The MLB is often a star’s league, but with 26 men per roster, there are many players who make significant yet underappreciated contributions. Baseball is a sport where everyone hits and pitches for themselves, but are dependent on the rest of their team to win ball games.
With that in mind, here are three players who aren’t on many baseball fans’ radars, but will have a positive impact on their teams’ seasons when the 2022 MLB season begins.
1. Akil Baddoo
Optimism is as high as it has been for the Detroit Tigers since their last playoff season back in 2014. The Tigers have finished with a losing record every season since that point with the exception of 2016, and finished with their 2nd worst season in franchise history in 2019 as they went 47-114.
Things are about to change in Detroit, however. The Tigers finished 3rd in the American League Central last season, finishing 77-85, but actually showed significant improvement. The offseason treated Detroit well as the Tigers signed starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, shortstop Javier Baez, reliever Andrew Chafin and veteran starter Michael Pineda .
Beyond these new additions, the Tigers have an underrated team with a lot of potential. While Miguel Cabrera may not be his former MVP self, he’s still the heart of this Detroit ballclub.
One player who the Tigers will look to see strong play from is young outfielder Akil Baddoo. Baddoo made his major league debut in 2021 and finished the season with solid first year numbers batting .259 with 13 homers and 55 runs batted in as well as a slightly above average On-base plus Slugging percentage (.766) and an average fielding percentage on the defensive side (.988) through 124 games played.
Baddoo will be the anchor for Detroit’s outfield this season in addition to being a consistent left-handed contact hitter who’ll be plugged into the leadoff spot. Baddoo has showed that he can be a guy who gets on base at a reliable rate and is trustworthy on defense. He won’t be coming into 2022 as a rookie, but it will be the first full season of his career.
While the Tigers may have All-Stars like Javier Baez and Miguel Cabrera on their squad, Baddoo is going to stand out and really make a name for himself this season while making the Tigers a more successful ballclub.
2. Tylor Megill
In 2021, Tylor Megill was thrown into the Mets rotation mid-season as a replacement for an already battered staff. Megill was more than up to the task as he began his major league career by logging a 3.21 earned run average through his first 11 career starts.
Megill’s next 7 starts didn’t go quite as well as he finished his rookie year with a 4-6 record, 4.52 ERA and 1.283 WHIP. Megill’s downward trend is not entirely his fault, however, as the Mets collapsed as a team in early August after holding first place in the National League East for most of the season.
Megill has a 4-seam fastball, changeup, slider and curveball. He relies heavily on his fastball but has a strong changeup and slider which he throws with 21% and 18.5% frequency, respectively.
Right now the Mets’ on ESPN doesn’t list Megill on the roster, but this is likely to change as Opening Day approaches. Megill’s ceiling is high and his game will undoubtedly benefit from being in the same rotation as Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer in 2022.
3. Ty France
After making his debut in 2019, Ty France finally played his first full season in 2021, and showed the Seattle Mariners why he’s their starting first baseman. France hit .291 with 18 homers, 73 RBI and an .813 OPS in 2021. His fielding was also dominant as he finished with a .999 fielding percentage at first base, six percentage points higher than the league average for that position.
France’s consistency in 2021 was an important part of the Mariners’ success last season as well as their ability to continue to head in the right direction for 2022. The Mariners’ weak spot last season was in the offensive department as they finished last in the league in batting average (.226).
France thrived in a Mariners lineup that generally had trouble producing runs, so there’s no telling the kind of damage he’s capable of with this new-look squad. The sky’s the limit for France in 2022 and he’s going to put the league on notice that he’s one of the top first basemen out there.