Baseball, like no other American sport, is subject to fluctuation in the results of the players. The slightest change in the mechanics of striking or filing may lead to the release of a player to a higher level, and sometimes there are situations where banal bad luck or other indirect causes may interfere with the fair perception of the player’s level.
All this is the reason that every season in the Major League Baseball there are strong players, which previously could not hear even the most ardent fans of this league. Now we will try to identify these little-known players who can wait for the deserved recognition in the season of 2017.
Last season, the starting pitchers of Arizona, like the whole team, pierced the bottom, which was not only their fault, but also in many respects the former starting ketcher of the Wellington Castillo team, which, according to insider reports, did not prepare for games at all, and weak defense in Outfield, which is especially striking in the statistics of pitchers with a pronounced tendency of flybolls, which is Robbie Ray.
Ray can not be called a completely unknown player, since this reliever has been the starter of the Major League Baseball team for two years, but at the same time it is impossible to get past him, since this Arizona reliever is simply criminally undervalued by the baseball community. Last season, he took a step forward, changing the pitch, which allowed him to increase the speed of the fastball to 96-97 miles per hour, and to improve the trajectory of the ball on the way to the strike zone.
This led to an increase in his strikeout rating for 9 innings from 8.39 to 11.25, which is simply a huge leap. This figure last season was the second among all starting pitchers Major League Baseball, losing only to the phenomenal Jose Fernandez. Last season Ray suffered also because of the high rate of home wounds beaten against him, which was twice as high as his career figures. Despite the fact that he was one of the top 30 best pitchers in Major League Baseball in the WAR rankings, his ERA of 4.90 was the fifth from the end among all League starters, ahead of only players like blown veterans Jared Weaver and James Shields.
The new management of Arizona in this offseason relied on the correction of the situation with the protection of the outfielder, and also fired Wellington Castillo, having signed in his place the catchers, who are primarily famous for their game of defense, work with pitchers and framing (the skill of catchers when catching the ball correctly manipulate the movement Gloves, which allows you to turn the balls into strikes).
In fact, everything written above says that Ray is already a pitcher of high level, but a bad ERA indicator prevents him from becoming a truly recognized player, which may well change already this season. Well, if he managed to correct his main weakness – a large number of woks, then Ray could suddenly become the new ace of Major League Baseball.
Keon Broxton was chosen by Arizona Diamondback in the third round of the distant 2009, but on this his achievements as a legitimate prospect ended. A talented, but raw player, for five years, stagnated in his development in the farm system of Arizona, and then he was in Pittsburgh, where he managed to improve his results a little, reaching the highest level of the lowest leagues – AAA, which really helped him to improve his Prospects in the eyes of scouts. Suffering from a lack of talent in Major League Baseball Milwaukee Brewers decided to give Broxton a chance last season, and everything looks so that their decision can fully justify itself this year.
Last season was extremely uneven for him, in which Broxton was able to put together a terrible first half and a link to the lower leagues with an absolutely dynamic final part of the championship. The truth is that the true level of Broxton lies somewhere in the middle between these two versions of the player who plowed the grass of Centerfield Miller Park last season.
Broxton performed well during the spring trainings of last season, which, coupled with the lack of sane players in the first team, Brewers gave him the chance to become the team’s starting centerfielder last year. He could not take advantage of it right away, failing the start of the season, beating off with a 12.5% chance, getting to the bases only in 25.3% of cases, and also showing 0.44 OPS. Naturally, such statistics sent him straight to the AAA League, where he began to work on the mechanics of his attack.
Broxton’s main problem throughout his career was a large number of strikeouts that did not allow this talented player to fully demonstrate the power of his blow, as well as the phenomenal speed at the bases. We must say thanks to the coaches of the lower leagues of Milwaukee who were able to help Brockstone to shorten his swing, which also gave him additional fractions of a second to consider the pitchers’ throws, which is a critical detail at the level of Major League Baseball.
In the second half, Broxton appeared to be a completely different player – his strikeout percentage dropped from 44% to 32.5%, which was still an extremely high, but digestible, indicator for a high-speed outfielder. The rest of the statistics followed in the same direction: his progression rose to 0.294, the percentage hit the base to phenomenal 0.399, and the OPS to 0.937, which combined with 16 stolen bases allowed Broxton to imperceptibly become one of the best outfielder of Major League Baseball in the second half of the season. The total value of Broxton’s utility for the 2016 season was 2.1 WAR.
Here it is worth noting that such a level is not a reality, because such averaged was the result of an unrealistically high percentage of betting on the balls in the field (BABIP’s statistical score corresponds to this) at 0.425 at a career rate of 0.369.
If we talk about the season of 2017, then on the condition that BABIP is close to its average career indicator, Broxton could become one of the discoveries of the season, which, given his strong defense, baseball games, and power can allow him to become a level 3-4 WAR player , Which corresponds to the level of the player on the verge of falling on the match of all the stars. For comparison, similar usefulness last season was shown by such generally recognized baseball stars as Ryan Bron, Charlie Blackmon and Starling Marte. If you play baseball with some categories, then Broxton is your player.
Ryon Healy was chosen by Oakland Athletics in the third round of the 2013 draft pick, but despite this, it was never considered a strong prospect. Last season, he quickly broke into the scene of the Major League Baseball, having won a place in July in the starting lineup of Oakland, and has since forced to talk about himself as a rising star of baseball.
In the first three seasons in the lower league teams of Athletics, Healy could not realize his potential, showing a very average game in the attack, and his maximum result was only 16 home wounds for 600 outlets per bit in 2014. Last season, he went straight three levels, entrenched in Major League Baseball and knocking out at the same time 27 home runs. With each month in the big league, he only improved his performance, which allowed him to beat with the overager in 0.336 and 0.964 OPS in September and October.
Healy distinguishes a very even game on the beat both against lefties and against right-handers, which is a must for a player, on which the coaching staff can count every day. In the season of 2017, he could well expect to reach 30 home runs for the first time in his professional career, which, given good stats on the base and a moderate number of strikeouts, should make him a dark horse in the fight for a place in the match of all stars.
The appearance of Milwaukee’s second player on this list is not accidental, because the club’s management, headed by general manager David Stearns, relies on advanced analytics and innovative methods for evaluating players, which, together with the traditional old-school scouting, gives its result. In addition, Brewers, in connection with the restructuring and small budgets, has not only the opportunity, but also the need to provide a chance to players who would not be allowed to enter the ranks of such rich franchises as the Boston Red Sox or the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Professional career of Eric Thames began in the Toronto Blue Jays, who chose him in the draft of the distant 2008. Unlike almost all previous participants of this list, Thames was not exchanged for another club, and he made his debut in Major League Baseball in the 2011 season, and at that time he played at the position of the left outfielder. He spent only two seasons in the league, failing to prove himself to the fullest. The fact is that he was never distinguished by the high skill of playing defense in the outfielder, and when his bit game deteriorated in the season of 2012, he simply ceased to correspond to the level of the major league of baseball.
After that, Thames decided to try his luck at the Korean Baseball League, where he could receive a decent salary and playing time. The outfielder disappeared from the radar of the Major League Baseball fans for as long as three years just to return to the league in the offseason after signing a three-year contract with Milwaukee for $ 15.5 million. The length of the contract and the amount are surprising, both for a player who previously could not play in Major League Baseball, and then played in Korea. So what’s the catch?
In the 2015 season, he began to play the position of the first baseman, which allowed him to turn from a bad outfielder to a good defender at first base and eliminate one of the problems. Another problem that accompanied the player earlier was a large number of strikeouts, which is the most typical reason for not realizing the potential for betting in Major League Baseball.
In 2015, he showed a significant improvement in recognition of innings, and also improved the technique of mach, which allowed him to become the most valuable player in the Korean league, and also to receive a prize to the best defender of the league at first base. Along the way, he became the first player in the history of Korean baseball, who also knocked over 40 home runs and stole more than 40 bases, which is an unrealistic achievement for the first baseman.
Of course, it is not worth waiting for such a jump to Major League Baseball, but the scouts agree that Thames really has really added up in his level and is quite capable of becoming the top 10 player on the first base in Major League Baseball, which is a reality considering not the highest average level Players of this position. The game at Miller Park, which favorably affects the statistics of the sluggers, can allow him to beat off about 30 home runs, which together with good protection and 10-15 stolen bases can make his contract a real godsend for Brewers.