Oakland Athletics General manager Billy Beane detailed in Michael Lewis's critically acclaimed book Moneyball, how he transformed the second lowest payroll in the league into one of the premier franchises in Major League Baseball.
Beane took what I call undervalued commodities or players that no other team finds desirable, and signed them to budget conscience contracts with the hope that they would produce a winner on the field.
In this article, I will discuss what under appreciated pitchers through the first half of the season have done very well. My analysis is based upon salary and performance of these unheralded stars that have played integral parts in their teams success.
Pat Neshek: Undrafted out of Butler, the 26-year old right-hander is 3-1 in 42.1 innings with an anemic 1.70 E.R.A. His 0.73 WHIP, .129 batting average against and 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio is among the best in the American League. He is the bridge in the bullpen to closer Joe Nathan and in games he appears in the Twins are 22-20. At $395,000, Neshek is making $15,000 over the league minimum.
Fausto Carmona: In his rookie season, Carmona went 1-10 with an inflated 5.38 E.R.A. 38 walks, 7 home runs, 45 earned runs and 88 hits allowed in 74.2 innings would have pushed any 22-year old pitcher to the brinks. Could it be possible for him to rebound and become a mainstay in the Indians starting rotation?
After being optioned down to AAA Buffalo on May 1st, Carmona was recalled on May 7th and he has not looked back since. In 17 games started the Dominican Republic native is 10-4 with a 3.85 E.R.A. In one season he has gone from 10 losses to 10 wins and there is still the second half of the season to play. His 10 wins rank fourth in the AL and his .714 winning percentage is ninth best in the league.
Amazingly, every big league team overlooked his talent as he went undrafted several seasons ago. At $387,500, Carmona has been a bargain find for the AL wild card leading Indians.
Carlos Villanueva: A righty specialists for the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers, Villanueva is 6-0 with a 2.83 E.R.A. in 60.1 innings. Undrafted out of the Dominican Republic, he has been effective in both short and long relief for Manager Ned Yost. In five appearances of three innings or more Villanueva has surrendered nine hits and one earned run.
The Brew Crew are 22-14 when Villanueva pitches, and if they are to win their first division title since 1982 he will have to continue his success in the second half. At $384,500, Villanueva is earning $4500 over the league minimum.
Kevin Cameron: While the majority of people have heard of the pitchers listed above, very few outside of San Diego know who Kevin Cameron is. Undrafted out of Georgia Tech, this Yellow Jacket has been stinging opposing hitters all year long to the tune of a 0.31 E.R.A. Stop and indulge the statistic I just provided you. A 0.31 E.R.A. is unheard of in today's world and the only time he's given up a run in his young career was on May 29th at Pittsburgh.
To think that he did not permit a runner to score in April, June or July, and only gave up an RBI single to Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche in May is absurd. Playing for the league minimum, Cameron tops the list of undervalued commodities in Major League Baseball.
Tom Gorzelanny:In his second season with the Pirates, Gorzelanny is 9-4 with a 3.10 E.R.A. in 18 starts. The 24-year old south paw has pitched at least 6 innings or more in 16 of his appearances and has held left-handed hitters to a .202 batting average. His 9 victories are sixth best in the NL, his 3.10 E.R.A. ranks seventh best in the senior circuit, his 119 innings pitched eighth best and his .692 winning percentage is eighth best in the NL.
Clearly, at 24-years of age Gorzelanny is an elite left-hander in the National League and the ace of the Pirates pitching staff. At $386,000, he comes extremely inexpensive to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Tomorrow, I will share who I think the most undervalued catchers in baseball are.