Everyone has their own opinion on which players they are good, which players are bad, and which players are overrated and underrated. So far this year, the answer to who are the most underrated players in baseball isn’t the most clear one. Yet it’s all personal preference, and you can’t be wrong if you feel strongly about a specific player’s skillset. So with that, here are the three most underrated players in all of baseball.


Juan Soto

Bogaerts, Soto and Kim homer to back Musgrove in the Padres' 13-3 win over the Nationals - WTOP News

We are kicking this off with the biggest name. When it comes to the public perception of him, Juan Soto is the most underrated player in all of baseball.

The narrative of “he only looks for walks” is stupid. Juan Soto finished fifth in All Star Voting for the NL outfield, and now won’t be starting in the All Star Game. However, he is tied for fifth among qualified position players in all of baseball with a 3.2 fWAR (FanGraphs WAR). He also has a 3.4 bWAR (Baseball Reference WAR), which puts him just outside the top ten position players in bWAR.

Soto’s best attribute is obviously his hitting, and over the entire season he is sixth in baseball among qualified hitters with a 154 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus). However, if you take out Soto’s rough start to the season in his first 18 games, Soto is second among qualified hitters from April 18 onwards with a 170 wRC+, behind only Shohei Ohtani. In Soto’s first 18 games, he slashed .164/.346/.361 for just a .707 OPS with three doubles and three homers. From April 18 onwards, Soto has appeared in 61 games, where he has slashed .301/.446/.536 for a .982 OPS. In those 61 games, Soto has also hit 16 doubles and 11 homers. 

As of June 28, Soto currently holds a .423 OBP. If that were to hold, Soto would become just the fourth MLB player since integration to start their career with six straight seasons with a .400 OBP. He is an on-base machine, and he walks more than any other hitter in baseball, with a 21% BB rate. Plus, Soto leads the league with 72 walks after leading the league with 145 in 2021 and 135 in 2022. With a public perception of an NL MVP race that is between Ronald Acuna Jr., Corbin Carroll, and Luis Arraez, don’t forget about Juan Soto. He is in that conversation, and as of now he would be ahead of Arraez in my NL MVP rankings, rapidly closing in on Acuna and Carroll to make it a tight three horse race between NL outfielders.


Alex Verdugo

Alex Verdugo delivers walkoff single in 10th inning, Red Sox edge Guardians after blowing five-run lead - The Boston Globe

If you think Juan Soto missing out on the second phase of All Star voting is egregious, wait until you hear this one. In the last update before the finalists were announced for phase two of the All Star voting, Alex Verdugo wasn’t in the top 20 AL vote getters for the outfield. There’s 45 outfielders in the AL, and Verdugo isn’t in the top 20? That’s blasphemy.

Verdugo is in the top 30 of all qualified position players in baseball in both fWAR and bWAR (2.4 fWAR and 3.0 bWAR), and also finds himself in the top 20 among qualified hitters in wRC+ (134 wRC+). And all that is with Verdugo putting up arguably the best defensive season of his career so far, with 7 DRS (defensive runs saved), 2 OAA (outs above average), and a 5.6 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) in right field.

As much as he shouldn’t be compared to Mookie Betts, Verdugo is doing a great job of replacing him simply by being Alex Verdugo. Verdugo is improving in all facets, is a crucial part of the Red Sox, and may just be the Red Sox’ best player so far in 2023. His 2.4 fWAR is the highest on the team by far (Rafael Devers’ 1.3 fWAR is the second highest). Among AL outfielders, Verdugo is fifth in fWAR and fourth in wRC+, a higher wRC+ than Mike Trout. Verdugo has also been great at limiting strikeouts. His 11.8% K rate is good for eighth best in all of baseball, and second best among AL outfielders behind only his teammate, Masataka Yoshida. 

With all the recent questions from fans and beat writers about whether or not the Red Sox should have an All Star, the answer is that the Red Sox should have at least one. And that guy is Alex Verdugo. There’s no doubt he should be an All Star, but now he has to wait to see if he will be one. If he is, there is no one I’d rather have represent the Red Sox at the All Star Game in Seattle.


Jordan Hicks

Fantasy Baseball Closer Report Week 12: Jordan Hicks Takes Over As The Cardinals Closer | Fantasy Alarm

Throughout the course of his career so far, Jordan Hicks has been a guy that everyone knows throws hard, but hasn’t really been able to put the entire package together. Whether it be walk issues, injuries, or other things, he was always streaky out of the bullpen. The 2023 season didn’t start off great for Hicks, with 8 earned runs (including two homers) in 5.2 innings through his first seven appearances. However, from April 18 onwards, Hicks has been lights out.

For the entire 2023 season, Hicks has a 4.05 ERA and a 3.08 FIP. Yet in his last 25 appearances, Hicks has pitched 27.2 innings, allowing just seven earned runs without giving up a homer, which is good enough for a 2.28 ERA since April 18. In that stretch, Hicks has also posted the lowest FIP from a reliever (1.67) who has pitched 20 innings or more, as well as striking out 40% of the hitters he has faced while only walking 11%. Hicks has been pitching so well that he nabbed the closer spot in the Cardinals pen with Ryan Helsley on the IL. Hitters are slashing just .163/.278/.194 against Hicks since April 18, with the .194 SLG against being the fourth best among all relievers.

With Hicks pitching so well as of late and the Cardinals struggling, Hicks, a free agent after this season, could be a coveted trade piece when the trade deadline rolls around. You would have to think that the Cardinals consider trading him as they sit in last place in the NL Central without showing many signs of life. If they do trade him, any contending team would be smart to make a move for Hicks. He can be streaky, but at the same time he’s never pitched like this, meaning there’s reason to believe that he may have turned a corner. He could be a big part of a championship contending bullpen.


Before wrapping up, it must be stated that there are two honorable mentions that did just slightly miss out. Ketel Marte has been back to his best with the D-Backs this year. However, Pat and I wrote a Bleacher Bums column where we discussed the D-Backs, so I felt fine leaving him out. Keynan Middleton, a former D-Back, is also having the best year of his career in the White Sox bullpen, and could be one the few Chicago bullpen pieces that could be on the trading block. 

If you have a player who you think is underrated by many, make sure to tweet it out and to tag both myself @derrik_maguire and Bleacher Brawls @BleacherBrawl on Twitter to let us know. We may just discuss it at some point on our podcast or our YouTube channel.

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