The All Under-rated team of 2007 (so far)
July 23, 2007 5 Comments
Of course, you know about all of these guys. You knew about them three years ago and you “called it” on most of them that they would have monster years. Right. It’s just all those morons out there who still think that Mike Piazza is a good player that keeps these guys from getting their due. In fact, I bet that if I asked you nicely, you’d tell me who will be on the All-Under-rated team of 2010. You so know how to spell Tulowitzski. You’re that guy who knew about My Chemical Romance before they got big. And now, you don’t listen to them any more because they “sold out.”
It’s not you that I’m writing this for; it’s for all of “them” who haven’t stopped to think about any of these players yet, even though they should have. Without further ado, I present the All Under-rated team of 2007 (so far).
Catcher, Victor Martinez, Cleveland Indians
Will someone tell me why this guy isn’t getting legitimate discussion for AL MVP? Yeah, he probably won’t win it with Magglio Ordonez and that A-Rod guy around, but have you heard anyone talk about him as being in the running? His resume, aside from the .323/.385/.550 he’s put up so far this year? He leads MLB in VORP for a catcher (he’s 3rd in the AL and seventh overall among all position players), and he leads MLB in WPA among catchers — by a game! He’s been the heart and soul of the Indians as Travis Hafner has had an off-year. And I’ll bet that most people were surprised to learn his name at the All-Star game when he hit that homerun.
First Baseman, Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
There are first basemen having better years statistically. But did you even know that Pena was still in baseball after those few years with the Tigers? Pena is 4th among first basemen in VORP (behind Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Howard) and is creating 9.17 runs per 27 outs (leads all 1Bs in that category). Not bad for a guy who was in AAA most of last year playing in the Yankees system. Think that he’d look better than Doug Men… Mint… oh you know who I mean… at first right now?
Second Baseman, Kelly Johnson, Atlanta Braves
Admit it. You thought Marcus Giles was still playing second for the Braves. Or maybe you thought Mark Lemke was. Johnson is fourth among MLB second basemen in VORP, third in WPA, fourth in RC/27. He does strike out waaaay too much. In that way, he’s sort of this year’s version of Dan Uggla. Second baseman with some pop who comes from nowhere.
Shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
I’ll be honest: part of the draw to Tulowitzki on my part was the fact that earlier in the year, he was in the middle of the most euphonious double play combination I’ve ever laid my ears on. On what I assume was a failed sac bunt, the Rockies turned a 2-6-4 double play that went Torrealba-Tulowitzki-Quintanilla. With that said, in a league where he has to compete for headlines against Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, and Jimmy Rollins, he holds his own. His stats aren’t eye popping (.282/.350/.431), and he’s 13th league-wide in VORP, but for a guy who hasn’t hit his 23rd birthday, he’s not doing too badly. Plus, he ranks only behind Derek Jeter in WPA among shortstops.
Third Baseman, Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
This is something of a stretch for under-rated, as Braun has been getting mention as a possible NL Rookie of the Year. I could have gone with Casey Blake, but then I would have just looked like an Indians homer. Braun gets the nod because I don’t believe people know how good a year he’s having comparatively. He trails only A-Rod and Chipper in RC/27 with a spiffy 9.38 in that category. His VORP puts him fifth among 3B. In other words, he’s not just a good rookie third baseman, he’s been a pretty good third baseman overall this year. And he plays on a team where he’s outshined by Prince Fielder and four guys in sausage costumes. Braun could be a tease because of a small sample size (he’s only played in 50 games so far) and might have some problems due to there being a Royals pitcher of the same name. Then again, maybe he’s really the second coming of Morgan Ensberg.
Left Field, Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants
First in VORP (among LF). First in RC/27. First in OPS (check out this line: .279/.497/.572). Last in the hearts of his countrymen. Not bad for a supposedly washed up 42-year-old, eh? Look, I know that people don’t like Bonds over the whole did-he-or-didn’t-he issue with steroids and the home run chase, but I think that they’re confusing their antipathy toward him with his ability to play baseball. Bonds is showing that he’s still one of the best of the game, even if people think he’s a jerk. (With apologies to Eric Byrnes and Matt Holliday, aka the two best players you’ve never heard of. Except that Byrnes threw his dog into McCovey Cove at the All-Star Game.)
Center Field, Curtis Granderson, Detroit Tigers
Did you know he might just hit 20+ triples this year? (He has 16 already.) Did you know that the AL record is 26? Granderson isn’t exactly an unknown quantity, but he’s always had the reputation of a guy who runs like an antelope, but also hits like one. Not any more. This year, Granderson has cut down on his strikeouts (comparatively), started hitting line drives and getting the ball into the air. And he can still run like an antelope. Seeing that he played in the World Series last year, he’s not exactly under the radar, but somehow, he missed out on the All-Star team this year. He’s second in VORP to Ichiro among CF, and leads all CFs in RC/27.
Right Field, Ken Griffey Jr., Cincinnati Reds
Alex Rios, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I considered you. You’re third in VORP among RF. But you’ve gone to the All-Star game twice. You even caught the final fly ball in this year’s contest after Jim Leyland felt the need to pull a double-switch to bring K-Rod into the game in the ninth inning. I think the word’s gotten out about you. Brad Hawpe, I thought about you too.
Griffey is having a really good year, and since he hasn’t played more than 130 games in a season since 2000 (his first in Southern Ohio, or as those of us in Cleveland like to say, Northern Kentucky), I think people had assumed that he wasn’t really relevant any more. Griffey’s a case of a guy who used to be sooooooooo amazing that when he fell off to being merely really good over the past few years, it looked like he wasn’t good any more. His numbers this year are .280/.390/.540, and he’s number four in VORP among right fielders. Not too shabby. Maybe The Kid has something left in the tank.
Starting Pitcher, Paul Byrd, Cleveland Indians
He averages 6 1/3 innings per start. He has the second-best K/BB ratio of any pitcher in baseball (behind his much more heralded teammate C.C. Sabathia), primarily because he never walks anyone. He’s 8-4, with a 4.43 ERA. He’s the number five starter on the Indians. How many teams would appreciate that type of production out of their #2 spot? He’s not a Cy Young candidate, nor should he be. But given what his job title is, he’s doing OK.
Relief Pitcher, The Minnesota Twins bullpen
No peeking. Name the top reliever in MLB by VORP as of the time I’m writing this. If you guessed Matt Guerrier, you win a cookie. Both Guerrier and bullpen mate Pat Neshek have WPA figures in excess of 2.0, which outdoes several folks, including their teammate, a gentleman by the name of Johan Santana. Speaking of Santana, let’s another game called “Name a Twins starter other than Johan Santana.” (BOOF!) What’s carried the Twins to this point in the season, where they are basically ‘tweeners in the “Should we buy or should we sell?” debates, is the bullpen.
Well kids, you have any ideas? You know what to do.