A while back, I published a post stating that Josh Reddick of the Oakland A’s was the best player no one was watching. Now that Oakland is going to the playoffs and Reddick seems to be getting some recognition, I would like to focus on a guy who has had a better season than the A’s star. In fact, Josh Willingham has been underappreciated throughout his entire career. The most logical explanation is that most of the teams he has played for have had losing records. In 2012, he has put up his best all-around season while playing for a lousy Minnesota Twins club. For his sake, I hope there is a hearty soul outside of Minnesota that can show the rest of the world they have missed out on a fine ballplayer. I guess that hearty soul is me.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that in seven full seasons including the current one, the “Hammer” has put up 167 home runs. That may not sound like much but consider the fact that his previous teams in Florida, Washington and Oakland have stadiums that are not known for being power-friendly. Last December, Willingham signed a 3 year, $21 million dollar deal with the Twins, perhaps the most underrated free agent signing of the year. All he has done in maybe the most pitcher-friendly park in the game is set career highs in home runs with 35 and RBI’s with 110. His RBI total will place him among the top 5 in the American League by the time the season ends. He has batted a respectable .260 and also set a career high in doubles with 30. Far from being a slug in the field, Willingham has accumulated six assists, a nice total by a left fielder and a .984 fielding percentage. About the only negative for the Alabama native is his luck with the teams during his time in the Major Leagues. He first was called up by the Marlins in 2004, the year after they won the World Series. Upon departing the Fish after 2008, he spent the next two years with the Nationals, just missing the chance to play with Stephen Strasburg. Willingham played in Oakland for the 2011 campaign, a year before that team would make the playoffs. Now he is in Minnesota for the next two years and will probably miss out on postseason play yet again.
It is a shame more fans will not get a chance to enjoy the play of Josh Willingham. The Twins could shop him this offseason as his contract is friendly and at 33, will most likely be productive over the next two years. I know two teams in New York that would be able to use his services.
Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com