Underrated Seasons From Players Your Friends Haven't Heard Of

In descending order of how productive they've been in 2008 -- including defense, of course -- here are some position players who deserve a bit more publicity outside of their home markets.

Jayson Werth, Phillies RF -- Geoff Jenkins was supposed to be the main guy in Werth's corner spot this year, signed as a free agent away from the Brewers.  But Werth has accumulate over 100 more plate appearances than Jenkins, out-hit him by 50 points of OPS+ and out-fielded him by ten runs.  In fact, Chase Utley is the only Phillies position player to be more productive in a context-neutral analysis.

Willie Harris, Nationals LF -- While Harris has only posted a .768 OPS, he's flashed mad leather in left field (+19 runs) , enough to make him as productive as Nate McLouth in 250 fewer plate appearances.

Jody Gerut, Padres CF -- Watching Jim Edmonds flame out in San Diego and then catch fire in Chicago couldn't have been fun for Padres fans, but having Gerut patrol center field is a nice consolation prize.  His .848 OPS in PETCO is impressive, and he rates as a plus fielder to boot.

Ty Wigginton, Astros 3B -- Wigginton's always been a decent hitter, but his  .287/.355/.532 line in 2008 is by far the best of his career and his glove seems to have improved.

Cody Ross, Marlins CF -- While Florida seems to prefer fielders who are known for their hitting, Ross has been a bright spot in center, tallying +9 runs saved this year.  His bat has also been an asset, posting an .813 OPS.

Marlon Byrd, Rangers OF -- With the Hank Aaron Award-worthy offensive performances by other Rangers this year -- Josh Hamilton, Milton Bradley, and Ian Kinsler -- Byrd's season has flown under the radar.  An .850 OPS is exactly what the Phillies were hoping for when he first came up as a prospect, but you won't find Texas fans complaining.

Mike Aviles, Royals SS -- Anyone would have been an improvement over Tony Pena Jr., but Aviles went above and beyond expectations, posting an .821 OPS over 400 plate appearances and playing the field at a rate only a small step down from his no-hit predecessor.  He should finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting to Evan Longoria.

Yunel Escobar, Braves SS -- Here's another situation where a team's second option at short turned out much better than the original.  With Edgar Renteria and his $10MM contract shipped off to Detroit, Escobar stepped in with a bat a solid notch above league average and a glove to match.  He and Kelly Johnson will be a great double-play duo for years to come in Atlanta.

Chris Iannetta, Rockies CA -- Here's another ex-prospect who took longer than expected to live up to his hype. Sure, his .907 OPS is Coors-inflated, but it's still top five among catchers with a park adjustment.

Joe Inglett, Blue Jays 2B -- No, this Joe won't ever be an All-Star, but a .772 OPS coupled with a slightly above-average glove at second base is extremely underrated in today's game.  JP Ricciardi seems to fill every position with guys like this, making him one of the more underrated GMs around.

What other no-name players are having productive seasons?

All stats through September 16th.

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