2012 MLB Free Agency: The Most Overrated FA at Every Position

Ari Kramer@Ari_KramerSenior Analyst IIOctober 19, 2011

2012 MLB Free Agency: The Most Overrated FA at Every Position

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    Every offseason, several players are overvalued and, consequently, overpaid. If you want two recent examples, look no further than Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano.

    The offseason will begin in just a few weeks, so it's time to take a look at the most overrated free agent at each position.

    Note: there weren't enough outfielders at each position, so one outfielder was chosen to represent all three positions.

SP: C.J. Wilson

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    Because of the market's dearth of options at starting pitcher, C.J. Wilson will receive lucrative offers from several teams.

    However, he won't be deserving of the contract he signs.

    He has excelled in his two seasons in Texas' rotation, but he is a No. 2 starter—not an ace. Aces consistently go deep into games, mitigating the burden on the bullpen, yet Wilson averaged about 6.5 innings per start in 2011.

    Again, No. 2 material—renowned aces Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia, to name a few, all completed at least seven innings per start in 2011.

    Additionally, Wilson will be 31 years old on opening day of 2012, and pitchers generally decline earlier than position players—not a good omen for Wilson's future team.

    Wilson is by all standards a great pitcher. He's just not worth the money he'll receive this winter.

RP: Heath Bell

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    Heath Bell rejuvenated his career in San Diego, closing games for the Padres over the last three seasons. Since succeeding Trevor Hoffman, Bell has saved 132 games and posted a 2.36 ERA.

    Unfortunately, the remaining innings of Bell's dominance could be limited—he's 34 years old.

    Because so many teams need a closer, Bell will likely receive some generous contract offers. He's still good, but he'll probably be overpaid.

C: Ramon Hernandez

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    Ramon Hernandez would be a solid get for any team at the $3 million the Cincinnati Reds paid him in 2011—he hit .282 with 12 homers and gunned out 23-of-62 potential base-stealers.

    However, Hernandez has not played more than 100 games in a season since 2008, a clear sign of his expiring durability and questionable health.

    At 35 years old, Hernandez hasn't won a World Series in his 13-year career and might accept less money to be a backup on a contender. If that's the case, he won't be overrated.

    But, in the likelihood that he signs to be a No. 1 catcher, he is overrated.

1B: Prince Fielder

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    In 2011, Prince Fielder ranked No. 2 among first baseman in home runs, No. 1 in RBI, No. 7 in batting average, No. 2 in slugging percentage and No. 4 in WAR.

    He's incontrovertibly one of the best slugging first basemen in baseball.

    But is he really worth the enormous contract he'll ink in the upcoming weeks?

    At 27 years old, he'll play the first few seasons of his new deal in his prime. However, the last two or three—assuming he signs in the vicinity of a seven year deal—will be played with his best seasons in the rearview mirror.

    Despite his name, Fielder isn't adept with the glove. His .992 career fielding percentage is very respectable, but it doesn't account for balls he simply couldn't reach—a weakness addressed by UZR.

    Fielder has only produced a positive UZR once in his career. This year he had a -5.1 UZR, which ranked No. 18 among first basemen registering 800 innings in the field.

    His fielding will only decline with age, rendering him to a DH role.

    How much is a full-time DH—or an inept first baseman—really worth?

    Not as much as teams will offer Fielder as they focus on the short term.

2B: Kelly Johnson

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    Someone will overpay Kelly Johnson, a soon-to-be 30 year old second baseman with pop in his bat.

    Johnson has hit 47 homers over the last two seasons, but his mediocre fielding ability could be overlooked by suitors. The second baseman posted a 2.5 UZR in 2011, which pitted him at No. 10 at his position.

    He might be the best second baseman on the market, so he'll receive a decent offer. He most likely won't be worth it.

3B: Aramis Ramirez

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    Aramis Ramirez is 33 years old, and his fielding dipped to a career-worst -9.4 UZR.

    However, the former All-Star revived his offense, posting a .306 batting average and a .510 slugging percentage to go with 26 homers and 93 RBI.

    Ramirez won't get offers like the five year, $75 million contract he just completed, but someone searching for offense at either DH or third base will pay him more than he's worth.

SS: Jimmy Rollins

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    Many would be inclined to list Jose Reyes here, but if he can remain healthy—yes, I know, that's a big "if"—he can be worth every penny of his upcoming contract. As long as it's not "Carl Crawford money."

    Instead, Jimmy Rollins is the most overrated shortstop on the market.

    The former MVP is clearly on the downswing of his career, evidenced by his declining UZR and his .399 slugging percentage—quite a dropoff from his .531 in 2007, .437 in 2008 and .423 in 2009.

Outfield: Carlos Beltran

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    Splitting time between the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants, Carlos Beltran hit .300 with 22 homers, 39 doubles and 84 RBI in 2011.

    Though his UZR hit a career-low of -7.3 in his first season as a full-time right fielder, teams like the Yankees would still pay Beltran a lot for that offensive production. The soon-to-be 35-year-old will get more than he's worth—especially if he signs with the Bronx Bombers.