Monday, November 5, 2012

The 3 Most Underrated Free Agents...With Predictions!

The 2012-2013 Off-season has started, and it should get heated in the next few weeks. It's sure to bring excitement to all of us fans, well probably not fans of the Blue Jays, but for the rest of you, I'm sure it will be awesome. During this fun-filled time of year, I will be writing articles not only about the Blue Jays, but also some about the MLB in general. In this piece, I will be ranking the 3 most underrated players in this years free agent class.

One thing that I must say before I start my list is that I there are 4 things that I look for in an underrated player. These things are: Potential, tools, consistency, and of course, stats. For each player, those 4 things will be broken down. Let's get started.

3. B.J. Upton, Center Fielder

Potential: B.J. Upton has the most potential on this list; by far. He was a big prospect when he was coming up through the Rays system, and has shown some brilliance over the years. Some things have held him back from reaching this potential, like lack of hustle, and injuries. If he gets straightened out and remains healthy, I have no doubt in my mind that he can be a top 5 center fielder in the league.

Tools: Upton is one of the most toolsy players in all of the MLB. He covers a lot of ground in centre(though he has had only one positive year of DRS), has a great arm and can hit for tremendous power(.208 ISO in 2012), but, because having three tools is too mainstream, B.J also has a sick set of wheels. If healthy for an entire season, he does have the ability to steal 45 bases.

Consistency: This is why many people doubt B.J. Upton, and it's also why he's number 3 on this list, not number 1. Upton is prone too have prolonged slumps. I have a belief that these slumps aren't physical. Upton sometimes isn't focused. He loses concentration, and when that happens, he doesn't hustle, which is the key reason why he has been benched many times in the past.

Stats: It's possible that the most overlooked thing about Upton are his stats. Despite his abysmal .298 OBP this year, his OPS was a respectable .752. What his OBP lacks, he makes up for it with his speed and defence, which is evident in his WAR, a very nice 3.1.

As a conclusion, I like to think of B.J. Upton as a homeless mans' Mike Trout.

Prediction: Upton signs with the Washington Nationals, making a very nice outfield consisting of Bryce Harper, Upton, and Jayson Werth, moving Mike Morse to first base, to replace the departing Adam Laroche.

2. Rafael Soriano,Right Handed Closer

Potential: Soriano's potential has already been reached. He's a hard-throwing pitcher, who has a knack for clutch situations. Remarkably, he's still not considered an elite closer, after 2 years of being superb. 

Tools/Makeup: Soriano's primary pitch is a four-seam fastball in the 91-94 mph range. He pairs it with a sharp slider in the low-to-mid 80s. He used to frequently throw a two-seam fastball and cut fastball, these pitches seem to have mostly disappeared in 2012. (Credit for scouting report goes to @KennedyMLB.) 

Consistency: After looking it over, I can come to the conclusion that Soriano has been a very consistent reliever. After being just above-average for the early stages of his career, he has come into his own. When he has been in the closer role, I would say he has been a top 3 closer over the last 3 years. (Kimbrel has obviously been the best.) 

Stats: Soriano looks even better once you look at his stats. The most surprising stat to me is his stellar  career WHIP of 1.046. In 2010, his WHIP was 0.802, an unheard of number...Especially in the AL East! Another stat worth noting is that his K's per 9 innings is consistently around 9, a number that is difficult to achieve for a 32 year old pitcher. 

Prediction: Soriano signs a 2 year contract with the New York Yankees. This one will go down to the very end of free agency, and Rafael Soriano's agent Scott Boras will suck every dollar out of the Yankees. Although Soriano won't be used as a closer in the 1st year of his contract, it'll be 100% worth it. 

1. Freddy Sanchez, Second Baseman. 

Potential: Like Soriano, unless there's a drastic change, Sanchez's potential has already been achieved. He is a scrappy player, who has been an All-Star, and won a batting title. He didn't play this season due to injuries, but will be ready to play come 2013. That's why he's overlooked. 

Tools: Freddy certainly has the glove tool. Not only does he have the glove tool, but he has the hustle tool(sounds familiar for second baseman, doesn't it?). He's a man who respects the game, and does whatever it takes to win. Power is something that has never been his forte because he is not a largely built individual, another thing that seems to make people overlook him. But, most second baseman don't have power, so he fit's in a lot of different line-ups.

Consistency: Apart from recent injuries, you're not going to find many people who are more consistent than Freddy Sanchez. Since 2005, there hasn't been a year where he has batted below .271. He goes out there every inning with the same exact goal, and nothing stops him from achieving it. He has no issues off the field, and he's a guy who you want on your team, in any role. 

Stats: Since 2005, he hasn't had a WAR below 0.9(not the best, but aside from that outlier, it hasn't been below 1.5). His career OPS is .748, which is something that you would think isn't ideal, but from a second baseman who doesn't hit for power, you would take that any day of the week! Other than that, there is nothing about Sanchez's stats that pop out at me, because stats aren't what make him the player that he is. He is defined by his hustle fine defence. 

Prediction: Freddy Sanchez signs a one year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. I made this prediction in another article that I wrote, and I stand by it. He would allow Hechavarria to mature, whether that's getting AAA at bats, or spending 2013 as a bench player. 

Stay tuned for a list of the top 3 most overrated free agents! 

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  1. If Upton signs with the Nats and you have Morse and Werth in the OF where do you have Bryce Harper playing? First base?

  2. Will edit. Forgot about the phenom. Morse either traded or at 1st