Investors are constantly looking for the next company that is going to hit it out of the park -- a stock that can drastically rise in value and send their portfolio soaring. However, often times we look in all the wrong places and ignore some amazing companies that are flying just below the radar.

Two very different histories
If I were to ask readers if they've heard of Ty Cobb, I imagine almost everyone would respond with a resounding yes. Having set more than 90 MLB records, including the highest lifetime batting average, most steals of home base, and most career batting titles, Cobb is a baseball icon.

But how many of you have heard of Jesse Burkett? Probably not too many -- I know I hadn't. That was, until I ran across some startling statistics. Burkett played at the turn of the 20th century and smacked 200 hits per season six times and batted over .400 twice. His lifetime batting average was .338, 19th overall in MLB history. But most impressive is a stat that is rarely looked at -- that for inside-the-park home runs. Burkett hit 55 in his career -- more than Ty Cobb, and more than any other player in the history of the sport.

So what's this have to do with stocks?
Inside-the-park home runs aren't the prettiest -- it's not like seeing a Babe Ruth ball fly out of Yankee Stadium. Accordingly, most of us don't know the stats for inside-the-parkers, but as you read above, Burkett has a pretty impressive resume.

When it comes to stocks, investors often pay the most attention to the Ty Cobbs of the world. Everyone knows blue chips Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM). But these stocks are pretty predictable -- they have low betas and aren't very volatile. They're great defensive plays, but most likely, you're not going to see the huge gains that represent a real home run stock. It's hard to see massive price growth with these companies because they're covered by a plethora of analysts, and the entire financial world is dissecting them -- the individual investor just doesn't have much of a competitive advantage. However, data has shown that small-cap stocks have the best chance at being multibaggers -- they simply have more room to run.

Stocks that are less prestigious or popular, like Jesse Burkett was in baseball, are usually the ones that have the best chance at hitting multibaggers. Companies like Boise (NYSE: BZ) shot up over 1,100% in 2009, and Uranium Energy (NYSE: UEC) went up over 1,000% last year. These two companies have two very distinct things in common -- they're not extraordinarily exciting, and both have less than four analysts covering them. However, the growth stories may not be totally behind them -- for instance, Boise is expected to grow by 20% over the next half decade, and trading for less than four times earnings, it may still be worth looking into this paper company. And Uranium Energy stands to benefit as it should get at least one of its two South Texas Uranium sights up and running and ready for production in 2010.

Big companies should play a part in everyone's portfolio -- they typically hold up well in a recession, and normally you won't lose your shirt if the market tanks. But investing in a company like General Electric is probably never going to be the home run you want it to be.

A true inside-the-park home run
On the other hand, investing in stocks that most people have never heard of -- i.e., small caps -- allows you to find mispricing situations, and once you've found a great company that is undervalued -- well, then you've found your inside-the-park home run.

Imagine people who invested in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters 10 years ago -- they've seen returns of almost 4,000%! While Green Mountain is a pretty well-know name now, it certainly wasn't a decade ago, and if you were lucky enough to find the company back then, you were lucky enough to reap some huge rewards. This is what Motley Fool Hidden Gems focuses on -- small companies that are barely recognized by the investing community, have enormous potential, and can provide you with tremendous gains.

Two stocks that fit this criteria well are Dynamic Materials (Nasdaq: BOOM) and AZZ (NYSE: AZZ).

Both are small -- with market caps below $600 million -- and are covered only marginally by Wall Street analysts. Dynamic Materials focuses on explosive metal-working and does business everywhere from Sweden to Spain to South Korea -- so its revenues are geographically diversified.

AZZ is a manufacturer and provider of electrical components, and it caught the eye of our analysts back in January. As the U.S. gets ready to update its infrastructure and spend what some experts estimate at $1.5 trillion to get our grids up to speed, AZZ sits ready to pop when the dollars come down the pipeline. The company just completed its biggest acquisition to date (North American Galvanizing & Coatings (Nasdaq: NGA)), which will almost immediately increase sales and help expand the client base.

Will the baseball world ever know Jesse Burkett's name as well as it does Ty Cobb's? Probably not. He's just not the typical home run hitter. But that doesn't mean that Burkett didn't deliver -- he is a Hall of Famer, after all.

And that's how we feel about Dynamic Materials and AZZ. Will they ever be household names? I doubt it. But that doesn't mean they can't be home-run hitters.

I'll be honest -- small caps don't always offer the most thrilling stories, but if you have the guts to pick some less popular stocks, you're portfolio will definitely reap the rewards you're looking for. If you're interested in hearing more about Dynamic Materials and AZZ, or seeing Hidden Gems' past and present recommendations, you can be a guest of our service, free for 30 days. Click here for more information.

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Jordan DiPietro owns shares of General Electric. Dynamic Materials is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Procter & Gamble is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of AZZ, Dynamic Materials, and Procter & Gamble. The Fool's disclosure policy can't wait for the Phillies to get back to the World Series.