We are almost a quarter of a way through the 2017 MLB season, which means it is about time to over analyze everything about every team. With that being said, here’s a list of guys I think deserve more credit than they get for their play this year.
Jonathan Schoop – Batting .287 with five home runs and 18 RBIs, Schoop is a big reason for the Orioles early season success. He may not launch the ball 450 feet like Davis and Trumbo, but he can hit for average and power making him a key part of their lineup.
Boston Red Sox
Mitch Moreland – The man has the daunting task of replacing David Ortiz in the lineup. Now there’s no way he will produce like Big Papi but his .254 average and .362 on base percentage is a good addition to a Boston lineup that is already pretty stacked. He is also the reigning Gold Glove winner at first base, and defense is something the Red Sox need as they currently rank 29 in fielding percentage
New York Yankees
Aaron Hicks – I get it, Aaron Judge is a monster. However, there’s another Aaron in the lineup who is making a big impact for the Bronx Bombers. He’s batting .321 with an OBP of .460 and his six home runs are only two shy of his total of the entire 2016 season. That along with his monster arm makes him ultra valuable to the Yankees.
Tampa Bay Rays
Logan Morrison – There isn’t much to cheer about if you’re a Rays fan, but someone other than Evan Longoria is leading the team in homers and RBI’s. Morrison’s 10 homers and 24 RBIs has been greatly overshadowed by the hot hitting of Corey Dickerson, but LoMo is quietly having a solid season playing at the Trop.
Toronto Blue Jays
Joe Smith – Eight games under .500 is probably not where the Blue Jays hoped to be at this point in the season and there has not been a lot of positives to take away from their play. Joe Smith has been solid though, producing a 2.00 ERA in 19 appearances while striking out 26 with only six walks. If Toronto can turn it around, Smith will be an important piece coming out of the bullpen.
Chicago White Sox
Avisail Garcia – He leads the team in average (.344), home runs (6) and RBIs (25) and all anyone want to talk about is Jose Quintana and the prospects! Garcia is well on his way to representing the White Sox in Miami during the mid summer classic.
Jose Ramirez – I won’t lie, I wouldn’t know much about Jose Ramirez if it weren’t for my Cleveland loving roommate. But what I do know is Ramirez is playing at an All-Star level for a team loaded with talent. Lindor and Encarnacion will get all the love from the nation, but those who follow the Indians know Ramirez is key for their success. His 24 RBIs lead the team.
Nicholas Castellanos – When you think of the Tigers only two names really come to mind for most people. Ignoring Verlander and Cabrera, Castellanos deserves some more love. His average is not great, but he leads the team with 34 hits and 22 RBIs.
Kansas City Royals
Jason Vargas – The man has a 1.01 era and is 5-1 with 39 strikeouts and only nine walks. Vargas is single-handedly keeping the Royals from entering the basement of the AL Central and yet the MLB is more concerned with taking pictures of Eric Hosmer’s hair than talking about Vargas’ incredible start to 2017.
Eddie Rosario – It’s clearly the Miguel Sano show in the Twin Cities, but Eddie Rosario has been another reason why the Twins are off to a solid start. He is currently batting just below .300 and leads the team in hits. If Minnesota is going to continue to improve, Rosario will be a big reason why.
Lance McCullers Jr. – All of Houston is rejoicing as it look as if Dallas Keuchel has returned to his Cy Young form. Behind him, McCullers is quietly having a solid 2017 campaign. The most impressive stat being that he has recorded 50 strikeouts in only 42.1 innings pitched.
Los Angeles Angels
Yunel Escobar – It’s hard for any Angels player to earn some attention when you are sharing the field with Mike Trout, but I’ll give Escobar his 15 seconds of fame. The third baseman is still going strong at 34 years old batting .272 with five homers and 17 runs driven in. He’s also compiled 43 hits, which is ties Trout for the team lead.
Andrew Triggs – The side-arm throwing righty out in the Bay Area is out to a strong start in 2017. Sporting a 2.21 earned run average and 5 wins, Triggs has gone 40-plus innings while only allowing one homer. Batters are only batting .209 off the 28 year old and his strikeout to walk ratio sits at 31 to 10. Sonny Gray and Jharel Cotton got most of the hype entering the season, but Triggs has been Oakland’s most impressive pitcher so far.
Jean Segura – The once highly regarded prospect has bounced around the league since making it to the majors, but he may have finally found a home in Seattle. Leading the team in average, Segura could be the piece Seattle needs to finally make a playoff run. The most impressive part about his season so far has to be his 43 hits, which leads the team even though he missed 11 games.
Elvis Andrus – Andrus continues to be the most consistent player down in Texas. Year in and year out the shortstop will hit for average while providing stellar play in the field. 2017 has been no different, as Andrus is batting .289 with 5 homers and 18 RBI’s. The world may know him for the way he messes with teammate Adrian Beltre, but Andrus is a pretty decent ball player as well.
Ender Inciarte – With the Braves, it’s been Freddie Freeman and then everyone else during the rough opening to the 2017 season. Looking at the rest of their lineup, Inciarte is a name not many are talking about. After finishing the 2016 campaign with a .291 average he is showing signs of another solid year at the dish while dazzling on defense in centerfield and leading the team in steals.
J.T. Realmuto – The catcher is batting over .300 while being the main man behind the backstop in Miami. For a lineup looking for some consistency, Realmuto has been a pleasant surprise for Don Mattingly.
New York Mets
Michael Conforto – The Harvey, Cespedes, Syndergaard mess that is the Mets has greatly overshadowed the tremendous season Conforto is having. After a disappointing 2016 campaign that included some time in the minors, the outfielder is batting .343 with nine homers. It’s still early, but Conforto looks to be returning back to the player who showed so much promise during their 2015 World Series run.
Aaron Altherr – A .350 average with while leading the team with eight home runs is what gets Altherr on this list. The left fielder is asserting himself as part of the young crop of players beginning to bloom in Philadelphia.
Daniel Murphy – Bear with me here, I know you’re thinking I’m insane for putting someone who batted .347 last year and is batting .331 this year on the list. But how many of you actually knew Murphy was hitting that well? Murphy has been close to, if not the best hitter in baseball since his insane tear in the 2015 playoffs. Yet due to Bryce Harper and the resurgence of Ryan Zimmerman, Murphy is getting nowhere near the amount of praise he deserves.
Carl Edwards Jr. – No, he is not the NASCAR driver. Since his transition from the starting rotation to the bullpen a few years back, Edwards has been a solid reliever. However, in 2017 he has improved mightily as a set-up man for the Cubs. In 16 games this season Edwards has posted a 1.17 ERA, striking out 22 while only walking six. Him along with Wade Davis is quickly becoming a dangerous combination in the late innings.
Eugenio Suarez – The Reds have had a surprising amount of success in 2017 and Suarez has been a big part of that. Joey Votto will continue to be the face of the franchise in Cincy but Suarez is quickly becoming a solid all-around player for the Reds.
Travis Shaw – You really can’t blame fans for ignoring the solid play of Shaw this year when Eric Thames is playing out of his mind. But besides Thames, there’s another player hitting the ball pretty well for the Brewers. Shaw is batting .283 with eight homers and leads the teams in RBI’s with 31. His strong play has been a big reason the Brewers are exceeding expectations early on.
Felipe Rivero – It’s been a rough year for the Pirates all-around, but Rivero has been excellent out of the pen. In 20 appearances he has posted a 0.87 ERA and has only walked four batters while striking out 22. Without Rivero to stop some of the bleeding it could have been an even more upsetting start for the Pirates.
St. Louis Cardinals
Jedd Gyroko – The Cardinals have been blazing hot of late after getting off to a 3-9 start and Gyorko has been a big reason why. Batting over .300, he has been able to fill the offensive void that the Cardinals lost with Stephen Piscotty on the DL.
Brandon Drury – There are a few candidates from Arizona that could be placed on this list, David Peralta and Chris Owings come to mind, but I’ll go with Drury because his .322 average and 39 hits is just too hard to ignore. The Diamondbacks have a lot of young players who are making a name for themselves in the show.
Mark Reynolds – Yes, Mark Reynolds still plays baseball and he is off to a scorching hot 2017 season. It’s surprising that Reynolds and Colorado did not find each other earlier as they are such a good match, but his .333 average, 12 home runs and 33 RBI’s are sure making up for lost time.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Alex Wood – After an up and down 2016 season that saw Wood work from the pen and the rotation, the starter/reliever for the Dodgers has a 4-0 record and a team best 2.27 ERA (take that Clayton Kershaw). With a slightly banged up rotation, Wood has been a dependable arm for the Dodgers early on.
San Diego Padres
Trevor Cahill – He spent the past two seasons as an arm in the bullpen for the Chicago Cubs but the Padres called on Cahill to become a starter once again and he has delivered in 2017. Cahill has quietly been the best pitcher in San Diego and although that may not be the most impressive title a pitcher can receive, his 3.27 ERA is quite impressive for someone who had not gone deep into games for several years.
San Francisco Giants
Brandon Crawford – Crawford doesn’t make this list because of his play this year, but because of how he is underrated year in and year out. Sure sometimes he is recognized for a smooth defensive play here and there but to me that is not enough. He has been a centerpiece for a team that has won three World Series in six years thanks in large part to his timely hitting and top tier defense. The shortstop crop in the MLB is stronger than ever and Crawford is right up there with the best.