Today I’ll point out some guys that have been pretty darn amazing this year even if you really haven’t taken much notice. Greatness might be too strong a word, I’ll freely admit that, but I needed to catch your attention.
CATCHER: Matt Wieters
Finally living up to expectations, Wieters had a big year for the Orioles. He may have only hit .262, but he socked 20 homers with 65 RBI and 70 runs scored. As a result he was the only catcher in baseball who hit .260 with 20 homer and 70 runs scored.
FIRST BASE: Casey Kotchman
I know the guy hit only 10 homers, had only 48 RBI ans scored just 43 times. Those are horrible numbers for a corner infielder unless you’re in an AL-only league. But give the guy some credit. He has hit .305 over 495 at-bats. That’s a better batting average than Michael Morse (.303), Albert Pujols (.301) and Prince Fielder (.295) to name just three.
SECOND BASE: Danny Espinosa
Limited for sure, that .235 batting average and .311 OBP are awful, Espinosa has still had an impressive run. Not only did he become just the third rookie second baseman in history with 20 homers (the others were Dan Uggla with 27 and Alexei Ramirez with 21), he also stole 16 bases while scoring 72 runs. Only four second basemen hit 20 homers with 70 runs and 15 steals – Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Kelly Johnson and Espinosa.
THIRD BASE: Mark Reynolds
What the hell you’re saying? I know he hit .222 and struck out 192 times, but with all the injuries at third base this season his effort was mighty impressive. He was second at the position in homers with 37 (Jose Bautista had 43), 6th in RBI (86) and third in runs. Not too shabby for an afterthought to many.
SHORTSTOP: Erick Aybar
The Angels’ shortstop hit .280 with 10 homer, 59 RBI, 71 runs scored and 30 steals. Do you know how many shortstops went .275-10-50-70-30 this year? The answer is one. Even if we drop the steal total to 20, only two other men join the list – Jimmy Rollins and Starlin Castro.
OUTFIELD: Torii Hunter
I know what you’re thinking – Ray has finally hit on the neighbor’s wife one too many times, had too many drinks with an umbrella in it, and has spent too much time staring at touchdown runs the past month to remember what the hell he is talking about when it comes to baseball. I mean, didn’t Hunter hit horribly for months on end this year (.214 in April, .224 in June, .209 in July)? The answer to that is yes, Hunter did post a terrible batting average for long stretches, but that’s precisely why he was such an overlooked player this season. I’m not going to defend the league average .262 batting average, that’s a poor mark. However, did you know that Hunter will end the year with 20 homers, 80 RBI, and 80 runs scored (He has 23 homers, 82 RBI and 80 runs)? Only 15 outfielders hit all three of those marks in 2011 putting Hunter in some rather solid company despite the nauseating roller coaster ride he put his owners through.
By Ray Flowers