Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, it is time to take another look at some of the most overrated pitchers in Major League Baseball.
To make this list, a pitcher has to have been acknowledged as a valuable asset within the past year, either by trade (or rumor) or big free agency signing. Therefore, I am excluding players who are essentially worthless in the last year of their contracts. Call it the Barry Zito Rule.
Also, while I consider all closers to be replaceable parts, I am judging every pitcher in that role strictly among their peers.
Without further ado, let's get to the list:
All stats come courtesy of Fangraphs.
Hanson made a great impression as a rookie back in 2009, going 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA while filling the fifth spot in Atlanta’s excellent starting staff.
However, he has not been able to handle pitching earlier in the rotation, which along with injuries has caused him to regress three straight seasons.
His 12-5 record in 2012 looks nice on the surface, but it is more the result of terrific run support as opposed to turning the corner as a pitcher. Hanson’s walk, home run, and K/BB rates are the worst of his career.
Jimenez has done nothing since Colorado traded him to Cleveland and has a pretty good argument for being the least valuable pitcher in baseball this season.
Never known for his accuracy, Jimenez is taking his wild ways to dizzying new heights by leading the AL in walks and wild pitches. And while he has always managed to counter his previous wildness with the ability to strike batters out, Jimenez’ 6.91 K rate is easily the worst of his career.
Even when he hits the strike zone, teams are simply teeing off on Jimenez, as he has one of baseball’s worst line drive rates and is giving up more home runs than ever before. And remember, this is a pitcher who spent 5+ seasons with the Rockies before joining the Indians.
As unlikely as this sounds, Jimenez might be the first pitcher in the history of baseball who is better off pitching in the thin air of Colorado.
Why did the Chicago Cubs have no issue in dealing Maholm to the Braves at the deadline? Simple: they knew it was a trade that would not come back to haunt them.
Maholm is as dependent on his defense as any pitcher in baseball. While his current 6.3 strikeout rate is a career-best, it is still well below the NL’s 7.65 league average.
What has kept Maholm in the big leagues for the past eight seasons is his ability to induce ground balls. The problem, however, is that his GB rate has declined five years in a row.
Just a few months after the team opened a brand-new ballpark paid for with public funds, the fan(s) of the Miami Marlins cried foul when the club seemed to go back into salary dump mode at the trade deadline. Sanchez, who had spent his entire career with the club, was one of the salaries that was dumped.
But honestly: what makes Sanchez such a special pitcher? He put up a great rookie season back in 2006, but since then he has been an average to below-average starter who is prone to injuries.
He has put up a solid 3.14 K/BB rate over the past two years, but he is still a starting pitcher who has yet to throw 200 innings in a season.
Is there another pitcher who is living more off reputation as opposed to actual performance?
Liriano was brilliant for Minnesota back in 2006, when he finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting after spending half-a-season in the starting rotation.
Tommy John surgery soon followed, but his recovery from the procedure was supposed to make Twins fans more at ease about trading Johan Santana to the Mets. It has not worked out that way, as Liriano is perpetually bitten by the injury bug.
Even when he is healthy, Liriano seemingly has no idea where the ball is going. His high strikeout totals have always gone hand-in-hand with high walk rates, which is never a good combination for a starting pitcher who is not known for his durability.
Beckett earned his reputation as an ace after putting together dominating performances in the 2003 and 2007 postseasons and remains a pitcher that nobody wants to face in the playoffs. The problem with Beckett, however, is that he is maddeningly inconsistent from one regular season to another.
Beckett seems to be on a quest to become the Bret Saberhagen of his generation, as he always seems to follow up seasons of greatness with seasons of mediocrity.
This past season has also shown a marked decline in his strikeout rate, which is not a good sign for somebody who built his reputation as a power pitcher.
Volquez was terrific for Cincinnati back in 2008, but since then he has been an arm injury waiting to happen.
While he has found his health this season in San Diego, Volquez is still searching for his accuracy. His 80 walks is the highest total in baseball, and he does not strike out nearly enough batters to compensate.
Volquez seems destined to go down in history as the player the Texas Rangers tradedto bring Josh Hamilton to Arlington.
Wilson has earned his reputation as a solid starting pitcher. But why exactly what he so sought-after as a free agent last offseason?
Wilson gets a decent number of strikeouts, but he is also only two seasons removed from leading the American League in walks. He does induce ground balls, but not at such an extreme rate to where he could be called a specialist.
And while the early returns are nice, Wilson is still only in his third season as a starter, so it is not like he was paid because of a long track record.
Face it: Wilson’s big contract was as much the result of timing as opposed to performance, as he was the only pitcher of note eligible for free agency. Being a lefty does not hurt, either.
There has not been a more meaningless 2.27 ERA in recent MLB history.
Broxton is no longer the strikeout pitcher that he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier in his career, and at the same time his walk rate remains at league-average levels.
This style only works if the ball stays on the ground, which Broxton is doing at an exceptional 57.5% rate. However, Broxton has not consistently demonstrated an ability to repeat this skill.
Kansas City made the right decision when they dealt Broxton to Cincinnati, where ironically he could get the chance to replace the best strikeout pitcher in baseball (Aroldis Chapman) as the Reds’ closer.
While nobody wants to be rooting for a team that sheds salary, fan(s) of the Marlins should be more upset about their team wasting money on spending sprees.
Bell was very effective for San Diego over the past three seasons, but his time in Miami has demonstrated why it is foolish to pay big money for closers in free agency.
Combining one of the worst walk rates in baseball among relief pitchers with average groundball and strikeout rates, Bell is also guaranteed to cost the Marlins a cool $27 million over the next three years.