2. Jesus Aguilar
Acquired off waivers from Indians (February 2017)
Jesus Aguilar has had a tremendous run lately, vaulting him to the All-Star game and national consciousness. I have some bias here as I had the gumption to loosely compare Aguilar to David Ortiz with my first blog for this site. I am pleased he has made me look quite good with his play!
If this list would have been compiled a few months ago, there is no way Aguilar would have been this far up. He was a great story last year, but there was talk in spring about trading or even releasing the big guy. Eric Thames and converted outfielder Ryan Braun were ahead of him at the depth chart at first base.
Aguilar did not play a bunch early. It took one injury to Thames to turn all of that around. Aguilar took his opportunity and ran with it. He crushed a league leading 24 home runs at the break, to go along with 70 RBIs, a .995 OPS and a 2.9 WAR. Even though it took a Final Vote to get him to his first All-Star Game, Aguilar is firmly in the conversation for the MVP.
It is crazy to think about an MVP run considering where Aguilar was when the Indians placed him on waivers less than two years ago. He put up good power numbers in the minor leagues for Cleveland, but there was never consistent at bats for him at the major league level. That could have been the same story for him in Milwaukee.
Not only did David Stearns make the deft pick up, he also kept him on the roster for two Opening Day assignments without consistent at bats. The Indians likely will always be known for this classic blunder. The more Aguilar produces, the more impressive Stearns looks for making the waiver claim.