The Yahoo Sports baseball crew has finally decided to settle an age-old argument. You know, the one you endlessly debated with your friends growing up. Who are baseball’s most overrated players?
We didn’t want any bias creeping into our choices, so we asked members of our baseball staff — the Big League Stew bloggers plus experts Jeff Passan and Tim Brown — to submit their votes for the most overrated players at each position.
Below, you’ll find our teams complete with an infield, DH, three outfielders, three starting pitchers and three relievers. We also included an “also receiving votes” area, so you can see which players fell short of being on the team.
Since this is sure to enrage many, we’ll note that the Yahoo Sports baseball crew also voted on an All-Underrated team, which you can find here. If you’re upset a player from your favorite team made this list, maybe you’ll find someone over there who you should appreciate more.
That’s about all you need to know going in. Enjoy, and make sure to send your complaints to @bigleaguestew on Twitter.
C: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
We might as well start off with the selection guaranteed to draw the most ire. Molina has been a great player for a long-time, and one of the best catchers of his era. He is not the reincarnation of a deity whose soul was put into the body of a baseball player. That reputation is the thing that will push Molina into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, when the truth is, he falls short of many of the benchmarks depending on what stats you prefer. Molina has amassed roughly as much fWAR as Russell Martin and Brian McCann over their careers, and while both are good players, no one has dubbed them sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famers yet.
Also receiving votes: Matt Wieters, Jonathan Lucroy, Salvador Perez, Yasmani Grandal, Gary Sanchez, Brian McCann.
1B: Eric Hosmer, Free agent
Don’t tell Scott Boras, but the Yahoo Sports crew also has some reservations about giving Hosmer a major deal. It’s not so much that we think Hosmer is a bad player, but the mystical aura surrounding him has gone a little overboard. Talent evaluators say he should make “at least $150 million.” People in the game love him. Jim Leyland even started him over Paul Goldschmidt in the World Baseball Classic. The advanced stats don’t really agree. Hosmer’s performance has been inconsistent over his career. As recently as 2016, he was a replacement-level player according to FanGraphs. He rebounded in 2017, and he if can do that consistently going forward, he’ll quickly move off this list. For now, we’re cautious.
Also receiving votes: Chris Davis, Carlos Santana, Miguel Cabrera, Anthony Rizzo, Yulieski Gurriel, Matt Carpenter, Wil Myers, Yonder Alonso, Brandon Belt.
2B: Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers
The power is impressive, but the lack of walks and the strikeouts are not. Only Brian Dozier has more home runs at second base over the past two seasons, and he managed that with an on-base percentage over .070 points higher. He’s also not the best defensive asset at second. All of that leaves you with a player whose only calling card is his power. In this current climate, where the ball is flying all over the park, that’s just not as valuable. He’ll always have the Jose Bautista punch, though.
Also receiving votes: Ian Kinsler, Starlin Castro, Dustin Pedroia, Joe Panik, Ben Zobrist, Dee Gordon, Whit Merrifield.
SS: Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs
Russell was billed as one of the centerpieces of the Cubs rebuild. A star shortstop who could provide exceptional offense and defense and become a main cog with the club moving forward. He’s got the defensive part down, but the offense has lagged. Russell’s career line is just .240/.312/.408 over three seasons, and has shown little sign of improving. Coming up, Russell was ranked alongside Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. All three have put themselves in a higher tier at this point.
Also receiving votes: Trevor Story, Dansby Swanson, Troy Tulowitzki, Xander Bogaerts, Jean Segura, Javier Baez, Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, Jose Iglesias.
3B: Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants
For the longest time, Longoria was every stat head’s dream player. He walked, hit for power and played incredible defense at third. He was the player who would lift the Devil Rays from worst franchise ever to perennial contender. For a while, that worked. He was fantastic early in his career, but his performance has dropped off recently. Since 2014, his on-base percentage has averaged .320, a far cry from his younger days.
Also receiving votes: Todd Frazier, Maikel Franco, Josh Donaldson, Mike Moustakas, Kyle Seager, Anthony Rendon, David Freese, Miguel Sano.
OF: Jose Bautista, Free agent
Has the popularity outweighed the performance in recent years? We don’t blame Toronto Blue Jays fans for wanting Bautista back. He’s meant a lot to that franchise recently, and helped them break a major playoff drought. He’s an icon there, no doubt. His performance the past two years has dropped off, leaving him unsigned during a slow winter. Without a massive thaw of the free-agent market, he may not get a chance to bounce back after a disappointing 2017 in which he still performed pretty well in All-Star voting.
OF: Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox
Bradley is a strong defensive player, but the offense has varied over his career. He turned in a strong season in 2016, but then saw his numbers take a dive again in 2017. His career batting line is just .239/.318/.407. You might think he’s still pretty young, but Bradley is almost 28. There may not be a ton of room for improvement. He’s already in his prime.
OF: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kemp’s get by on name recognition and counting stats. His numbers have dragged, but people remember the former All-Star version of Kemp, and still see him drive in 100 runs every year (not in 2017, but prior to that). Those figures dropped off last season, and now Kemp is a candidate to get cut with the Dodgers. Teams know he’s no longer all that valuable now.
Also receiving votes: Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Jones, Mookie Betts, Jay Bruce, Michael Brantley, Tommy Pham, Charlie Blackmon, Yoenis Cespedes, Ryan Braun, Hunter Pence, Alex Gordon.
DH: Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles
Like Odor, Trumbo has plenty of pop, but his overabundance of strikeouts and lack of walks hurts his batting line way too much. His career high in on-base percentage is just .317. By comparison, Alcides Escobar, who isn’t exactly known for his on-base prowess, has matched and topped that figure over his career.
Also receiving votes: Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Victor Martinez, Kendrys Morales.
SP: Matt Harvey, New York Mets
Never get attached to pitchers. They disappoint. They get hurt. They fail to regain their previous form. Perhaps that final thing is what pushes Harvey to this list. Any time he had a good start last season, people wanted to speculate that he was back. Surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome is devastating, and should probably be considered a career-ender at this point. The list of guys who have had it and returned to pitch well is almost non-existent.
SP: Sonny Gray, New York Yankees
Being the ace of the Oakland Athletics for a couple years earned Gray no respect from our voters. Perhaps there’s a feeling that some of his success was due to luck. Despite three straight years with excellent ERAs in Oakland, Gray’s peripherals have never screamed No. 1 starter. He doesn’t strike out as many hitters as you think, and his control is spotty. And yet, he always seems to excel. Is it possible he’s broken the system? Sure. But that’s a tough thing to bet on long-term. If he can succeed in New York, though, that might go a long way toward getting him off this list.
SP: Bartolo Colon, Texas Rangers
How did a guy with a 6.48 ERA wind up on the all-overrated list? Over-exposure, probably. Our voters seem to be telling us the cult of Bartolo has gone too far. His comeback with the A’s was impressive in 2012 and 2013 (though he did test positive for steroids over that period). He turned in some solid years with the New York Mets, but maybe not so good that he should have made the All-Star team in 2016. The story has outweighed the performance at this point.
Also receiving votes: David Price, Rick Porcello, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer, Alex Wood, Andrew Cashner, Gio Gonzalez, Johnny Cueto, Julio Teheran, Ervin Santana, Carlos Martinez.
RP: Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Chapman’s first season in New York after earning his massive contract was underwhelming. After two straight seasons with an ERA in the 1s, he saw that figure jump to 3.22. Chapman even briefly lost his closer role, which seemed unthinkable a few years back. His stuff is nasty, no one denies that. But he has some issues with walks, and is normally limited to just one inning per game. The contract is large enough that those deficiencies are a lot harder to handle now.
RP: Greg Holland, Free agent
Holland did the unthinkable and succeeded in Colorado, but our voters weren’t swayed. It might be due to his control problems. He’s walked nearly four batters per every nine innings over the past two seasons, and that’s a tough tightrope for a guy protecting one-run leads to walk. He’s been able to excel the past couple years despite that, but it’s fair to wonder how much longer he can continue that balancing act.
RP: Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals
After years as a star setup man, Herrera stepped into the closer’s role and immediately disappointed. His 4.25 ERA in 2017 was his worst ever in the majors. When Herrera was succeeding as a setup man, his peripherals were only elite one time. In 2016, he had a 30.4 percent strikeout rate and cut his walk rate to 4.2 percent. Those numbers fell back to normal in 2017 and his ERA skyrocketed as a result.
Also receiving votes: Edwin Diaz, Ken Giles, Wade Davis, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Brandon Kintzler, Luke Gregerson, Alex Colome, Fernando Rodney.
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