Tuck: Baseball's Best Kept Secrets
The MLB All-Star game is just a couple weeks away, and I thought I'd weigh in with some of the pleasant surprises this season. Some guys you may or may not know, and some numbers that may or may not surprise you. Don't be surprised if and when these guys are picked to play in the mid-summer classic.
Jonathon Lucroy, Brewers- He's third among catchers in RBI, trailing only perhaps the two best players in the sport, Yadier Molina and Buster Posey. He was on his way to the all-star game last year with a great start before getting hurt and derailing his season.
Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks-It's almost impossible to be unknown at this position, but this young fellow might be to the average fan. He leads the NL in RBI, is hitting over .300 with 54 runs, 20 HR, and even has 8 SB. Chris Davis may have been my choice for this spot previous, but I think most are aware of the guy on pace to hit 60 home runs now.
Jason Kipnis, Indians-He got off to a slow start this year, but boy is he making up for it now. He'll probably be the 3rd AL second basemen to play in the all-star game, but his numbers suggest he's been every bit the player of Cano and Pedroia ahead of him. The 26 year old is coming off a player of the week honor and is on pace for .300-20-100-90-40 season.
Jean Segura, Brewers-If you don't play fantasy baseball, you may not have ever heard of the former Angels prospect who is flourishing with Milwaukee. How does .325-11-33-46-24 sound?
Josh Donaldson, Athletics-The 27 year old scuffled at the start of last year and was sent down to the minors. He played sporadically until injury re-opend the job and he hit well down the stretch and helped the A's into the playoffs. It's absolutely carried over into this year where he is hitting .316-13-53-44-2 and should be on the all-star team in spite of a stacked 3B position in the AL.
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies-He makes this list not so much because he's obscure, but because he is one of the best players in the game, and few people realize it. It's partly his fault. Since finishing 3rd in the MVP voting in 2010, he's battled injuries keeping him out of the limelight. He's in the top 10 in all of baseball in HR, RBI, and runs scored. Plus he is hitting .295 with 15 steals.
Adam Jones, Orioles-Like CarGo was with the A's, Jones was a top-notch prospect with the Mariners. I bet they wish they had him back now. He might be the best defensive outfielder in baseball, and he hits brilliantly in the middle of the O's lineup. Power, speed, average, he does it all.
Nate McClouth, Orioles- Perhaps two players from the same team, same outfield, doesn't make sense, but I couldn't leave either off. He was a surprise all-star in 2008 with the Pirates and has bounced around unproductive since. Until now. He has been reborn in the leadoff spot for the potent O's offense and is among the league leaders in runs scored (49) and stolen bases (24).
Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays-After hitting 117 home runs in his first 8 seasons, he had 42 last year and proving it was no fluke, already has 23 this season. The 30 year old is living proof it's never too late to break out.
Jordan Zimmerman, Nationals-Constantly overshadowed by teammates Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, he has outpitched both of them to the tune of 12 wins and an ERA under 2.50.
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners- Bart Colon is the only regular starter that has walked less batters than the M's second best arm. Iwakuma's run began in the 2nd half of last year and has carried over into a terrific season with a 2.41 ERA and 0.8757 WHIP.
Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks-May not be one of the first ten names brought up when talking about young pitchers, but he should be. The 23 year old struggled last year and was thought to be ticketed for long relief this year, but instead has broken out ahead of many of the other D-Backs top prospects with a 2.20 ERA and 9 wins.
Jeff Locke, Pirates-With an ERA just over two in 16 starts this year, he has helped the Buccos to the best record in baseball.
Travis Wood, Cubs-It appears the Reds may have given up on the 26 year old lefty a little too soon. Wood, despite a 5-6 record for the dreadful Cubbies, has pitched wonderfully with an ERA under three and a WHIP under one.