Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan and 40 Most Overrated Baseball Players of All Time
Get ready to fire off your comments telling me I don't know sports and questioning how I could pick a specific baseball player or players as overrated considering their contributions to the game. I'll certainly be giving you plenty of opportunities during this slideshow.
There are a good number of Hall of Famers represented here, so how can they can be considered overrated?
The thing that needs to be kept in mind is that in order to be considered an "overrated" player, it means you have to be pretty darn good in the first place.
So by ranking them in this list, I am not in any way saying that they weren't great.
Rather, I am saying that just maybe they are remembered as being a greater player than what their stats actually represent.
There are a number of reasons that a player can be remembered and celebrated with such a degree of hype to lead to him being overrated.
Maybe it's the overexposure of media coverage and advertising endorsements that leads us to believe he is a better player than another player who might just not be as marketable or personable.
Perhaps he had a singular great season or historical moment that skews our memory of that player's career as a whole.
Perhaps it's just the longevity of his career that afforded him the opportunities to amass some impressive statistics indicating he was an all-time great, yet he never really dominated during any single season throughout his career.
For the most part, I avoided current players. While it's not that I think there aren't over-hyped and overrated players right now, it's hard to judge how their careers will ultimately be remembered while not being able to account for the unknown futures they may hold.
If I happen to mention your favorite player or a hometown hero, I mean no disrespect. Try to view this strictly as an entertainment piece and an open forum to discuss why we view these players as overrated, justly or unjustly.
These are not ranked in order from 40 down to 1. They are listed in alphabetical order by first name. This is not to say I did not want to put in the time of ranking them; it's more a realization that there is no possible order I could create that would appease even a small portion of the people that will read this list.
If you disagree with me about a particular player (or more), that's fine. Please comment below and explain why you feel a certain player is not overrated.
I'm happy to respond to any comments that are treated respectfully.
Over-Hyped vs. Overrated
Before beginning my list, I wanted to start by touching on a few players who would certainly have been considered major omissions had I not explained why they were not included in my 40.
Many of the current players that would receive votes as overrated may simply be a product of being over-hyped at this point of their careers.
The added exposure gives off the impression that people falsely consider the player to be greater than he really is. This may be true, but it's when you start to look at how history will view their accomplishments that you venture into the "overrated" category.
These are just a few examples; plenty more players can be argued as over-hyped, but not overrated.
"The Captain" would have been the most controversial omission.
Jeter is typically included in these lists because he is not, and never really has been, an elite offensive or defensive player.
He does have over 3,000 hits and is considered to be one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game—if not the greatest.
There is merit to the argument that had he played for team other than the Yankees, he would be considered a very good player, but not necessarily one of the greatest of all time.
I can see where that would garner "overrated" talk outside of New York, but Jeter's real value and marketability comes from his clean image and the intangibles he brings to the Yankees clubhouse and roster.
His exposure definitely comes from playing in New York and being one of the key members of five World Series championship teams.
When his career is over, though, I would wager a bet that he will be rightfully remembered as one of the "greatest Yankees" of all time, and not quite held in the same regard as the greatest hitters or defenders in the game.
He's the product of over-hype thanks to his image as a clean player and a winner, but I don't believe Jeter can be considered overrated at this point (feel free to disagree).
David Ortiz is in a similar situation as Jeter.
I believe he is over-hyped because of the market he plays in and the role he played on a pair of World Series-winning teams in Boston after their historic drought.
Ortiz is still one of the best hitters in the game, but he is not held in the same regard as the best hitters in the history of the game.
Sure, there is a population of sports fans that mistake him as such, but knowledgeable baseball fans realize that while Ortiz will have legendary status in Boston, he will be properly remembered as an above-average hitter during his generation of baseball players, but not one of the true greats of the game.
Joe Carter tends to find his name included on overrated lists, and in my opinion, unjustly so.
Carter is remembered for a famous World Series home run. It was one of the greatest World Series moments in the history of the game.
Other than that, he was a good power hitter for his time, but not one of the game's all-time greats.
The reason I don't believe he belongs on the overrated lists is because I think most baseball fans realize he is primarily remembered for a singular moment, and they don't confuse that with his overall contributions being Hall of Fame worthy.
I could be wrong on this one, but I don't think many people confuse his 50 home run season as meaning he is one of the all-time great sluggers in the game.
I believe most baseball fans recognize that season as one great season in an overall mediocre career.
Why not start things right off with one of the most controversial players in recent baseball history?
If you look solely at the stats, Alex Rodriguez is a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee and without question one of the greatest players in baseball history.
I'm really not arguing with that logic or trying to take anything away from his career to this point.
A glance at A-Rod's regular season stats, specifically how he performs in the clutch, shows he has been fairly consistent throughout his career.
He loses points for "choking" in high pressure situations in the postseason, though, and having overall pedestrian statistics in the postseason (.277 average with 13 homers in 299 total plate appearances).
His regular-season accomplishments are also tainted by his admitted steroid use while playing for the Texas Rangers, when he hit 52, 57 and 47 home runs in this three seasons with the team.
In the case of A-Rod, the record-breaking contracts, controversial quotes regarding opposing players, questionable on-field antics and off-field controversies have had him talked about more so than his play on the field.
A case could be made that Alfonso Soriano belongs on my "over-hyped" list and not here on the overrated portion.
He finds himself here because he played the majority of his career with the impression that he was one of the most feared sluggers in the game, a benefit he received for playing the early portion of his career and succeeding under the media spotlight in New York.
He has had three truly great seasons—2002, 2005 and 2006—but other than that has just been a good player.
He has only cleared 100 RBI in a season twice in his career and has never been considered a good defender at either second base or in the outfield.
His salary is a contributing factor in his overrated status, as well. The $18-million annual average makes him one of the top-paid players in the league, despite not being an overall contributor to a winning team since his 2003 season with the Yankees (also his best postseason performance—he was a non-factor in the Cubs playoff runs in 2007 and 2008).
There was no questioning Bo Jackson's athletic ability.
He was a great hitter and one of the most athletic defensive outfielders I can remember in my baseball-watching life.
He's inaccurately remembered as a great baseball player, though, because of his popularity as a two-sport star.
Sure, were it not for injuries, or if he had focused strictly on baseball, he could have been one of the game's more feared power hitters, but the reality is that he hit 107 home runs between 1987 and 1990, was only a .250 hitter for his career and hit only an additional 34 home runs outside that four-year run.
His best season was 1989, when he batted .256, hit 32 homers and drove in 105 runs. He also led the league in strikeouts that season with 172.
It was the only season in which he made an All-Star team and received enough MVP votes to factor into the voting (he finished 10th).
Bruce Sutter was a very good closer, but not one of the greatest pitchers in the game.
His 300 career saves rank 22nd all-time, and he pitched in just 12 seasons before retiring.
It took the baseball writers 13 years before they finally elected Sutter to the Hall of Fame in 2006.
Perhaps I am being unfair to Sutter, or relievers in general, but I'm also not alone in that argument. The closer has to be one of the most overrated positions in all baseball.
Cal Ripken Jr.
Before you go crazy with "how could you pick Cal Ripken, he's the greatest" comments, let me explain really quickly that I hated putting him here.
Ripken was one of my top three favorite players growing up, and watching him break the streak record is one of my greatest baseball memories.
That said, the streak is what makes him so overrated.
Ripken was a great baseball player, no doubt a Hall of Fame-worthy inductee.
He was the 1982 Rookie of the Year, two-time MVP winner, 19-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove award winner.
By my count, though, Ripken was only an above-average hitter in eight of his 21 seasons in the league.
A lot of his All-Star selections were a direct result of his "Iron Man" legacy as he approached and finally broke the record for consecutive games played.
Many of his statistics are a result of the longevity of his career. He finished with 3,184 hits but only topped 200 hits in a season twice.
He hit 431 career home runs but never more than 34 (which he accomplished in 1991, his greatest season).
I'm not saying Ripken wasn't a great player or even a Hall of Fame player; I'm just saying he's not as great as a lot of people choose to remember him.
I know I said I wasn't going to include too many active players on this list, but Carl Crawford is one of the few that I had to make an exception for.
His seven-year, $142-million, undeserved contract necessitated his inclusion.
In his nine years with the Tampa Bay Rays prior to signing with Boston, he had never eclipsed 20 home runs, 40 doubles or 60 walks in a season.
He accounted for a career WAR of 27.4.
He's fast and plays good defense. Typically, he hits for a good average, although he was still below a .300 career hitter even before his bad 2011 season.
Partially thanks to the media exposure his playing in the AL East has created for him, and partially because of his status as one of the most sought-after free agents in recent history, he is one of the rare active players to earn a spot on the all-time overrated lists.
Thankfully for Crawford, he has plenty of time left in his career to shake the reputation.
I hope he does.
Okay, Boston fans. Calm down. Relax. Breathe.
There's no arguing with the fact that Yaz's 1967 season was one of the best seasons in history. You can't take a Triple Crown away from a guy.
Also, his statistics are certainly Hall-worthy. He has 3,419 hits and 452 career homers.
He was an 18-time All-Star, although when you actually look at his career statistics, he really only had eight great seasons; the remaining 15 years of his career were mediocre at best.
He won three batting titles (one of which was just a .301 average), yet his career batting average was just .285.
He hit over 40 homers just three times and averaged just 22 homers a season for his career.
Don't get me wrong—eight seasons as an elite player means you are obviously very very good.
I am just saying his stats are padded by 15 additional seasons, and perhaps when we speak of him we are quick to jump to his Triple Crown and career totals. Perhaps it would be better to look at him in the context of being one of the most dominant players of a decade or two, not of all time.
Cy Young is falsely considered the greatest pitcher of all time by many baseball fans.
This is partially because the award for the best pitcher annually is named after him. It is also partially because he holds the record for the most career wins by any pitcher with 511.
He also has a very impressive 2.63 career ERA.
What people seem to fail to remember, though, is that he also holds the records for most career losses with 316, most earned runs allowed with 2,147 and most hits allowed with 7,092.
He pitched during an era where pitchers routinely made over 40 starts a season and pitched over 300 innings. He also pitched in an era when players did not hit home runs, aiding his low ERA.
He won a LOT of games and had great durability and longevity in his career, but he was not the best pitcher the game has ever seen.
Wondering why I included Darin Erstad on a list with all these other great players?
So am I, to a certain degree.
The reason Erstad qualifies for this list is the incessant talk about the "intangibles" he brings to a club seemingly every year he was in the league.
Erstad had one good season! It was a monster season, true, but it was still just one good season in a 14-year career.
In 2000, he batted .355 with 240 hits, 25 homers and 100 RBI.
I don't think he'll be remembered as an all-time great by anyone outside of Anaheim, and probably not even by many of them, but I still felt he qualified as slightly more than just an over-hyped honorable mention.
Darryl Strawberry is kind of an interesting choice for this list.
His potential was certainly not overrated. Were it not for a recurring losing battle with a drug addiction, Strawberry might be a Hall of Fame-worthy player today, or already inducted.
I include Strawberry because all of his success came between 1983-1991. After 1991, teams kept expecting him to live up to his potential, and he just never did.
Every season, though, the expectations were there that Strawberry would turn it back on and pick up where he had left off in 1991.
It was never meant to be, and his earlier successes led to his overrated reputation in the later years of his career.
Denny McLain gets a lot of credit for being the last 30-game winner in Major League history.
That is his only claim to fame, though.
He won both the Cy Young award and MVP for that one great season, quite the accomplishment, as has been widely discussed this year with Justin Verlander's dominant season that may be worthy of both awards.
He followed up his historic 1968 season with another Cy Young year in 1969, but then fell back into mediocrity and obscurity.
Prior to his 1968-1969 seasons, he had a 3.57 ERA; it was 2.37 during that two-year span, and then went up to 4.78 for the rest of his career through 1972.
Perhaps McLain only receives the recognition to this day because no one has matched his accomplishment in the 43 seasons since his 1968 season, but his overall track record is not worthy of the overall acclaim he seems to receive.
Don Drysdale was a very good pitcher, but his statistics and Hall of Fame resume are padded largely by his 1962 season, in which he went 25-9.
If you take that one season away, his career record is just 184-157.
His 2.95 career ERA is very impressive, but less so when you consider that he pitched in an era in which pitchers dominated hitters.
Don Sutton has received a lot of credit for being one of baseball's all-time great pitchers.
His statistics are certainly deserving of Hall of Fame induction, and he was inducted in 1998, but they are also the result of his longevity in the game and participation on good teams, rather than from any prolonged period of dominance.
Sutton was a truly great pitcher from 1972-1977 and then again in 1980, but aside from that he was rather average.
That six-year span from 1972-1977 includes the only seasons Sutton was ever named to an All-Star team or received Cy Young votes.
That's six years out of 23.
Was Ernie Banks one of the best players in baseball history? Absolutely.
Was he as great as many people around baseball rank him? Probably not.
Banks' 1955-1960 seasons established him as one of the game's greats, and he truly was during that time frame.
After that six-year span, he was still an All-Star, but he was far from one of the most dominant players as he played out the remainder of his career.
He never topped 40 homers in a season after 1960 at age 29. In fact, he only topped 30 homers twice after 1960.
He didn't post a batting average over .300 after the 1959 season.
George Brett is considered one of the best hitters in baseball history.
His 3,154 hits certainly are an impressive accomplishment, as is his lifetime .305 batting average over a 21-year career.
Brett's 1980 MVP season was truly amazing. He compiled a .390 average with 24 homers and 118 RBI.
He wasn't nearly the dynamic hitter he is credited as being for long after that, though.
In fact, he only topped 100 RBI four times for his entire career, and despite the high lifetime average, he only won the batting title three times in 21 seasons.
Not that three batting titles isn't a great accomplishment. It's just not what you'd expect from a player with a reputation as a dynamic hitter.
Graig Nettles was a popular player with the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians for being a good defensive player and a good personality.
He had six All-Star seasons (out of 22 total years played) and factored into the MVP voting four times.
He only hit more than 30 homers in a season twice, back-to-back years in 1976-1977, and managed only a .248 batting average for his career.
He received Hall of Fame votes for four years before ultimately being removed from the ballot, and yet his name pops up from time to time in Cooperstown discussions.
He seems to be the beneficiary of having been a popular player while producing in his prime. The rest of his career is conveniently overlooked.
Jack Clark was certainly a good player during his time in baseball.
He appeared on five All-Star teams and factored into the MVP voting six times.
He was hyped at the time as a big free-agent signing when he left the San Francisco Giants to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, and again when he left for the New York Yankees.
The reason I say he is overrated, though, was his ability to really turn it on during a contract year.
His best season came in 1987, his final year with the Cardinals before signing with the Yankees, when he batted .286 with 35 homers and 106 RBI.
Jim "Catfish" Hunter
There's certainly a lot to like about Catfish Hunter.
He was personable, and sports writers loved him; he took on Charlie Finley and won; he won five World Series titles in the 1970s (three with the A's from 1972-1974 and two with the Yankees in 1978 and 1979); and he also won 20 games in five consecutive seasons.
The thing about Hunter's run of dominance in the 1970s is that while it did earn him induction into Cooperstown, it was a greater reflection of the teams he played on than it was his actual performance.
A run through the sabermetric stats will show that his ERA+ of 105 for his career is the lowest of any Hall of Fame pitcher, and actually lower than that of Kevin Brown's career numbers (do you consider Kevin Brown to be worthy of induction in Cooperstown? I don't).
It seems more likely that Hunter is regarded so highly because of his persona and set of circumstances he found himself in from 1972-1979 rather than the actual value of his career.
I'm going to be right alongside a lot of you scratching my head at the inclusion of Jim Palmer on this list.
Palmer is considered by many to be one of the greatest pitchers of all time, an assessment that I readily agree with by strictly evaluation of his stats.
It was mostly an SBNation.com blog by Adam J. Morris that shaped my decision to include Palmer on this list.
Morris puts a lot of time into breaking down the factors that contributed to Palmer's success, and gives him rightful credit for his stretch of dominance between 1970-1978.
Rather than break down the argument, I'd recommend you go read Morris' argument and see if you reach the same conclusion I did: that he has a valid point.
This will be the only slide where I defer my argument to another source.
I guess I lied; I will defer to another writer again...
Jim Rice was a star player during his time, but his inclusion in the Hall of Fame was more about including a non-steroid user than anything else.
Jerry Krasnick of ESPN had this to say regarding Rice being an overrated player:
Several years ago, Bill James ranked Rice as the 27th best left fielder in history -- two spots behind Roy White -- and called him "probably the most overrated player of the last thirty years.'' Rice never won a Gold Glove, stole 58 bases (in 92 attempts) in his career, and ranks sixth on the all-time grounded-into-double-plays list. His home-road splits also provide fodder for his critics: Rice posted a career .920 on-base slugging percentage at Fenway Park, and a much more pedestrian .789 on the road. While his peak was impressive, he fell of a cliff statistically at age 34 and was out of the game by 36.
I'm going to break my trend of discussing players for a minute and toss in a manager.
Joe Torre's success with the Yankees is vastly overrated based on his contributions.
Torre won six pennants and four World Series, all with the highly talented and highly priced Yankees teams he managed.
Aside from his .605 winning percentage in New York, his best stint as a manger is his three-year term with the Los Angeles Dodgers following his departure from the Yankees. He posted a .533 winning percentage and won a pair of division titles but was knocked out of the postseason in both cases.
He only won a division title one other time in his career, in 1982 with the Atlanta Braves.
Perhaps the Yankees did more for Mr. Torre than Mr. Torre did for the Yankees.
Johnny Damon gets brought up in Hall of Fame discussions regarding active players, and I have to wonder: If he hadn't been a member of the first Red Sox team in 86 years to win a World Series and a cult hero, would he be so highly regarded?
Damon is at 2,723 hits for his career, and he also has over 500 career doubles and 400 career stolen bases, but he has never really been an elite player in any of his 17 seasons.
He's been consistent, sure, but he's only been selected to two All-Star teams and has never finished higher than 13th in MVP voting. He's only received MVP votes in four seasons.
Damon is a very good and reliable player; he's just not deserving of the level of praise he has received at times.
Jonathan Papelbon is another of a string of active players we're going to see here.
Partially as a result of playing in a major market such as Boston, and partially because he was the fastest closer in history to reach 200 saves, Papelbon has been regarded as a much better pitcher than he actually is.
The fact of the matter is, if you take a deeper look at his stats, Papelbon was aided by his manager and team at reaching the milestone so quickly.
Papelbon has only averaged 1.08 innings pitched per appearance throughout his career. He has rarely been used in multiple-inning save opportunities.
In fact, 248 of his 396 appearances have been in save opportunities. He has converted 219 of those opportunities.
When you compare Papelbon's use to that of the game's best closers—Mariano Rivera, Dennis Eckersley, Trevor Hoffman, Rollie Fingers, even Bruce Sutter—you see that they were all used in more demanding scenarios.
Jorge Posada is not awarded the same benefit of the doubt I gave Derek Jeter and David Ortiz.
The reason being, he has been portrayed as one of the game's best sluggers since the Yankees began their stretch of dominance in the late 1990s.
He has been mentioned in the same breath as some of the game's best hitters, and his place in history has been debated.
He's a career .273 hitter, though, with just 275 career homers and 1,664 hits. He's never been a top-tier offensive threat or a standout defensive catcher.
He is most famous for being on the Yankees for their five most recent World Series titles.
Posada, much more so than Jeter, is the player that few people would know about were he to have played his entire career for the San Diego Padres or Baltimore Orioles (just to toss out a pair of teams).
Considering the era that Jose Canseco inspired (the Steroid Era, just in case you happen to have been living in a cave the last decade or so), you'd think that he would have a more impressive stat line than he actually possesses.
Yes, since I know it will be brought up, he did have the first 40/40 season in baseball history. It's an incredible accomplishment, steroids or not.
Still, he's a career .266 hitter who only topped 100 RBI six times in an era that was dominated by offensive accomplishments (he did hit 462 career homers).
He was atrocious in the postseason, batting just .184 in his combined experiences.
Imagine how pedestrian his stats would have been without the steroids. Kinda scary.
Lenny Dykstra built a reputation as being tough and reliable while with the Phillies from 1989-1996.
"Nails" came through time after time, if you listen to the stories.
"Nails" wasn't quite as good as he is made out to be, though.
He batted just .285 for his career and had just one good season, 1993, in which he batted .305 with 19 homers and 66 RBI while stealing 37 bases.
Aside from that season, he didn't even play in more than 85 games in six of his final seven years. In that 1993 campaign, he somehow managed to play in all 161 games.
Lou Brock earned his induction into the Hall of Fame by reaching 3,000 career hits and being the all-time stolen base leader for 13 seasons before Rickey Henderson broke the record.
Brock's stolen base accomplishment is slightly diminished by his 75.3 percent success rate, and his 3,000 hits are a product of playing a mostly injury-free 19-year career.
He was never an above-average defender, committing 10 or more errors in 11 consecutive seasons.
He's still a deserving Hall of Fame player, but his career isn't quite as impressive as you'd believe based on the final stat line.
Mark McGwire, although unlikely to ever earn induction into Cooperstown, is considered one of the greatest power hitters of all time.
This really isn't an assessment of his talent that I can argue. McGwire could mash and, steroids or not, few hitters on the planet could even come close to his power totals.
As a result of his jaw-dropping power display, people tend to forget that he was basically a one-dimensional player.
McGwire was a career .263 hitter who only topped .300 three times during his career, and despite those 583 career homers, he only managed to top 100 RBI seven times in an offensive era of the game known for video game-like numbers.
Despite winning a Gold Glove in 1990, he was never seen as a plus defender in any of his other seasons.
On a lot of these lists of the most overrated players of all time, Nolan Ryan comes in at No. 1.
If I were ranking these from 40 to 1, he'd be either No. 1 or 2 on my list, as well.
Since I'm not, though, let's just look at why he earns a spot on this list.
Ryan was a great pitcher, the best strikeout pitcher of all time. He had 5,714 career strikeouts during his career, the most ever. He also had 2,795 career bases on balls, also the most in history.
His strikeout-walk ratio is a less-than-impressive 2.04.
His win-loss record is more a reflection of his playing on a lot of bad teams than it is a true detractor of his legacy. His 324 wins are very impressive—his 292 losses a little less so.
But while I'm not considering those 292 losses as a reason he is overrated, I think a lot of people forget that the only World Series championship Ryan won was with the 1969 Mets, a series in which he only made one appearance, in relief. He earned the save in 2.1 innings of work.
Despite his seven no-hitters, what other important games did he pitch in during his career?
Don't get me wrong; he's a Hall of Fame-worthy pitcher and one of the best of all time. He just wasn't as great as people want to remember him.
But hey, there aren't many pitchers that can pitch as well as he did up to 46 years of age.
Ozzie Guillen was hyped primarily for his defense during his playing career, but did anyone realize just how minimal his offensive contributions actually were?
Over the course of his 16-year playing career, Guillen's highest batting average was .288 in 1994. The most home runs he ever hit in a single season was four. The most runs he ever drove in was 58.
Although he averaged double-digit steal totals for five seasons from 1987-1991, he never stole more than six bases in any season after 1991.
And that defense he was praised for? He was good, but he won a single Gold Glove award for his entire career, and his fielding had actually peaked by 1990 and began declining thereafter.
If I haven't already called my credibility into question by accepting this assignment and calling out some of the best players in the game as being overrated, I'll give you some more ammunition against me here...
Ozzie Smith, "the Wizard of Oz," is remembered for being one of the best defensive shortstops in history, and rightfully so.
In a list of the best defensive players of all time, there would be no discussion of overrated with regards to Ozzie Smith.
I'm not certain that his defense qualifies him for as much adulation as he receives in the baseball community, though.
Smith's TZ score (basically UZR prior to 2002) was 239 for his career, a very impressive number. His oWAR (offensive wins above replacement) score for his entire 19-year career is just 43, though.
Still, for those that considered him an offensive liability, I would argue with them to no end. He only represented a negative oWAR score in one season, and he factored into the MVP voting six times, including finishing as runner-up in 1987.
I still have to lean towards Smith coming in on the slightly overrated side, but I admit it's a tough argument to make.
There's a difference between being the all-time hit leader and the all-time greatest hitter in the game.
That difference is what puts Pete Rose on this list.
He managed 4,256 hits in his career, enough to top Ty Cobb's record and place him firmly in the No. 1 spot. He won an MVP, factored into the MVP voting 14 times and made the All-Star team 17 times.
He also made it to the World Series six times and won the World Series three times. His postseason career average is a very impressive .321.
Now, as for why he is overrated: Over 3,300 of his 4,256 hits were singles. His WAR rating was never significantly high for a player considered the greatest hitter of all time. The highest he ever rated was 8.5, a ranking that ties him for 205th all-time.
His .303 batting average is not what you would expect from the greatest hitter of all time, and in fact he comes nowhere close to the .366 career average of Ty Cobb, the man whose record he broke.
Lastly, in order to reach his record hit total, he stayed in the league about five years too long and actually hurt the Reds.
So why would I say Pete Rose is one of the game's most overrated? Simple: To consider him the greatest hitter of all time is overrating his true place in the game's history.
Phil Rizzuto was a good defensive shortstop in his time, but he only had one standout season offensively.
In 1950, he won the MVP on the strength of his .324 batting average, 125 runs scored, 200 hits and 66 RBI.
Aside from that, he never came close.
He finished his 13-year career with just 1,588 hits and a .273 career batting average.
His career ended in 1956, and he wasn't inducted into Cooperstown until 1994, almost 40 years later.
Ralph Kiner is one of those players about whom there can be a true debate whether he is truly overrated or if he is actually underrated.
I really struggled with his inclusion on this slide because when he broke into the majors in 1946, he literally burst onto the scene.
Kiner led the league in homers from 1946 to 1952 and only slightly fell off in 1953, finishing fifth that season.
He was either an All-Star or factored into the MVP voting in each season during that eight-year stretch.
He only played two more seasons, though, and his skills seemed to diminish quickly at that point.
The fact that he only played 10 total seasons and retired after experiencing a two-year decline is what swayed me to the overrated side of the argument.
He was truly a great talent during his playing time, but had he stuck around longer his legacy would have been diminished by less productive seasons.
Funny thing is, we criticize players for hanging on too long, and now I'm penalizing one for quitting too soon. Go figure—guess I'm living proof that you can't please everyone, no matter what approach you take.
Reggie Jackson, "the straw that stirs the drink," was your classic all-or-nothing player.
He was a great power hitter, belting 563 home runs during his career, but he also set the all-time strikeout record at 2,597.
His .262 batting average is nothing special at all.
He was a great postseason player, though, winning five World Series and contributing to each victory, with the exception of the 1972 A's World Series team—he had been injured during the American League Championship Series.
So yes, he was a great hitter—just not as great as (primarily the New York) media would like to make Mr. October seem.
Sure, even though three players have eclipsed Roger Maris' single-season record of 61 home runs in a season, we continue to compare all great single-season totals to his mark as the benchmark number.
That's not why I include Maris as one of the game's most overrated, though.
I include Maris based on discussions that pop up from time to time about whether or not he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Maris was a good major league hitter, peaking with his back-to-back MVP campaigns of 1960-1961.
He was a four-time All-Star and factored into the MVP voting in 1964 as well.
His career totals fall short of being Hall of Fame-worthy, though, and continued discussion based on his one historic season is what qualifies Maris as overrated.
Sandy Koufax was the most dominant pitcher in baseball for the final six seasons of his career, 1961-1966.
In the six seasons prior to 1961 he was mediocre, but also pitching at an age (19-24) when most pitchers are still learning how to "pitch" rather than just throw at the major league level.
It's hard to say where history would rank Koufax had he continued his career, since he clearly retired at his peak and in the prime of his career.
There is a similarity to my analysis of Ralph Kiner's career in that I—and many other baseball analysts, by the way—penalize Koufax for retiring too soon.
The difference between Kiner and Koufax, though, is that Kiner was beginning to decline while Koufax had just managed the best ERA of his career right before he decided to hang up his spikes.
So in the case of Koufax, he may truly have been the best pitcher of all time, but since he doesn't have the longevity in his career once he reached his pinnacle performance, we'll never know how he truly stacks up against the other greatest pitchers.
The fact that many people speak of him as if he is unequivocally the best of all time is why he is an overrated player.
As the caption on the Sports Illustrated cover pictured here asks, "Is Steve Garvey Really Too Good To Be True?"
Well, the answer was obviously yes.
He lost his squeaky-clean image when he started getting slapped with paternity suits left and right all around Los Angeles, but the real reason he finds himself on this list is because his stats just don't justify the amount of publicity and acclaim he received in the past or still receives to this day.
Garvey was a very good player from 1974 to 1981, during which time he was selected to the All-Star team in each of those eight seasons and factored into the MVP voting.
He won the MVP in 1974 and also won four Gold Gloves during that stretch.
Despite having good statistics during that stretch, he was fairly mediocre in his other 11 seasons and finished his career with stats that fell short in just about every category.
Even during his best streak of seasons, he hit into far too many double plays to be nearly as great as he is remembered as being.
Thurman Munson was a very good Yankees catcher who died before his time practicing landing his Cessna Citation airplane.
His premature death, which happened in the prime of his career, has sparked conversations throughout the years about whether or not he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
He did win both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards and factored into the MVP voting seven times in his 11-year career. He was an All-Star seven times as well.
Although he was a very good player during his time, his stats don't match up as being worthy of Cooperstown, and any such talk is why he qualifies as being overrated.
Tony Perez was a good player on a historic team, but aside from that, does he really deserve to be among the all-time greats enshrined in Cooperstown?
He had the longevity that gave him good career statistics, but again, not great statistics.
His career batting average was .279, and he managed an average above .300 just three times in his 23-year career.
He hit over 30 homers in a season just twice and finished with 379 career long balls—not quite Hall-worthy numbers.
His career dWAR (defensive wins above replacement) is just 0.9—not exactly a redeeming quality for his less than legendary offensive production.
If you disagree, I'm sorry, but his inclusion in Cooperstown is what makes him a candidate for inclusion on this overrated list.