As fans, our focus is always on the extremes.
We bash the guys who are struggling and praise the guys who are dominating.
This mindset, however, leads us to wonder: what about the guys in between?
For the 2013 Dodgers, the thinking above couldn’t be more appropriate: fans have booed the likes of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier as they have struggled, while essentially building a monument of Clayton Kershaw anywhere there’s room.
In a sense, the struggles of Kemp and Ethier (along with the injuries to pretty much everyone else) have exemplified the struggles in Los Angeles.
And yet, in looking down the roster, there are a number of guys who deserve far more praise and attention than they’ve gotten.
These aren’t the guys hitting third or fourth in the lineup, but they’re the ones making this team competitive without Hanley Ramirez, Chad Billingsley and everyone else on the DL.
Atop this list is Nick Punto, the throw-in to the Boston trade last season, who has established himself as one of the Dodgers’ most consistent players — both offensively and defensively.
In 45 games this season, Punto is hitting .301 with a .383 OBP — not bad for a guy many thought wouldn’t be contributing this year.
Next on the list is Scott Van
Besides boasting the team’s best mustache (sorry Peter Moylan), SVS has been mashing for a team in desperate need of power.
In 17 games thus far, Van Slyke is hitting a modest .265 — but his real value is in his power. Of his 13 hits this season, 10 have been for extra bases (5 doubles, 5 home runs).
With that in mind, Van Slyke’s ridiculous .994 OPS is a bit easier to understand. In fact, Van Slyke could be the posterboy for this article just on last night’s game alone.
In the debut of Yasiel Puig, it was actually Van Slyke who hit what turned out to be the game-winning home run, and yet, you’d be hard pressed to find anything about last night with his name at the forefront.
Third on this list is a name I never thought I’d include on a list about anything positive: Juan Uribe.
With a wide variety of nicknames that are, lets just say, less than flattering, Juan Uribe would is a cinderella story — the equivalent of a 17-seed making the final four. (Right — there are only 16 seeds).
After two years of hitting .204 and .191 (seriously), Uribe is hitting an astonishing .283 this season with a .383 OBP.
I never thought I’d see the day when I wished Juan Uribe was playing or coming up in a big spot, but as any Dodger fan could tell you, 2013 has been a year of surprises.
And none has been bigger than Uribe. (Come on folks, pull your minds out of the gutter)
While there have been few bright spots for the Dodgers this season — Puig, Kershaw, Gonzalez and Crawford among them — there have been some smaller stars that have shined brightly this season, many of whom have flown under the radar.
They’re not sexy, but they get the job done.
Now if only we could say that about some more of the big names…