Each MLB team's most overlooked player
Every team, even the worst teams, has a star -- the player everybody knows, the guy who, when your local television station advertises the upcoming series, they make sure to showcase. But every team also has an under-the-radar player, someone who’s having a terrific season but no one seems to notice because they’re paying so much attention to the stars. Anthony Rendon has essentially made a career out of being this player.
Let’s take a look at the players having excellent seasons that you might not have been fully aware of. These are the most overlooked players on each team.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays -- Lourdes Gurriel Jr., OF
Gurriel is on the IL right now and has been out for a couple of weeks, but his improvement on his already-not-bad rookie season has been profound. Until Bo Bichette came around, it was him, not Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who was the best hitter on this team.
Orioles -- Jonathan Villar, 2B
It hasn’t been the most glorious season in Baltimore to be sure, but quietly, Villar has resuscitated his career in Baltimore. He's posted his first 20-20 season in 2019.
Rays -- Tommy Pham, OF
When Pham is healthy, as he has been most of this season, he’s as consistently productive as anyone in the game. He’s about to put up his second 20-20 season, and his third year of 20-plus homers in a row. And he leads the team in OBP, too.
Red Sox -- Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
It’s difficult for anyone in Boston to do anything quietly, but Rodriguez’s career-best (and team-best) season on the mound has been lost in all the Boston shuffles.
Yankees -- Adam Ottavino, RHP
Thoughts on Babe Ruth aside, Ottavino has been everything the Yankees could have hoped for and more. With all the high-profile Yankees bullpen arms, Ottavino has been far and away the best.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Indians -- Shane Bieber, RHP
While we were all waiting on Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber (and watching Trevor Bauer throw balls into the stands), the man who went by “Not Justin” for Players’ Weekend has stealthily become this team’s ace.
Royals -- Brad Keller, RHP
Remember last year, when we all considered Keller a bit of a fluke? He hasn’t been quite as good as he was in 2018 … but he’s been close.
Tigers -- Spencer Turnbull, RHP
It’s this 26-year-old rookie, not Matthew Boyd, who has the lowest ERA on the team.
Twins -- Mitch Garver, C
The Twins have had so many offensive standouts this year that we’ve all barely paid attention to the catcher with a .933 OPS.
White Sox -- Aaron Bummer, LHP
Bummer has been incredible out of the bullpen for the Sox, with a WHIP under 1.00.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels -- Brian Goodwin, OF
The Angels are the third team of Goodwin’s five-year career, but he has figured something out there, and done so while comfortably playing every outfield position.
Astros -- Will Harris, LHP
Pretty much all the Astros are so good that we can’t help but notice them, but their best reliever has been Harris (1.64 ERA in 56 appearances), by a rather wide margin.
Athletics -- Mark Canha, OF
Pretty much the prototypical A’s player, Canha has become indispensable for a team trying to scrap and claw its way to the postseason again, with an OPS hovering around .900.
Mariners -- Tom Murphy, C
It is very possible, even likely, that you have never heard of Murphy. He also happens to be leading the Mariners in WAR, per Baseball Reference.
Rangers -- Lance Lynn, RHP
It is very possible that Lynn -- Lance Lynn! -- has been the best pitcher in the AL for the past month and a half. He leads all AL pitchers in WAR according to FanGraphs, and he won’t get nearly as many Cy Young Award votes as he probably should
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves -- Max Fried, LHP
Did you know Fried is second in the NL in wins? Did you know he has the highest strikeout rate in the Braves’ rotation?
Marlins -- Garrett Cooper, 1B
Cooper has silently put up a higher OPS than Joey Votto, Eric Hosmer and Justin Smoak.
Mets -- Wilson Ramos, C
Perhaps lost in everything else going on with the Mets this year is that Ramos is likely going to play more games than any other season in his career. And he’s been red-hot of late, posting a .991 OPS in August.
Nationals -- Anthony Rendon, 3B
The answer is always Rendon here, right? He is currently having the best season of his already-outstanding career, and while we’re talking about him more, we’re still not talking about him enough. Did you know he’s a free agent this winter?
Phillies -- Scott Kingery, UTIL
That extension-into-infinity the Phillies signed him to before he had ever played a Major League game looked rough last year, but it looks like a steal now. He’s poised to increase his OPS by 200 points.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers -- Eric Thames, 1B
For all the love that Thames got for his return to the U.S. two years ago, few have noticed that he’s about as good this year … and now the first-base job is his and his alone.
Cardinals -- Kolten Wong, 2B
The Cardinals have been waiting for Wong to turn into an All-Star, and he might have done it this year. He might be the best defensive second baseman in baseball, and he leads the Cards in OBP.
Cubs -- Brandon Kintzler, RHP
A team desperate for bullpen fixes has at least had Kintzler locking it down all season.
Pirates -- Bryan Reynolds, OF
The Pirates’ collapse has obscured the fact that they might have discovered a franchise cornerstone who is challenging for the NL batting crown as a rookie.
Reds -- Michael Lorenzen, RHP/OF
We are absolutely not talking enough about the fact that Lorenzen has a 3.14 ERA in 61 games and is hitting .357 during 15 appearances in the outfield.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs -- Carson Kelly, C
He’s having a better offensive season than not only Paul Goldschmidt -- the star he was traded for last winter -- but also every other catcher in the NL.
Dodgers -- Will Smith, C
Of course, the Dodgers can call up a 24-year-old catcher and have him put up a 1.210 OPS in his first 100 at-bats. Of course they can.
Giants -- Will Smith, LHP
He’s having a nice year, but I’ll confess I couldn’t resist having two Will Smiths in a row here.
Padres -- Hunter Renfroe, OF
For a while it looked like Renfroe would be the odd-man-out in the Padres’ outfield. Now he leads the team in homers and his throwing arm is a force to be reckoned with.
Rockies -- Scott Oberg, RHP
His unfortunate recent issue with blood clots should not obscure that Oberg’s ERA+ -- which adjusts for park effects -- ranks seventh in MLB (min. 50 IP).