When I started this topic around the FanNoise office I realized that people have different definitions of what “slept on” or “underrated” means. Some say that a player needs longevity or constant years of success to be “slept on.” Personally, I think if a player has been hot for about two years and not being talked about, he can be considered slept on. There are a few reasons that the players on this list are slept on. Some are different than others but overall, these underrated players need more attention from the media.
The main reason some guys are slept on is the size of the market they play in. It’s no surprise that some franchises have more capital than others. That’s why it’s so impressive to see what the Tampa Bay Rays did last season and the success they’ve had recently. This list is for players that deserve more recognition, and I’m here to give them that.
5) Jonathan Huberdeau
Coming in at #5 is Jonathan Huberdeau for the Florida Panthers. Yes, the Florida Panthers play hockey and did well for themselves last season. Huberdeau has been a standout in the scoring department since the 2016-17 season, and he’s been in the Top 15 in points per game the last two seasons. This stat involves players with at least 100 games played. The best part is Huberdeau continues to improve year after year. I think the beginning of his career was average because of how bad the Panthers were. Now that Huberdeau has playmakers around him, he should thrive at left wing. The Panthers rank 30th on the top market list in the NHL according to Forbes. The market value just isn’t there, so they don’t get much coverage, which is the reason there’s underrated players on this team.
4) Trevor Story
#4 belongs to the Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. Before you guys think I’m crazy. let me read a couple stats for you. The last two years leading up to the COVID infested 2020 season, Story hit over 30 HRs and had over 80 RBIs. In 2018 he recorded 108 RBIs. People say that Story had an off year in 2017 because he had 191 strikeouts and hit .239. Okay fine, I’ll agree with that, but in the sport of baseball, players have off years. I don’t think that’s enough to write the guy off, given that was his second season in the league and his next two seasons were so impressive. I’m not comparing him to A-Rod, but A-Rod’s second season in the league he hit .232.
Story’s defense is underrated as well, because he has Arenado playing on that team. Colorado is another team on this list that has players who don’t get talked about enough because of their market. Story also has two all-stars in that lineup. If you’ve played baseball before you can understand how streaky it can be, and he plays shortstop on top of that. After the 2017 season Trevor Story exploded and should continue that success for years to come. He was on pace to hit around 29 home runs if the 2020 season was a full 162 games. Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, AND Nolan Arenado are a fierce three. Don’t forget that.
3) DJ Chark
#3 goes to DJ Chark of the Jacksonville Jaguars. If you’re looking for a guy who’s an absolute stud but gets no credit, look no further than DJ Chark. Like Allen Robinson for the Bears, Chark needs a competent QB to throw him the football. 2020 is Chark’s 3rd season in the NFL and he still hasn’t had a consistent arm to throw him the ball. The former 2nd round pick showed out in 2019, tallying 73 receptions, over 1,000 yards, and 8 TDs. This has a lot to do with Gardner Minshew who had a pretty good year in 2019. He put up this stat line with Minshew… Think about that! Imagine if he had a Top 15 QB. In the 2020 season the Jags found themselves with a 1-11 record and a stegosaurus at quarterback. We’re here to show love to guys who need it, and man does Chark need it.
Get this guy Trevor Lawrence and watch him be a Top 10 receiver, maybe even Top 5 for years to come. He exploded with athleticism at the combine, and it has shown so far. The former LSU receiver is used to having bad QBs, but we’re here to change that. The moment they draft or sign a good QB will be the moment you win your fantasy league because of DJ Chark.
2) Jimmy Butler
#2 belongs to the NBA standout Jimmy Butler. As a life-long Bulls fan I’ll still never understand why they didn’t keep this guy in Chicago. Butler dealt with the same thing in Minnesota where he led them to a 4 seed in the playoffs and then they sent him packing.
In 2020, Jimmy Butler finally proved all the haters wrong by leading the Heat to the NBA Finals. Don’t talk about the other guys on this team like they led them there. It all came down to the fact that Jimmy Butler dominated and led that team where nobody thought they could go. I’m not going to pull stats on Jimmy Butler because there’s no need. It took Jimmy Butler three organizations for people to realize he deserves to be a franchise guy. It’s a fact that when Butler left the Bulls and the Timberwolves, they got worse. He also had one year with the 76ers where he made the playoffs. He finally signed his big deal in 2019 for 4 years, worth over 140 million.
All the Jimmy haters can say what they want, but he’s legit in this league without a doubt. It’s actually sad that if he didn’t do what he did last year he’d be the #1 underrated player on this list, but it took until 2019-20 for people to look at Jimmy Butler and say he’s great.
1) Freddie Freeman
#1 on this list is the Atlanta Braves first basemen Freddie Freeman. You might hear his name here and there, but rarely do you see consistent coverage on this guy. He’s been a top first basemen in the league forever and is a continuously underrated player. He is the veteran captain on his team and his play is top notch. Since 2013, Freeman has carried the Braves on his back. It’s nice to see that Atlanta has built guys around him and made this team a World Series contender for the next few years.
Freeman had the best season of his life in the shortened 2020 season, winning the NL MVP. Freeman has a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, 4 All-Star selections, and obviously the MVP he deserved this past season. Freeman is not on the list because people think he’s bad, but because of the amount of attention he doesn’t receive across the nation.