May 29, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) hits a single in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28, left) during the fifth inning at AT

MLB All-Star Game: Five Underrated Players Who Deserve a Nod


There are a lot of players worthy of being selected to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, but not all of them will make it.

Thirty-three players make the AL All-Star team, and 33 players make the NL All-Star team. That means that a mere 66 players make the initial team, which is extremely tiny when you consider that 750 players are currently on active MLB rosters.

Because less than 9 percent of the league’s players end up on one of the initial teams, some deserving players miss the team. However, because players and managers vote for most of the All-Stars, some players who don’t get any attention from the national media are recognized.

This year, there are more players who have done well but have flown under the radar. Here are five of those players.

Jhonny Peralta, SS, Detroit Tigers

June 6, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta (27) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta hasn’t been too consistent throughout his career, but he has started the 2013 season strong.

Peralta has a 2.4 oWAR, a 0.5 dWAR and a .338 batting average this season. In addition, his overall WAR is a spectacular 2.5, which means that he’s provided an estimated 2.5 wins above replacement. Peralta hit a disappointing .239 clip in 2012, but he hasn’t disappointed this season.

It’s not likely that Peralta keeps hitting at this torrid pace, but he deserves to be noticed for it. Peralta has the fifth-best batting average in the league, and he leads all American League shortstops. However, J.J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles has garnered the most votes among AL shortstops.

According to MLB.com’s voting totals, Elvis Andrus is in second place and Peralta is in third. While both have done well on defense, Hardy is hitting .270 and Andrus is hitting .250.

In other words, both players have put together stellar overall campaigns, but Peralta is more deserving.

Because Tigers manager Jim Leyland is patrolling the AL squad, Peralta is likely to end up on the team. Not many people have been talking about him due to his lack of home runs and RBIs (Peralta has cranked a mere six home runs and driven in just 26 runs), but he deserves to be acknowledged.

It’s unlikely that Peralta keeps hitting this well, but the Tigers are enjoying his hot streak. Third baseman Miguel Cabrera and first baseman Prince Fielder are the ones who the media pay attention to, but Peralta has been a key ingredient in Detroit’s offensive success.

And if he continues to perform well, he could join Cabrera and Fielder to form one of the most fearsome trios in baseball.

Josh Donaldson, Oakland A’s

Oakland A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson has been on a tear lately, but he may not be rewarded for it.

Donaldson isn’t on an illustrious team like the New York Yankees, and even though he’s lit up opposing pitchers, he’s not a household name.

The A’s are winning, but that hasn’t transformed Donaldson into a hot media topic. He’s hitting .324 this year and is fourth in the American League with a 3.1 WAR, and he’s a key component to the A’s offense.

His offense has been stellar, and his defense has also been remarkable. Donaldson’s dWAR is 0.6, which leads the A’s.

Donaldson recently moved into the cleanup spot in the A’s lineup, and he’s come up with some huge hits there. Against the Chicago White Sox on Friday, June 7, Donaldson hit a grand slam in Oakland’s 4-3 comeback win.

While the San Francisco Bay Area has taken notice of the A’s, casual fans are more aware of solid seasons from third basemen Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria. Donaldson deserves more attention, but he hasn’t gotten it because he plays on a small-market team.

Luckily for Donaldson, he is a career .320 hitter against the Detroit Tigers. Leyland will pick the last nine players to round out the roster, and he’ll likely choose an extra third baseman.

If he does, there’s a great chance that Leyland chooses Donaldson to be on the team.

Donaldson has been a tremendous all-around player, and he deserves a reward. Not all casual fans know who Donaldson is, but if he keeps it up, he will become a household name.

Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners are just 28-37, but they’re 10-4 when Hisashi Iwakuma pitches.

Iwakuma has posted a marvelous 1.79 ERA, which ranks second in the MLB. Iwakuma has emerged as a dominant pitcher, and he has outperformed Mariners ace Felix Hernandez this season.

May 31, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (18) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Opponents are hitting a mere .190 off of Iwakuma, who also has a glistening 0.82 WHIP. That means that Iwakuma has allowed an average of 0.82 baserunners per inning, which leads the MLB. Iwakuma’s record is 7-1, even though the Mariners offense hasn’t helped him much.

Seattle scored three runs or fewer in five straight games started by Iwakuma, and it hasn’t been extremely consistent. Because of Seattle’s offensive woes, the Mariners have lost three of Iwakuma’s starts in which he has either thrown eight innings or more or surrendered two runs or less.

Seattle’s offense ranks 28th in the league in runs per game, but Iwakuma has dealt with the limited support.

And he’s done a masterful job.

Because other well-known pitchers, such as Matt Harvey, Shelby Miller, Clayton Kershaw and Clay Buchholz, have all done well, Iwakuma hasn’t been talked about often.

However, it would be criminal if Iwakuma, who has a 1.00 ERA against Leyland’s Tigers in two appearances against them, missed out on making the team. His stats are eye-popping, and he’s been Seattle’s most valuable pitcher.

Iwaukuma leads all pitchers with a glistening 4.0 WAR, and if he can keep up his stellar play, he’ll be a shoo-in for the team. Casual fans may not know much about him, but everyone who has faced him knows that Iwakuma is spectacular and is worthy of making the team.

And if he shines at the Midsummer Classic, he will become a big name.

Carlos Gomez, CF, Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez has been fantastic this year, and he’s been a key piece in Milwaukee’s offense. However, he doesn’t just deserve to be talked about.

Jun 2, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez (27) reacts after striking out against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Brewers, 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Gomez deserves to have people gushing over his mind-blowing performance. The outfielder leads the MLB with a 4.0 WAR, which is fantastic. Gomez has made amazing plays on defense, and his bat has done some talking as well.

The speedy outfielder has 11 home runs, and his slugging percentage is an eye-popping .573. Gomez’s Milwaukee Brewers are 26-37, but Gomez hasn’t been brought down by his team’s lackluster play.

Even though Gomez has put up MVP-caliber numbers, he hasn’t been recognized. In addition, he’s been receiving a ridiculously low amount of votes.

Atlanta Braves outfielder B.J. Upton signed a hefty $75.25 million contract this offseason, but he hasn’t lived up to his contract. Upton has a horrendous .158 batting average and an equally bad .277 slugging percentage, but according to MLB.com, he is 13th in All-Star voting among all NL outfielders.

Somehow, Gomez is just 12th.

San Francisco Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco is tied for 51st in the NL in WAR, and his .351 slugging percentage isn’t anything to marvel at. Blanco is fast, but he has only stolen six bases. Gomez has stolen twice as many, and he’s outperformed Blanco in every statistical category.

But there’s one category he doesn’t lead Blanco in. Blanco is 11th in All-Star voting, and Gomez is 12th.

Gomez resides on a mediocre team, but he has done a great job. NL manager Bruce Bochy watched Gomez hit .700 and slug 1.200 off of his Giants in a three-game series in April, and he and the players know what Gomez has done.

While Gomez isn’t getting the media attention he deserves, if he doesn’t make the team, it would be a crime. Gomez is a great all-around player and an MVP candidate, and it’s amazing that people haven’t taken notice.

Hunter Pence, RF, San Francisco Giants

Giants’ right fielder Hunter Pence is an unconventional player who makes great plays in the outfield and has power. However, for whatever reason, he has gone unrecognized.

June 2, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) hits a one run double off of St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Tyler Lyons (not pictured) during the third inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Pence has stolen 12 bases, posted a 2.4 WAR, slugged .504 and hit 10 home runs this year. He is 13th in the NL in WAR and seventh in the NL in stolen bases, meaning that he’s impacted the Giants in multiple ways.

While Pence is sixth in the NL among outfielders in voting, it doesn’t mean he’s received attention. Brandon Crawford, Marco Scutaro, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval are either in second or first place at their positions, but none of them have been spectacular this year.

In addition, Blanco and Angel Pagan, who haven’t been great this year, are eighth and 11th among all NL outfielders.

So, it’s safe to say that Pence isn’t sixth among outfielders because he has been recognized for his performance.

Luckily for Pence, Bochy knows what he’s done this season. Pence is a team leader and a perfect fit in San Francisco, and he was a huge reason why the Giants won the World Series in 2012. He did a decent job with the Giants in 2012, but he’s been much better this season.

However, despite having the best WAR for the defending champions, Pence has been underhyped. Even though the Giants have won two of the last three World Series titles, the Giants aren’t talked about a ton by the national media.

In other words, the whole team flies under the radar.

However, the fact remains that Pence has been a great all-around player who will likely earn a berth on the All-Star team. And, if he keeps hitting well and continues to make good plays in right field, he could even garner some MVP votes.

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Tags: Carlos Gomez Detroit Tigers Hisashi Iwakuma Hunter Pence Jhonny Peralta Josh Donaldson Milwaukee Brewers Oakland Athletics San Francisco Giants Seattle Mariners