By: Noah Wright
I’m sure by now you’ve all seen Cody Bellinger’s numbers as well as Christian Yelich and Joey Gallo. All three are doing out of this world great. With so many big names in the MLB, some smaller names get glanced over, and overshadowed. There are a handful of little known MLB players who are doing absolutely fantastic, and receiving little fanfare. Well I’m here today to bring some light onto those overshadowed players.
- Trey Mancini:
Trey Mancini was one of 2017’s top rookies. However, the Orioles corner outfielder/first baseman suffered from a sophomore slump in 2018. That is not the case in 2019 though. The young slugger is currently batting a very strong .328/.384/.560 in 138 plate appearances. He’s slugged 6 home runs, as well as collecting 70 total bases. In total, his offense has been worth an eye popping 150 wRC+. While his defense has been subpar, his bat has easily been standout.
- Martin Perez:
The former Texas Ranger never was anything special in the MLB. He never produced great results, and had an ERA above 6 in 2018. After last season, the Twins decided to give Perez a low risk 1 year deal, and that low risk 1 year deal has been one of the best small contracts of the off season. Through his first 41 and a third innings with the Twins, Perez has a strong 2.83 ERA, 3.12 FIP, and 1.258 WHIP. He’s striking out batters at a career high rate with an 8.5 K/9. Plus, he has given up just 2 home runs so far this year. Perez has limited hard contact to just a 32.2% rate.
- Brandon Lowe:
Lowe was one of the Rays top prospects, but with so many big names like Vlad Jr., Eloy Jimenez, Chris Paddack, and Pete Alonso all making their debut seasons, Lowe was pretty much overshadowed by everyone. But that doesn’t mean he’s struggled in the MLB. If anything, he’s performed better than any other rookie. He is currently tied with Alonso in rookie OPS. Overall, he is batting .307/.365/.570 in 126 PA’s. Lowe has already hit 7 long balls, resulting in a 150 wRc+. He has also been a decent defender at second base. So far into 2019, Lowe has 3 DRS, and a .7 UZR at second base. In total (including 24 innings at first, and 2 innings in the outfield), the Rays’ youngster has been worth .3 dWAR.
- Christian Walker:
Before Christian Walker looked like the leading candidate for NL Rookie Of The Year, he was a top prospect in the Orioles system-back in 2013-2014. Though Walker showed tons of upside in the minors, his path to regular plate appearances was always blocked by somebody. That was even the case when he was acquired by the Diamondbacks in 2017. But after star first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt was shipped off to the Cardinals, the door opened for Christian Walker. He’s taken full advantage of it, having a .306/.378/.595 line in 135 PA’s. He leads all rookies in OPS, and has an outstanding 152 wC+. Though he has been average with the glove, Walker, despite making his MLB debut back in 2014, is the current frontrunner for NL ROY.
- Yandy Diaz:
I’ve said it before, but Yandy Diaz was the best under the radar acquisition by any MLB team over the off season. After being blocked by a full infield in Cleveland, Diaz was sent to the Rays as a moving piece in a 3 team trade including the Rays (Diaz’s new team), the Indians, and the Mariners. In 135 PA’s, Diaz is batting a strong .258/.356/.513 with 7 long balls, and a 132 wRC+. Diaz is even positive defender at the infield corners. He has 1 DRS at both first base and third base, along with a .9 UZR at first, and .4 UZR at third. Defensively, he is worth .2 dWAR. Overall, he has a 1.1 bWAR.
- Caleb Smith:
Caleb Smith’s 2019 season is a very good underdog story. He was originally drafted in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB draft by the Yankees. In 2016, the Brewers selected Smith in the Rule 5 draft. Then, he was purchased the Chicago Cubs. After that, he was sent back to the Yankees. His journey has come to a temporary end with the Marlins, but could start up in a moments notice since he is on the Marlins. However, Smith has been one of the MLB’s top pitchers in 2019. In 36 innings, Smith has yielded a 2.00 ERA, 2.84 FIP, and .833 WHIP. Caleb is delivering elite strikeout and walk numbers, with a 11.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, and 5.0 K/BB ratio. Smith has also kept opponents to a .190 average as well.