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Thursday, September 13, 2001
Updated: September 17, 12:25 PM ET
The Readers' List:
Underrated ballplayers


From the Page 2 mailbag

On Monday, Page 2 ran its list of the most underrated baseball player currently in the game. We asked for your take, and you filled our mailbag with plenty of choices.

OUR TOP 10
Here's how the Page 2 staff ranked the most underrated current baseball players:

1. Rafael Palmeiro
2. Jamie Moyer
3. Mike Sweeney
4. Roberto Alomar
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Edgardo Alfonzo
7. Jon Lieber
8. Wade Miller
9. Ryan Klesko
10. Jermaine Dye

Honorable mentions: Brian Giles, Cliff Floyd, Aramis Ramirez, Matt Morris, Corey Koskie, Torii Hunter, Jose Vidro

Readers endorsed 154 players they believed weren't getting proper credit. Though some readers have a much different definition of underrated -- such as those who sent in letters of support for Barry Bonds and Pedro Martinez -- than Page 2 editors.

After going through more than 900 letters, we've listed a rundown of the Top 10 vote-getters, along with some of the best letters about each wife. Check out the list, then be sure to cast your vote in the poll at left to crown the greatest sports wife of all-time.


1. Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia Phillies
(65 letters)

Without question, Bobby Abreu. He's a guy with almost no name recognition, probably because he doesn't hit a lot of home runs. But he does everything else amazingly well: He hits for average (a career .313 hitter), he has great plate discipline (more than 100 walks each of the past two seasons), he's a great baserunner and has a cannon of an arm.
Warren Menzer
Waco, Texas

Bobby Abreu
Some people outside Philly couldn't tell five-tool star Bobby Abreu from Rex Hudler.
Could be Philly's first 30-30 player. He's a true five-tool player, and if your not a Phillies fan he might as well be Rex Hudler.
Kevin Molnar
Bethlehem, Pa.

This guy has been playing like an All-Star the past few seasons and nobody knows him. He has a cannon of an arm that rivals Vladimir Guerrero. While his batting average is down this year, he has consistently been hitting over .300. This year, he has a chance to make the 30-30 club for the first time. He is a speedy runner, a consistent hitter and is showing that he can hit for power. Not only that, but he is a good fielder as well.
Scott Cole
Rome, N.Y.


2. Brian Giles, Pittsburgh Pirates
(43 letters)

Nobody was around Brian Giles in that pathetic batting order for two years yet he managed back-to-back 30 homer, 100 RBI seasons (Roberto Clemente never did that). Put him on the Yankees and he's an affordable Bernie Williams.
Steve
Nutley, N.J.

Brian Giles
Brian Giles plays in relative obscurity for the lowly Pirates.
This year and the two years previous, Brian Giles has put up stellar numbers in lowly Pittsburgh. If he were to be playing on a contending team with more protection in the lineup, he'd have some of the best all-round numbers in all of baseball.

That's not to mention his defense. he is a great left fielder and can play center when needed. Playing in the small market in Pittsburgh doesn't help in that category or in media coverage. I bet Cleveland's regretting letting Giles go now.
Jon Levett
Toronto

Brian Giles' numbers would make him a superstar even in a middle-market town. The obscurity of Pittsburgh baseball has kept him undercover, though, and he's the only thing keeping the Pirates from previously unheard of ineptness.
Josh McElhattan
Belmont, Mass.


3 (tie). Rich Aurilia, San Francisco Giants
(40 letters)

He's been so unheralded in the Barry Bonds drive for 71. If Richie hasn't been so clutch, first base would be open a lot more times for Bonds to be walked.

Just take a look at his numbers: .327, 33 HR, 88 RBI. If it weren't for the seasons that Barry Bonds and Luis Gonzalez are having, this guy would have a legitimate shot at the MVP award. He may be having the best offensive season for a NL shortstop since Ernie Banks played.
Greg Pitts
Santa Cruz, Calif.

Rich Aurilia
Rich Aurilia deserves some of the attention, and credit, that Barry Bonds is getting.
I think with the season he is having it is definitely time to put him into that upper echelon group of shortstops with Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada. He is not in A-Rod's class, but no one else is either.

Aurilia is also one of the steadiest defensive shortstops in the game. In a game where you are supposed to get power from your corner positions, the Giants get a tremendous amount of run production from their two middle infielders, Aurilia and Jeff Kent. That alleviates a lot of pressure for the Giants to have to go out and get a bopper for right field, third base or first base.
Joshua Peek
Cedar Rapids, Iowa


3 (tie). Rafael Palmeiro, Texas Rangers
(40 letters)

First off, it behooves me to note that three of your top four choices are former Orioles. All were let go by Peter Angelos, Frank Wren and Syd Thrift, the Moe, Larry and Curley of the baseball world.

Second, it behooves me to note that Edgar Martinez does not belong anywhere on this list. Great hitter, sweet swing, but you simply can not underrate a DH.

Speaking of Edgar, Rafael Palmeiro has the sweetest swing in baseball. Absolutely effortless. Every year the guy bats about .320, hits 40 or so dingers and drives in about 130 runs -- and no one notices. The blame for this falls squarely on the media. This guy is a true professional, a consistent, hard-working athlete who takes his job seriously and puts up freakish numbers year in and year out. But you'd rather write about a scumbucket like Darryl Strawberry or hang John Rocker out to dry for being a dumb redneck.

Raffy put up the three best years of any Orioles hitter -- better than Frank Robinson, better than Eddie Murray. The day the O's signed Albert Belle, Raffy signed with the Rangers for less money than the O's had offered him. The O's never negotiated with him in good faith, so he took his services elsewhere. We hear so many athletes say "It's not about the money, it's about respect." Then they sign with the team that offered them the most money ... (See Webber, Chris.) Unfortunately, he chose to sign with a team that makes Baltimore's front office seem almost competent. He deserves better.
Jeffrey Staggs
Baltimore

Rafael Palmeiro
Rafael Palmeiro was at or near the top of Page 2's and readers' choices for the most underrated player.
When players are polled asking who is the best hitter in the game, who has the sweetest swing, who they study to become better, Rafael Palmeiro always comes up. You just have to play on the right team to make it on "SportsCenter," and even when his teams made the playoffs, he never got the press or recognition he deserved.
Aaron
Denton, Texas

Rafael Palmeiro has been underrated his whole career. Over the last few years, he has put up numbers similar to all-time greats, such as Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx. Seven consecutive years of 35 home runs and 100 RBI, and he's an afterthought on the Texas Rangers. I can't remember his name ever being up for an MVP award.

No matter what team he is on, he's never been the prime-time player. In his first stint with Texas, Juan Gonzalez was the star. With the Orioles, it was Brady Anderson and Robbie Alomar. Now with Texas again, it is always A-Rod and I-Rod who are mentioned first.

The biggest insult to his career and indication of how underrated he his, is the decision made to not re-sign him by who else, the Baltimore Orioles.
Bill Slattery
Hopewell Junction, N.Y.


5 (tie). Edgar Martinez, Seattle Mariners
(39 letters)

Watching Edgar Martinez play for 12 years has been a pleasure. Always playing alongside the "superstars," he has quietly excelled at his job. Batting champion, RBI champion, and champion to those in Seattle.

Guys like Edgar, make it possible to have players like Junior, A-Rod or the Big Unit. Now they are gone, we still have Edgar, a 103-40 record, and are happier than ever.
Shaun P. Hanon
Gig Harbor, Wash.

Edgar Martinez was underrated when there were superstars in Seattle and now he's the poster boy for a team that's underrated despite being 60 games over .500. Like Palmeiro, a production machine and perhaps the best pure DH in the history of the position.
Jerry Griffin
Boston


5 (tie). Vladimir Guerrero, Montreal Expos
(39 letters)

Vladimir Guerrero
Vladimir Guerrero is often the center of attention in Montreal, but far less often elsewhere.
Vladimir Guerrero is one of the most talented players in major-league baseball (power, speed, great arm, etc.). And yet, thanks to playing in Montreal (where the average attendance figure for home games is, what, 912?) he is probably the least-seen superstar MLB has to offer.
Steve Frank
Moon Township, Pa.

Yes, the average fan does know who Vladimir Guerrero is and that he is good. But if he played for a good team or in a big market, then people would say that without a doubt he is the best player in major-league baseball, bar none.

He will be one of the greatest of all-time and is a model of greatness right now. He goes out day in and day out and performs great for a team that has no fan attendance and not very much talent. On top of it you never hear anything bad about him. He never complains about his situation. He just does his job. In my opinion he is a wonderful role model for children.
Aaron
Hamersville, Ohio


7. Mike Sweeney, Kansas City Royals
(28 letters)

Mike Sweeney is easily one of the most underrated players in the game, not to mention one of the classiest guys in baseball.

Sweeney has to be the best player that no one talks about. He is an MVP-caliber player on a basement-caliber team. You have to tip your hat to a guy who is so dedicated to a team that doesn't have half the heart that he does.

He is also a first-class person. As much of a clicheacute; as it might be, it is safe to say that Mike Sweeney is a role model on and off the field.
Joe McCann
Leawood, Kan.


8. Tino Martinez, New York Yankees
(35 letters)

Tino Martinez
Tino Martinez is underrated nationally and in New York.
Tino Martinez has three errors all year. Not to mention the countless plays he has made to prevent errors from his teammates. He may not have power numbers at bat, but over his career in New York, he has been one of the most consistent players.
Stef
Rockaway, N.J.


9. Trot Nixon, Boston Red Sox
(33 letters)

Trot Nixon plays all-out every day, no matter what the score, opponent, or what position he's at in the field or in the batting order. He's had a career year in 2001, and is sure to improve on that in the future.

Why do you think that the Red Sox refused to trade him, even when they were rumored to be going after Sammy Sosa?
Eric Cressey
Kennebunk, Maine


10 (tie). Phil Nevin, San Diego Padres
(17 letters)

What about Phil Nevin? Yeah, he gets some love on "Baseball Tonight" but does he get the respect and recognition he deserves from fans outside of San Diego?

Instead of putting Robbie Alomar (everybody knows he's good) or Rafael Palmeiro (ditto), putting some up-and-coming great players like Nevin would really make it an "underrated" list!
Jay Pennington
Imperial Beach, Calif.


10 (tie). Mark McLemore, Seattle Mariners
(17 letters)

Mark McLemore plays the infield and outfield incredibly well and doesn't mind filling in at different positions every day.

He hits 280, steals more than 30 bases, and has incredible patience at the plate. He is a seasoned veteran with great clubhouse presence and playoff experience. He allows a team to continue to excel even when the team has to endure injuries or allow for rest days.
Robert Kellogg
Fayetteville, N.C.


Honorable mention:
Aramis Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Fernando Viña, Jim Thome, Placido Polanco, Jon Lieber, Javier Vazquez, Roberto Alomar, Jeff Bagwell, John Olerud, Magglio Ordoñez