American League Surprises

Who?? Part-1 The American League

6/27/12 in MLB   |   This_is_Rick   |   265 respect

Without the lights and camera it is easy to miss the action! The MLB season is nearing the half-way point in  the marathon of 162 games, where teams, individual players and the dynamic of success are being labeled pass, or complete failure. While the fans vote for the popularity contest, Kansas City bound and down, like it or not,  the analysts and experts off all things baseball have started their ritual of deeming mid-season accolades for the useless and page-filling wonderment to the masses. And, as it so often goes, the usual suspects find themselves in the same ole line-up, again. It is a testament to what consistency carries towards the success and staying-power of an MLB star, but, just as Verbal Kint fooled us into believing it was one of the "usual suspects" that led the team in the movie version, sometimes the real genius behind a clubs success is as much of a surprise twist and unknown as they it is right under your nose.  Pay attention to the details, and ignore the rhetoric smeared across the TV like melted ice cream, it can be deceiving.
Blog Photo - American League Surprises

Look under the coffee cup and beyond the story told, perhaps, you will find these three players to be the real culprits of success, thus far, in the American League.

1.) Matt Harrison - In the time it takes for you to Google who this guy is, he probably added another quality start to his already solid pitching resume this season. While Yu Darvish and additions like Roy Oswalt have cluttered the media pages in the greatest state-ever-TEXAS - only if you are from there - Matt Harrison has quietly reigned as the consistent man in  the Rangers rotation. The lefty has stacked up 10 wins to only 3 losses, and has kept a decent e.r.a, sub-4, in a park where United Airlines sponsors the baseballs. Admittedly or not, regards to the right-handed population of the world, most managers, coaches and leaders of fantasy squads will preach that you can never have enough left-handed hurlers. Done with your Google search? If the Rangers are to remain tops in the west, they will need strong pitching down the stretch to compliment their hitting. He may not get on the All-Star team, but Matt Harrison has proven that he can be a reliant factor in the equation that has the Rangers winning the pennant as the answer.
Jun 24, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Harrison (54) throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the Colorado Rockies at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

2.) Alejandro De Azo - Ask any R.B.I guru and they will tell you one common necessity, " I need men on base in order to complete my job." While the south-side crew has slowly pulled themselves to the top of the A.L Central, Alejandro De Aza has remained a hidden gem standing in front of the line....up. As the lead-off hitter, he has been the consistent bat at the top of the White Sox order, hitting a solid .289 and providing 48 runs scored. Like most overlooked players, media-savoy gents like the new coach, Ventura, and a trending Paul Konerko have suggested at the efforts provided by De Aza, but the cameras did not pan the locker room to get a visual. If the White Sox want to make it back to post-season glory, sans Ozzie, they will have to rely on key offense and team hitting, not unproven trades like Kevin Youkilis. A spark at the top of the line-up is what teams crave, and rarely discover. Remember this, Jake Taylor's bunt would have looked really stupid if Willie Mays-Hayes wasn't on base. Teams need that lead off man, and De Aza has the makings of a good one. "How you doin'??"
Jun 19, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza (30) makes a catch against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at US Cellular Field.  Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

3.) Mark Trumbo - Depending on the level of baseball fan you score yourself to be, Trumbo may or may not register as the best kept secret in the American Leagues. While the Angels faithful, and star-happy media of the So-Cal area, fight and drool over the hopeful turn around of Albert Pujols, Trumbo is carrying the the offensive output, solely. At a .316 average and 17 bombs - one that I witnessed, live, that literally chipped the rocks in center-field of Angels stadium when it landed - Trumbo's offense has kept the Halos relevant in a division that can easily become a one-team show. He can play multiple positions in the filed and his bat control, mixed with power, allows Scioscia to hit him in different spots of the line-up. I seriously doubt that Albert's struggles will suddenly cause pitchers to chuck belt-high straight-bait to him, and pitch around Trumbo, so he will have the benefit of Albert's persona, at least for the next few months, and get the good pitches to hit. If the Angels want to keep up with the Rangers they will need Mark Trumbo to continue swinging a hot bat, and as long as he stays within his role, and not morph into a swing-from-the-shoes-savior, the Angels will have a chance to wish upon a star and see their neighbor, Mickey Mouse, real soon.
June 16, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA;     Los Angeles Angels right fielder Mark Trumbo (44) connects for a 2-run home run in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

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6/27/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Scott wrote:
I'd throw White Sox pitcher Chris Sale into this mix as well.  Last year he was a reliever/closer and this year, he started as the closer, was then moved into the rotation and at this moment, is leading the American League in ERA.

Well, Sale was considered one of the best prospects in baseball. Thinking about it though, this kind of thing isn't really my bag, since I'm a hardcore, and all the people I converse with about baseball or follow on Twitter are hardcore, so it's take a lot to surprise.

I will point out that De Aza is only hitting .285/.359/.395, which isn't that far off his career numbers (.282/.347/.404), so I can't say I'm buying that this a "breakout" year for him. Trumbo, meanwhile, is helped by an unsustainable .359 BABIP, and his walk rate (which was so low last year it made him and his 29 HRs severely overrated) hasn't improved to the point you can say he's turned the corner. He can hit 30+ homers a year, but at an OBP under .320 in the long run, which isn't what you want from a corner infielder. Plus, his third base defense is bad.

6/26/12   |   Scott   |   53681 respect

I'd throw White Sox pitcher Chris Sale into this mix as well.  Last year he was a reliever/closer and this year, he started as the closer, was then moved into the rotation and at this moment, is leading the American League in ERA.