We are scooting right along with our Off The Rankings series, which is guaranteed to prepare you for the 2016 season with just the rankings that we provide or we’ll give you your money back. Seriously. You’ll get all your money back! Today, I will be outlining the top 10 players that you have never heard of.
I’m just assuming that you have never heard of these guys, maybe you have. Either way, these are guys who rank even more obscure than the top breakout candidates that I outlined last week. These are the types of guys who you really shouldn’t know about, and if you do, you can be happy that you have passed your baseball nerd quiz for the day. But never fear, by June there will be a whole new wave of guys that you’ve never heard of contributing to their respective Big league teams.
For now, here are 10 guys to learn and impress your friends at the bar, or to help you make some new friends at the bar. The good kind of friends: those that baseball nerd too.
- Kyle Hendricks, SP, Chicago Cubs
Hendricks was a sleeper pick of mine last year, but I lost confidence after a mediocre start to the season. As a sinker-slider guy without lots of velocity or a high strikeout rate, he’s not the most exciting pitcher to watch or roster in fantasy. But improving on last year’s 3.95 ERA shouldn’t be too hard given the likelihood that the Cubs’ defense could be improved with a full season of Addison Russel at shortstop. Given his 2.95 ERA in his rookie 2014 season and his very good peripherals, an improvement on that line could make Hendricks a star. He’s still young and slots in as an incredible number 4 starter on a Cubs team that is really talented and deep.
- Tyler Goedell, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Based on little else than the 2015 success of Rule 5 outfielders, I have a feeling that this guy could be a star. Consider that the Phillies’ Odubel Herrera and the Rangers’ Delino Deshields Jr. are both slated to be their teams’ center fielders for the foreseeable futures. This guy has that same type of potential as an athletic outfielder with all the tools and an opportunity in his new organization.
- Byung-Ho Park, 1B, Minnesota Twins
I saw something over at Fangraphs where Dan Farnsworth gave Park’s power a 70 grade on the scouting scale. Farnsworth wasn’t sure if Park would hit for any average, but that grade figures to roughly 35-40 homers across the 600 PA. Even if Park is Adam Dunn 2.0, the 4 year/$12M deal that the Twins wound up handing him could be enough of a steal that it necessitates the due change in the way that players from Korea and Japan are brought stateside.
- Ketel Marte, SS, Seattle Mariners
I almost included Marte in my position players most likely to break out, but I felt like he was still prospect-y enough to not be breaking out of anything. I’ve included him here since many a stat-maven probably hasn’t heard of Marte. He was among the top 50 position players in the Majors during the most recent half-season, per fWAR. Marte figures to be hitting in front of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, two guys you have certainly heard of. He’s fast, with 30-40 steal potential. He’s a solid defender at shortstop. And he should be able to hit in the .270-.280 range. That’s the same type of player that described a young Elvis Andrus, and earned Andrus $100 Million.
- Tyler Duffey, SP, Minnesota Twins
Duffey popped up last year after being something of a non-prospect as a 5th round starting pitcher out of Rice in 2012. He started just once at Rice, but the Twins have groomed him as a starter and the grooming resulted in beauty last year. He made 10 starts at the big league level and posted a 3.10 ERA. If you take out his terrible first start, his stat line drops to a 2.25 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 56 innings and a .656 OPS against.
Duffey could help solidify a Twins rotation that is thoroughly average. Max labelled Ervin Santana as a lynchpin pitcher capable of solidifying the Twins rotation amid their youthful position player-led resurgence. However, if Duffey is something close to a guy with 2.25 ERA potential, he could lead this Twins rotation in front of Santana and Phil Hughes.