The most underrated talent in majors

Position players, pitchers and managers … our experts have their say

Originally Published: August 8, 2012
ESPN.com

Today on our site we are giving much props to Mike Trout, who is certainly getting his due. So who are some guys who are not getting their due?

1. The most underrated position player in 2012 is _________.

Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick), ESPN.com: Josh Willingham. I like what Jason Kubel and Paul Goldschmidt have done in Arizona, but Willingham has churned out big numbers in a publicity vacuum in Minnesota. He's hit 17 of his 29 homers at Target Field, which ranks 21st among the 30 MLB parks in homer-friendliness. And his offensive WAR of 3.9 is a tick higher than Joey Votto and Ryan Braun.

Dave Gershman (@Dave_Gershman), Marlins Daily: It depends how you define "underrated," but I'd still say that it's David Wright. Wright is year after year one of the best hitters in the game and has been arguably the best in the NL this year, as well. He's third in the majors in Wins Above Replacement.

Jason Wojciechowski (@jlwoj), Beaneball: Matt Holliday. He's eighth in baseball in on-base percentage, hits for power, and isn't David Ortiz in the field or on the bases. I wouldn't make him my NL MVP, but he's certainly in the running for a second- or third-place vote. All of this, and he had to suffer the indignity of being an injury replacement on the NL All-Star team this year.


2. The most underrated pitcher in 2012 is _________.

[+] EnlargeRyan Vogelsong
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarRyan Vogelsong leads the National League with a 2.38 ERA.

Crasnick: Ryan Vogelsong. It's easy to lose sight of him when Matt Cain is dealing, Tim Lincecum is struggling and Barry Zito is making $18 million a year, but Vogelsong has been incredibly consistent. He's thrown at least six innings in each of his 20 starts, and he's tied for second in the majors in quality starts (with 18) behind Washington's Jordan Zimmermann -- a pitcher who is quite underrated in his own right.

Gershman: Probably Josh Johnson. Johnson has been quietly successful this season, posting a .294 Fielding Independent Pitching and striking almost eight batters per nine innings. There has been a lot of negative buzz surrounding the Marlins this season, but Johnson sure hasn't let it faze him. Since he's been healthy, he's generally been the Josh Johnson we know from the past, the guy who is known to dominate an opposing lineup.

Wojciechowski: Joe Saunders. Don't get it twisted: I don't think Saunders is great. I don't even think he's particularly good. He's a nice league-average starter. He can be a third or fourth guy on a good team. He can take the ball every day (two DL trips in seven years) and be OK. And for this he has less job security than Brian Fuentes? (By the way, Marc Normandin called this back in January.)


3. The most underrated manager in 2012 is _________.

Crasnick: Bob Melvin. Let's face it: When the A's play well, a healthy chunk of the credit is bound to go to general manager Billy Beane. One of Beane's more inspired moves was resurrecting Melvin, a smart guy who is highly regarded by his players and deserved a better fate in his last go-round with Arizona. Melvin has squeezed the most out of an Oakland team without an abundance of star power.

Gershman: Fredi Gonzalez. In the past, Gonzalez made a number of questionable moves, but his Braves team has been no joke this season. He's managed to handle both young and older players on the Braves' roster, and his in-game decisions haven't been too drastic compared to last season. If the Braves make the postseason, they appear to be a danger to opposing teams.

Wojciechowski: All of them. Managers get guff from fans who love to second-guess tactical moves, lineups, and everything else. What's easy to miss is how tiny a part of the job those pieces are. Billy Beane and Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman know perfectly well what the optimal strategies are, yet they've still resisted hiring a blogger. Managers manage players more than they do the game. It's an enormous task.