B/R MLB Community Debates Who Are Baseball's Most Overrated Players in 2021August 19, 2021
B/R MLB Community Debates Who Are Baseball's Most Overrated Players in 2021
Welcome to this week's Bleacher Report MLB community article.
Last week, readers weighed in on the most underrated players in baseball.
Now it's time for the opposite end of the spectrum and baseball's most overrated players, according to B/R app users.
Whether it's an overpaid veteran, a major market star who receives more attention than he deserves or a hyped player with a glaring hole in his game, overrated players come in all shapes and sizes.
Ahead, we've highlighted some of your best answers to the simple question of who the most overrated player in baseball is in 2021.
Others Who Were Mentioned
Pitchers: SP Chris Bassitt (OAK), SP Gerrit Cole (NYY), SP Yu Darvish (SD), SP Aaron Nola (PHI)
Catchers: Salvador Perez (KC), Gary Sanchez (NYY)
Infielders: 2B Ozzie Albies (ATL), 1B Pete Alonso (NYM), 1B Brandon Belt (SF), 3B Kris Bryant (SF), SS Carlos Correa (HOU), SS Gleyber Torres (NYY)
Outfielders: Cody Bellinger (LAD), Mookie Betts (LAD), Lewis Brinson (MIA), Aaron Judge (NYY), Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)
Comically Bad Takes: Shohei Ohtani (LAA), Mike Trout (LAA)—seriously...multiple people said this.
"Not a player, but the statistic WAR. No matter who I ask, nobody seems to know how it's calculated and different sites give different values for the same player." (@dcamp5)
I'm a big stat guy, so there's a lot I like about WAR. I love that it has provided baseball fans with a viable tool to compare players across different eras and that it has helped shine more light on the value that good defense and baserunning provide.
However, I completely agree that there needs to be one uniform calculation of WAR.
"Alex Rodriguez...as a broadcaster. Everything he says feels scripted and stiff. Seems his legendary 'feel for the game' didn't translate to the booth." (@QRcode)
Everything that Tony Romo is in the NFL booth, Alex Rodriguez is not on Sunday Night Baseball.
Count me among those who were rooting hard for him to be successful in his bid to buy the Miami Marlins, if for no other reason than it would force him to step away from broadcasting for the time being.
Javier Baez, New York Mets
"I'm gonna go with Javy Baez. All of the hype is off a couple of seasons 2-3 years ago and he has masterfully underperformed since then. People think he is much better than he is because you see all the home run/defense highlights, but you don't see the strikeouts/errors." (@Anjan)
Javier Baez is a dynamic player, and the energy he brings to the field and in the clubhouse is tough to quantify in the box score. He also had back-to-back 6-WAR seasons in 2018 and 2019 on the strength of his stellar glove work and home run power.
To say that Baez is a poor defender because of his error total is extremely lazy.
Since he became the Chicago Cubs everyday shortstop in 2019, he leads all shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved by a staggering margin:
- Javier Baez: 41
- Carlos Correa: 28
- Paul DeJong: 28
- Trevor Story: 28
- Nick Ahmed: 24
He's not just a good defender. He's a spectacular one, and his error total is largely a result of getting to a lot of tough balls that other shortstops would never touch.
However, I'll wholeheartedly agree with calling his offensive game overrated.
Among 136 qualified hitters in 2021, he ranks dead last in strikeout rate (36.4 percent) and 130th in on-base percentage (.285). Those are glaring shortcomings that dramatically limit his overall offensive impact.
Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics
"Easily Matt Chapman. Dude can field, but he is not a good hitter. Like, at all." (@NYCSports321)
For not being a good hitter, like, at all, Matt Chapman sure does have some solid offensive numbers.
The 28-year-old has a 103 OPS+ on the year, meaning his offensive game has been 3 percent better than the average player. He also ranks second in home runs (18) and third in RBI (56) on a contending Oakland Athletics team.
This feels like a bit of recency bias based on an ugly month of July in which he hit .180/.247/.292 with four extra-base hits and five RBI in 97 plate appearances.
However, that came on the heels of a terrific June (108 PA, .277/.343/.532, 6 HR, 21 RBI), and he's back to swinging a hot bat in August (58 PA, .292/.414/.563, 4 HR, 9 RBI) as the Athletics push for an AL West title.
The simple truth is, Chapman doesn't need to be anything more than an average offensive player to be a superstar.
Since breaking into the league in 2017, his 75 DRS trails only those of Mookie Betts (80) among all players, and he didn't make his MLB debut until June that year.
If anything, I think Chapman is still underrated nationally.
Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
"Bryce Harper gets a substantial amount of coverage because he's polarizing. He signed a massive contract, but I don't think he'd sniff top 20 best players. If you're talking this year, sure. But his production fluctuates year to year. Great players are consistent and I think he's more a brand than an actual top-tier player." (@mitchschafir)
Since signing his massive 13-year, $330 million contract prior to the 2019 season, Bryce Harper has been the subject of plenty of ridicule, with detractors quick to say he's not worth the money.
However, the numbers speak for themselves.
- 2019: 157 G, 127 OPS+, 72 XBH (35 HR), 114 RBI, 4.5 WAR
- 2020: 58 G, 160 OPS+, 24 XBH (13 HR), 33 RBI, 2.0 WAR
- 2021: 98 G, 169 OPS+, 49 XBH (22 HR), 50 RBI, 3.7 WAR
The 28-year-old is tied for fourth in OPS (145) among players with at least 1,000 plate appearances during that span, trailing only Fernando Tatis Jr. (167), Juan Soto (161) and Nelson Cruz (160), and his .394 on-base percentage is elite.
He has also had an OPS+ below 120 just once since his MVP season in 2015, so the idea that his production fluctuates doesn't really track.
With a .337/.500/.717 line and 20 extra-base hits in 30 games since the All-Star break, he's making a strong case to add some more hardware in 2021.
Franicsco Lindor, New York Mets
"Francisco Lindor. They put him in the same class as Carlos Correa and Corey Seager, and in reality, he is in a class below that." (@PenceEyez)
Nothing like signing a 10-year, $341 million extension to heap even more pressure on a player making his debut in New York.
With a lackluster .228/.326/.376 line that includes 11 home runs and 36 RBI in 87 games, it has been a season to forget for Francisco Lindor. He has also been sidelined since the middle of July with a strained oblique.
Beneath the surface, his average exit velocity (90.4 mph vs. 89.9 mph) and hard-hit rate (42.8% vs. 38.4%) this season are actually both higher than his career marks, and his 11.3 percent walk rate is also a career high. In other words, there are some reasons for optimism that he can bounce back.
After all, this is a player who piled up 26.7 WAR over the first five seasons of his career.
To put that number into perspective, only Arky Vaughan (35.6), Cal Ripken Jr. (28.0) and Nomar Garciaparra (27.9) tallied more WAR during their first five MLB seasons among shortstops in MLB history.
No question this season has been a disappointment, but to say he doesn't belong in the same class as Carlos Correa and Corey Seager is ridiculous.
Blake Snell, San Diego Padres
"Blake Snell. He was great in 2018, but he's been mediocre and/or injured for most of his career. Take out that one year, and he's averaged 95 unspectacular innings per season." (@joshuag71)
I'm inclined to agree with this one.
Snell won AL Cy Young honors in 2018 when he went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 221 strikeouts in 180.2 innings. He was dominant that year, but also carefully protected, pitching beyond the sixth inning in just 13 of his 31 starts.
In the three years since, he has recorded a quality start—at least six innings pitched and three or fewer earned runs allowed—in only 14 of his 56 starts.
He has also seen his walk rate spike to a career-high 5.6 walks per nine innings this year, and he's handed out an NL-high 63 free passes en route to a 4.80 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in 101.1 innings.
There is no question Snell has good stuff, evidenced by his 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings over the last four seasons. That mark ranks sixth among pitchers with at least 400 innings pitched during that span, behind only those of Gerrit Cole (12.8), Max Scherzer (12.3), Justin Verlander (12.1), Jacob deGrom (12.0) and Robbie Ray (11.7).
However, his Cy Young win put him in the ace conversation, and his middling production in the years since and consistent inability to pitch deep into games put him a tier below the game's elite.
Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
"Trevor Story. His splits away from Coors Field are unspectacular to put it mildly." (@BigPappaGrande)
The career splits for Trevor Story are indeed staggering.
- Home: 1,514 PA, .305/.369/.608, 208 XBH (92 HR)
- Road: 1,465 PA, .243/.311/.438, 140 XBH (57 HR)
The 28-year-old is hitting just .200 with a .681 OPS in 209 plate appearances away from Coors Field this year, and it's been a lackluster season overall for the pending free agent.
After consecutive 30-homer, 20-steal seasons in 2018 and 2019 when he logged a 124 OPS+ and posted a combined 13.2 WAR, he has a 101 OPS+ with 15 homers and 17 steals in a 2.3-WAR campaign this year.
That said, we've seen Colorado Rockies players with distinct home/road splits find success after leaving the team, including DJ LeMahieu with the New York Yankees and Nolan Arenado this year with the St. Louis Cardinals.
With his mix of power, speed and defense, he'll be a hot commodity this offseason, even with a down year at the plate.
Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
"Fernando Tatis Jr. Sorry to say it, but besides hitting home runs in almost half the games he's played this year, he's made almost the same amount of errors and can't stay healthy. And his team has done fine without him. Not worthy of an MVP this season as everyone loves to award him already." (@deblecourtky)
This is what a bad take looks like, and it was shared by many in our crowdsourcing thread.
Fernando Tatis Jr. has played in only 90 games this season, yet he still leads the National League in home runs (34), steals (23), OPS+ (187) and position player WAR (5.5).
That's 5.5 WAR in 90 games, or the equivalent of a 9.9 WAR season over a full 162 games.
Only 10 times in MLB history has a shortstop put together a 9.9-WAR season, meaning the value he has provided this year on a per-game basis is on par with the greatest single-season performances of all time by a shortstop.
Framing him as a one-dimensional power hitter is also absurd.
The 22-year-old is on pace to be the first player since Chuck Klein in 1932 to lead his league in home runs and steals in the same season. His mix of power and speed production at an age when most players are still in the minors is something we've rarely seen.
Even the defensive struggles have been overblown.
Yes, he has 20 errors, but he also gets to a lot of balls most other shortstops would never have a chance to reach thanks to his range. The idea that 20 miscues are enough to call him overrated is just a lazy, contrarian way to assess one of the most dynamic players we've seen in decades.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant and accurate through Tuesday's games.