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Underrated Players


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Yeah, yeah. Clichè topic, I know.

First of all, this isn't meant to be the most oxymoronic of all sports discussions: Most Underrated. I just want to talk about players who you feel truly are thought about less often than their production makes you think they should.

Second, I have a particular reason to think about this.

As part of the discussion in the Stephen Drew thread, I was looking at the Diamondbacks' page on Baseball Reference for places they might improve. The name that caught my eye, though, was Chris Young.

I knew a little about Chris Young already. He came up in the last wave of Diamondbacks prospects along with Carlos Quentin and Chris Snyder and Conor Jackson, when they had their season winning the NL West despite well outpacing their expected winning percentage. He was on my fantasy team one season as well.

I knew that he was a power and speed guy, but that he had problems getting on-base that tended to hurt his value.

Looking at his numbers for the 2011 season, I hadn't realized what he had developed into over the past couple years.

He is much better at getting on-base now; .341 last season and .327 this year in on-base percentage, bringing his career number up ten points in a year and a half. He averages 20-plus home runs and stolen bases a season, and is successful 76 percent of the time. And, in the major defensive stats on both BBRef and FanGraphs, he has generally improved every season, from well-below average as a rookie to well-above average the past two years.

He has turned into a very good ballplayer. This season he is the eighth-best center fielder in baseball in OPS, tied with Adam Jones for fourth in home runs, is fourth in UZR and fifth and eighth in rWAR and fWAR, respectively.

Yet, you never hear anything about him.

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I like Mark Trumbo from the Angels. In his rookie campaign (25y) he has 35 xbh in 320 AB's with an ISO of .222 and he plays a very good defense. If he learns to take a walk he could become an elite 1B.

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Matt Cain comes to mind because he doesn't win a lot of games.

I'd say that Cain was underrated before last year.

If we're talking about underrated by the national media, I'd say Andrew McCutchen. Twenty-four years old and in two and a half seasons he's already been worth 12 wins. But most baseball fans have known about him for a while.

If I had to pick someone underrated by fans in general, I'd go with Justin Masterson. He's really having an excellent, excellent season.

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