By: Noah Wright
There are tons of popular players at each position that receive the big spot light. However, there are also tons of players who never received any attention whatsoever. While they might not receive the popularity, they are still very productive batters and pitchers.
Catcher: Robinson Chirinos
Robinson Chirinos has put up some solid seasons in his career. This year, outside of the bandbox that is the Rangers field, Chirinos is batting a great .267/.387/.535 in 108 plate appearances with the Astros. That’s good for a 151 wRC+. Although Chirinos has never been too great of a defender, he’s shown some improvement this year. He currently has .4 dWAR, 1 DRS, and is framing pitchers fairly well (.2 framing runs).
Firstbase: Jose Abreu
Despite consistently putting up solid numbers every year of his career, Abreu almost never gets any sort of attention. From 2014 to 2017, Abreu had compiled a batting line of .301/.359/.524. Throughout those 4 seasons, his lowest HR total was 25. Though Abreu struggled some in 2018, that can be chalked up to injury since he did play only 128 games, and is performing well into 2019. As of now, Abreu is batting a strong .281/.346/.541 in 162 PA’s. The White Sox slugger has blasted 9 home runs, and has been worth 135 wRC+. Although his bat is one of the White Sox’ best his glove has been average, having just -1 DRS this year and a -.3 dWAR.
Second Base: Whit Merrifield
If I were to ask you who has the 3rd highest wRC+ among all second basemen, you would probably answer with Jose Altuve, Ozzie Albies, maybe Robinson Cano. But it’s actually Whit Merrifield at 131. Merrifield has been a steady contributor to the Royals for the past 3 seasons. Last year, Merrifield batted a strong .304/.367/.438 with 45 stolen bases 12 home runs, and showed elite defense at second base. This year, he’s improved even more. Currently, Merrifield has a ..294/.352/.531 line in 176 PA’s. Merrifield is showing off his power and speed again, having 6 long balls, and 7 stolen bases His defense is strong yet again, having 1 DRS, and a 1.2 UZR. He’s even showed some defense in the outfield, having .8 UZR and 2 DRS in the corners. Overall, he’s been worth .4 dWAR and 1.4 bWAR.
Third Base: Anthony Rendon:
Rendon put up 2 consecutive .900+ OPS seasons between 2017 and 2018, and didn’t make an all star game in either season. This year, he’s putting up similarly impressive numbers. Rendon has a slashline of .318/.408/.648 in 103 PA’s. His 172 wRC+ would be a career high. Although, he has done so-so defensively in 2019. He has -2 DRS and a -.2 dWAR at third base so far into the season. Though he has shown good defensive prowess in the past, so we could see him bounce back later this season.
Shortstop: Paul DeJong
DeJong is overshadowed since he plays a position with tons of all-stars at it. You could probably name 15 different shortstops before you named DeJong. However, the 2nd place finisher in 2017 Rookie Of The Year is outperforming most at his position. DeJong is batting a strong .327/.406/.573. His OPS leads all NL shortstops, and is right behind Jorge Polanco for the highest shortstop OPS. DeJong has an elite wRC+ of 162 as well. Defensively, he’s more than worthy of a gold glove. Last season, he had 14 DRS, and has already posted 4 DRS, and a 3.2 UZR this season. In total, DeJong has been worth 2.6 bWAR, and .6 dWAR.
Left Field: David Peralta
Even though Peralta won a silver slugger last season, Peralta is still one of the most underrated outfielders in the entire game. Peralta has been swinging a hot bat, having a .321/.359/.547 in 170 PA’s. He currently owns a 135 wRC+ and 133 OPS+. Those are both some of the best among primary left fielders. Defensively, though he’s not going to be winning the platinum glove, Peralta is holding his own with 2 DRS, and 2.2 UZR in left field.
Center Field: Mike Trout
Some people will say Mike Trout is overrated (I don’t know how they can think that, since he is statistically a once in a lifetime talent, and then some), but the fact he gets so little attention makes him kind of underrated. I don’t think Trout needs much of an explanation of why he’s so good. By the all star break, there’s a decent chance he will be in the top 100 of WAR all time, both pitchers and position players combined. He’s top 20 in all time OBP, just 52 home runs away from 300 home runs, 6 stolen bases away from 200 SBS, and his OPS would rank within the top 10 all time, all while a top 10 defensive CF. A
Right Field: Mitch Haniger
Although Haniger is off to a kind of sluggish start to 2019, the Mariners’ right fielder had one of the most under the radar seasons in 2018 when he finished the year with a .859 OPS, 139 OPS+, and 26 long balls. Haniger also had very good numbers as a defensive right fielder with 9 DRS, and 1.9 UZR. However, his defensive stats are brought down by the fact he played some CF, a position he is not accustomed to. Like I said earlier, Haniger is off to a slow start to 2019, but he is still showing some decent pop, and defensive prowess in right field. There’s good enough reason that he can bring his numbers back up this summer.