With All-Star voting in full swing, it is apparent that some player’s accomplishments are being overshadowed by the popularity of other players. If the fans won’t give these players the recognition they deserve, I will. This is the 2021 Call To The Bullpen MLB Mid-Season All-Underrated Team.
Catcher: Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers
Will Smith has quietly been one of the best catchers in baseball since his emergence in 2019. In his 150 MLB games, Smith has recorded 32 home runs, 93 RBIs, a slash line of .269/.367/.542, and a WAR of 4.8. Smith is overshadowed by a star-studded Dodgers roster, but he flew under the radar even within the Dodgers organization. Smith had always ranked second among Dodgers catching prospects behind Kiebert Ruiz but has now established himself at the big league level as an underrated star behind the plate.
First Base: Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles
Mancini missed all of the 2020 MLB season undergoing stage 3 colon cancer treatment but has made his triumphant return in 2021 without missing a beat. In 2019 Mancini hit 35 home runs while driving in 97 runs and posting a batting average of .291. Was he an All-Star? Nope. Did he receive any MVP votes? Nope.
In 2021, Mancini ranks 6th in all of MLB in RBIs with 52 and has slugged 14 home runs through 70 games. That’s on pace for 30+ home runs and 100+ RBIs on a team that is certain to be among the worst five in the league. Keep in mind this is after missing a whole season to undergo cancer treatment. He currently ranks fifth among AL first basemen in All-Star voting, missing the cut to make it to Denver. In my opinion, this is the biggest miscarriage of justice on this list.
Second Base: Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies
McMahon splits his time between second and third base but is listed as a second baseman on the All-Star ballot, so that’s where he slots in here. His 16 home runs and 44 RBIs are tied for 2nd among all second basemen, however, McMahon doesn’t rank in the top five in second base voting in the National League. Leading vote-getter Ozzie Albies has one more RBI, one more batting average point, and five fewer home runs than McMahon, yet McMahon is currently out of a roster spot for the NL. McMahon also leads the National League in defensive WAR by a decent margin with 1.6.
Every team needs an All-Star representative, and it seems more than likely that McMahon will be the Rockies rep when the All-Star Game heads to his home field in July, but he should be an All-Star based on the fan vote and merit rather than roster requirements.
Shortstop: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants
The resurgence of Brandon Crawford has been a massive part of the Giants’ unexpected success in 2021. While division rival Fernando Tatis Jr. is the clear choice to start the All-Star Game for the National League, Crawford should be the next man up. He outranks the #2 vote-getter, Javier Baez, in RBIs, batting average, and OPS, and the pair are tied with 16 home runs each. BCraw currently ranks 4th among NL shortstops in All-Star voting, just behind Corey Seager, despite Seager being on the IL since May 16 with a right-hand fracture. The 2x World Series Champion and 3x Gold Glove winner deserves to represent the Giants in what could be his final season with the team.
Third Base: Gio Urshela, New York Yankees
Gio Urshela gets completely overshadowed by the star-studded Yankees roster despite being arguably their most valuable piece. While most of his value comes from his Gold Glove-caliber defense, Urshela may also be the Yankees’ most balanced bat with DJ LeMahieu struggling. Rafael Devers is the clear choice to start the All-Star Game at third, although a year ago he may have found himself on this list, Urshela’s offensive stats are on par with the #2 vote-getter Alex Bregman and better than that of #3-5. Both Yankees and baseball fans should give Urshela the love and respect he deserves.
Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles
Boyce Cedric Mullins is the best center fielder in baseball in 2021, and it’s not particularly close. The only two players who can rival Mullins for that title this year have found themselves on the IL, yet somehow Mullins ranks ninth in outfielder voting in the American League. He is second in the American League in hits only to Vlad Jr. and fifth in all of baseball. He currently holds a slash line of .310/.379/.538 with an OPS of .917, 13 home runs, 12 stolen bases, and Gold Glove-caliber defense. A 20/20 season is almost certain for Mullins, and a 30/30 season could be considered probable. Mullins should not just be ON the All-Star team, he should be STARTING in centerfield for the American League on July 13.
Seriously how does this guy only have 4% of the vote in the outfield? Mike Trout and Byron Buxton currently hold starting spots in a game that neither player will be healthy enough to play in. On top of that, Buxton and Trout COMBINED have played in fewer games in 2021 (63) than Cedric Mullins alone has (72). It is completely absurd that those two players could be at the top of the vote based strictly on popularity when players like Mullins perform at the highest level day in and day out. I said what I said.
Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates
It’s hard not to be overlooked on a team as bad as the Pirates, but Reynolds receiving less than 2% of the vote among NL outfielders is criminal. His 3.2 WAR ranks 7th among all position players, fourth among NL position players, and FIRST among NL outfielders. He is on base nearly 40% of the time and his .306 average ranks 5th among all National League batters. He’s driven in 38 runs on a Pirates team that hardly produces baserunners, slugged 12 home runs, and has an OPS of .924. He is currently being left off of the NL All-Star team despite the fact he could very possibly be worthy of a starting spot.
Kyle Schwarber, Washington Nationals
While Schwarber’s batting average is nothing to marvel at, his 19 home runs and 45 RBIs are. He ranks third in the National League in home runs and ninth in RBIs yet is nowhere to be found in the vote rankings for NL outfielders. In home runs, he only trails the National League’s leading vote-getter Ronald Acuña Jr. by one, and the pair are tied in RBIs. Schwarber has likely already outperformed the 1 year/$10milion contract he signed this past offseason, suggesting that he may even be underrated by his own team’s front office. At the very least I would like to see Schwarber competing in the Home Run Derby during All-Star Weekend.
Who are some players you think are underrated? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter and Instagram at @thedavidpayne and @capitalsportsmn