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The Best Players You've Never Heard
June 24, 2002

OK, if you're in a fantasy league, then chances are you've heard of just about every player who's worth his salt.  However, some names will be unfamiliar and, with the help of some fellow fantasy baseball owners, I've compiled a team of players whose stats are worthy of a starting spot but whose names never lead off Sportscenter.  Don't look for any Yankees here.  These are the guys either stuck in small market cities or young guys who haven't built a reputation yet.

Many no-names here with some great 1st half stats

Rodrigo Lopez (Orioles) -- 2.70 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 6 W's with a mediocre club
Vincente Padilla (Phillies) -- 9 W's, low ERA and WHIP, pitched 6+ innings every outing
Josh Fogg (Pirates) -- rookie with good stuff, starting to slump but still has good numbers
Toma Ohka (Expos) -- since 5/24: 4-0, 1.71 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 26K / 42 INN
Roy Halladay (Blue Jays) -- consistent all year, high K ratio, low ERA and WHIP
Brian Lawrence (Padres) -- solid in all categories, doesn't walk many, decent K ratio

Plenty to choose from here on many teams as well

Eddie Guardado (Twins) -- everyone keeps waiting for him to fail; meanwhile: 21 saves and a
      WHIP well under 1.00
Vladimir Nunez (Marlins) -- won the job nobody could claim and now has 17 saves
Jorge Julio (Orioles) -- keeping the O's competitive in a strong division
Mike Williams (Pirates) -- reunited with the Bucs and better than ever: 19 saves, low ERA
      and WHIP

No true unknowns are faring well, but someone has to make the team

Randall Simon (Tigers) -- after many years, finally showing some potential w/ 10 HRs and 42
      RBIs so far

No contest at this position

Junior Spivey (Diamondbacks) -- huge numbers despite injury: .324, 8 HRs, 7 SBs, 41 RBIs,
      and 49 Rs in just 219 at bats

Only one choice here

David Eckstein (Angels) -- also eligible at 2B, has 13 SBs and a surprising 39 RBIs thanks
       to 3 grand slams this year

Two players deserve the recognition here, with Hinske receiving an honorable mention

Mike Lowell (Marlins) -- no one started hotter and he's still hitting .332 with 51 RBIs
Shea Hillenbrand (Red Sox) -- doing everything except stealing bases

A few guys here are eligible at C but play the field, making them more valuable

Michael Barrett (Expos) -- slumping lately, but the high average makes up for it
Robert Fick (Tigers) -- similar numbers to Barrett, but gets to play the OF, so he should be
     fresher come August
A.J. Pierzynski (Twins) -- hitting .321 with decent run total and should maintain a high avg.
Craig Wilson (Pirates) -- earned a starting OF job, potential for .290 and 20 HRs
Scott Hatteberg (A's) -- eligible at C, his 11 HRs rank 2nd only to Piazza's 14

Four guys taken from the same mold

Torii Hunter (Twins) -- 5 category player, on pace: .296, 38 HRs, 21 SBs, & 100+ Rs and RBIs
Garret Anderson (Angels) -- you should know him by now, solid numbers 3 years running
Jacque Jones (Twins) -- a breakout year, likely to set career highs in HRs, Rs, RBIs, and BA
Corey Patterson (Cubs) -- less pop than the other 3, but more speed