Rod. At age 34, he has roughly 100 more saves through his Age-33 season than Mariano Rivera had at the same stage of his career.