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.
Another year, another second baseman. Mark Bellhorn, the subject of the 2004 post, started the year but his numbers were way down and he was eventually released. Alex Cora had been acquired but he was definitely more of a utility player than a regular. Eventually, Boston made a trade with the Royals for Tony Graffanino, giving up Chip Ambres and Juan Cedeno.
Graffanino played in 51 games for the Red Sox and put together a strong batting line of .319/.355/.457 with four home runs and 20 RBIs. He also stole four bases. Graffanino solidified second base and turned in a quality performance at the same time helping the Red Sox to the playoffs.
Of course, Graffanino made a crucial error in the ALDS that lead to the White Sox sweeping the Red Sox. But that should not diminish the impact he made during the regular season.
Graffanino was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season and returned to the Royals. He would not be as good a hitter again.