MLB Player Poll: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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