Turner is the definition of an unnoticed star in fact he is so unnoticed that he is not even trusted with a starting role, even though he had a WAR last season of 4.3 in only about half as many plate appearances as an average everyday player. No players in the majors had more WAR in less at bats than Justin Turner. This means that given an equal opportunity as other players Turner would have a WAR of around 8.6 at the rate he played last season! That's 0.6 WAR above the BEST WAR in baseball last season; Clayton Kershaw's 8.0. In fact a WAR of 8.6 would easily make the top 10 WAR in every season in the history of baseball. A few people reading these mind-blowing stats may scramble to the false explanation that maybe he is simply a lefty specialist, perhaps Turner only has these great stats because he is only used against lefties. Well that is simply not the case, Turner had an OPS against lefties that was only 2% better than his OPS against righties, and although he showed a little more pop of left handed pitches he actually had a higher on base % against righties (.413 vs. .385). The final piece solidifying Turners place atop this list is his ability to work the count. it took pitchers an average of 6.76 pitches to get Turner out. This means that with Justin Turner's ability to drive a pitch count up it would take pitchers about 37 pitches more to get through a (9 inning game) against Turner than an average MLB team. Turner's stats show that he is not only ready for a starting role, but if given one he might prove himself one of the better players in baseball. In the second half of the season Turner was even better which could carry over into the coming season. post all-star break Turner had an OPS of 1.025, and had an on base percentage of .459 both of these stats are by far the best of any player with 100+ at bats.
#2 Marcell Ozuna:
A large part of the reason that I have called the Marlins outfield one of the best in the majors is this spectacular young star. Ozuna has lived in the shadow of outfield mates Giancarlo Stanton, and Christian Yelich. Stanton is clearly one of the best outfielders in the majors and is first on nearly anyones mind at the mention of the Marlins especially their outfield. As a prospect Marcell Ozuna was always viewed less strong than Christian Yelich who was 2012's 17th ranked prospect by MLB pipeline while Ozuna was unranked on their top 100 list. He showed some real pop with his 23 home runs and his .455 SLG last year and ended the year on a great note with a .919 OPS in september, but he is still often unnoticed in the shadow behind Stanton, and Yelich, Just yesterday Ozuna was left off of an MLB Network list of the top ten center fielders. Ozuna should be somewhere from fourth to seventh at the position that includes Mike Trout, and Andrew Mccutchen (two of the best position players in the majors), as well as Yasiel Puig and Carlos Gomez, but he didn't even make the top 10. His 4.4 WAR is a large reason that the three Marlins outfielders had a combined WAR last year of 14.5 carrying the entire Marlins team. All of the rest of their players, not including pitching, amounted to a WAR of -0.1, but with a revamped infield as well as a strengthened rotation Marcell Ozuna has the opportunity to be a huge part of this contending team.
#3 Kevin Kiermaier:
Kiermaier (KEER-my-er) had an excellent rookie season last year but was extremely unnoticed, in fact most people reading this probably have not even heard of him. He had a WAR of 3.7, but like Justin Turner even with this strong season Kiermaier still has not achieved enough respect, even by his own team, to earn the everyday starting job. With DH John Jaso also serving as the backup catcher, and David DeJesus ready to fill in at DH when Jaso catches I hope to see Kiermaier taking over for DeJesus these times giving him more time than the typical backup in the outfield. Like many of the players on this list Kiermaier achieved his high WAR in less games/plate appearances than many other players got. he had a total of 364 plate appearances, which means that given the 600 PA typical for a starting player Kiermaier would have had a WAR of 6.1. above players like Jose Altuve, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Abreu.
#4 Steve Pearce:
Pearce was the best player on this list by a long shot last season. The only reason he is not higher on this list is because he is slightly older than many of the others on this list, and slightly more well known. I could not leave him off this list however, because he was one of the best players in all of baseball last season. His 6.0 WAR was 14th best in all of baseball, and was generated in just 383 plate appearances. this means that Pearce generated one win above replacement player every 64 plate appearances. In comparison Mike Trout generated 1.0 WAR every 89 plate appearances it took Pearce less than 3/4 the time it took Mike Trout. The best position player in terms of WAR ever was Babe Ruth. during his career he average 65 plate appearances per 1.0 WAR, this is one more than Pearce took last season. I'm not arguing that Pearce is better than Babe Ruth, but I do think he is one of the very best active position players right now, and although he is well known few people realize just how good Steve Pearce is.
#5 Danny Santana:
After not getting the call up until mid May, Danny Santana performed exceptionally well in his rookie season in which he had a WAR of 3.9 but somehow was barely noticed by the majority of baseball's fans. Even the experts voting for the rookie of the year had him seventh in the voting, and although Jose Abreu, and Collin McHugh (McHugh will more than likely make my underrated pitchers list) were reasonably placed above him, Santana should have been far above seventh. There is something about the young Twins players that allows them to go undetected, in 2013 it was Brian Dozier who had a similar status last offseason when he had a 3.7 WAR and upped it to a 5.0 WAR last year. I hope to see Danny Santana do a similar thing next season giving the Twins a strong center infield, but it is not just Santana and Dozier who are underrated on the Twins. Trevor Plouffe is likely to make this list, and Phil Hughes is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball.
#6 Leonys Martin:
In recent years numerous Cuban players have made a huge difference in baseball, and while many including Aroldis Chapman, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Fernandez, and Jose Abreu have gained major respect for their skills, Leonys Martin is the exception. He has had much less attention than others of his skill. Martin is a five tool player. He fields better than any other major league center fielder. He had a range factor per nine innings of 3.07 in his 1247 innings last year this is better than any other CF with more than 600 innings. He is one of the faster players in baseball. He had 31 steals last year, as well as 36 the year before. He got on in nearly 1/3 of his plate appearances, and although it is not his strongest area he also has the ability to drive the ball sometimes with 15 home runs in the past two seasons. Martin had a WAR of 4.6 last season putting making him about the 48th best player in baseball.
#7 Trevor Plouffe
Plouffe is part of the most underrated infield in the majors with the underestimated threats of Danny Santana (WAR of 3.9), Brian Dozier (WAR of 5.1), and backup Eduardo Escobar (WAR of 1.1) as well as Joe Mauer who had a WAR of 2.0. Plouffe himself had a WAR of 4.0. This means their entire infield had an accumulated WAR of 16.1. Plouffe slashed .258/.328/.423 last season making an OPS os.751, ranked 68th in the majors. His WAR ranked even higher at 58th due to his strong fielding that has improved more than any other part of his game since 2011 when he had a -2.1 dWAR to last seasons 1.0 dWAR.
#8 J.D. Martinez:
After three years in Houston J.D. Martinez had not yet reached his potential that was predicted as a prospect, so come his fourth season not a lot of fans noticed his break-out year in which he achieved a 4.2 WAR in 480 plate appearances after achieving only -1.2 WAR in the first 975 plate appearances of his career. Martinez is a solid part of a strong Tigers team and will make a huge difference on the team. Martinez is the 45th best position player in baseball based on his WAR of 4.2 he was only 26 last season last year, and is still in the very beginning of his prime.