Saturday, July 21, 2012

Underrated Player of the Year: 2001

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.
Doug Mirabelli did not start out the season with the Red Sox. The catching platoon was supposed to be handled by Jason Varitek and Scott Hatteberg. And that would have been the case had Varitek not gone down with an injury after threatening to break out in a major way. Hatteberg simply was not a good enough defensive catcher to shoulder the full-time role, he had major problems with stolen bases. Hatteberg would not even be a catcher after 2001.

So Boston had to do something. They traded Justin Duchscherer to the Texas Rangers for Mirabelli. Duchscherer was a promising pitching prospect so it was a difficult move, but they needed a catcher.

Mirabelli played in 54 games with the Red Sox that season and finished in the top ten in assists and runners caught stealing for the year. He was also a pleasant surprise offensively as he batted .270/.360/.518 with nine home runs. Mirabelli would be a very capable backup catcher for the rest of his career with the Red Sox.

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