There was a time -- and it was not that long ago -- when Shin-Soo Choo was routinely labeled "underrated." A Sports Illustrated player poll in 2011 dubbed him the most underrated player in baseball. Opposing managers would routinely use the U-word when sizing up Choo's skills. When the Reds acquired him in a trade with the Indians before the '13 season, it was viewed as a shrewd move that targeted the underrated aspect of on-base percentage. Well, $130 million in appraisal by the Texas Rangers later, it's safe to say Choo is underrated no more. This got me thinking, though, about the current state of rate. And so I bring to you my own version of the 2014 all-underrated team. My goal here was to stay away from the guys with the monster contracts. Or guys with multiple All-Star appearances or major awards. I certainly wanted to stay away from guys with less than three years of service time, as they have not yet built up enough track record to be overrated or underrated. I merely wanted to give some love to some players who, either as a product of their location or the quality of their club or the depth of stars at their particular position, have remained somewhat under the radar despite performances above the norm. Here are my picks, and feel free to add your own: C: Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers Lucroy just barely cracks my service-time threshold, and he makes this list because of the way he's drastically exceeded expectations as the Brewers' full-time catcher. Where once there was question about Lucroy's long-term outlook behind the plate, he's proven to be a major offensive force the last two years and an excellent pitch-framer. Aside from breaking his hand with a dropped suitcase in 2012 and enduring a miserable start to the '13 season, Lucroy has been a potent run producer. His weighted on-base average of .357 since the start of 2012 ranks fifth among catchers, just ahead of Carlos Ruiz and Carlos Santana. More pertinently, Lucroy rebounded considerably after that slow start last season, posting a .302/.362/.505 line with 15 home runs and 62 RBIs from June 1 through the end of the season.
Compiling this season's all-underrated team
MLB.com | Jan 24