Tuesday, September 16, 2014

FenwayNation's '14 All-Under-Rated MLB Team

As our own Carmine Hose sink slowly into the September haze, it occurred to us that it might be interesting to identify the players in baseball who are the most under-rated at each position. After all, one of the tenets of the "MoneyBall" era (to which the Red Sox basically subscribe) is identifying and acquiring undervalued players—much as Ben Cherington did so skillfully in 2013. So, here is our 2014 All-Under-Rated MLB Team:

First base—Steve Pearce, Orioles. While he's moved around the diamond a bit this year, he is now—with Chris Davis' suspension—the de facto first baseman for the division-leading Birds. Pearce has played in 95 games, hitting .294 with 17 HRs and a .373 OBP. His OPS is an amazing .907 and his WAR is 5.5.

Second base—Howie Kendrick, Angels. While Robinson Cano and Jose Altuve get most of the attention at second base, Kendrick is quietly having another very good season. Kendrick is hitting .292 with 71 RBIs. He has a 5.0 WAR.

Shortstop—Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals. The 32-year old Peralta has been a steady force for the Redbirds this year, hitting .264 with 21 HRs and a .796 OPS. Moreover, he is always among the leaders in defensive runs saved. His WAR is 5.8.

Third base—Kyle Seager, Mariners. For most of the year, the AL West keystone corner player that got most of the ink (and deservedly so) was Oakland's Josh Donaldson. But up the coast a piece, Seager has quietly put together a terrific year. He's hit .274 with 23 HRs and 88 RBIs. He's paired a .342 OPB with an OPS of .808. His WAR is 5.5.

Left Field—J.D. Martinez, Tigers. The Astros let this guy go for nothing, and the brilliant Dave Dombrowski scooped him up. Martinez has hit .310 with 22 HRs (many of them huge) and 72 RBIs. He's slugging at a .562 pace and has a .972 OPS.

Center Field—Marcell Ozuna, Marlins. Ozuna may the best everyday outfielder nobody has heard of. He's played 147 games for the Fish and is hitting .269 with 23 HRs and 85 RBIs. He has a .776 OPS.

Right Field—Kole Calhoun, Angels. Not only is Calhoun the lead-off hitter on the team with the best record in baseball, he's got 16 HRs and 56 RBIs atop the powerful Halo order. He has a .797 OPS.

Catcher—Devin Mesoraco, Reds. Mesoraco has really reached his potential this year, hitting .278 with 23 HRs and 74 RBIs. He has a .365 OBP and an OPS of .901. He has a 4.7 WAR—and is a good defensive backstop to boot.

DH—Chris Carter, Astros. While Carter strikes out a lot (166 times so far this year), he's clouted 36 HRs and knocked in 85. He's also collected 20 doubles and has an OPS of .826.

Starting Pitcher—Corey Kluber, Indians. One of the big reasons the Tribe has stayed competitive for a post-season berth is Kluber. He's already pitched 212.2 innings and delivered 15 wins for Terry Francona. He's struck out 230 and walked just 46. His ERA is 2.45 with a 1.10 WHIP.

Relief Pitcher—Jean Machi, Giants. You've probably never heard of this guy either, but he has been incredibly consistent this year for San Francisco. He's thrown 62 innings out of the pen and posted a 1.89 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP. He's yielded just 39 hits all year.

Rookie—Danny Santana, Twins. Another guy who has flown way under the radar, Santana has complied 355 at-bats in 90 games for the Twinkies. He's hitting .318 with 7 HRs and 37 RBIs and has an .826 OPS.