Top 5 Underrated Players in Major League Baseball 2006

Each and every year, Major League Baseball gets some new, up and coming stars (and maybe a couple of veterans who have slipped under the radar); the 2006 MLB season has been no different. Here is a list of 5 Major Leaguers who have caught my eye, roughly 1/3 of the way through the 2006 Major League campaign.

5. Ryan Zimmerman 3B, Washington Nationals -AGE: 21
BA: .268 / HR: 9 / RBI: 33 / R: 28

Ryan Zimmerman’s defense has had scouts raving since the third baseman was a teenager. Not too many thought his offense would progress as quickly as it has though. The 21 year old has shown some decent power skills despite playing in one of the most expansive parks in Major League Baseball (RFK in Washington is effectively an airport). Zimmerman’s the youngest player on this list, and it looks like he’s only going to get better.

4. Danny Haren P, Oakland A’s – AGE: 25
W/L: 4-5 / ERA: 3.75 / K: 65 / IP:84 / H: 78 / BB: 15

While Danny Haren doesn’t have the prettiest win/loss record, there are a lot of things to love about the Oakland A’s young lefthander. His strikeout to walk ratio is very impressive; especially in a pitcher so young. His ERA isn’t too shabby as well; 3.75 is a very good mark for the American League. Haren gets overshadowed by ace Cy Young winner Barry Zito and power pitcher Rich Harden (not too mention closer Houston Street), but he is a young addition to an already youthful (and impressive) staff. If the Oakland A’s get some more offense, they will be tough to beat in the coming years.

3. Magglio Ordonez RF, Detroit Tigers – AGE: 32
BA: .321 / HR: 13 / RBI: 42 / R: 33

Magglio Ordonez is the oldest player I’ve selected and he’s also been an all star; so why is he on this list? Just look at the year Detroit’s cleanup batter is having. While playing a solid fight field in a tricky ballpark, Ordonez is on pace to hit over .320, crank close to 40 homers and drive in 120 runs. Oh yeah, and he’s one of the reasons the Detroit Tigers (ahead of last year’s World Series Champion Chicago White Sox) are in first place in the American League Central. Ordonez isn’t that old, he’s only 32; if he can keep this up he’ll have to be mentioned with the big name Major League sluggers.

2. Joe Mauer C, Minnesota Twins – AGE: 23
BA: .355 / HR: 5 / RBI: 26 / R: 26

Here’s the one thing that sums up Mauer: What catcher hits .355 (and a 23 year old catcher to boot)?. Bar none, Mauer is the best young catcher in Major League Baseball (Ramon Hernandez is great and much better defensively, but he’s 30 years old). He has an outside chance to tie or pass the Major League record for batting average by a catcher (the mark is .362 and is held by Bill Dickey (1936) and Mike Piazza (1997)).

1. Brandon Webb P, Arizona Diamondbacks – AGE: 27
W/L: 8-0 / ERA: 2.01 / K: 58 / IP:89 / H: 84 / BB: 10

It’s kind of hard to put a guy who’s 8-0 on the underrated list, but I think Brandon Webb still isn’t getting the attention he deserves. 10 walks in close to 90 innings (or 1 per 9) is an outstanding stat. Webb is just coming off a scoreless inning streak that ended at 30. In that stretch he threw two consecutive, complete game shutouts; a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Roger Clemens was wearing a Toronto Blue Jays uniform (Clemens tossed three in a row). Pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks doesn’t give Brandon Webb the exposure that he deserves. It’s been a long time since Major League Baseball has seen a truly dominating wave of pitchers (the days of Clemens, Greg Maddox and Pedro Martinez will soon be gone); perhaps Brandon Webb is part of a new era of pitching greats.

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