MLB Players Who Are Overrated Because They Play in Big Cities

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2014

MLB Players Who Are Overrated Because They Play in Big Cities

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    On Friday, my colleague Joe Giglio wrote an article looking at five MLB players that would be national superstars if they played in big cities. Now we're going to take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum and select five guys who are overrated because of the fact that they play in big cities.

    First off, for the sake of this article, I considered "big cities" to be the following:

    • Boston
    • Chicago
    • Detroit
    • Los Angeles
    • New York
    • Philadelphia
    • San Francisco
    • St. Louis

    This was not necessarily based on the population of the city itself, but instead on the size of the fanbase and more importantly the exposure that the team receives on a national level.

    From there, I selected five players who I think are more times than not viewed by the masses as better players than they actually are. 

    I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me, but I've done my best to back my selections with statistical evidence. I look forward to further supporting my picks and hearing your suggestions for players who should have been included in the comments below.

     

    *All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.

CF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Just kidding.

CF Juan Lagares, New York Mets

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Why He's Overrated

    Career Stats

    StatsBA/OBP/SLGAB XBH (HR)BBKBABIP
    2012 (AA).283/.334/.38949939 (4)3793.337
    2013 (NYM).242/.281/.35239230 (4)2096.310
    2014 (NYM).306/.333/.4598510 (1)321.391

    This one is not going to sit well with Mets fans, but Juan Lagares is undoubtedly one of the most overrated players in baseball right now, especially in the minds of those aforementioned Mets fans.

    With a .391 BABIP right now, regression is inevitable, and when all is said and done my guess is he winds up somewhere in the neighborhood of a .260 batting average with minimal power and below-average on-base numbers this season.

    Those are not star-caliber numbers. In fact they're borderline passable numbers for an everyday player, but his glove is enough to warrant penciling him in regularly.

    Nothing about his minor league track record suggests he'll take a huge step forward offensively in the future, but Mets fans will say he's destined for stardom.

    One recent comment I received reads as follow:

    "(Lagares) looks like he might be a cornerstone player. He plays some if the best defense in baseball, and has shown the ability to hit. If anything, I'd build around Lagares..."

    Another commenter questioned the exclusion of Lagares from my list predicting the 25 best players five years from now.

    Lagares is a fantastic defensive player, and on the surface his offensive numbers look great this season, but he has a better chance of being the next Endy Chavez than he does being the game's next great center fielder.

SP Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Why He's Overrated

    There was a time not so long ago when Tim Lincecum was squarely in the conversation for the title of best pitcher in the game, but he fell off dramatically in 2012 and has yet to recover.

    Years  GSIPW-LERAWHIPH/9BB/9K/9QS%
    2008-11131881.262-362.811.1737.23.210.073%
    2012-1472419.122-314.831.4178.93.89.042%

    He has certainly shown flashes of being the pitcher he once was over the past two seasons, including a 13-strikeout no-hitter against the San Diego Padres last July, but that 42 percent quality start mark for the past two-plus seasons pretty well illustrates what a wild card he's become.

    Still, when he hit free agency this past offseason, the San Francisco Giants moved quickly to ensure he would be back in the fold, signing him to a two-year, $35 million deal that was just slightly below the two-year, $40.5 million deal he received when he was still putting up big numbers.

    Thanks in large part to his two Cy Young awards and the role he played in helping the team win a pair of World Series titles, Lincecum still gets the benefit of the doubt that he can turn things around and again be a front-line starter.

    There is no denying he was great, but if Lincecum had put up the kind of numbers he did the past two years on a smaller-market club, it's hard to imagine he would have received the kind of contract that he did, even with his impressive track record.

    The Giants have wisely reworked their rotation to the point that they don't expect him to be anything more than a passable No. 5 starter, though the hope is still there from the team and fans alike that he can once again be an elite starter.

SS Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Why He's Overrated

    Even when he was making the All-Star team in back-to-back years in 2011 and 2012 and leading the NL in hits in 2011 with 207, Starlin Castro fit the bill of being overrated.

    He entered the season with a 130/396 BB/K ratio for his career and a subpar .322 on-base percentage. He has never made fewer than 22 errors in a season as a below-average defensive shortstop.

    A big fall-off last season, in which he hit just .245/.284/.347 and had a minus-0.6 WAR, left his future as a cornerstone piece of the rebuilding Cubs in question.

    He appears to have righted the ship, hitting .274/.319/.430 with six doubles and five home runs in 135 at-bats here in the early going this season.

    However, he is still not the face of the franchise some have hyped him up to be.

    Look no further than the following anonymous player comparison, with stats from 2010-present:

      ABBA/OBP/SLG2B3BHRRBIRBBKWAR
    Player A2,584.282/.322/.40513628422452981384168.0
    Player B2,287.273/.313/.390124253120529611628113.5

    "Player A" is Castro, while "Player B" is Los Angeles Angels shortstop Erick Aybar who has never been called anything more than a solid starting shortstop in his career. These are pretty close numbers across the board for two guys who have received very different levels of attention.

    You can certainly make the argument that Castro is still just 24 years old and has room to improve, but given his free-swinging approach at the plate he may not be far from his ceiling already.

    With top prospect Javier Baez closing fast, Castro's future is at least a question mark, as a position change for one of them will have to occur if both are to stick around. He can still be a piece of the puzzle, but Castro is not the face of the Chicago Cubs for the long term.

SP Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Why He's Overrated

    Taken with the No. 42 pick in the 2005 draft, Clay Buchholz entered the league with a tremendous amount of hype, and it only grew after he twirled a no-hitter in just his second big league start back in 2007.

    He's dealt with some injuries throughout his career, but he's also turned in a pair of big seasons statistically that earned him All-Star appearances. However, much of that success has had to do with being backed by a fantastic offense and having some good luck throughout his career.

    Year GSIPW-LERAFIPRun Support
    201028173.217-72.333.614.68
    20111482.26-33.484.344.21
    201229189.111-84.564.654.97
    201316108.112-11.742.785.50

    As you can see, Buchholz has benefited from some terrific run support throughout his career, and a look beyond his ERA to his FIP shows that his surface numbers do not necessarily reflect the type of pitcher he has been.

    He's off to a rough start this season, going 2-3 with a 6.44 ERA (4.02 FIP) through his first seven starts, and he has really not been the same pitcher since being sidelined for nearly three months with shoulder and neck issues last year.

    The hype he entered the league with, coupled with the fact that he pitches in the huge market that is Boston, has led many to view Buchholz as an elite-level starter.

    While he has had some great seasons, a closer look at the numbers shows that outside of his impressive first half last year he has been a league-average starter at best and far from the ace-level arm many consider him to be.

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