Most Overrated Players of All Time Topic

Sabrmetricians are critical of Mays for not walking more. I didn't see him as much as I would have liked, but I don't see how one might over rate the greatest player of his generation. His play in the '54 WS obliterated the final barriers for integration. Aaron's HRs cloud the issues a bit for the fan who never saw either of them play. Ultimately, we rely on those numbers for evaluation, and Aaron hit more HRs. While they were active, no one thought anyone was better than Mays. Mantle's best seasons are sabremetrically better than Mays best, because of the walks, but Mays was a much better outfielder than Mantle, and a much better base runner, too.
6/24/2013 2:02 PM
Italyprof, two thoughts for you.  

First, regarding Pedro Martinez, there is little doubt that after he got hurt in 2001 he became a 7 inning pitcher pretty much the rest of his career, indeed after 2000 Pedro only had 2 CGs the rest of his career.  Before that though he led the majors in CGs in 1997 and pitched more than 7 innings in 30 of his 60 starts in 1999 and 2000 and was 4th and 2nd in CGs,which was pretty much his peak.  I think during those peak years he was more than 'just a 7 inning pitcher.'

Regarding Willie Mays, I can't speak for dash but I'll say this, Willie was absolutely a great player, one of the finest ever but for me he falls just outside of the very best of the best.  I might more accurately phrase it as I think for me Willie is clearly in my top 15 of all time and almost certainly the top 10, but not the top 5. I say that mostly because his OBPs for much of his career aren't quite up to the levels of the very best. Yes, they are held down by the fact that he played through the deadball era of the 60's but even during the high offense era in his career (say 1954 - 1962) he had 5 seasons where his OBP was under .400.  Said a little differently Willie was 'only' in the top 3 in OBP for the season 5 times in his career and is somewhere in the 140's overall for his career and when you start to compare that to folks like Ruth and Mantle and Cobb and the like he's not quite in the same rarefied atmosphere. Still though a fantastic player.


6/24/2013 2:08 PM
I finally got through Italyprof's extended missive above, and want to comment on one thing:

"So, with that as the idea, I do think Nolan Ryan was highly over-rated because of the strikeouts. He never seemed to learn what pitching coaches team from A ball on, don't try to strike everyone out, even if you can. His won-lost record is testimony to that." 

As we've all experienced in WIS, W-L is not always an accurate yardstick by which to measure performance.  In Ryan's 26 full seasons (throwing out 1966) he played on 11 sub-.500 teams.  His winning percentage was better than his team's in sixteen years (and was only one win shy of bettering his team's winning percentage another year).  His professional frustration is epitomized by 1987, a year in which he led the majors in OAV, ERA, K/9, and K; led the NL in ERC; and was fifth in the NL in WHIP (among starters), and finished 8-16.

Taking that into account, and his famous beat-down of Robin Ventura, I can't put him  in the over-rated category. 
6/24/2013 2:21 PM
If I had to win one game with everything riding on the line, I would take Pedro circa 1999-2000 over anyone else who ever played.
6/24/2013 7:59 PM

All-time over-rated team:

C- Mike Piazza.  He wasn't really a good catcher for being a catcher.  In a speedier era, he'd be a 1B.  Even in the steroid era, he might have been more valuable there.

1B- Mark McGwire  If not for the steroid controversy he'd probably would have been a 1st ballot HoFer, which I doubt he deserved even if he wasn't juicing.  BR has his career value just a bit more than Keith Hernandez.

2B- Bill Mazeroski. The last person elected by the old Veteran's Committee.  The selection was seen as so bad that the changed the way the Veteran's Committee works. 

SS- Phil Rizzuto.  Elected to the HoF primarily for being a Yankee.

3B- Bill Madlock.  He was known to fake injuries and sit in games against good pitchers to purposely keep his average up at the expense of his team winning games.

LF- Manny Ramirez.  I won't say he was a net negative value player because of his defense and antics, but I'm pretty sure there have been plenty of good but not great hitting LFers that would have been better for his teams.

CF- Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle.  They were both inner circle HoFers, but not nearly as good as players they are often compared to: Mays, Musial, Aaron or Speaker (much less Cobb, Ruth or Williams) .

RF- Tommy McCarthy  Simply the worst choice for a HoFer ever. 

6/25/2013 1:19 AM (edited)
zubin, the one real disagreement I will have with you is over Mantle, who playing in constant pain nevertheless had numbers that easily rank him with Musial or Aaron and in my view put him solidly ahead of the former. I don't think Speaker belongs in the same company with the others by the way. 

Mays over Mantle? Ok, but it is close. Aaron over Mantle, ok, by the numbers, but if Mickey had two good legs he breaks the records instead. Musial over Mantle ? No, I don't see it. 

Two of Musial's best seasons were 1943 and 1944 when the pitching was largely at an AAA level throughout MLB. His best season, 1948, was truly great, hitting .376 with 39 home runs. But that season the first African Americans were allowed to pitch in Major League Baseball and he never hit that average again. He has one more truly great season in 1951, but his numbers after 1948 are Don Mattingly level (a great player to be sure, but to put things in perspective). 

Mantle played every season of his career after pitcher's mounds had been integrated. In 1956 he hit .353 with 52 home runs. You take hour pick - his '56 or Musial's '48. Close to say the least. In 1957 he then hit .365 with with 34 HRs - here is a season that more closely resembles Musial's greatest and it is NOT Mantle's greatest. And it is AFTER the integration of baseball. He then hit 40 home runs and hit over .300 two of the next three seasons. Then in 1961 he hits 54 home runs and would have done more but had to end the season with injuries. He then has some other seasons that are comparable to Musial's later seasons. 

Plus he could RUN and was the fastest man in baseball while he was physically able to run. He could almost certainly field better than Musial. Over-rated? Maybe he AND Musial are, but I can't see the case for Musial over Mantle. 
6/25/2013 4:56 AM
Also Piazza was no catcher, you are right. But he was arguably the best hitter in baseball for the decade of the 1990s, and like Derek Jeter, his numbers are MORE, not less impressive for being better than the others at a time when hitting stats were inflated BY steroids, and not by structural aspects of the game. So de-inflate the others' stats and you see how good those two really were in any era. 

But you did qualify Piazza's being over-rated based on his role as a catcher, and indeed just as Cal Ripken Jr. arguably hurt his team by insisting on playing to break a record when he was no longer at the same quality of play, Piazza insisting on remaining a catcher so he could break the catcher HR record did not help. He would have made a heck of a DH (even if that position probably should not exist), and it is true that the Mets had Olerud at first, so for a while Piazza at catcher was no net loss. 
6/25/2013 5:03 AM
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I'll have to agree on DiMaggio.  He gets a lot of extra mileage out of playing in NY, makin' whoopee with Marilyn, and the Simon and Garfunkel mention in "Mrs. Robinson."  Also, the big dope didn't even get that S & G were honoring him with that line.  I read in one of the DiMaggio biographies that he got really ticked off when he heard, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?"  He replied, "I'm right here!" as if the song was calling him out as a forgotten has-been.

I like him in this old joke, though:

Bill walks into a bar with a dog. The bartender says, 'You can't bring that dog in here.'

'You don't understand,' says Bill. 'This is no regular dog, he can talk.'

'Listen, pal,' says the bartender. 'If that dog can talk, I'll give you a hundred bucks.'

Bill puts the dog on a stool, and asks him, "What's on top of a house?' 'Roof!'

'Right. And what's on the outside of a tree?' 'Bark!'

'And who's the greatest baseball player of all time?' ''Ruth!'

'I guess you've heard enough,' says the man. 'I'll take the hundred in twenties.'

The bartender is furious, 'Listen, pal,' he says, 'get out of here before I belt you.' 

As soon as they're on the street, the dog turns to Bill and says, 'Bill, do you think I should have said DiMaggio?'
6/25/2013 12:57 PM (edited)

Lifetime slugging percentage: 

Jeter .448 (through 2012)

Yount: .430

Ripken: .447

E.Banks: .500

Now it is true that Jeter's old competitor Nomar Garciaparra had a lifetime SLG of .521. But - they both have lifetime averages of .313, and Jeter has hit more HRs - 255 as of 2012 to 229 for Nomar, though in four more seasons. But Nomar averaged 6 home runs in his last three seasons, so had he played the same four extra seasons he still ends up with 2 fewer than Jeter. 

So he is far from a singles hitter. 

Postseason Jeter has had 734 PA, 650 AB, hit .308, 20 Home Runs, .371 OBP, .465 SLG. Not exactly the portrait of a singles hitter. 

By comparison, Pete Rose had a lifetime Slugging average of .409, and in 300 PA in the postseason, Rose hit .321, with 5 home runs and a .440 slugging percentage. 

Joe Morgan had a .427 lifetime slugging percentage. In 222 PA in the postseason, he hit .182 with a .323 slugging percentage.

Scott Rolen has as of 2012 a lifetime SLG of .490, and in the postseason he has had 159 PA, hit .220 and had a SLG of .376

Yogi Berra's postseason slugging percentage was .452

6/25/2013 7:14 PM
crazystengel it is great to see you post here. You are missed greatly at this site. 

Yes, Dimaggio was no saint as you point out. BUT...  he put a flower on the grave of Marilyn Monroe every week after she died. He married her, she left him for the intellectual, and so "makin' whoopee" is not quite fair. 

But it is also true that a) he could not stand to have a wife more famous than him, or anyone more famous than him for that matter, and b) he wanted to sue Simon and Garfunkel over what is arguably the greatest tribute ever paid to an athlete in song. 

Did I mention that boogerlips is wrong about Jeter? 
6/25/2013 7:18 PM
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I think part of what leads to DiMaggio being overrated is the greatness of his first few seasons.  After that everyone looked for greatness out of him, and while what he delivered was only good, the inherent bias made him feel better than he was.  I'm guessing if he had the same career numbers more evenly distributed he'd be seen as far less great.

As far as Mays goes, it is all about the walks.  Granted, I'm not old enough to have seen him play.  That works both ways - I can't see some of the things he did (except on old games that get broadcast periodically on ESPNClassic or used to be on the MLB network), but on the other hand my view of his actual statistical achievements aren't clouded by selective memory of great plays.  Mays played at just the right time to maximize his nostalgia value right now.  There are plenty of living baseball fans who watched him play, but it was far too long ago for anyone to remember anything but the highlights.  So he gets blown up in people's minds.  I'm not saying he wasn't a great player.  But given that OBP is the most important offensive statistic in baseball, an elite hitter who doesn't walk is giving himself a huge liability.  I would take Mays over Musial or Aaron, but I'm not sure I'd take him over Mantle.  I'd take a healthy Mantle over Mays in a heartbeat.  You just can't be a top 5 hitter of all time with a career OBP of .384, and yet many baseball fans - probably a solid majority - would place him in their top 5.  I would easily take Ruth, Cobb, Williams, Gehrig, Hornsby, or even Bonds over Mays.  Would also consider Foxx, Pujols, Jackson, Speaker, or Ed Delahanty to be similar.  All of the players I listed except Delahanty have better career OPS+ numbers than Mays, and that's ignoring the fact that in the underweighted aspect of OPS (the OBP), all of those guys blow him away.  That helps negate his defensive advantage over most of the hitters I listed.  Though FWIW, a healthy Mantle is a similarly elite CF, and someone discounted that earlier in the thread.
6/25/2013 11:57 PM
boogerlips, I compared Jeter to other hard-hitting Shortstops and found him superior to them offensively. I am pretty sure that means he is not over-rated. Game. Set. Match. 

6/26/2013 5:42 AM
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