Nolan Ryan and the 50 Most Overrated Players in MLB History
Being labeled as overrated is a stamp no player wants associated with his name. It is like a black list that we do not speak about.
Some players reach greatness, while others fall short of the hype.
Some players have mediocre careers, but are talked about for decades because of their postseason exploits.
Some players were so gifted in one facet of the game that their shortcomings are overlooked.
Whatever the reason is, all sports have these players—the overrated ones.
50. Jorge Posada
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Posada is an integral part of the Core Four and has left his mark as one the greatest backstops ever to be clad in pinstripes. But in reality, is he really that good?
Jorge has always been known as an offensive player first and a defensive player second. He has never been much of a threat to throw out base stealers and has only gotten worse as he gets older.
In 2006, he threw out 37 percent of potential runners, which was a career high. Over the course of his career, he has only had a 27 percent success rate in throwing players out.
Even in the batter's box, he doesn't deserve as much recognition as he receives. He has only knocked in 100 RBI once and eclipsed 30 HR just once as well.
For someone who is categorized as a fantastic hitting catcher, those numbers do not impress. In reality, his 15 HR and 60 RBI career average is middle of the road.
Posada receives more credit than he deserves.
49. David Ortiz
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Big Papi joined the Red Sox in 2003 and really started to mash the ball. He began his career with the Twins, but never caught much fire until he called Boston his home.
Does Ortiz really deserve as much credit as he gets, though? He hasn't played in the field on a regular basis at all throughout his career.
He has hit for power and knocked in his share of base runners, but with the accusation of him using steroids being released, how much was really his natural ability?
Any player who uses a substance to gain a competitive edge has to have their stats looked at with a grain of salt. If he comes clean, forgiveness could be granted, but until then, Big Papi is just another overrated player.
48. Alfonso Soriano
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Alfonso Soriano made a name for himself with the Yankees. He was the key piece that brought Alex Rodriguez to New York.
Soriano has always had a powerful bat, 46 HR in 2006 is more than enough to convince anyone of that, but he strikes out at a blistering rate. His 11 strikeouts in 30 at-bats during the ALCS in 2003 speaks volumes.
He signed a mega-deal in 2004, and lived up to his paycheck at first, but has since been a massive financial black hole.
His BA, RBI and stolen base total has continued to slide throughout the years, which only hurts his Cub squad that needs him to play like the stud he once was.
Soriano struck when the iron was hot, but has only gotten worse with age.
47. Cliff Lee
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Cliff Lee is overrated. His work in the postseason is what brings all of the hype and frankly, outside of last year's World Series, he was rather untouchable.
Before 2008, Lee was far from the pitcher he is today. In 2007, he went 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA. He did bounce back the next year to go 22-3 and take home the Cy Young Award.
Overall, his body of work is sometimes overhyped due to his knack for coming up big in the postseason. With the Rangers last season, he went 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA.
With the Mariners, he fared much better going 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA, but Safeco is the epitome of a pitcher's park. Yes, Arlington does boast one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the bigs, but this guy is supposed to be unhittable.
Lee is a great pitcher who knows how to get outs, but how much of the hype is attributed to his postseason feats?
46. Jason Varitek
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Varitek is a leader in the clubhouse and the captain of the Boston Red Sox and due to this, he is overrated.
Being captain of a team separates a player from the rest and in turn, makes their accomplishments look more impressive.
Varitek is neither a marvel with the bat nor the glove. He is a career .258 hitter and only throws out 24 percent of base stealers. Why is he looked at as such a fantastic backstop?
His leadership ability is second-to-none. I have to give him credit for that, but that is all. Statistically, Varitek is mediocre.
45. Jose Canseco
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Ah, a self-proclaimed juicer. How could he not be overrated?
Sure, he hit 40 HR three times in his career, but he did it by cheating. He could have been a star just on his natural ability, but that was not the case.
Any accomplishment that Canseco has to his name should be thrown out the window.
The only thing he should be remembered for is his defensive blunder when his head was used a springboard to send a ball over the fence.
44. Scott Brosius
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Scott Brosius was a sure-handed third baseman. If a ball was hit within 20 feet of him, Yankee fans knew that Brosius would be able to make the play.
He will always be remembered for his ability to charge balls and make off-balance throws and for his postseason heroics. Other than that, Brosius was average at best.
Brosius had a knack for hitting when the games mattered the most. That is what made him a fan favorite in New York.
During the four World Series he participated in, Brosius hit .314 with four HR. Outside of the postseason, he was a career .257 hitter.
When the game was on the line, Brosius could be called on. That made him a stud in Steinbrenner's eyes, but anywhere else, he was just your run-of-the-mill third baseman.
43. Brady Anderson
Brady Anderson had one good season. In 1996, he hit .297 with 50 HR.
Before that, he only surpassed 20 HR in 1992. That one season stood out like a sore thumb. He never came close to that number of round-trippers ever again.
Anderson is also remembered simply because he played second fiddle to the Iron Man himself, Cal Ripken Jr.
That one 50 HR season put Brady on the map, but something smells a bit fishy about the whole power surge. For that reason, Anderson is overrated.
42. Chuck Finley
Chuck Finley was known as a Yankee killer. A look at his stats will prove just that.
In 1996, he went 4-0 with a 0.57 ERA in 31.1 innings. In 1998, in 20 innings, he posted an ERA of 1.80. From 1999-2000, in 27.2 innings, Finley had an ERA of 1.31 against the Bronx Bombers.
For that reason, and that reason alone, Finley was known as a stellar pitcher. Having the Yankees' number thrust him into the spotlight, even if he didn't completely deserve it.
Finley had three seasons that were worth noting. From 1989-1991, he went 48-27 with a 2.92 ERA. During his Yankee-killing years, he only went 54-47, even though that is the time that we remember him for.
Finley was overrated due to the fact that he dominated the team that was covered the most in the media. In reality, he was nothing more than ordinary, unless he was pitching in the Bronx.
41. Phil Rizzuto
Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto was a fantastic fielding shortstop, but that is all. He was rather one-dimensional. A great glove, but a less than stellar bat.
Rizzuto only eclipsed .300 twice in his career and had a rather pedestrian OPS of .706.
Rizzuto benefited from playing on elite squads. Playing with the likes of DiMaggio, Mantle and Ford definitely helped his cause.
Rizzuto was a product of his environment, which played a nice role amongst the players that he was lucky enough to grace the diamond with. Outside of that, he was just the shortstop on a phenomenal team.
40. Lou Brock
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Lou Brock could steal bases at a blistering rate. His 118 in 1974 is almost incomprehensible. Outside of that, Brock was a mortal in all other aspects of the game.
Brock did eclipse 3,000 hits, but that was over the course of 19 seasons. Surely, longevity played a major role in that feat.
Outside of that, Brock was an average outfielder at best and lacked in the power department. For an outfielder, an average of nine home runs per season is extremely low.
Yes, Brock belongs in the Hall of Fame, but if it wasn't for his ability to steal bases, his shortcomings would not be so easily overlooked.
39. Jonathan Papelbon
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Jonathan Papelbon accumulates an abundance of saves due to the fact that he plays on an offensive juggernaut who puts him in a position to close the door.
Papelbon is an effective closer, but his comparisons to Mariano Rivera are not warranted.
Even though he saved 38 games in 2010, his ERA ballooned to 3.90 and his K:BB ratio was at all-time low at 2.71.
Papelbon has been an elite closer for only four years and has already begun to regress. That fact alone makes him overrated.
38. Vernon Wells
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Vernon Wells is one of the most overpaid players in baseball today. The Blue Jays realized this and sent him and his massive deal to the Angels this offseason.
For someone being paid $126 million, you would expect more than a .279 career BA. He has been rather up and down power-wise as well.
His 31 HR last season were the most he has hit since he launched 32 in 2006. During that three-year spell, Wells only averaged 17 HR.
Wells still has plenty of time to improve on his overrated status, as he is only 32 years old, but the clock is ticking.
37. Joe Torre
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Joe Torre's managerial accomplishments are vastly overhyped.
Torre will forever be remembered for his incredible run with the New York Yankees. It completely overshadows what he did as a player and as a manager with previous clubs.
His winning percentage with the Yankees was a remarkable .605. But other than his tenure with the Yanks, he was less than impressive as the manager of the Cardinals, Braves, Mets and Dodgers.
He won all of his six pennants and four World Series championships with the Yankees, so is it safe to say that he was a product of his environment?
Torre was also known for abusing his bullpen, which hurt his clubs later on during the season.
When bullpen abuse comes to mind, Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton rush to the tip of my tongue. Torre would use those two quite liberally.
Torre also hurt his image when he broke one of the unwritten rules of baseball in his tell-all book.
36. Kirk Gibson
e.g. 'Chicago Blackhawks', 'Chicago Cubs'
Kirk Gibson has been immortalized due to his World Series heroics for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988.
His one-legged bash has overshadowed his career, which had a brief run of dominance, but was rather middle-of-the-road otherwise.
His 1988 campaign was MVP-worthy, but other than that and a few years before then, Gibson was far from his heroic self.
Gibson put together a decent career, but his one swing in the 1988 World Series outshines his run-of-the-mill totals.
35. Johnny Sain
e.g. 'Chicago Blackhawks', 'Chicago Cubs'
From 1946-1950, out of 181 of Johnny Sain's starts, 115 of them were complete games. By today's standards, that is unbelievable. During that era, pitchers never came out of games, so this is not unheard of.
Take away those four years, and Sain was far from extraordinary. He only posted a winning record two more times during his 11 seasons.
He pitched well in the postseason for the Yankees, posting a 2.64 ERA in six games. That also helps to boost his overrated status.
He was not a strikeout pitcher either, but made his living eating up innings for the Boston Braves and then later for the Yankees. Sain was overrated due to the inflation of pitching feats and the teams he pitched for.
34. Bernie Williams
Bernie Williams was always an able hitter with a knack for coming up with clutch hits when it mattered the most. His 80 RBI and 51 extra-base hits both stand as postseason records.
When the Yankees were at their best, Bernie was an integral part of the equation, but over time, his bat couldn't overshadow the fact that his arm was a wet noodle in the outfield.
Runners knew they could take an extra base when Bernie was manning center.
Without his postseason exploits, Williams would have been forgotten after his tenure ended in New York.
33. Brooks Robinson
With 16 Gold Gloves, the "Vacuum Cleaner" was an amazing defensive third baseman. Brooks Robinson could field with fluidity and make plays one could only dream of making. But, just like Ozzie Smith, that was all Robinson could do.
A one-dimensional player is an overrated player. A player who can only hit falls into this category as well as one who can only field.
Robinson was a career .267 hitter. He hit .317 in 1964 which helped him earn the MVP Award that season.
If he was able to consistently hit at such a high level, he wouldn't warrant the overrated tag, but since this was an outlier, it is rightfully stamped on him.
Robinson was one of the best-fielding third basemen ever to man the hot corner, but that was all he could do.
32. Wade Boggs
Wade Boggs was a phenomenal hitter. During his time with Boston in the beginning of his career, he posted some remarkable numbers, including a four-year stretch of an average over .350. In 1987, he hit .363 with 24 HR, by far the most in his career.
As he entered into his 30s and joined the Yankee squad in 1993, Boggs was not the same hitter he was previously.
In fact, he became more known for his glove. If he could have continued his hitting dominance, and added some much-needed pop in his bat, he could have missed this list.
31. Edgar Martinez
Edgar Martinez could do one thing—hit. The fact that he had one job and one job only, makes him overrated.
When he first came up as a third baseman, Edgar could hit for average and for power.
In fact, in 1992 when he posted a .343 BA, he played 103 games in the field. If he continued to play on the field, he would already be in the Hall of Fame.
With only his hitting success to bank on, Martinez could be destined for falling short of being immortalized in Cooperstown.
The voters and myself have one thing in common—being just a DH makes you an overrated player.
30. Sammy Sosa
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Sammy Sosa is another star with a tarnished record. How can we credit him with his 66 HR in the epic home run chase of 1998 if he used PED's?
Before that season, Sosa was a 20/20 threat. In 1993, he hit 33 HR and swiped 36 bases, and in 1995, he slugged 36 HR and stole 34 bases.
If he continued on that path, he would not be mentioned on this list. Then his home run numbers ballooned and he no longer posed a threat on the base paths.
Before 1998, he only hit over .300 once. After 1998, he accomplished the feat in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
Sosa is remembered for all the wrong things. If his stats were tainted, he wouldn't be overrated.
29. Denny McLain
e.g. 'Chicago Blackhawks', 'Chicago Cubs'
It is difficult to call a 31-game winner overrated, but McLain was just that.
In 1968 and 1969, McLain went 31-6 and 24-9, respectively. He won the Cy Young and MVP during his incredible 1968 season.
Other than those two years, McLain was far from stellar. If you remove those two years from his stat sheet, he finishes with a career record of 76-76. Also his ERA inflates to over four.
McLain still is the last pitcher and probably will be, the final hurler to eclipse 30 wins in a season, but take that outlier away and McLain is easily overlooked.
28. Mike Mussina
Mike "Moose" Mussina finished his career off on a high note, winning 20 games before hanging up his spikes.
The 20-win mark is usually the barometer for an elite pitcher and since Mussina only reached it once, it is a bit hard to cement his place along the greats to man the rubber.
His 3.68 career ERA is respectable, but he finished with a four-plus ERA six times in his 18-year career. He also played on the Orioles during their peak and the Yankees, who are always an offensive leader. Could he have had similar numbers on weaker hitting clubs.
Going out with a bang is what Mussina did, but since the last taste "Moose" left with us was so good, we seem to hold him a bit higher.
27. Larry Walker
Larry Walker was a sweet-swinging left-hander who benefited from playing 82 of his games in the confines of Coors Field. During the peak of his career—from 1997-2002, Walker hit 111 HR at home and 84 on the road.
Coors Field is infamous for making a player's statistics look much more impressive due to the simple fact that it is such a hitters' ballpark.
Walker was a great baseball player, but he is overrated since his numbers look so good on paper because he called Colorado his home.
26. Ken Caminiti
The story of Ken Caminiti is a tragic one. After admitting to the use of steroids during his career, his life was cut short due to a heart attack.
In 1996, Caminiti belted 40 HR, knocked in 130 runs and hit .326. At first glance, this looks like a Triple Crown season, but it will forever be tainted due to steroids.
It is a shame that such a gifted athlete decided to cheat, and for that reason, Caminiti ends up on the overrated list.
25. Omar Vizquel
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Omar Vizquel is magnificent with the leather. He makes plays that others can only dream of making, but that is all he can do.
He is not much of a hitter or base stealer, something you would figure he would be due to his 5'9" frame.
If not for his defensive abilities, Vizquel would be just another face in the crowd. He is as much of a one-dimensional player as they come, and for that reason, he is just overrated.
24. Richie Ashburn
Richie Ashburn could hit for average and take walks. That is all he was really good at. He eclipsed 200 hits three times in his career and had a career OBP of .396.
He was average in center field—his career fielding percentage was .983, which is rather low—and made far too many errors.
Ashburn had a keen eye and could hit for average, which helped pave the way to the Hall of Fame, but if you look at the complete product, he was nothing spectacular.
23. Ralph Kiner
Ralph Kiner was a power hitter. He fit the mold to a "T." He eclipsed 50 HR twice in his career, but he never was one for hitting for average.
He also never carried his team to a winning season, which is the true mark of a great player.
Home runs will get you into the Hall of Fame, especially when you hit as many as Kiner did during the 40s and 50s, but if that is all you have to your name, you are just another overrated power bat.
22. Ozzie Smith
"The Wizard of Oz" was a fantastic defensive shortstop and will always be remembered for making plays that would leave your jaw on the floor.
Thirteen Gold Gloves shows just how amazing he was with the leather. In reality, that was all Ozzie Smith could do.
He was a mediocre hitter with only one season with an average over .300. His career mark was only .262. Take away the glove, and Smith was nothing out of the ordinary.
His backflips and elite fielding will always be remembered, but outside of that, this wizard lacked much magic.
21. Phil Niekro
Phil Niekro passed the 300-win mark, which was due in large part to his 24 years in the league.
Niekro put the knuckleball on the map, but that was the main reason he was able to pitch as long as he did. Utilizing the knuckleball limited the stress on his arm.
Niekro might have won 318 games, but he did lose 274. He also lost 20 games in a season just as many times as he won that many. He only lost fewer than 10 games in three seasons.
If it weren't for his ability to pitch until his arm fell off, would Niekro even be in the Hall of Fame?
20. Dave Stewart
Dave Stewart was dominant for a stretch of his career, but only for a short stint. Stewart won 20-plus games in four straight years from 1987-1990. Other than that, he didn't have much to show for himself.
Stewart had spurts of greatness, but was average throughout the rest of his career. After 1990, he didn't win more than 12 games, and his ERA was under four only once over the next five seasons.
Consistency makes you a great player. Glimpses of greatness makes you overrated.
19. Jason Giambi
Add another cheater to the list.
After he laid off the juice and moved to New York, where the media got a hold of him, Giambi was nothing more than just a power hitter. He never hit over .300 again and spent time on the DL.
He also was a below-average fielder with limited range.
He could have been great, but by taking shortcuts, he has shortened his career and is a shell of what he could have been.
18. Thurman Munson
Thurman Munson was the captain of the Yankees who had his life cut tragically short. He was a hard-nosed player who left it all on the diamond.
He played during the era of Carlton Fisk and Johnny Bench, who were better all-around players. He also wasn't the best Yankee catcher of all time, as Yogi Berra holds claim to that throne.
Sadly, Munson is glorified for how his life ended, which seems to inflate his play. He surely was a fantastic player who won the hearts of millions, but the hype outweighs the stats.
17. Bucky Dent
Bucky Dent was remembered for one thing and one thing only: his home run that took down the hated Red Sox. Erase that one event, and you have a mediocre player at best.
Dent had one season where he hit over .270 and never hit for double-digit home runs.
He made a name for himself in the postseason by hitting .417 in the World Series against the Dodgers in 1978. His success in this season only added to his lure.
Dent sent the Red Sox packing and for that reason he will live in the hearts of Yankee fans, but outside of that, he was just a blip on the radar.
16. Pee Wee Reese
Pee Wee Reese was known for his glove, but in reality, his glove was not that impressive.
In 1941, Reese had a fielding percentage of .946 and committed 45 errors. This was below the league average which was .951.
He was not much of a hitter, either, as his career BA of .269 speaks volumes to that.
Reese was a favorite amongst fans due to the fact that he played for the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. This fact alone helped to boost his notoriety.
Rizzuto and Reese were always compared to one another since they are similar in so many ways. Turns out they have one more thing in common—being overrated.
15. Joe Carter
Joe Carter is remembered solely for his play in the World Series. Take that away and he was nothing more than a power hitter who benefited from playing half of his games in the SkyDome.
Carter was nothing more than a .259 career hitter. Yes, he had plenty of pop and was instrumental in helping the Jays capture their World Series crowns, but that is what overshadows his rather average play in the regular season.
Players who make a name for themselves in the postseason have the luxury of having their regular season stats overlooked. Carter falls into that category.
14. Barry Zito
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Barry Zito was something else during his Cy Young season in 2002. He won 23 games in 35 starts and had an amazing 2.75 ERA.
It is a shame he will always be remembered for never living up to his massive contract with the San Francisco Giants.
After signing his $126 million deal, he has been a shell of his former self. His ERA has never been lower than four and he has only had two winning seasons and he earned them by the skin of his teeth.
He pitched so poorly last year he was held off the postseason roster.
Zito was once one of the best pitchers that Billy Beane drafted; now he is just an afterthought on the Giants staff.
13. Nomar Garciaparra
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From 1997-2000, Nomar Garciaparra held the title as the best shortstop in the majors. Hitting .357 and .372 in 1999 and 2000, respectively, will earn you that title. After the 2000 season, Garciaparra was never the same. The rest of his career was ravaged by injuries.
If he could have stayed healthy, who knows what he could have become, but even though he only had those four successful years, he is still looked at as one of the premier shortstops we have seen. For that reason, Nomar is overrated.
While some players reach unexpected heights due to their long careers and are overhyped, others fall short due to the lack of longevity, but are still are held to a high standard because of what they could have been.
This also plays into what labels a player as overrated. That is where Garciaparra falls. We can't fill in holes in a player's career just because of his potential.
12. Mike Piazza
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Sure Piazza was a great hitter—his career .308 BA will attest to that, but he was an abomination behind the dish.
In 1993 he caught 35 percent of base stealers, but that was only in his second year at the bigs. After that, it was all downhill.
Three years later, Piazza threw out a pathetic 18 percent of base stealers. You might as well hand them the extra base.
He then hovered around 20 percent for the next few years before hitting an all-time low in 2006—12 percent of base stealers.
Piazza could hit with the best of them, but he was extremely one-dimensional. He would have made a fine DH, but was an overrated catcher solely because of his ability in the batter's box.
11. Jack Clark
Jack Clark was your stereotypical player who stepped it up during his contract years. He is similar to your modern-day Adrian Beltre.
Clark started out with the Giants, before moving on to the Cardinals before signing a big deal with the Yankees.
The year before he signed with the Cardinals, he posted a .320 BA with the Giants in only 57 games. If his season was not cut short, he would have made some real noise.
Before cashing in with the Yankees, he had a fantastic season with the Cards hitting .286 with 35 HR and 106 RBI.
After he broke the bank with the Yanks though, it was all downhill. He hit .242 with the Yankees and never could recreate his glory days with the Cards.
This wouldn't be the last time the Yankees swung and missed on an overrated stud.
10. Mark McGwire
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McGwire falls into the same boat. A cheater is a cheater, and for that reason, he doesn't deserve to be in the same breath as those who didn't take the easy way out.
Yes, McGwire blasted 70 HR in 1998, but that was all he could do. He was not a reliable first baseman and didn't hit for average, as his career BA is .263.
McGwire and Sammy Sosa helped to rekindle the flame that was missing in baseball during their home run chase, but other than that, McGwire has only hurt the credibility of this cherished game.
9. Hideo Nomo
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Due to the fact that Nomo is the most noteworthy Japanese player ever to play in the major leagues, Nomo seems to flirt with immortality. Or could be that he is unique delivery was just that unforgettable?
In reality, Nomo had two stellar seasons with the Dodgers, but that is all. He came out of nowhere with his motion and hitters did not know what to expect.
For that reason, he went 13-6 in his rookie year and took home Rookie of the Year honors. After that, he was far from as effective until in 2002 he went 16-6, but that turned out to be just a flash in the pan.
Nomo is remembered for his uncharacteristic approach to pitching and not for his ability to get hitters out.
8. Darryl Strawberry
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If you are familiar with Moneyball, you know how the story goes. Strawberry and Billy Beane were both poised to be the future of the majors, but only Strawberry panned out.
Strawberry might have been something when he first came up, but as time went on, he never lived out to his full potential, either.
Strawberry was quite the power hitter with the Mets when he made his debut. He hit close to or over 30 home runs during his seven years with the team and stole bases as well. He even joined the 30/30 club in 1987.
After joining the Dodgers, it was all downhill. Not only for his career, but also his personal life. After 1991, Strawberry only played in 100 games once over the next eight seasons.
Darryl Strawberry could have been great. He had potential oozing out of his ears, but because of his poor choices, he is just another overrated bust.
7. Don Mattingly
"Donnie Baseball" was the premier first basemen for quite some time. From 1984-1989 he hit for average and hit for power. He was the cornerstone of a the Yankee team.
It was a shame for how good he was, that he could never lead his team into the postseason until his final season in 1995, but that season ended at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.
Mattingly was great for that stint, but after that he was just average. Chalk that up to injuries, but we still expected so much more from him.
After 1989, Mattingly didn't hit over .300 again until 1994, but his season was limited to 97 games. His power was gone and so was his ability to hit for average.
He still is one of the fan favorites in the Bronx, but people remember him more for what he did earlier in his career and seem to forget just how quickly he tapered off.
6. Mo Vaughn
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Mo Vaughn will always be remembered for that hunched over stance and his ability to hit the ball a long way.
In his prime, he managed to mash the ball and hit for average. During his time with the Red Sox and Angels, Vaughn averaged 30 HR and hit for an average hovering around .300.
For all of his hitting accomplishments, Vaughn was a miserable first baseman. His fielding percentage for his career was .988 and he committed 139 errors.
To put that in perspective, that means he averaged nearly nearly 12 errors per season as a first baseman.
Vaughn had just as many strengths as weaknesses, but people seem to only remember what he did well.
5. Pete Rose
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Pete Rose accumulated 4,256 hits in 24 seasons. For that, he is untouchable.
He did one thing well and that was hit the ball. He reached over 200 hits nine times over his career and his career average was .303.
If Rose didn't play for as long as he did, would he have accumulated as many hits as he did? He seemed to continue playing even when he was a mere shell of what he was during his prime.
He never came close to surpassing 200 hits again. Did he continue to play just to increase his hit total?
During his last five seasons in the bigs, where he accounted for over 660 hits, his average dipped well below .300. If we take those hits away, he still finishes well over 3,000, but 3,590 does not sound as impressive.
Don't get me wrong, Pete Rose has set a record that probably will never be touched, but longevity, and possibly stubbornness, had a lot to do with it.
4. Don Sutton
Don Sutton amassed a 324-256 record over his 23 seasons in the major leagues. Chalk that 300-plus victories to his longevity. If not for that, he wouldn't have ever eclipsed that mark.
Sutton only won 20-plus games once over his long career and wasn't at his best when his team needed him the most—in the World Series.
In his five World Series appearances, Sutton went 2-3 with a 5.26 ERA.
If Sutton didn't pitch into his 40s, there is no way he would have reached the heights that he did. Longevity played a major role in Sutton's success, not necessarily his all-around skill.
3. Carl Yastrzemski
As the last Triple Crown winner, Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski was one-of-a-kind. He accomplished a feat that will happen once in a lifetime. In his Triple Crown year, "Yaz" hit .326 with 44 HR and 121 RBI. He truly had a dream season.
If you remove his 1967 season that thrust him into immortality, Yastrzemski was really, well, average. He reached 40 HR two more times, but other than those two seasons, his homerun total hovered in the teens.
He hit over .300 three more times, but his average stayed near .270. His RBI total also was never quite as high, as he only eclipsed 100 RBI four more times.
For someone who captured the mythical Triple Crown, you would expect some more consistency.
Yastrzemski was a fan favorite and was able to accomplish something that is as difficult as the Triple Crown in horse racing. It seems as if 1967 is the only season we remember of a rather average 23-year career.
2. Roger Maris
Roger Maris has one season that we all remember—that epic 61 HR season.
Other than that, Maris was far from as talented as his counterpart in Mickey Mantle. Maris had power for a stretch of his career, but that was all. His career BA was a mere .260.
Injury woes could have played a part in this as he only played in two full seasons—one of course being his record-setting season.
Maris will always be remembered for his magical season in 1961, but remove that from his career, and there isn't much to write home about.
1. Nolan Ryan
Nolan Ryan was a work horse. He accumulated innings at a rate that would be considered borderline insane by today's measures.
From 1973-1974, Ryan pitched a grand total of 658 innings. Today, if a pitcher reaches that total in three years, he is an innings eater.
Ryan also was a flamethrower. His 5,714 strikeouts in a career is a record that probably will not be broken. He fanned 1,089 hitters across the span of three years from 1972-1974.
For all of the K's that Ryan amassed, his winning percentage was rather low at .526. He also only won more than 20 games twice in his career—21 in '73 and 22 in '74—and in the years he did that, he started in 41 and 42 games, respectively.
You would figure that such a dominant pitcher would have eclipsed the 20-win mark more than twice, especially in a 27-year career.
Ryan mowed down hitters at an electrifying rate. He was the ideal strikeout pitcher and did win over 300 games, but it is not too much to say that this ace was overrated.