Born and raised in Brooklyn, and watching ESPN and reading USA TODAY SportsWeekly, you sometimes get the impression that Major league Baseball has about 7 team. Yanks, Mets, Red Sox, Phillies, Cubs and Dodgers. most of the other teams, you know maybe one player, and hear about them only sporadically. Heck, the only time you ever hear of Pittsburgh around the trade deadline.
And that's unfair. There are a lot of really good players out there who deserve the monthly mention on ESPN in some sort of snide joke. Here's my salute to a few of them.
Am I the last guy on this? How does a reliever have a 1.41 ERA and a WHIP or just over 0.9 and I don't hear about it more? After flaming out as a gopher-ball starter for the Mariners, Franklin, like so many pitchers, resurrected his career in St. Louis under the tutelage of Dave Duncan. The numbers jump off the page. His ERA+ of 296, the SO/BB of 3.75. Yes he made the All-Star squad, but we should be hearing his name more.
From one journeyman pitcher to another. Like Franklin, Aardsma bounced around the league. Lucky for him, the Mariners had no closer this year and anybody with a heartbeat had a chance. Well, he found his role. Last year in Boston, Aardsma had a 5.55 ERA. This year in Seattle, he has a 1.64 ERA. A flyball pitcher, Seattles' good defensive outfield. Even still, his WHIP dropping from 1.72 to 1.11 is just because of Safeco Field or a good outfield. The fact he wasn't on the All-Star team and Wakefield was) is just silly.
As of Sunday, Hill was 5th in the AL with 24 HRS, tied for 2nd in hits, 2nd in total bases with 213 and 5th in RBI with 67. The names around him on these lists? Jeter, Ichiro, Morneau, Texiera. How come no mentions at least mentions him when talking about MVP or the AL's best players? Well, probably because Toronto averages about the same attendance as the Nationals. Which is too bad. Because the pees up in Canada are missing a good player.
This kid probably is the best player in baseball no one knows anything at all about. A tall lefty with the ideal pitching frame, Lanna is all about control. More Greg Maddux than Randy Johnson, Lannon doesn't hit 90 MPH often, or many bats. However, his control keeps batters off balance—his BAbip (batting average of balls in play) is consistenly well below league average. in other words he gets batters to hit it badly. And despite his team's general ineptitude, Lannan has been getting better. Since breaking into the bigs in 2007 with a 4.15 ERA, he has dropped that to 3.91 last year and so far, a 3.25 this year. In his last 17 IP, he has a 0.53 ERA. Despite him being on a terrible franchise, more attention should be paid to this kid.
Ok, so this kid has gotten a little bit of talk. But not enough. Not enough bats to yet qualify—he's not far off though—if he could, he'd be 2nd in the NL in average at .343. He'd also be 2nd with an OPS of 1.015, and 3rd in Slugging percentage with .597. Playing in small market Cincinnati, the league hasn't mentioned that he's equllay adept against lefties as well as righties, and that in "late & close" situations, Votto is batting .452 and is slugging a mind-spanking .774! A Mark Teixiera in diapers, Votto should be mentioned more on ESPN.
So pay attention to these guys. And if you feel there are other guys who deserve some attention, write it on in and let me know.