This article is part of our The Z Files series.
Have you ever wondered how columnists come up with topics? I can't speak for all my colleagues but sometimes it's difficult. Any time you can come up with a series like I just completed, it obviously makes things easier.
Truth be told, I planned on wrapping up the recent comparison of initial expectations to current production by reviewing a list of lessons learned. When I went back over my notes I discovered I'd be using the phrase, "It's a small sample size, but…" a lot. As Tom Tango once said on Twitter, those two things don't belong in the same sentence.
As such, I was at a loss for a topic this week. On weeks I don't have a topic at the ready, I spend some time pontificating. But, since I thought I was set, my mind was elsewhere.
So, I went back over the lists and my notes and unearthed a lesson not needing a full season to manifest. I was struck by the number of surprise hitters on non-competing teams. Here's a partial list: Jorge Soler, Teoscar Hernandez, Jon Jay, Denard Span, Starlin Castro, Christian Villanueva, Matt Davidson and Brian Anderson.
Keep in mind, these aren't just surprise players, but essentially Top-100 hitters, maybe Top-150 overall at the time of the analysis. Some, like Span, Castro, Anderson and Jay were expected to play but were discounted heavily in drafts due to team context. Others like Soler, Hernandez and Davidson were in