Though a spectacular self-tipped interception thrust Biermann temporarily into the spotlight, he largely toils in the shadow of defensive linemate John Abraham. With Abraham slowed by a groin injury though, Biermann has been crucial for a Falcons defense that ranks in the top 10 against the run.
Drafted the same year as All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis, Beason's stellar play has often gone overlooked. Since entering the league in 2007, Beason has the second-most tackles behind Willis, and yet he rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as other top linebackers.
The contributions of defensive linemen often don't show up on the stat sheet. But one statistic sums up Jenkins' contributions to the Packers: In 2008, he was lost for the season and the Packers went 4-9. He returned the next season and they went 11-5. Healthy this year, Jenkins had recorded seven sacks (a career high) before being carted off the field in Week 13. Needless to say, if Jenkins has to miss any time it will be a huge blow to the Packers' Super Bowl hopes.
A tale of two-stat lines: Player A hit .296, with 27 home runs, 85 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. Player B hit .300, with 22 home runs, 90 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. Who would you rather have? Player A is Jayson Werth, who just signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals. Player B is Choo, who made just $461,000 last year with the Indians and has yet to make an All-Star Game. Seems unfair doesn't it?
By all accounts, 2010 was the year of the pitcher. Roy Halladay pitched two no-hitters and Ubaldo Jimenez hurled a no-hitter of his own and started the season a stellar 11-1 with a 0.93 earned run average. Less heralded but just as dominant was Johnson, who finished the season with a dominant 2.30 earned run average but a measly 11 wins. Only 26, Johnson has plenty of time to make his way on to the national stage.
Quietly, Danks might have evolved into one of the best starters in the AL Central. Though the division boasts names like Verlander, Liriano and Carmona, Danks isn't far behind. He boasted a 3.72 earned run average and 15 wins despite meager run support from the White Sox all season long. But, as SI.com's Tim Marchman noted, Danks has the third-lowest ratio of performance to search engine fame in baseball.
The ultimate complimentary piece, Odom has translated his all-around game into two NBA championships with the Lakers. But he is arguably more famous for his marriage to a Kardashian than for his on-court contributions. It's Odom's ability to defer and sometimes blend into the background however that make him so valuable to the Lakers.
It's hard to give credit to anyone but Kevin Durant for the Oklahoma City Thunder's emergence. But as Durant has struggled with injuries this year, we've seen that he might not be the only superstar in OKC. In the four games the Thunder have played without Durant this season Westbrook has averaged 26.75 points, seven assists and 6.25 rebounds per game. With his lightning-fast first step, it might be time to hail Westbrook as one of the best point guards in the league
Most of the credit for the Knicks' resurgence goes to Amar'e Stoudemire, who has been fantastic in the early going for the team. But Chandler has also been stellar, averaging a career high in points, rebounds and blocks while playing out of position at power forward. His ability to play inside and outside has also been crucial for both Stoudemire and the Knicks' success.
Despite being the son of a Hall of Famer, the younger Stastny has been fighting for recognition since entering the NHL. A revelation as a rookie, Stastny seemed poised to make the All-Star Game in 2008, but an appendectomy forced him to watch from home. In 2009, a fractured forearm precluded him from All-Star selection once again. Finally healthy, Stastny seems poised to emerge on the national stage this year.
Playing in Buffalo is a good way to fly under the radar. After bouncing between the Sabres and their minor league affiliate, the Rochester Americans, for three seasons, Roy has become a star for the Sabres to little fanfare. He's led the team in points three out of the last four seasons, and was instrumental on the 2009-10 Sabres team that finished first in the Northeast Division.