Nolan Ryan and the 50 Most Overrated Players in MLB History: The Afterword

Shaun McPartlinCorrespondent IIIApril 9, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 05:  Baseball fans walk past a statue of Hall of Fame pitcher and Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan before the Texas Rangers take on the Toronto Blue Jays on Opening Day at Rangers Ballpark on April 6, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Coming up with a list of the 50 most overrated players in MLB history is quite a daunting task. Going into it, you have to realize that writing such an article puts a target on your forehead.

One thing I have learned, and those close to me put it best, sports in a way are like politics. Everyone picks their sides and will defend them to the end, regardless of how on-point their statements are. Tell someone that their favorite player is overrated, and they will be knocking at your door with a mob and a pitchfork.

That is what we love about baseball. The timeless debates over who was better in their prime. Creating fictional pitching duels and trying to determine how dominant someone would be during a different era.

After reading nearly all of the comments, I have come to one stark conclusion—my criteria for selecting these players has been lost in the shuffle. I broke it down into four categories that I felt that these players fell into:

A player's longevity in the majors helped to inflate their stats.

A player is remembered for their postseason exploits.

A player who was one-dimensional.

A player whose few noteworthy seasons overshadow the rest of their career.

Players fit into at least one of these categories, which in turn, stamped them as overrated.

Now back to my case.

One could argue that longevity is a something to be envied and not something to be ridiculed for. This is a valid argument. Players that have been blessed with the ability to play in the majors for 20-plus years are a rarity and should receive recognition for that.

On the other hand, it cannot be overlooked that a player who has such staying-power will have gaudy stats, making their numbers look exponentially better than other players in the league.

It is quite an accomplishment to be able to play into your mid-40s, but that longevity will also bolster the way your stats look on paper.

While coming up clutch during the postseason is something that few players are able to do, it also helps to propel a rather average player into a legendary role. Players that were run-of-the-mill are cast in a light that they are not worthy of.

As fans, we seem to cast off weakness and place more weight on successes. We are all guilty of this offense. It is quite easy to relive the glory days and forget about the hard times.

A player who is fantastic in one facet of the game is given a "Get Out of Jail Free Card" it seems when looked at as a total package.

A sure-handed fielder who can't hit the broad side of a barn is allowed a pass due to the fact that they make up for their blunders in the batters box with shinning moments on the diamond. A slugger who launches 40 home runs per season is allowed to be a slouch on the field.

In my opinion, being a five-tool player that is adequate in all aspects of the game is exponentially more impressive than being someone who can do one thing better than anyone else.

Why should someone who is limited in their abilities be perceived as better than someone who is an all-around competent player? They shouldn't. For that reason, one-dimensional players, even if they are one of the best at what they do, are overrated.

Some players have one season that defines them. One year that was beyond comparison. But sometimes, that one year outshines the rest of their career regardless of how average it might have been.

We like to remember these ball players for what they accomplished in one season and tend to disregard any of their shortcomings. During that year, they might have been the cream of the crop, but their body of work falls short of the mark.

In sports, we all feel a connection with a team or player and that fuels our passion. That is the beauty of it all.

This passion propels us to fight to the death for someone that we might have never met and probably never will, but we will stand by their side like they are family. These players connect us with millions of people who we do not even know, but this love is a common bond we all share.

I fully understand that is the exact reason that people read articles and post their opinions. I do the same.

So for those who read my article and looked at the whole package and engaged in the tradition of a baseball debate, I thank you. For those who felt the need to discredit my work and attack me personally, thank you as well for you have taught me an important lesson—taking negative comments personally is overrated.