In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected.
Part of the reason that it took me awhile to warm up to Victor Martinez on the Red Sox was due to the fact that Boston had to trade Justin Masterson to get him. Masterson proved to be a hero down the stretch during the 2008 season. He was able to come in to the game in relief and pitch a couple of innings due to being a starter in the minors. He even performed well in the postseason.
Masterson made his Major League debut in 2008 and quickly turned into a major weapon. He started nine out of 36 games that year, pitching to a 6-5 record and a 3.16 ERA. He also racked up 68 strikeouts in 88.1 innings. He was particularly tough on right-handed batters, allowing a .196 batting average to them compared to a .238 average to lefties. In the postseason, he had a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings with nine strikeouts.
Masterson started out slow in 2009 and was traded to the Indians as the major piece in the Victor Martinez trade. Boston has been rumored to have tried to reacquire him several times.