The 2018 MLB season is a bit over 20 games old and superstars like Mike Trout, Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw are experiencing great starts, as they should. However, there are a handful of under the radar players that are performing just as well, if not better than some of the best established players in the MLB.
Charlie Morton (SP, Houston Astros)
In a rotation with the likes of Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton has emerged as the best thrower in the Astros rotation to this point. Two years removed from a season-ending hamstring injury, the 34-year-old owns a 0.72 ERA through 25 innings, ranking just behind Johnny Cueto for the league’s best.
Much of his success is due to a career-best 33.3 percent strikeout rate and 64.6 percent first pitch strike rate. Additionally, Morton has started out the season walking just 6.1 percent of the batters he has faced, his best since 2012. His next start comes against the Los Angeles Angels tonight at 8:10 p.m. ET. He will duel Shohei Ohtani at Minute Maid Park.
Johnny Cueto (SP, San Francisco Giants)
After experiencing a down year last season Johnny Cueto has rebounded very nicely and is starting to look 2014 Cy Young runner-up Cueto. He has surrendered just one run in his first 26 innings, good for a MLB best 0.35 ERA and 0.65 Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP).
Cueto has rolled through potent offenses such as the Mariners, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and the Angels. He has allowed no more than two hits in three of four starts, and leads all pitchers with 1.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Just one hit of the 13 hits allowed have gone for extra bases, creating a minuscule 2.1 percent extra base hit rate.
Cueto’s projected start will be against the Dodgers on April 27th.
Jed Lowrie (2B, Oakland Athletics)
Jed Lowrie is playing the best baseball of his career as he is currently one of the best hitters in the MLB. He ranks third with a .357 batting average and second with 23 RBI, having already driven in over 30 percent of the runs he did last season (69). He leads the MLB with 35 hits to go along with seven home runs and a 1.023 OPS.
Lowrie has been slightly above-average his entire career, but the 34-year-old has experienced a resurgence of his career as he searches for his first ever All-Star Game selection. This has the makings of a career year for the 11 year veteran.