Yesterday, we started our Memorial Day surprise group. Memorial Day tends to be the line of demarcation between expressing patience for a poor start and officially hitting the panic button. On the positive end, it is also the line between out of context good luck and an honest to God feel good story. There were a number of those guys for the catchers and now we will highlight the first basemen on that list.
1. Edwin Encarnacion– Toronto Blue Jays
Encarnacion is one of those multiple position players that looked like a solid bench player at the beginning of the season. Now, he is a mandatory starter somewhere in your lineup. He hasn’t quite had the coming out party that Jose Bautista had a few years ago, but he’s pretty darn close and he’s almost single handedly keeping them afloat.
2. Adam Dunn– Chicago White Sox
Adam Dunn ranked 174th according to Yahoo before the season started, but I guarantee he didn’t go in the top 20 rounds in most drafts. Some players made him a late round draft pick on the hopes that this would happen. Dunn has returned to the Dunn of old. He is on pace to surpass 40 home runs and 100 RBIs. White Sox fans everywhere are thrilled. As proof of how far down he went on draft day, a higher percentage of players own Encarnacion than Dunn. It should be 100 percent for both.
3. Bryan LaHair– Chicago Cubs
LaHair has slumped recently to the point where he is hitting only .315 with an OPS barely above 1.000. That’s terrible. That means his OPS is only 200 points better than the next best Cub. It’s time to put him out to pasture. The 29 year old may have finally found a home, but with Anthony Rizzo murdering AAA pitching, he definitely has the motivation to keep mashing. If Rizzo keeps going don’t be surprised if the Cubs include LaHair in a deal with a pricey veteran to get more quality prospects.
4. Adam Laroche– Washington Nationals
He had an opening rank of 535. I didn’t even know they went that high. I suppose if someone were playing in a 20 team league or were allowed to carry 40 man rosters that might have made him relevant. He is now 79th. Laroche was obviously hurt last season, but even when healthy he was never this effective. To make matters more interesting, he is a notorious slow starter and a beast in the second half. If the second part of that trend continues he could become a darkhorse MVP candidate.
5. Mark Trumbo– Los Angeles Angels
The key with Trumbo was never ability. The key was whether he was going to get on the field enough. Something interesting happened on the way to obscurity. With Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter going down, the Angels are able to fit Mike Trout, Kendrys Morales, and Trumbo in the lineup all at the same time. Furthermore, they can keep Alberto Callapso at third base and get the fielding advantage they so desperately need. It’s hard to argue that injuries are ever a good thing, but Mike Scioscia was struggling to find spots for everybody, but now he can pencil in a regular lineup everyday.
In addition to being the editor of hardballchat.com, Scott Barzilla is also the proud father of one and the author of four books. His books can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Barzilla's Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical advancement.