Basically they're evading the implied question of, "Is he a good player?" by answering, "Well, uh, he works really hard and is OK with getting hit a lot."
Occasionally, you get someone trying to throw role-players a bone by saying they "can be stars in their own way" or are an Important Part of the Team, really! Which I would think is worse than being ignored.
When an announcer says: "With a seventh-round pick, they'll probably be picking up a role-player."
He means: "Apparently all that's left in the seventh round this year is a bunch of useless players nobody cares about."
When an announcer says: "A journeyman center acquired last year in the [star's name] trade."
He means: "I guess this guy must have been attached to that package in that big trade last year along with the players I've actually heard of."