Every team, whether it’s a good one or a bad one or whatever comes in between, has an unsung hero. Call them a glue guy, a secret weapon, the X-factor: He’s the player who is key to everything his team is doing -- and is generally underpublicized at doing so.
Here's a look at every team’s most underappreciated player, the guy who’s having an excellent year that many people probably haven’t noticed. Your team’s fans have seen it and know what he means, but the rest of the baseball world might not have caught on yet. Maybe this will help.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Steven Matz, LHP
You know how pundits spent the offseason saying that Toronto didn’t have enough pitching, that Matz wasn’t nearly a big enough addition? Well, he has put up the best year of his career and has been an absolutely vital piece of a rotation that needs every inning it can get.
Orioles: Ramón Urías, 2B/3B
He had bounced around the Minor Leagues for a decade, but right now, the utility infielder quietly has the second-highest on-base percentage among all players on the team.
Rays: Collin McHugh, RHP
In a way, everyone on the Rays is sort of underappreciated, but have you noticed what they have done with McHugh? The former Astro elected not to play in the 2020 season and signed with Tampa Bay in February … and has done nothing but give up only nine earned runs in nearly 60 innings this season.
Red Sox: Garrett Whitlock, RHP
Should Whitlock get more Rookie of the Year consideration than he’s getting? He has been a key bullpen arm for a team that, in case you forgot, couldn’t get anybody out last year.
Yankees: Néstor Cortes Jr., LHP
It’s tough for any Yankee to do anything quietly, but Cortes Jr. -- who had a 15.26 ERA with Seattle last year -- has more than earned his “Nasty Néstor” nickname this season. And what a mustache!