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Most overrated baseball players

Posted Monday, June 22, 2009, at 3:58 PM

The Payoff Pitch

Here is this week's installment of The Payoff Pitch, where I'll voice my opinions on non-Cardinals-related issues. This week, I'm going to list my opinion on the most overrated baseball players in the history of the game.

Phil Rizzuto

Let's be honest; the only reason Rizzuto is in the Hall of Fame is because he was on the Yankees. He's a product of the New York media machine and of east coast bias. Rizzuto was a great defender, but not good enough to justify being elected to the Hall of Fame. He is, without a doubt, the worst player to be honored in Cooperstown. Take a look at his career statistics:

Rizzuto was a career .273 hitter, which would be respectable for a power hitter; however, Rizzuto hit 38 home runs in his career. You could justify this lack of hitting if he were an on-base machine, but he really wasn't, as he logged a .351 OBP for his career. And if he were someone who could routinely manufacture runs, you could also make the case for him, but he only scored 100+ runs twice in his career, and he was never a threat to steal bases.

Some may make the argument that if Rizzuto wouldn't have set the precedent for light-hitting shortstop then Ozzie Smith wouldn't have made it into the HOF. The difference is that the Wizard was a far better defender, drove in more runs and stole 580 bases, while also being a fantastic run-producer with his bunting ability and his speed. Even without Rizzuto, Ozzie makes it in on his own.

Reggie Jackson

Jackson was the classic all-or-nothing player who made way too much money and talked way too much. He was a good postseason player, and he is more than worthy of being in the Hall of Fame, but I think he gets way too much play as a great hitter. Let's compare an average season of Jackson's with the average season of the most underrated player in Major League history, Stan Musial:


Musial .331 25 104 37 .559 .976

Jackson .262 32 98 149 .490 .846

Musial was never known as a power hitter, per se, but Jackson was and Musial's numbers are significantly better aside from home runs, as he dwarfed Jackson in SLG and OPS. To have been a "power hitter" Jackson has a low SLG because if it wasn't a home run, it was a strikeout, whereas Musial was a doubles machine and would always put the ball in play. Jackson is purely an overrated, selfish player who doesn't deserve the hype he gets.

Derek Jeter

Jeter is far and away the most overrated player in the Major Leagues right now. Don't get me wrong. He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and he is a fantastic average hitter that young hitters should model themselves after; however, everything he does gets totally blown up and made into the greatest thing to ever happen. You know why? Because he plays in New York. Jeter always gets hyped up because of his defense, but he is statistically one of the worst defenders in all of baseball due to his lack of range. The great plays you seeing him make are a product of his lack of range. And don't even get me started on the overhyped plays he has made in the postseason. Give me a break. If Hanley Ramirez makes the same plays, nobody really hears about it. But if Jeter picks his nose and flicks it on the dirt, it goes straight to Cooperstown on a goose-down pillow. It's so annoying to continually hear about how great he his, when the players in the MLB routinely say he is the most overrated player in the league.

Nolan Ryan

In my opinion, Ryan is the most overrated player of all time. The games he pitched were often painful to watch. A strikeout here. A walk there. Another walk there. Another walk there. Another strikeout here. Load the bases up with a walk, and strikeout the side. Four and a half hours later, he either has a no-hitter or a loss. Ryan's 5714 career strikeouts will never be touched, but neither will his 2795 walks. For his career, Ryan averaged 4.7 walks per nine innings pitched, and that is atrocious. It's no wonder he didn't give up hits, because nobody in the park had a clue where the ball was going to end up when it came out of his hand.

Also, Ryan's 324 career wins are a productive of his longevity alone. He also had 292 career losses, for an average win-loss record of 14-13 for his career. That's hardly stellar, but he played on terrible teams to his credit. Even still, he's not nearly the pitcher everyone makes him out to be.

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I agree with Nolan Ryan being largley over rated. He was your typical gunslinger, rear back and throw a bullet pitcher. This is slightly off toic, but Iconsider Greg Maddux the best pitcher ever. He had the ability to throw the ball 90+ mph as a young pitcher, but quickly learned the way to winning was location and pitching to contact. He could throw an 85 mph fastball with tailing action that was harder to hit than Joba Chamberlain's 99 mph fastball.

-- Posted by Baseballfan88 on Mon, Jun 22, 2009, at 6:32 PM

I'd like to see a topic of under rated players, like Musial. In my opinion, a highly under rated star is Los Angeles Dodgers first sacker James Loney. He has arguably the best glove at first base in the national league, and possibly better than all first AL firstbasmen not named Tiexeira. Baltimore also has two young outfielders that many baseball fans don't know about, those being Adam Jones and Nick Markakis.

-- Posted by Baseballfan88 on Mon, Jun 22, 2009, at 6:35 PM

I was actually planning on doing the most underrated players in history in a subsequent blog. Musial would have to be number one on that list, with Todd Helton on the list as well.

-- Posted by Brandon Higgins on Mon, Jun 22, 2009, at 10:22 PM

I believe I have to disagree with Derek Jeter being on this list. He gets some media hype for his flashy defensive plays. But how can you call someone with over 2,500 hits and 1,500 runs scored (4th Yankee to do so). Silver Slugger, Gold Glove Award, Rookie of the Year, All-Star MVP, World Series MVP recipient-I find it hard to call someone with these accalades overrated. Statistically, if you go by Sabermetrics(like Oakland GM Billy Beane), you could argue that Jeter's Range Factor is low. But instinctively, it's hard to find a better player. I'm not doubting that there arent better shortstops, but this guy isn't overrated. He's one of the game's top 25 player's of all time(that's right, 25. Don't make an argument for these Golden Age players who saw the same pitcher 4 times a game, Jeter is collecting 200 plus hits on a regular basis against specialist and better pitchers than Golden Agers saw).

-- Posted by Baseballfan88 on Mon, Jun 22, 2009, at 10:49 PM

It's not just me. His peers continually say that about him. I really don't think it's as bad as it used to be, but there was a time when Jeter's jockstrap was the Holy Grail. I didn't argue that he is a great hitter, particularly in the postseason, but his defense gets way too much hype and it's simply not that good.

-- Posted by Brandon Higgins on Mon, Jun 22, 2009, at 11:02 PM

Derek Jeter is definitely not overrated. Sounds like someone is a Yankee hater. Red Sox fan are we? LOL, j/k. And your argument for his range was valid last year when he was battling through (and playing through) some tough injuries. But this year, if you were to look, you'll see his fielding percentage was TOPS in the American League @ .986, and only 2nd to Jimmy Rollins in the majors. And he's the best in the bigs at going to his right on tough ground balls. And I'm with Baseballfan88 - Jeter has the most hits EVER by a Yankee, has 4 World Series rings, ROTY, AS Gm MVP, WS MVP, 3 Silver Slugger awards, 3 Gold Gloves, .317 career avg, 1500+ R's, 1,000+ RBI's, 300+ SB's, 400+ 2B's, 220+ HR's, etc, etc, etc. Not to mention, he is a consumate professional and performs every single day at a place where you're expected to be the best - day in and day out and never complains. He gets "hyped up" because he's outperformed any other Yankee in the last 4 decades. Yes you're right - he will be a first ballot hall of famer... because he deserves to be.

-- Posted by randy6 on Mon, Oct 5, 2009, at 4:42 PM

In sports, there are true through-and-through winners that know how to lead there teams, and make their teams winners.

The NFL has Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Brady with three rings, and two Super Bowl MVP's. Manning starting 190 plus games in a row, and making players around him better.

College Football has Tim Tebow who has been part of two national championship teams and won a Heisman.

The NBA has Kobe Bryant with his four championships. (You could say Shaquille O'Neal has four two, but he's more or less a championship cling-on)

...and MLB has Derek Jeter. Four time champion, All-Star game and World Series MVP in the same year, more hits than ANY Yankee ever, and the true Captain of the Yankees. I guess saying Jeter is overrated is a reference to 2002, when his range factor was down. I dont know.

-- Posted by Baseballfan88 on Tue, Jan 5, 2010, at 7:38 PM

The reference isn't to say he is a bad player. He is just one of those players who the media hypes up for everything he does. Just because a player is overrated doesn't mean he's not a great player. I just think that if he were to make a play and Brendan Ryan made the same exact play, Jeter would be No. 1 on Web Gems and Ryan would be left off. That is the kind of stuff I'm talking about.

He has the performance, chops, etc. But he is a media darling and media darlings get on my nerves. It's probably because I'm a fan of St. Louis and Mizzou, which is just flyover country as far as the media are concerned.

-- Posted by Brandon Higgins on Tue, Jan 5, 2010, at 9:31 PM

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