MLB

The 10 Most Underrated Players in Baseball Going into 2017

The formula here is a fragile one: we’re balancing on-field performance with relative obscurity to the casual fan. Can it be argued that Mike Trout is “underrated” considering how good he actually is (10.55 Wins Above Replacement in 2016)? Sure, but you’d be a schmuck if you utilized that rationale.

We’re looking for the guys your average baseball fan doesn’t know or has only heard about in passing who are better than big name guys (think Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista, or anyone over 25 who plays for the Yankees).

Most of these guys play for small market teams, or teams that weren’t competitive in 2016, but trust us, they’re studs…




10. Jake Lamb

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The Diamondbacks were atrocious last season, but the 26-year-old Washington native was one of the D-Bags’ D-Backs’ few bright spots, finishing the season with a .332 OBP, 29 homers, and 91 rib-eyes. He’ll need to cut down his strikeouts (154 in 2016), but the future is bright for young Jakey…




9. Jose Ramirez

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Generously listed at 5’9 (we’ll call him 5’9 because if he’s 5’9, our entire office is over 6’1), the switch-hitting Ramirez came from out of nowhere last season to hit .312 and get on base .363 percent of the time. Not only did he hit well, Jose started the season in left field, ended it at third base, and will start the season at second base this year in place of the injured Jason Kipnis. He’s overshadowed by Francisco Lindor, but Jose Ramirez’s consistency has been huge in the Tribe’s success…




8. Michael Fulmer

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Can you imagine the Mets pitching staff if they hadn’t sent Fulmer to the Tigers for Yoenis Cespedes? Thor, deGrom, Fulmer? Yikes. Detroit’s hard-throwing rookie kicked his career off with a 3.06 ERA over 159 innings and 132 strikeouts and has Cy Young-caliber stuff. If “Michael Fulmer” is pitching against your team, don’t expect to end up in the win column…




7. Carlos Martinez

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Most didn’t notice Martinez’s brilliance last year because the Cardinals were unusually mediocre, but the six-foot flame-thrower was often unhittable, and ended 2016 with a 3.04 ERA in 195.3 innings pitched. We’ve seen him break off sliders that leave hitters questioning their vocation…




6. Brian Dozier

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Congrats, Brian. You did make the list. Bull Dozier ended the season with 6.5 WAR, 42 homers, and an .886 OPS. The Twins didn’t play bad baseball down the stretch, and that’s primarily because of their slugging second baseman who takes home more tail in Minneapolis than nineteenth century fur traders…




5. Freddie Freeman

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Remember when the Braves were still good and Freeman was dealing with that weird eye thing? Well, the Braves were awful last year, but Freeman (still only 27) was incredible. Double F had a .968 OPS and finished with an average above (.302) for the first time since 2013. Atlanta will be an interesting team this season and if they make a run, their unheralded MVP candidate will be the reason why…




4. DJ LeMahieu

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Nolan Arenado gets all the love in Colorado, but you’re higher than an undergrad in Boulder if you don’t think LeMahieu’s just as valuable. The former LSU star hit .348 last season for the Rockies and finished with a 5.2 WAR. It’s always tough to predict a Colorado baseball season, but if their pitching isn’t terrible, LeMahieu, Arenado, and the cocksure Rockies could make a run in the NL West…




3. Kyle Seager

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Considering the publicity Corey Seager (Kyle’s younger brother) gets, it’s incredible that so few have jumped on the elder Seager’s bandwagon. The powerful lefty finished 2016 with 30 bombs, 99 RBIs, and has now hit more than 20 homers in all of his five full major league seasons. If we asked you who finished 12th in the 2016 MVP race, you probably wouldn’t think of Kyle Seager, would you? Well it was Kyle Seager, people. Give the man some credit…




2. Tanner Roark

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Roark had a rough 2015 (4.38 ERA over 111 innings), but was quietly incredible in both 2014 and 2016. Last year Tanner — who despite his name has average pigmentation — threw 210 innings and finished with a better ERA (2.83) than Max Scherzer (2.96). Maybe 2017 will be the season when Roark finally gets some recognition…




1. Christian Yelich

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The best player on the Marlins isn’t Giancarlo Stanton, it’s Christian Yelich, and it’s not really close. Yelly, as he’s known by no one, is still relatively unknown but batted third for the United States in the World Baseball Classic and finished last season with 5.3 WAR and an .859 OPS. Oh, and he’s a great defensive outfielder. The kid’s a budding superstar, but nobody knows it yet. Enjoy the anonymity while it lasts, Yelly…

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