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Out of Left Field: MLB Players That No One Saw Coming

Updated: 4 days ago

With about a third of the 2024 MLB season behind us, player stats are finally beginning to become solidified. While many big-name players and talented rookies are under the expectation to have impressive stats at this point of the season, sometimes the biggest surprises come from players who were under the radar to begin the season.   


This season, a mix of rookies and struggling veterans have shown off their talents and contributed to their teams. While everyone always expects success, these players have exceeded any expectations that fans and their teams have set. Here are five of the best players in MLB that no one saw coming this season. 

 

Mason Miller

   

As far as breakout stars for the 2024 season are concerned, Mason Miller has to be at the top of the list. While the star power of the Oakland Athletics has clearly been drained these past few years, the team found a diamond in the rough with their closer. After having an average start to his career last season, Miller has exceeded all expectations this season, even with a sub-par offense giving him run support.  


Miller has shined in every opportunity that he is given, converting 11 saves in the same number of opportunities. The only flaw, however, is that the Athletics do not give him enough chances to close out games since their offense is one of the worst in the league. Despite that, Miller has still worked efficiently in the games where he does not pitch in the ninth inning, giving up only five earned runs this season. Miller is currently one of the top names in the trade market this summer, with many postseason-bound teams looking for a pitcher to bolster their bullpen.  


Courtesy of Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Luis Gil  


Luis Gil’s fantastic start with the New York Yankees was never supposed to come to fruition. Gil was sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with time left to spare in Spring Training, and making the big-league team seemed impossible. When Gerrit Cole was put on the injured list, Gil clearly won the pitching battle to be the next man up, securing the fifth spot in the rotation. While he was simply a spot starter for Cole, Gil made the opportunity his own, surprisingly becoming one of the best pitchers in the league. In 11 games started, Gil has pitched to a 1.99 ERA, the ninth best in the league. 


In addition to only being a temporary replacement for Cole, Gil is battling against an innings limit due to his Tommy John surgery in 2022. While many pitchers have successfully rehabbed from this surgery, it is still impressive to see Gil performing this well so recently removed from an intense surgery. 


Courtesy of Brad Penner / USA Today Sports

Jordan Westburg  


The Baltimore Orioles organization is filled with young and talented players. Naturally, one was bound to fly under the radar in the major leagues. Westburg was never one of the biggest prospects for the Orioles like many of his teammates, therefore, it was easy to look over his stats. So far in the majors, Westburg has consistently kept his batting average higher than most of his teammates and has hit eight home runs this season, on par with many other Orioles hitters.  


With the spotlight constantly on other Orioles batters, Westburg has been able to successfully occupy the middle of the order. While his stats might not stick out as much as Gunnar Henderson or Adley Rutschman, Westburg has been able to hold his own with a .291 batting average (20th in the league) and a .859 OPS (19th in the league). His playing time might be in jeopardy in the future, but for now, Westburg is trying to solidify himself on a team with big-time players.  


Courtesy of Nick Wass / AP Photo

Tanner Houck  


In 2020, Tanner Houck was supposed to be the next great bullpen piece for the Boston Red Sox. Throughout the shortened season, he pitched to a 0.53 ERA and gave the team hope for their future. In 2023, Houck was everything but the pitcher the team once saw and was one of the worst starters in an already depleted rotation. While many gave up hope, there was not much of a choice for the team after Lucas Giolito was ruled out for the season. Houck, so far this season, is proving many doubters wrong and is currently one of the best starting pitchers in the league.  


The biggest display of Houck’s turnaround this season came in his complete game shutout in April. Houck threw the first Maddux of the young season, which is when a pitcher has a complete game shutout while throwing less than 100 pitches.  


Courtesy of Eric Canha / USA Today Sports

Jurickson Profar 


Last season, Jurickson Profar was one of the lowest-ranked hitters in the league. He was playing on a team that had no hopes of making it to the postseason and was not showing any glimpses of the batter he was in previous seasons. At the end of last season, the San Diego Padres signed Profar to a minor league deal after he was released by the Colorado Rockies.  

 

A year later, Profar is one of the best hitters in the league and is showing promise with the Padres. Currently, he is ranked fifth in the league for his .323 batting average and 10th with a .916 OPS. While many might have given up hope that Profar could still be an elite hitter, so far he is showing that he can still contribute to a team.  

 

Courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today Sports

 

 

Edited By: Emma Habel  


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