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I’m not sure if it’s just me, but it seems like way too many valuable players are getting injured in 2017. Many teams are suffering from this injury plague, like San Francisco, which lost its best pitcher for a while, or Seattle, which continues to see valuable players go down along with its place in the standings. Not the New York Yankees, though; in their case everything is going right, even while Gary Sanchez was out … and now he’s back. The Yankees sport the best record in baseball, albeit not by much. This is a team that was projected to be rebuilding and wasn’t given much of a shot to make the playoffs; I’ll admit that I was among that crowd. Instead, the most noise is coming from the least expected players, and they’re getting solid performances from some of their more notable players as well. Expect the unexpected in baseball is what I say, but can this great run continue? Can some of the other shockingly good teams stay on course? Well, it’s still only early May, so I’m not sold on anything just yet.
With so many injuries to prominent players this season it’s vital to monitor the guys that are often overlooked, the one’s with a tarnished or non-existent track record. Shallow leagues have now become deep and deeper leagues. … Well, good luck! Here’s a list of some overlooked players, some struggling to break out of a platoon, others taking advantage of an opportunity while their position-mates are injured, and some that we expected a lot from who aren’t proving their worth yet.
The Hottest Undervalued Players
Outfielder Aaron Hicks and starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery — The Yankees aren’t this good right now without the help of some outlier performances. Hicks has been on a complete tear, especially in the last six games. Known for his great arm and solid defense, Hicks has a poor offensive pedigree, so to see him start the 2017 campaign batting .342 with six homers and five steals is a bit of a shocker. The problem for Hicks is the Yankees’ strong outfield depth with Gardner, Ellsbury, Judge, and even Holliday filling those slots, and every single one of them is hitting well to boot. There was a scare that Ellsbury might hit the DL, but now that’s been washed away, leaving Hicks the odd man out; but how can you keep someone hitting that well out of the lineup? Manager Joe Girardi has a good issue on his hands with this one, and I’m sure he’ll figure out a way to rotate his players. I don’t believe Hicks’ performance will be sustainable. It’s likely he’ll get cold at some point and those of you who have him on your rosters will quickly see Fantasy turn into reality.
Jordan Montgomery, on the other hand, might be able to continue his solid pitching performances. Let’s not forget, he was so impressive during Spring Training that he came out of left field and surpassed three or four other fifth starter candidates to take the job from right under their noses … basically. He’s a rookie, so he clearly doesn’t have much of a pedigree, and even what he did in the minors doesn’t tell us enough about his overall potential; He also wasn’t a touted player to begin with. When a guy has neither a good nor bad body of work to analyze, and he’s performing well on a consistent basis, there’s a chance he could sustain it. Still, many times regression is almost always certain for young players that aren’t well known.
DH/OF Trey Mancini — I understand he’s a rookie, but why is he still platooning? Recently, he’s been playing more often for obvious reasons, but he still gets a day of rest every third or fourth day. I guess, in this age of sports when everyone needs to rest way more often than people did back in the day (see: NBA), it’s to be expected. But still, this guy has his own T-shirt and nickname already, come on.
2B/SS/3B Javier Baez — The Chicago Cubs’ super utility man is only 23 years old but if you watch him play you can see that he is so close to exploding onto the scene. His only issue is being on the Cubs, where playing time is hard to come by due to how stacked and deep their lineup is. On any other team, Baez would start every day. He started the year off cold, but it’s difficult to get into a groove when you get benched every third day; now he’s been playing more often and ripping more often. Soon enough Joe Maddon will have no choice but to play him every day. Baez is dripping with talent offensively, not to mention how great he can be at times defensively as well.
SP Charlie Morton — This is a guy I first paid attention to in Spring Training. He was reaching new heights in his velocity and performing exceptionally well. He’s had a rocky start to the season, but lately he’s been getting better and better, as seeen in his 39:10 K:BB ratio. On April 29th, he had 12 Ks in seven innings of work. He’s still only owned in less than 35 percent of ESPN Leagues, so pick him up if you have the opportunity.
OF Ben Gamel — With Mitch Haniger most likely out until the end of May, Gamel was called up to replace him for now. Well, Gamel did more than just replace him, he’s been red hot from the moment he came up. Given, it’s a short sample, but with all the woes that plague Seattle right now, he has an opportunity to keep himself in the everyday lineup.
Some Other Notables
SP Eduardo Rodriguez, SP Matthew Boyd, OF Michael Conforto, SP AJ Griffin, SP Matt Andriese, SP Nathan Karns, 2B/3B Jedd Gyorko
The Cold, Injured, and Downtrodden
OF Jackie Bradley/Chris Young — Bradley is batting .175 and slowly losing playing time to Young.
OF Jason Heyward — Cooled off a lot since I said he may be turning his career around. … Now he’s on the DL. Poor Heyward; just when we all thought.…
RP Luke Gregerson — One of the few solid setup relievers in baseball before the season, is now a shadow of his former self.
SP Wei-Yin Chen/Jose Urena — Chen’s on the DL with a tired arm and may miss more than the allotted 10 days — Urena already had one solid start in his stead and might be in line for a lot more.
OF Domingo Santana/Keon Broxton — Major cool down for Santana lately, losing playing time in another crowded outfield- Broxton has that power/speed combo we all covet, he’s the man to watch of those two.
SP Matt Harvey and The Mets — Harvey is the face of the messy saga we call the New York Mets recently — Injuries galore, inmates running the asylum, this goes deeper than just Terry Collins and the management.
RP Zach Britton/Brad Brach — I mentioned in one of my latest articles that Britton’s injury could linger. … It did, now Brach has become a hot commodity and Britton won’t return for at least another two months. … Ouch!
RP Cam Bedrosian/Bud Norris — Norris tightening his grip on the closer role.
SP Jameson Taillon — Taillon out indefinitely with testicular cancer.
SP James Paxton — Only expected to miss a couple of starts, but this is a throwing forearm strain. … Didn’t Britton have the same exact issue? With Paxton’s injury history, this could be a reoccurring problem.
C Jonathan Lucroy — Cold as ice and losing more playing time than usual for a catcher of his caliber.
C Russell Martin — Recently placed on the DL; he’s older and may be too overworked at this point.
The Washington Nationals bullpen — Somehow both Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover hit the DL last week, which turns the Nationals closer situation into a full-blown disaster.
Notable Players Back from the DL
SP Chris Tillman, C Devin Mesoraco, OF Jorge Soler, SP Sonny Gray