Professional sports do no not lack for overrated players and MLB is no different. So, who is the most-overrated player on each MLB team?
Which well-known stars are past their primes? Which up and comers are being hyped a little too much? How can we call anyone on the Astros or Dodgers overrated? For different reasons, how can we call anyone on the Phillies or Padres overrated?
Every team has at least one overrated player. We need to remember that overrated doesn’t mean terrible or even bad. Just that the perception doesn’t quite match the reality.
So, who is each MLB team’s most overrated player?
Arizona Diamondbacks: Jake Lamb, third baseman
A season ago, Lamb slugged 29 home runs, drove in 91 runs and slashed at .249/.332/.509. This year, he’s on pace to obliterate those totals. So, how can we label Lamb as overrated? It all comes down to what he does against lefties. It’s hard to find a lot of good in a .144/.259/.340 slash line against the southpaws.
What if the Rockies start lefty Kyle Freeland in the likely Wild Card Game between the two teams? How on earth is Lamb going to handle guys like Jon Lester and Clayton Kershaw in the rounds after? These aren’t ideal questions to ask about a middle of the order guy.
Atlanta Braves: Dansby Swanson, shortstop
At the end of 2016, it seemed inevitable that Swanson was going to be 2017’s NL Rookie of the Year. The No. 1 overall pick in 2015 ended 2016 with 129 at-bats, one short of the rookie threshold. Then, 2017 actually started. Not only have we been treated to a stunning rookie campaign by Cody Bellinger, but Swanson has struggled mightily, slashing at .209/.280/.303. Swanson has talent, but he also has a long way to go. Let his tale serve as 2017’s reminder that sometimes, we need to pump the brakes on the hype train.
Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis, first baseman
We’re not going to sit here and say that Davis’ power doesn’t make him scary for opponents. But even with 38 home runs in 2016, he slashed at .221/.332/.459 with 219 strikeouts. This year, he has 18 with and is slashing .214/.314/.422. Again, you take that with the power.
People like Dave Kingman and Adam Dunn enjoyed nice careers with comparable numbers. But Davis has taken all but 15 of his 2017 at-bats as Baltimore’s No. 4 or No. 5 hitter. Should such a one-dimensional player be batting in those spots in one of baseball’s best, most powerful lineups?
Boston Red Sox: David Price, starting pitcher
This year, Price has announced that he won’t talk to the media on non-start days and has maintained a strange feud with Red Sox analyst Dennis Eckersley. He’s done all of this while posting a 3.82 and 1.27 WHIP, perfect numbers for a No. 3 starter but not an ace, which is what Price is paid to be.
Those numbers are comparable to his 2016 numbers (3.99 ERA, 1.20 WHIP). But in 2017, he hasn’t even been able to stay on the field, totaling only 66 innings over 11 starts.
Chicago Cubs: Jose Quintana, starting pitcher
The Cubs gave up a healthy package for Quintana, including one of the organization’s best prospects in Eloy Jimenez. Given the across the board struggles of the rotation, dealing for a pitcher made sense. Only, Quintana was in the midst of one of his worst seasons himself, posting a 4.49 ERA and 1.32 WHIP for the White Sox.
Even at his best, Quintana is somewhere between a No. 2 and No. 3 starter on a contender. Is Quintana really the guy who will help stabilize the rotation, or was it a semi desperation move from Chicago’s front office?
Chicago White Sox: Lucas Giolito, starting pitcher
Prior to the year, Giolto was ranked as the No. 25, No. 12, and No. 10 prospect by Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus, respectively. After struggling during a brief stint with Nationals in 2016, 2017 seemed like the perfect chance for Giolito to fine tune his game and come up to the show for his new team.
Instead, Giolito has struggled to a 4.70 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in AAA Charlotte. Giolito was supposed to be one of the first of Chicago’s many prospects to make an actual MLB impact. If nothing else, 2017 has shown that he has a long way to go.
Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton, centerfielder
Hamilton’s speed is incredible. When he gets on base, Hamilton can simply wreak havoc on the game. But there in lies the problem. Hamilton doesn’t get on base nearly enough. If we dismiss his 13-game cameo in 2013, Hamilton’s career high OBP is .321, well below what you’d want from a lead off man.
Worse, that marked the only time where he topped .300. Hamilton is young, but he’s been around for a while. He should have developed more as a hitter (or at least, on-base guy) by now. We love the speed, but the rest of the offensive game leaves much to be desired.
Cleveland Indians: Michael Brantley, left fielder
People can be overrated for a variety of reasons, but it generally comes down to the idea that the stats aren’t as good, or at least as overwhelming as we think. But that’s not the case with Brantley. No, Brantley is overrated because, as good as his numbers are, he just can’t stay on the field.
He’s played in 88 games this year and is currently on the DL. This is on the heels of an 11-game appearance in 2016. To quote what Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, said to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, “your best availability is your availability.” That hasn’t been Brantley’s specialty.
Colorado Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez, right fielder
Gonzalez’s talent was never questioned. His issue was staying healthy. In 2015 and 2016, Cargo managed to do that, topping 150 games each year. But 2017 has been a regression, with Gonzalez already missing 20 games. Worse, the numbers that were so consistently good for his whole career have dropped precipitously.
Gonzalez has only seven home runs and 35 RBI. As a point of reference, he played in only 70 games in 2014 and hit 11 homers and drove in 38. It’s fair to say that Gonzalez isn’t meeting expectations.
Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander, starting pitcher
The interest in Verlander at the trade deadline was an example of teams falling in love with a player’s past. Verlander certainly has enjoyed a decorated career. But 2017 has been a struggle. The good news is that over his last five starts, Verlander has posted a 1.80 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. The bad news is that he still has a 3.97 ERA and 1.36 WHIP on the season.
Not only was Verlander a trade chip at the deadline, but he still remains one. Even with a Hall of Fame-caliber past, Verlander’s age (34) and his disappointing season certainly don’t match the kind of interest he drew.
Houston Astros: Carlos Beltran, designated hitter
One of the more hilarious moments of the 2017 season came when the Astros held a funeral for Beltran’s glove, signalling that he’s now a DH. The problem is that Beltran is slashing at .244/.293/.408. By contrast, he was .295/.337/.513 a season ago. Now, regression happens as players get older. But shouldn’t a player who’s sole job is to hit be a little more productive? With 13 home runs, it’s not as though Beltran is racking up the long balls, either.
Kansas City Royals: Alex Gordon, left fielder
Following their World Series win in 2015, the Royals decided to bring then free agent Alex Gordon back on a four-year, $72 million deal. Money from that deal could have been used to re-sign some of the players that Kansas City will likely lose after 2017.
What’s worse? Since signing the deal, Gordon has slashed at .211/.301/.341. By comparison, he slashed at .268/.362/.432 during the two previous years. A team like the Royals needs its highest-paid players to produce big numbers. That’s true anywhere, but especially in small markets.
Los Angeles Angels: Albert Pujols, designated hitter
Sticking with the idea of overrated and overpaid going hand in hand, we have Pujols. To be fair, Pujols has remained a power threat with the Angels. But in 2012, Pujols’ first year in Anaheim, he set career lows with a .285 average and had a .343 OBP. He hasn’t come close to either number since.
Pujols’ salary has done a lot to tie up the team’s budget, which has prevented the Angels from bringing in better players to put around Mike Trout. Pujols can still hit the long ball, but he wasn’t worth limiting the team’s potential while it has the best player in the game.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Cody Bellinger, first baseman/outfielder
Come playoff time, the Dodgers will be facing the league’s best pitchers. So, while Bellinger’s .351 OBP is just fine, he can’t expect to draw as many walks. He’ll have to get hits to reach base. And while not bad, a .274 average is far from stellar. Additionally, Bellinger may not have the same dominant power in the playoffs, where death by 1,000 cuts is often the way to win.
Well, if we eliminate Bellinger’s 34 home runs from his hit total (99) and those 34 at-bats from his 361, we get a .199 batting average. If this sounds picky, it is. Bellinger is great. But with a great team like the Dodgers, we have to be picky, especially when the expectations are so high.
Miami Marlins: Edinson Volquez, starting pitcher
Spending money isn’t exactly the Marlins’ MO. So, it seemed odd that Miami would break from that with a two-year, $22 million deal for Volquez. That’s not exactly huge money for a front-line starter, but Volquez is far from a front-line starter. After all, even with a no-hitter to his credit, he also sports a 4.19 ERA, 1.42 ERA, and a 4-8 record. What’s worse is that other than the W-L record, those numbers are significantly better than 2016’s 5.37 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. It’s hard to figure how this front office saw that as a wise move.
Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan Braun, left fielder
It’s not so much that Braun isn’t productive anymore, it’s that he can’t stay on the field. He hasn’t topped 140 games in a season since 2012 and won’t come close this year. Additionally, while Braun has put up good numbers while he’s been there, his presence hasn’t done much to alter the team’s fortune.
The Brewers are 31-31 in Braun’s starts, and 30-28 in the other games. At the beginning of the year, that kind of split would have been unthinkable. But after Braun missed so much time over the last five years, Milwaukee has learned how to win without him.
Minnesota Twins: Brian Dozier, second baseman
Admittedly, much of what makes Dozier overrated is how he’s used. He hits for great power, but he’s not a lead-off man. He’s never had an OBP better than .345. If you put a guy like that in the middle of the order, it’s not such a problem, especially when he can hit 42 home runs.
But at the top of the order, you want guys who can get on base. Dozier doesn’t do that enough. Until either that or his role changes, we can certainly say that Dozier is being overrated by his team.
New York Mets: Yoenis Cespedes, left fielder
Cespedes has many tools, most of all his power. But since the day he came into MLB, staying on the field has been a huge problem. He’s only topped 150 games twice and will fall well short of that in 2017.
Now, we can look at the actual stats that Cespedes has accrued and be impressed that he’s achieved those through an injury prone career. Or, we can point out that as great as those stats are, his complete inability to stay on the field has hindered his teams in the other games. Because 2016’s 31 home runs in 132 games were great, they didn’t do anything for the other 30.
New York Yankees: Aroldis Chapman, closer
The 3.48 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and four blown saves are all well above the norm, but that’s not the stat that really jumps out here. No, that would be Chapman’s 4.3 BB/9 rate. Chapman’s power is overwhelming. But the advantage is negated if he’s not throwing strikes. That allows hitters to be more patient, waiting for an off-speed pitch or even a grooved fastball (for his standards, anyway). If we’re looking for the primary reason that those other numbers have been below average, the walks are a great place to start.
Oakland Athletics: Ryon Healy, third baseman
There’s a lot to like about Healy. We like the 21 home runs and the .461 slugging percentage. We even like the fact that he’s on pace for 154 strikeouts, which isn’t terrible for a guy with good power. Still, Healy is only a .258 hitter. Worse than that, he has a .289 OBP.
That’s an incredible lack of patience for anyone, let alone a rising star in the definitive “Moneyball” organization. Healy has a lot of potential and he’s done a lot well. But he has to show more patience at the plate before we can call him a finished product and a MLB star.
Philadelphia Phillies: Maikel Franco, third baseman
Franco is still young. But if he’s going to be Philadelphia’s cleanup hitter of the future, he has a long way to go. We know that Franco can hit the long ball. But the 25 home runs he hit in 2016 were not enough to make up for a .255 average and .306 OBP. This year, the numbers are all down.
He has 17 home runs, a .226 average, and a .278 OBP. Franco can be someone who improves, or he can be someone who will slot in well as a sixth or seventh hitter. Right now, he’s leaning towards the latter, which is not what was expected.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Starling Marte, left fielder
It’s been a disastrous year for Marte. He was suspended 80 games for a positive PED test and hasn’t exactly been tearing it up when he’s been on the field, slashing at .236/.304/.316 with two homers. The team has also not really missed him. The Pirates are 18-19 in his starts and and 40-41 in the other games. If you entered 2017 thinking that Marte had passed Andrew McCutchen as the face of the franchise, this season hasn’t done much to help your argument.
San Diego Padres: Wil Myers, first baseman
While Myers is San Diego’s most indispensable player, he’s also it’s most overrated. Part of that is because the Padres don’t have a ton of players who are that highly thought of, at least not yet. But Myers has some significant room to grow.
We like that Myers can have a down year but still be on pace for a career high in home runs. We just don’t like that 2016, his career year, consisted of a .259 average and .336 OBP. For him to reach true stardom, we’re going to need to see those numbers bumped up, not down, as they have been in 2017.
San Francisco Giants: Jeff Samardzija, starting pitcher
What does Samardzija do well? He strikes guys out and doesn’t issue many walks. That makes him a darling of the sabermetric community. But his 3.81 ERA in 2016 was sandwiched by a 4.96 ERA in 2015 and a 4.74 mark in 2017. even with a 1.3 HR/9 rate, he may be fine with the true results, but the “untrue” results have consistently gone against the Shark. Perhaps he should rethink his past stances on sabermetrics, because the new stats like Samardzija a lot more than he likes them.
Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez, starting pitcher
Once one of the game’s best pitchers, King Felix has regressed a lot over the last few years. He had a 3.82 ERA and 1.32 WHIP a season ago and is on pace to be above both marks in 2017. Hernandez has spent much of the last two years either hurt, ineffective, or both. As the Mariners are in a playoff race, Hernandez’s starts will still be treated as big news when he does return from the DL. Just don’t expect the actual production to meet that.
St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Martinez, starting pitcher
Martinez is an example of how someone being overrated is as much about his perception as his actual performance. Martinez has a 3.56 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Those numbers aren’t bad. But this was supposed to be the year when Martinez took the reigns and became the true ace of the St. Louis rotation. He hasn’t exactly done that, either. We’d like to see an ERA below 3.00 with a WHIP in the 1.15 or better range. Martinez was closer to that in 2015 and 2016 than he’s been in 2017.
Tampa Bay Rays: Chris Archer, starting pitcher
Archer is a great guy and a great personality for baseball. But he’s a good pitcher, not a great one. Like Samardzija, Archer does strike out a lot of guys. But he had a 4.02 ERA in 2016 and has a 3.84 mark in 2017.
In the previous three years, Archer’s ERA was never worse than 3.33. As a guy goes from his early to mid-20’s, we want to see those numbers come down. Archer’s have gone the other way. Generally speaking, that doesn’t bode well for a guy approaching his late-20’s and beyond.
Texas Rangers: Elvis Andrus, shortstop
For nearly his entire career, Andrus has been a top of the order guy. That’s what lands him on this list. Aside from his .362 OBP in 2016, Andrus has never had an OBP better than .349. In 2017, he has 15 home runs and a .295 average. Hitting down in the order, those numbers would be fine. But we need a little bit more out of someone batting first or second, which is what Andrus has done for most of his career.
Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista, right fielder
Bautista is having a down year and on the surface, it seems as though that came out of nowhere. How can anyone predict one of the game’s best hitters suffering through a .214/.322/.395 season? Well, the regression has actually been happening for a while. Bautista went from .286/.403/.525 in 2014, to .250/.377/.546 in 2015, to .234/.366/.452 in 2016. The warning signs were there. Bautista can still hit for power, but he’s turned into one of baseball’s more one-dimensional hitters.
Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg, starting pitcher
There’s no doubt that Strasburg can put up good stats. But we need to see him do that deep in the year. He’s only topped 200 innings once. Strasburg’s teams have made the playoffs three times in his career, but he’s only been around to pitch in them once.
Strasburg was drafted as a franchise pitcher. He was treated as a franchise pitcher in 2012 when Washington had baseball’s best team but shut him down before the playoffs. He has to make that pay off at some point. With Max Scherzer as the ace, Strasburg needs to dominate the opponents No. 2 starers in October.