As the new season is about to kick off, let me introduce to you this year's all overrated team. Most of these guys do not suck, but their perception/reputation far exceed what they had done on the field. Luckily for them, GMs overrate them just like we do and most of them are vastly overpaid. I decided to expose this inconsistency and bias.
John Lackey has never been a dominant pitcher in his career. He has never been a serious contender for the Cy Young Award. His initial claim to fame was winning game 7 of the World Series as a rookie back in 2002. Throughout the years, Lackey built the reputation as a workhorse, but he actually landed on the DL the past 2 years. His career ERA at 3.81 is above average, but not elite or even ace status. The ERA is also very close to what he posted the last 2 seasons: 3.75 and 3.83, so he is pretty much who he is. With a decreasing strikeout rate and injuries catching up, it was curious to see the Red Sox throw 82.5 million for 5 years this offseason to acquire Lackey.
Morneau came out of nowhere to win the AL MVP award in 2006 by hitting .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBI. He hasn't come close to duplicate this sort of production. In the power position of first base, his production is rather mediocre. It is clear that he is not in the same league as Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, or even Kevin Youkilis as far as hitting. His career OPS is an underwhelming .851. Aside from his MVP year, he has never hit more than 31 homers and batted only .274 last season. Can you say the next Derrek Lee?
Dustin Pedroia is a hard-working, likeable player who hustles. But production-wise, he is Placido Polanco with the fanfare. The AL MVP of 2008 did not deserve the award. His own teammate Kevin Youkilis does. He does a little bit of everything on the field and plays the best to his ability, but the fact is he has never hit more than 17 homers a year and batted less than .296 last season. With five tool players Chase Utley, Ian Kinsley, and Brandon Phillips, dangerous speedster Brian Roberts, premium slugger Aaron Hill, and the ever inconsistent Robinson Cano all manning the same position. Pedroia is overhyped.
Evan/Eva Longoria is a very marketable player; however, the talk of him being the best player discussion is completely unwarranted. Longoria is a great run producer, but doesn't even have an OPS above .900. Even though he did slug 33 homers, the overall slugging and power numbers are not as impressive. Alex Rodriguez slugged 30 while missing a quarter of the season. Like it or not, third base is becoming a power position. Even though Longoria is a power hitter, he is not elite power hitter the way he is being promoted.
Rollins, 2007 NL MVP, has never hit above .300 in a season. He is also incapable of drawing any walk. As a leadoff man, Rollins' fortes were his speed and his defense, both of which are slowly deteriorating. Last year his OBP was an atrocioius .296 for a leadoff man. Due to his poor plate discipline and free swinging way, Rollins' number across the board is very inconsistent from year to year, which makes him someone you can't count on.
Long thought to be the savior of the franchise, B.J. Upton has all the tools to be a superstar 5-tool talent. Originally an infielder who played shortstop (2004), third base (2006), and second base (2007), Upton was moved to center field midway through 2007 due to defensive struggles and has excelled defensively. From the beginning of the career, the popular school of thought was that Upton's fielding was keeping him from the majors and the spotlight; however, save for a hot start in 2007 and a season long power binge, Upton's offensive numbers have been very underwhelming so far in his career. Upton hit only .241 and had an OPS of .686. Aside from 2007's power binge, last year's 11 homer was a career best. Those who are expecting .300, 30-30 are going to be very disappointed.
The fact that Markakis is considered the franchise player of the Orioles demonstrates how bad the O's really are. Markakis is a nice player, but is not the middle of the lineup threat. He is a solid player who is really a base stealing threat, a batting champ contender, or a premier slugger. Last year his OPS was only .801, which is atrocious for a corner outfielder. In four full season in the majors, Markakis averages only 19 homers a season with .298 average and .838 OPS. Sure, he is consistent, but he is as mediocre as they come.
Bay is another horrible free agent signing by Omar Minaya. He is a horrible fielder and his power potential is vastly overrated. He reached his peak in 2005 when he capped a 31 homers 21 steals season with a .306 average and even belted 44 doubles. From then on it was all downhill. As injuries caught up to him, he becomes a liability on the basepath and in the field. Pitchers had him all figured out in 2007 and he was absolutely atrocious. Only a trade to the Red Sox (and the short outfield of Fenway Park) saved his career and enabled him to have a big payday.
Full disclosure: I love Mauer and agree that he is the best catcher in baseball last season, but we have to remember that before his power binge last year, Mauer was merely a singles hitter and an annual contender for the batting title. Granted, that was nothing to sneeze at especially coming from a catcher, but all the talks about 8 years 200 million seems rather premature. If you take away the power numbers from last season, which could very much be a fluke, Mauer quickly descends from the best player in the game to ONE of the best catchers in the game.