2012 MLB Free Agents: 5 Underrated and 5 Overrated Free Agents on the Market

Alec Dopp@alecdoppCorrespondent IJune 23, 2011

2012 MLB Free Agents: 5 Underrated and 5 Overrated Free Agents on the Market

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    PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 12: Starting pitcher Roy Oswalt #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on June 12, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    The 2011 MLB regular season is now in full focus, but it's never too late to speculate on what's to come in the offseason.

    The 2012 free-agent class is loaded with Hall of Fame worthy talent, and we can expect those players to sign some of the biggest contracts in league history.

    With a historic offseason ahead of us, let's take a look at some of the most overrated and underrated free agents available on the market.


    Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter: @doppler9000.

Overrated: Roy Oswalt

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    PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 12: Starting pitcher Roy Oswalt #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on June 12, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Since his days in Houston, Oswalt has been labeled as a very consistent starter.  I, for one, am in no way ready to dispute that statement.

    However, what should concern teams most is his slipping ERA (3.38 in 2011) and the tremendous decline in his strikeout-to-walk ratio.  For his career, Oswalt carries a 3.52 SO/BB ratio.  This season, Oswalt boasts just a 2.28 SO/BB ratio.

    Not only that, but Oswalt has seen his velocity decline considerably, and you can't expect him to be as effective of a starter as he was back in the good ol' days.

    The hype surrounding Oswalt is understandable, but is he really worth a four-to-five year contract for your team?  I didn't think so. 

Underrated: Jason Kubel

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 11: Jason Kubel #16 of the Minnesota Twins hits a three-run home run against the Detroit Tigers during in the seventh inning of their game on May 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tigers defeated the Twins 9-7. (Pho
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Before being placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 2nd, Kubel was absolutely lighting up opposing pitching to the tune of five HR, 30 RBI, a career-high .310 BA and .820 OPS.

    In a lineup void of two superstar players in Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, that's quite the accomplishment.

    If Kubel can keep his pace up once he returns from the disabled list, he'll have a fat contract waiting for him this offseason from one desperate American League team.

Overrated: Aramis Ramirez

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - MAY 18:  Aramis Ramirez #16 of the Chicago Cubs looks on during a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on May 18, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    At 32, Ramirez already has his best days behind him, and it doesn't help his stock that the Cubs are a dreadful mess on and off the diamond.

    Granted, Ramirez has shown to be a serious threat in the batter's box over the years—he's amassed over 100 RBI in six different seasons—but isn't the so-called "complete package" a ballclub would want out of an aging third baseman by any means.

    He has been advertised as a perennial All-Star and superstar talent for many years, but teams should be hesitant before signing him to a massive contract this offseason.

Underrated: C.J. Wilson

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    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16:  C.J. Wilson #36 of the Texas Rangers in action against the New York Yankees during their game on June 16, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Until Ron Washington and the Rangers converted him from reliever to starter after the 2009 season, Wilson wasn't known for his consistency and dominating stuff on the mound.

    In two seasons as a starter in Texas, Wilson carries a 3.19 ERA and 263 SO in 263 innings pitched.

    Wilson won't likely draw a huge contract this offseason, but whoever is fortunate enough to land him should be thrilled to know they'll be getting one of the best value free agents in MLB history.

Overrated: Ryan Dempster

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    CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 08:  Ryan Dempster #46 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 8, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    I'm not too sure where the hype comes from, but somehow Dempster has a reputation for being a reliable major league starter.

    Over the course of his 14-year career, Dempster has accumulated a 107-108 record, 4.42 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP.  Still, many teams will be in the running for his services this offseason if the Cubs choose to not exercise Dempster's 2012 option.

Underrated: Aaron Hill

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    TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 7: Aaron Hill #2 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws to first during MLB action between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Oakland Athletics at the Rogers Centre April 7, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
    Abelimages/Getty Images

    The Blue Jays do have a 2012 option on Hill, but it would be very interesting if they chose not to exercise that option at the end of this season.

    In 2009, Hill had his breakout season where he amassed 108 RBI, 36 HR and a .286 BA—enough to place him 12th in the AL MVP voting.

    Though Hill saw his production slide a bit in 2010, he's rebounded back to respectability and will be one of the most overlooked free agents on the market this offseason.  He would be an excellent upgrade for any team needing of infield talent.

Overrated: Hideki Matsui

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    Matsui has always been a reliable bat, but age has reared its ugly head in 2011.

    Batting just .221 with a .296 OBP, Matsui is arguably baseball's most overrated player with the least credentials to back up the hype.

    Either way, teams aren't going to get much value out of the 37-year-old Matsui.

Underrated: Josh Willingham

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    One of the most underrated outfielders in the game today from a production standpoint, teams will be in hot pursuit of Willingham's services once free agency rolls around.

    Willingham has hit over 21 home runs and 74 RBI in two separate seasons during his seven-year career, but has the potential to shatter those numbers this season—boasting 10 HR and 42 RBI already.

    With the A's in last place in the AL West, Willingham could become a trade target for teams such as the Phillies.

    Nevertheless, Willingham will hold many teams' interest this offseason.

Overrated: Grady Sizemore

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    Injury has been Sizemore's Achilles' heel for the better part of two seasons, and teams will take that into consideration prior to signing him to a monster contract this offseason.

    Granted, he's an absolute force defensively and is one of the best in the business.  But will that be enough for teams to pursue his much-too-overhyped resume?

    If the Indians choose not to pick up his 2012 option, he'll find a new home fairly quick.  But how much can you invest in a guy who's accumulated just 77 RBI and a .230 BA over the past two seasons?

Underrated: Brandon Phillips

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    Phillips is (outside of Robinson Cano) arguably baseball's most complete second baseman.  But where is the recognition?

    Since being traded to Cincinnati back in 2006, Phillips has averaged 81 RBI, 21 HR, .275 BA and 24 SB each season, and has been a catalyst in Dusty Baker's lineup.

    Once free agency rolls around, don't be surprised to hear that a plethora of teams are on the cusp of signing Phillips to a hefty contract.

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