Leave it to the Yankees to have all-stars and a Hall of Famer among their unheralded players.
Whether a player is unheralded — or unappreciated, or underrated — is largely in the eye of the beholder. In the wake of his first rocky season, I would argue that Derek Jeter has become under-appreciated in certain corners. I think Andy Pettitte spent his career underrated outside of New York (and I’m basing that largely on my perception of him before I moved out east). Marcus Thames was almost certainly an unheralded player who had a larger-than-expected impact last season.
Which unheralded players might make an impact this season?
When he was in Detroit, Granderson was a big name. Now that he’s in New York, he’s lost in the crowd. Although he’s seen as a complimentary player, Granderson’s combination of speed and power make him a potential difference maker at any spot in the lineup. Granderson is also responsible for covering a big center field, and he has a personality that extends beyond the field. Granderson might never standout in New York like he did in Detroit, but he could quietly become an elite player again.
The idea of what Jones is seems to suffer because of what he once was. He’s no longer one of the elite players in baseball, but Jones slugged .486 last season, and he’s still an impact, middle-of-the-order-type hitter against lefties. Jones is not going to be an everyday player for the Yankees — and he probably won’t be needed in center field — but he has legitimate power for a corner infielder, and he could hit his way into more playing time than expected.
Despite his numbers, Robertson has always seemed a little bit forgotten. As a relief prospect coming up in the Yankees system, he was occasionally overshadowed by Mark Melancon and J.B. Cox. In New York, he’s been the young right-handed reliever not named Joba Chamberlain. There’s not much hype around Robertson — and he certainly counts as unheralded — but he was terrific in the second half last season, and he could emerge as the reliever called on for those tight-spots in the middle innings.
Associated Press photo