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MLB Player Poll: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter Most Overrated Players in Baseball?

Lewie PollisSenior Analyst IIIJune 6, 2011

MLB Player Poll: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter Most Overrated Players in Baseball?

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    ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 07:  Derek Jeter #2 and Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees talk between innings at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Last week, Sports Illustrated sparked a media firestorm with the results of a poll in which 185 MLB players made their picks for the most overrated players in baseball.

    The results were noteworthy for many reasons. Seven of the 16 top vote-getters play their home games in New York, and six others are from the AL East. In addition, more than half of them either signed new free-agent contracts last winter or will hit the market at the end of the 2011 season.

    But the most striking thing about the results was that the players did a really bad job—only a few of the not-so-sweet sixteen could really be described as overrated.

    In this slideshow are each of the top vote-getters, as well as an examination of whether or not they really are overrated.

    Here's hoping we can set the record straight!

No. 1: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 5:  Third baseman Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees signals during the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 5, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  The Yankees won 5-3.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    It's pretty hard to overrate Rodriguez' career. He's a no-questions-asked, first-time, anyone-who-doesn't-vote-for-him-should-be-stripped-of-his-ballot Hall of Famer (this coming from a Yankee hater).

    The only case you could make for A-Rod being overrated is if most people still think he's a perennial MVP candidate—which, as far as I know, they don't.

    It's also worth noting that A-Rod's 2.4 WAR put him as the best third baseman in baseball this year.

No. 2: Joba Chamberlain, Yankees

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13:  Joba Chamberlain #62 of the New York Yankees in action against the Boston Red Sox during their game on May 13, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    By whom is Chamberlain overrated? He's spent the last two years as a reliever, and his 2010 ERA was 142 points higher than his FIP; if anything, I'd say that, given his bad luck last year, he's underappreciated.

    If we're retroactively determining who was overrated three years ago, sure. But now? I have no idea.

No. 3: Derek Jeter, Yankees

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 03:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees looks on prior to the start of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 3, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Of the 16 players on SI's list, Jeter is the only one about whom I wholeheartedly agree.

    He's constantly lauded for his defense when his is actually one of the worst gloves in MLB history. That he has more All-Star votes than Asdrubal Cabrera is absolutely ludicrous.

No. 4: Jayson Werth, Nationals

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    PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 05:  Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals is hit by a pitch from the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on June 5, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Peterse
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    With 15.4 WAR from 2008-10, Werth was the third-best outfielder in baseball, behind only Matt Holliday and Carl Crawford.

    The $126 million Washington gave him this winter was a significant overpay, but is there anyone outside the Nationals' front office who thinks unreasonably highly of him?

No. 5: Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 22: Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates the win over the Chicago Cubs on May 22, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  Before this series, the two teams haven't played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Since 2006, Papelbon leads all qualified relievers in WAR (12.5) and WPA (18.28), and he's second in saves with 199.

    Given all the talk we've heard about how overpaid he is and the Red Sox' ability to replace him, it's hard to see how a guy with those numbers could be overrated.

No. 6: Nick Swisher, Yankees

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 05:  Nick Swisher #33 of the New York Yankees celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 5, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  The Yankees won 5-3.  (Photo
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    I can see the case for Swisher being overrated—the spotlight's on him now that he's in New York even though he hasn't played much better than he did with Oakland. And a lot of people—myself included—still subconsciously remember the praise he received in Moneyball every time they hear his name.

    Still, there are a lot more than five people I'd put ahead of Swisher on my "overrated" list.

No. 7: B.J. Upton, Rays

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    TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 18: B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays argues a strike call with Tim Welke during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre May 18, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
    Abelimages/Getty Images

    Between Upton, Chamberlain and Swisher, this is starting to look more like a list of guys who didn't pan out as well as people expected than of "overrated" players.

    You could have said he was overrated after he hit seven home runs in the 2008 playoffs, but now? He's constantly seen as a disappointment despite having averaged almost four WAR a year from 2007-10. If anything, I'd call him underrated.

No. 8: David Ortiz, Red Sox

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 31:  David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox heads around the bases after his three run homer in the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox on May 31, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    How many articles have we read over the last three years about how Ortiz is finished? Answer: more than I can count.

    And how many home runs is he on pace to hit this season? Answer: 36, which would be his highest total since 2006. 

    Overrated? I think not.

No. 9: A.J. Burnett, Yankees

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    NEW YORK - MAY 21:  A.J. Burnett #34 of the New York Yankees salutes the crowd after being taken out of the game in the seventh inning against the New York Mets on May 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    How much flack did Burnett get last year? He had a 5.26 ERA, and Joe Girardi was afraid to use him in the playoffs.

    Kind words about Burnett are few and far between. He's overpaid, sure, but not overrated.

No. 10: Manny Ramirez, Rays

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 03:  Designated hitter Manny Ramirez #24 of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on April 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Ramirez was one of the greatest hitters of our generation, if not of all time. He hit 555 home runs (14th in MLB history) with a .996 OPS (ninth). He was a 12-time All-Star and a World Series MVP.

    A man with that on his résumé and who posted an .870 OPS in 2010 had to settle for a $2 million deal this winter. And he's overrated?

No. 11: Carlos Beltran, Mets

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    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 03: Carlos Beltran #15 of the New York Mets walks to the dugout after striking out against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on June 3, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Gett
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    If there is a Nixon-esque "silent majority" that still thinks Beltran is a perennial MVP candidate, then yes, he's overrated. It seems to me, though, that most of the baseball world sees him as a faded star whose bright career was derailed too quickly by injuries.

    By the way, Beltran is healthy and has an .883 OPS this year.

No. 12: Alfonso Soriano, Cubs

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 20:  Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs breaks his bat in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Cubs
    Elsa/Getty Images

    If anyone reading this thinks very highly of Soriano, let me know. Write a comment or send me a message. Because I'm pretty sure that no one has thought of him as a particularly good player since 2008.

    I think the voters are confusing "overrated" with "overpaid" and "not as good as he used to be."

No. 13: Evan Longoria, Rays

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 14:  Infielder Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays fouls off a pitch against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on May 14, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Evan Longoria. The man whose 16.7 WAR since 2009 rank second only to Albert Pujols. The guy who'll likely hit 100 homers and 25 WAR before his 26th birthday. Is overrated?

    For the rest of the players on this list, I can at least understand the thinking behind their votes, even if I disagree. But I can't for the life of me figure out how anyone would think Longoria hasn't been as good as advertised.

No. 14: J.D. Drew, Red Sox

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    BOSTON, MA - JUNE 04:  J.D. Drew #7 of the Boston Red Sox watches his game winning hit in the bottom of the 14th inning to score teammate Carl Crawford on June 4, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Oakland Athlet
    Elsa/Getty Images

    From 2008-10, Drew posted 11.6 WAR—good for fifth among American League outfielders. And he did it while constantly under fire from the media and fans for not living up to his large contract. 

    Once again, the players are confusing "overpaid" and "older" with "overrated."

No. 15: David Wright, Mets

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    DENVER, CO - MAY 09:  Third baseman David Wright #5 of the New York Mets singles on a soft fly to rightfield off of pitcher Matt Belisle #34 of the Colorado Rockies in the seventh inning at Coors Field on May 9, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug P
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Nothing wrong with this pick. Wright's offense has dropped off sharply since 2008, and a similar decline in defense undoes a lot of the good he does with his bat. Yet, he's still seen in most circles as an elite player.

    Kudos for the players for actually getting one right. Now be sure not to screw it up with your last pick. Can you imagine if they voted for someone like Albert Pujols?

No. 16: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 5: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates his walk-off home run against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Cubs 3-2 in 10 innings.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwan
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Here are some numbers you should know about Pujols: 420 homers, 84.4 WAR, 31 years old. In 2011—by far the worst season of his career—he has a 128 wRC+.

    He could be worshipped as a deity, and he still wouldn't be overrated.

    For more by Lewie, visit WahooBlues.com.

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