The 2018 baseball season gave rise to some new talent that journalists and analysts alike couldn’t stop raving about.
You will find no mention of those players here.
This article is dedicated to the players that nobody is talking about, but deserve more attention.
Scooter Gennett, CIN—23 HR, 92 RBI, .310/.357/.490
Prior to 2018, the only time you heard Scooter Gennett’s name was because of his 4-homer game in 2017. The casual fans jumped off of the Gennett boat, but the real ones stuck around, and saw him hit 27 homers last year. This year he was an All-Star and became a great story. Gennett was drafted in the 16th round of the 2009 Draft, making this breakout season even more surprising. Expect him to continue putting up solid seasons in the future.
Miles Mikolas, STL—18-4, 2.83 ERA, 200 2/3 IP
Miles Mikolas’ career has had its ups and downs. He pitched a few games for the Padres and the Rangers from 2012-2014, then he went to Japan, and dominated. He came back to the US this year, and had the Cardinals in the playoff hunt for a brief stretch in late August and early September. He led the NL in wins with 18. (He also led the NL in shutouts, but he only had one.) He also had a sub-3.00 ERA, and was an All-Star. While he won’t be a household name, he made a good case to be one this season.
David Peralta, ARI—30 HR, 87 RBI, .293/.352/.516
David Peralta has been putting up good numbers for a few years now, but nobody seems to notice him. In 2015, he drove in 78 runs, hit .312, and had an OPS of .893, and this year, he hit 30 homers, and drove in more runs than Paul Goldschmidt. Peralta had an All-Star caliber year, but didn’t get the nod due to the depth of players in the National League. He will be an All-Star one day, mark my words.
Kyle Freeland, COL—17-7, 2.85 ERA, 202 1/3 IP
Kyle Freeland propelled the Rockies to a spot in the Wild Card game, started the Wild Card game, and helped his team beat the Cubs in Wrigley to advance to the NLDS. For years, the Rockies have always had poor pitching, partly because they play in the high altitude of Denver. Freeland’s 2.85 ERA is the lowest ERA in a season in Rockies history for pitchers with at least 150 innings. He especially turned it on down the stretch, going 11-1 with a 2.32 ERA in his final 20 starts, and 8-0 in his last 11 starts. Freeland was among the Cy Young candidates in August, he was outdueled down the stretch by Nola and deGrom.
Eugenio Suarez, CIN—34 HR, 104 RBI, .283/.366/.526
Suarez, like Gennett, is a Reds player who gets no love. Suarez finished in the top 10 in the NL in home runs and RBI this past year. It was actually shaping up to be an MVP-type season for Suarez, as through his first 95 games, he had 26 homers and 85 RBI, as well as a .970 OPS. He fell into a minor slump toward the end of the season, but he still finished as the team leader in home runs and RBI. If the Reds’ pitching staff was not historically bad, Suarez, Gennett, and Votto might have been able to lead the Reds to some meaningful games in September.
Jhoulys Chacin, MIL—15-8, 3.50 ERA, 192 2/3 IP
Chacin had his best season to date this past year in his 10th year in the bigs, and he pitched some of his best games in the Brewers’ stretch run that got them to the NLCS. His best performance came in the Brewers’ game 163, where Chacin led Milwaukee to a win over the Cubs with 5 2/3 innings of 1-hit ball. While his numbers don’t jump out of the page, he was still one of the most consistent starting pitchers this year. He only had 2 starts in which he gave up more than 5 earned runs. Chacin has solidified himself as a viable top-of-the-rotation starter.
Brandon Nimmo, NYM—17 HR, 47 RBI, .263/.404/.483
Nimmo’s stats may not seem all that impressive, but he was an on-base machine. His .404 OBP was 2nd in the NL, despite hitting just .263. He became the first player in 20 years to have a batting average below .265, an OBP higher than .400, and fewer than 20 home runs. If Nimmo becomes a .300 hitter, he could become the next incarnation of Joey Votto.
Ryan Yarbrough, TB—16-6, 3.91 ERA, 147 2/3 IP
Who? Ryan Yarbrough, that’s who. Kevin Cash used the idea of an opener this season, to great success. His idea was to start the game using a reliever, and then bringing in another pitcher to handle the next few innings. The majority of Yarbrough’s appearances started in the 2nd or 3rd inning, and lasted about 5 innings. The quirky part of his season was that he got 16 wins, but he only started 6 games. He was the first pitcher to get 15 wins while starting 6 or fewer games since 1978, when Bob Stanley did it. Blake Snell obviously was the main part of Tampa Bay’s pitching success, but Yarbrough was also a major contributor.
*Photo: Sporting News