Brandon Nimmo All-Stars: The Most Underrated Players in Baseball

MLB Players whose contributions are often overlooked

During the preseason, we compiled a list of our Top 100 Players in Baseball. We ranked Brandon Nimmo at #30, which raised a few eyebrows. Nimmo is generally perceived as a good but not a great player. He’s never made an All-Star team and barely cracked the Top 100 in our preseason fantasy baseball hitter rankings. Yet, the Mets gave him an eight-year, $162M contract to remain their center fielder last offseason, signalling they understand his value.

This got us thinking about other players overlooked by baseball fans due to a lack of fantasy production, role, or team they play for. So we put together a roster of players who have never made an All-Star team but bring a boatload of value to their franchise. Below are our “Brandon Nimmo All-Stars: The Most Underrated Players in Baseball.” And yes, our leader will be manning center field.


Catcher: Sean Murphy

Key Stats (through June 8, 2023)

Murphy’s All-Star drought will likely end this summer as he leads NL catchers in HR, Runs, and RBI this season. Murphy’s offensive breakout is bringing him attention, but he’s been one of the best all-around catchers in baseball for the past three seasons. Murphy’s fWAR (Fangraphs WAR) ranks second to J.T. Realmuto over this span, and only Salvador Perez, Will Smith, and Willson Contreras have hit more home runs. This season notwithstanding, Murphy isn’t likely to hit for a high batting average, but a career 10% walk rate ensures a solid OBP.

Where Murphy really stands out, though, is on defense. He’s among the league leaders in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) since he came into the league and took home the AL Gold Glove in 2021. Murphy’s ability to contribute on both sides of the ball makes him one of the top players at his position and an excellent offseason acquisition by Atlanta.


First Base: Christian Walker

Key Stats (2023 through June 8, 2023)

Walker stepped in and stepped up after the Diamondbacks traded Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals in December 2018. The journeyman was 28 heading into the 2019 season and hadn’t had an opportunity to start. Walker’s no Goldschmidt, but since the trade, he ranks 10th in homers and runs and 11th in RBI among MLB first basemen, and he’s getting better. In 2022, Walker’s fWAR ranked third at his position, and his 36 dingers were second to only Pete Alonso. This season, his 12 HRs through June 8th rank third.

On top of his offensive accomplishments, Walker won his first Gold Glove last season as he led the NL in DRS and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating). Walker isn’t destined for the Hall of Fame like the man he replaced in the lineup, but he’s more than lived up to expectations for D’backs fans.


Second Base: Nico Hoerner

Key Stats (2023 through June 9)

Hoerner began to come into his own in 2021, his third MLB season, but injuries limited him to 44 games. The 2018 first-round pick was largely forgotten outside of Chicago, but he slid over to shortstop in 2022 and held his own, ranking fifth in DRS at the position. At the plate, Hoerner thrived on his ability to make contact and was among the league leaders (positively) in K%. In addition, Hoerner stole 20 bases and had the 18th-highest fWAR among position players.

When the Cubs signed Dansby Swanson this offseason, Hoerner moved back to second base and is again thriving on offense and defense. With the larger bases in place, Nico already has 14 SBs and leads all keystone players in DRS. Hoerner’s not flashy, but he quietly helps his team win ballgames.


Shortstop: Tommy Edman

Key Stats (2023 through June 9)

Tommy Edman is similar to Nico Hoerner in many ways. Both are excellent defenders with speed who can handle multiple positions. After bouncing around the diamond as a super-utility player in his first two seasons, Edman settled in as the Cardinals’ second baseman in 2021 and won a Gold Glove. That didn’t dissuade the Cardinals from shifting him to shortstop for a large chunk of 2022. St. Louis continues to maximize Edman’s flexibility, moving him between short, second, center, and right field this year.

Edman thrives on contact at the plate and is a demon on the base paths. His 71 stolen bases over the last three seasons rank fifth in the MLB. Edman’s average is down a bit this season thanks to a .265 BABIP, but his positional flexibility, speed, and defense still make him an integral part of the Cardinals’ lineup.


Third Base: Yandy Díaz

Key Stats (2023 through June 9)

It will be surprising if Diaz isn’t an All-Star this season, as he’s been one of the best offensive players on baseball’s best team. Diaz leads the Rays in Runs, AVG, OBP, OPS, wOBA, and home runs (tied with Randy Arozarena). His .968 OPS is third in all of baseball behind Aaron Judge and Freddie Freeman, and his .408 OBP ranks fifth.

Diaz has always been good at getting on base. He owns a lifetime .282 BA with a .376 OBP. The difference this season is the power. Diaz’s HR/FB ratio has jumped from 8.3% last year to 28.6%. His Hard Contact % and Average Exit Velocity rank in the 99th percentile among all hitters. He’s hitting the ball harder while not sacrificing plate discipline. Diaz has primarily played first base this season after manning third for most of 2022. Wherever the Rays play him in the lineup, he’s bound to contribute with his bat.


Left Field: Steven Kwan

Key Stats (2023 through June 9)

Steven Kwan doesn’t hit many HRs or accumulate RBI, but he’s an excellent table-setter at the top of the Guardians’ lineup and a plus defender. He finished third in the AL Rookie-of-the-Year balloting last season and won a Gold Glove after posting a 4.4 fWAR which was second to only Yordan Alvarez among left fielders. Kwan led his position in DRS and putouts in 2022 and was second in assists.

Kwan rarely strikes out and walks 10% of the time, giving him a career OBP of .361. Once on base, he’s a threat with his legs. Kwan has 29 steals in his career in 35 attempts. His average is down this season from his rookie campaign, as his BABIP has dropped. However, that should even out over the course of the year as his batted-ball profile looks very similar to 2022 otherwise. Kwan doesn’t get a lot of hype, perhaps because he doesn’t hit many HRs. But he’s an excellent young player who Cleveland is lucky to have.


Center Field: Brandon Nimmo

Key Stats (2023 through June 10)

Since 2018, when the captain of our squad became a regular, only Mike Trout and George Springer have a higher fWAR than Brandon Nimmo among center fielders. Nimmo does a little bit of everything for the Mets. He’s a solid defender who hits for average with some power and speed. His biggest asset, though, is his ability to take a walk. Nimmo’s career BB% is 13.4%, with an OBP of .384. Since 2018, only five players have a higher OBP and are all superstars.

Injuries have been a factor in Nimmo’s career. He’s only played in 140+ games twice. In the two seasons he played a full schedule, he posted fWARs of 4.8 and 5.3. That puts him in All-Star territory, but he’s yet to get there. Nimmo is doing his thing this season, contributing in various ways. Time will tell if it is enough to get him into the Midsummer Classic. If not, he’ll continue to be the captain of our underrated team.


Right Field: Daulton Varsho

Key Stats (2023 through June 10)

You know someone is a good athlete when they convert from catcher and turn into a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder. Varsho didn’t win the award last season but probably should have, considering he led all outfielders in DRS (tied with Michael A. Taylor) and UZR. In addition to his prowess in the field, Varsho hits for power and steals bases. Only four players who stole 16 or more bases in 2022 had more than the 27 dingers Varsho rang up. His batting average isn’t good, as he strikes out too much, but he walks a fair bit, giving him a respectable OBP.

Varsho is another fWAR darling. Thanks to his excellent defense, power, and on-base skills, his 4.8 fWAR in 2022 was good for 25th in MLB among hitters. The Blue Jays thought enough of him to send two good players to the Diamondbacks last offseason (Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Gabriel Moreno) to shore up their subpar outfield defense. Though his average hasn’t come around yet, Toronto is undoubtedly pleased by his 11 HRs, eight SBs, and OF-leading 12 DRS this season.


Starting Pitcher: Logan Webb

Key Stats (2023 through June 12)

Logan Webb has been one of MLB’s best starters the past three seasons but is still waiting for an All-Star game invite. His 9.9 fWAR ranks ninth, and he’s tied for sixth with 31 wins. Only 12 starting pitchers have lower ERAs over that span and have thrown more innings. He’s been an effective workhouse for the Giants but hasn’t gotten his proper due.

Webb doesn’t generate a ton of swings and misses or rack up the Ks, but he possesses three above-average pitches that he relies on in his arsenal. This season, his changeup has been his best pitch in terms of PLV, ranking in the 91st percentile with a 2.06 PLA. Perhaps this will be the year Webb makes his first All-Star squad, as his fWAR ranks tenth in the NL. Even if he doesn’t, Giants’ fans undoubtedly are glad to have him.


Relief Pitcher: Evan Phillips

Key Stats (2023 through June 13)

Evan Phillips bounced between various organizations and the minor leagues for several years before getting it together and developing into one of MLB’s best relievers in 2022. Phillips had the fourth-highest fWAR in the league last season behind luminaries Edwin Diaz, Emmanuel Clase, and Devin Williams. After beginning the season deep in the Dodgers’ bullpen hierarchy, Phillips was the man for the club down the stretch and into the playoffs. He’s arguably been better this season, even though his ERA is slightly elevated. His 5.41 PLV ranks in the Top 5%, while his WHIP and CSW% are in the Top 10%.

Phillips features a four-seamer, slider, sinker, and cutter, which are all effective, especially his slider and sinker. This season, the PLV on his slider is 5.61, putting it in the 84th percentile. His sinker, which he throws only 12% of the time, is in the 95th percentile with a PLV of 5.64. The lack of an experienced closer in the Dodgers’ pen this season may concern some fans. However, they should feel confident when Phillips takes the hill.

Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire
Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@KUWasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram)

Scott Youngson

Scott is a SoCal native who, after two decades of fighting L.A. traffic, decided to turn his passion for fantasy sports into a blog - the now-defunct Fantasy Mutant. He currently writes for FantasyPros and Pitcher List and will vehemently defend the validity of the Dodgers' 60-game season championship.

2 responses to “Brandon Nimmo All-Stars: The Most Underrated Players in Baseball”

  1. Taj says:

    Varsho has a .689 ops. In what world is he underrated?! He is easily one of the biggest disappointments this season.

  2. Joe Mulvey says:

    Love the concept. Good and fun read. I’ll have to start thinking of others.

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