5 great AL seasons you might have missed

Seems like it’s all Josh Donaldson this and Mike Trout that, which is appropriate since they were the best players in the American League this year. But the very greatest players tend to suck all the air out of the room. 

But there were some other tremendous seasons, and here are five you might have missed…

Remember when 1. Manny Machado, in some quarters at least, was discussed in the same breath as Trout? Well, a couple of injuries ended most of that talk, but Machado was healthy in 2015, and he was fantastic. Machado is still only 23, and really is just as great as we thought he would be.

Oh, and the Orioles are like the Diamondbacks: two tremendous players without the supporting cast. With the Diamondbacks, it’s Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock. With the Orioles, it’s Machado and 2. Chris Davis, who bounced back from a dreadful 2014 with 47 homers in 2015. Maybe the quietest 47 homers anybody’s hit since Rafael Palmeiro.

Does 3. J.D. Martinez belong on this list? I’m not sure. But I remain taken with the narrative. You’ll recall that the Astros gave up on Martinez in the spring of 2014, at which point he was plucked from the waiver wire by the Tigers. Who sent him to the minors. But once he got back to the majors, Martinez tore things up. And then he struggled in the spring of 2015, and we all nodded our heads and made knowing references to inevitable regressions to the mean. And then all Martinez did was hit .293/.361/.551 from May 6 through the end of the season. And it’s now become apparent that he’s an outstanding hitter.

Who else? You’ve probably heard about Kevin Kiermaier’s historic numbers in center field, about this Lorenzo Cain fellow. You’ve probably also heard that Mookie Betts is for real. Let’s check some pitchers, then…

I’m choosing 4. Jose Quintana not because I think you’re unaware, but rather because I was. I knew he pitched well in 2014, but I can’t claim that I trusted that performance. Well, it’s time to trust because Quintana was just as good in 2015. Over the past two seasons, his FIP ranks fourth among all American Leaguers with at least 300 innings. Granted, his xFIP isn’t as good, as he seems to have been quite fortunate when it comes to flyballs not carrying over the fence. Either way, Chfis Sale and Quintana give the White Sox a great 1-2 punch.

That said, the best 1-2 punch might be in Cleveland, where 5. Carlos Carrasco, roughly six years later than expected, blossomed into a tremendous starting pitcher. The good news for the Indians? They had the foresight to lock up Carrasco through 2018, even before he became tremendous. Oh, and Corey Kluber’s locked up for even longer.