MLB: Most Overrated Players of All Time

John LewisSenior Writer IJuly 3, 2008

Trying to write about the most overrated baseball players of all time is tough. The sport has been around since before the 1880s. As I did my homework, several names that were mentioned by so-called "experts" shocked me.

One name in particular I've seen is Pete Rose! I understand that his ridiculous amount of hits comes from playing for such a long time, but there's no way he can be called overrated.

He made the All-Star team at four different positions, has the most hits ever, and even has over 3,300 singles. He played hard, never gave up on any play, and even took out Ray Fosse in the All-Star game. You never see players play that hard in the All-Star game.

Anyway, my list consists of players that some may consider great. But, as I learned from the "is Jeter overrated" topic, you have to be considered a great player to be called overrated.

Here we go.


Nolan Ryan

The fireballer had 324 wins, 5,714 strikeouts, and seven no-hitters. That's the good news. Now for the hard facts. Ryan has the lowest winning percentage of any 300-game winner. He only won 20 games twice, and this was at a time before set-up men. It was also a time when pitchers started more than 40 games in a season.

Look at it this way: Ryan's win percentage was only slightly higher than the other pitchers he played with, .526 compared with .499. He never won a Cy Young award and only finished in the top three in voting three times in his 27 years. He also has the highest walks per nine innings of all 300-game winners, at 4.67.


Don Drysdale

While his earned run average was 2.95, he only had two years where he won more than 20 games. His win percentage was .526 and he played for a team, the Dodgers, that had the best team win-percentage in the National League during his tenure.

He also only had two full seasons where he lost fewer than 10 games, not exactly stats from a Hall of Famer that played on a great team his entire career.

Okay, I've been reading a lot of Jayson Stark, but he does make some good points.


Phil Rizzuto

Nicknamed Scooter, he has the most baseball quotes of anyone other than Yogi Berra, but he may just be the most overrated player in the Hall of Fame. He played 13 seasons with the New York Yankees, and, while his career was interrupted by World War II, and only managed a career batting average of .273.

While he was spectacular with the glove, he was rarely a great hitter. Yet he finished second in MVP voting in 1949 with a .275 batting average, .352 on-base percentage, and a .358 slugging percentage. And he won the award the following year with a respectable .324 batting average, .418 on-base percentage, and .439 slugging percentage.


Denny McLain

We all know about his legal troubles: McLain was suspended for consorting with gamblers, and he was convicted of racketeering, loan-sharking, and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. But he also only had two dominant seasons. 

His earned run average was slightly better than the league average during his career. He also only had five good seasons, even though his team, the Detroit Tigers, won 90 or more games three times and won the World Series in 1968. In 1970, he was suspended by Major League Baseball, and when he came back the next season, he posted a 10-22 record.


Reggie Jackson

This one may get some question marks, but Mr. October was only a one-dimensional player. While his one dimension was pretty good, he played the outfield and there are dozens of better outfielders.

He was only a .262 career hitter and only managed a .490 slugging percentage, and this is a guy that was supposed to crush the baseball. He only scored over 100 runs once in 21 seasons, and he could only muster an average of 134 games played a year.

Mr. October only finished in the top three in MVP voting twice and only struck out less than 100 times twice. Okay, so he delivered once in the postseason, but he wasn't a good teammate and was paid a lot of money.         

Who's on your list?