You may have been wondering where I’ve been. After all, it’s been like a month since I’ve posted anything of note to this site. Life has honestly gotten in the way as I’ve been trying to enjoy my last few moments of college and truly having no responsibilities. This summer is going to be huge for The Basement in general but I am going to produce my ass off so much you’ll be sick of seeing Stevie J’s posts. I’m talking a Flo from Progressive level of getting old.
All that being said, I feel that there’s no better way to announce my return than to quote the second greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan. I just wish he would have spelled “bach” correctly.
Enough of the pageantry and on to the blog. Usually my posts have some impetus, either a tweet I saw or something that comes up in my life. This one is no different. Baseball has been in the news recently, whether it is the Yankees allegedly stealing signs, the owners lowballing the Players Association, or even the Sosa/McGwire 30 For 30, Long Gone Summer, coming out tonight. I figured that someone had to take advantage of the rare instance that baseball creates headlines, so I’m going to pick an overrated and underrated player from each position (the normal field positions, starting pitcher, reliever, and DH) and give a brief blurb about why they’re over/underrated.
I decided to limit it to players that I witnessed, so pretty much those who played in the past fifteen years. As always, all correct opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine only and do not reflect the greater opinions of The Basement.
Overrated: Andy Pettitte (60.2 career WAR)
Underrated: Mark Buehrle (59.1)
I’ve never gotten the Andy Pettitte love. In his eighteen year career he’s led the AL in a statistical category exactly once: with 21 wins in 1996. If that’s not enough he’s only a three time All Star, yet the way Yankee fans talk about him would lead you to believe that he’s a mixture of Sandy Koufax and Jesus – which is ironic considering Koufax’s faith. They retired his number for Christ’s sake. You heard that right, he’s never sniffed an individual award (road coattails to a few championships), yet nobody can wear 46 in the Bronx ever again.
You may look at Mark Buehrle’s career stats and think he’s similar to Andy Pettitte, so how can he be underrated. That’s kind of the point. He is nearly identical to Pettitte (except has two more ASG appearances and didn’t have the luxury of playing with some of the best run support ever) yet gets ZERO run with baseball fans. Plus he threw a perfect game which is sick, and showed his Gumby-like nimbleness when he made this play.
Overrated: Andrew Miller (7.7)
Underrated: Billy Wagner (27.7)
Good on Andrew Miller for making the most out of having a solid year and a half span and spinning that into almost a $100M career, but literally if he doesn’t ball out in 2016 nobody cares about him and his career 4.02 ERA. He’s been in the league for fourteen years and has only made two All Star games. A good heuristic for an above average player is that they don’t change teams often, as the team would want to keep them. He has been on seven teams.
I have a legitimate theory that if Billy Wagner was four inches taller he’d be a Hall of Famer. While that may be a stretch, this guy has a career that really sneaks up on you in terms of great relievers. A seven-time All Star, Wagner even finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 1999. For a closer, that is ridiculous. For reference, Mariano Rivera’s career ERA is 2.21. Wagner’s is 2.31. Stud.
Overrated: Jonathan Lucroy (17.8)
Underrated: Russell Martin (38.8)
Lucroy is a guy who always seems to be on the trade block at the middle of the year trying to join a contender and make a deep playoff run. This guy just kinda sucks. In 2016, he turned down a trade to go to the Indians (who made the World Series that season) because he didn’t want to compete with *checks notes* Yan Gomes. Imagine being scared of Yan Gomes. Don’t get me wrong, Yan helped bring my Nationals a ring this past year and I’m grateful to him for that, but if Lucroy had a competitive bone in his body he would have been on the Indians and competed for a WS title four years ago. His career accolades read: two-time All Star. That’s it.
I have no real rationale for this Russell Martin pick other than he’s a four-time All Star who just grinds. He never makes any headlines, which is kind of how you want your catcher to be. I have a ton of respect for the old-school type of catcher who makes very few errors because I know how hard squatting like that for 120 games a year is. Not much to say for this one, other than the fact that his WAR is more than double that of Lucroy’s and he makes one tenth of the headlines.
Overrated: Todd Helton (61.8)
Underrated: Paul Goldschmidt (43.1)
Todd Helton played his whole career in the launchpad that is Coors Field and has benefitted from it in a massive way. He played essentially the same amount of games at home and away, yet hit sixty points higher and 62% of his home runs at home. For a career that spanned 17 years, a twelve percent outlier in terms of home runs hit is considered significant. He had a great career, don’t get me wrong, I’m simply saying that you stick him in a normal ballpark and he’s nothing special.
99% of the country couldn’t pick Paul Goldschmidt out of a two-person lineup, but that doesn’t change the fact that he hits the absolute piss out of the baseball. He got absolutely robbed of the 2013 NL MVP, but the six time All Star is showing no signs of stopping. Over the course of his career, his 162-game averages are 31 home runs and 104 RBI. That is raking, folks.
Overrated: Jose Altuve (36.7)
Underrated: Ian Kinsler (55.2)
If I made this list six months ago, zero shot Altuve makes it, but no list of overrated players made in 2020 would be complete without this little rat. Sure he has sick numbers, but who knows how many of them were aided by cheating. And just to get this on the record (and many pitchers have come out and said this) I’d way rather face someone who was juicing than someone who knew what was coming. Altuve falls into the latter category, and the list of excuses he came up with as to why he couldn’t take off his shirt after his walk off homer in the 2019 ALCS is laugh out loud funny. Just own up to it dog.
You may be noticing a theme with my underrated picks. Guys with long careers who make a few All Star teams and have surprisingly high WARs. Kinsler is the poster child for this cohort. He is third in games played at second base since 2010, too, so he stays on the field big time. Add in steady hands and two Gold Gloves to go along with his four ASG appearances and you have a habitually underrated player.
Overrated: Michael Young (24.7)
Underrated: Evan Longoria (56.0)
How Michael Young made seven All Star games amazes me. That 24.7 WAR is over fourteen (!!) years. That’s under 2 WAR a year. That is so heinous. Looking at his stats, I honestly can’t see how he even made one All Star game. His 162-game averages are 15 HR and 85 RBI. That doesn’t look like an All Star to me. And he didn’t even play for a big-time team, he was out in Texas, so I really don’t get it.
On the complete flip side, it makes no sense how Evan Longoria made just three ASG’s. He had an unreal rookie year and really never looked back, tallying 27 homers, 85 RBI, and an AL ROTY. He also delivered the all-time Rays moment back in 2011 when he walked off the Yankees to send the Rays to the playoffs. Add in a rocket wife and he’s good enough to make my list.
Overrated: Derek Jeter (71.3)
Underrated: Alex Rodriguez (117.5)
I have absolutely nothing to say about Jeter other than the fact that he wasn’t even the best SS on those Yankees teams after they added A-Rod, so I’ll let Keith Olbermann tell you why Jeter is so overrated.
A-Rod only makes this list because for some reason, he allowed Jeter to play short after he joined the Yankees. I won’t even go over his stats, because they’re ridiculous, besides that he is a member of the exclusive 40-40 club. He probably will have to wait to get into the HOF due to ridiculous double standards, but rest assured that he is the best, yes BEST, shortstop of all time, and gets absolutely no love. Think about this: the University of Miami field is called Alex Rodriguez Park, and he never even attended that school (he was drafted #1 out of HS). Do you realize how big of a baller you have to be to have that be the case. He has undergone a complete perception 180 since retiring, going from the most hated man in baseball to someone that most people actually enjoy hearing dissect the game.
Overrated: Kyle Schwarber (5.3)
Underrated: Barry Bonds (162.8)
Imagine a fat uncle, cousin, brother, father (some male family member) of yours and stick him in left field. That is Kyle Schwarber. His best accomplishment is finishing second to Bryce Harper in the 2018 Home Run Derby. I’m not kidding about that, his Baseball Reference page has a grand total of zero awards, yet he’s turned into somewhat of a cult hero in the north side of Chicago. It must be because he’s 6’ 0”, 235 lbs.
This is a complete bit. Bonds is my favorite player of all time and I still don’t think people realize that he is the BEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME. Full stop. His being on this list is a way to show that even though he is a seven-time MVP (think about that), he still gets slept on by the general public.
That video sums up how dominant and feared he was (regardless of steroid use) in his time, and I urge you to watch.
Overrated: Jackie Bradley Jr. (15.9)
Underrated: Andruw Jones (62.7)
If it weren’t for his better-than-average fielding, Jackie Bradley Jr. would never make it out of AAA. This guy’s career OPS is only 0.727, yet Sox fans are all infatuated with him. It must be him playing in Boston because I honestly get this obsession with him not at all. Side note, baseball money is ridiculous because he is making $11M in 2020 (or would be if the owners would stop being so cheap).
Jones might have been the easiest entry on my list. There are four players in history with 400+ home runs and 10 gold gloves: Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, Ken Griffey Jr., and Andruw Jones. The first three were first ballot Hall Of Famers, Jones may never get there. His 162-game averages of 32 HR’s and 95 RBI are elite, but his lack of an MVP may end up doing him in, unfortunately.
Overrated: Jayson Werth (29.2)
Underrated: Nick Markakis (34.2)
This one hurts me to type, because besides the World Series championship last year, this was my favorite DC sports moment (and there isn’t a close third):
Allegiances aside, Werth’s per-season WAR of under 2 is not great, and he was a whopping one-time All Star. The best thing about him is his plate vision, but unfortunately plate vision can’t make up for everything.
Nick Markakis is in the Evan Longoria category of really solid players who don’t get a lot of shine. I’ve seen a lot of him from his time in Baltimore (a local team of mine) to now as a division rival of the Nationals, and have always been a huge fan. I’m unsure how he only ever made a single ASG but his WAR is decently high for a one-time All Star, so he makes the list.
Overrated: Adam Dunn (17.9)
Underrated: Nelson Cruz (37.9)
Adam Dunn’s stats make you laugh out loud. A career 0.237 hitter, this guy is the “three true outcomes” (HR, walk, strikeout) personified. For a fourteen year career, a 17.9 WAR is laugh out loud funny, and I’m amazed he stuck around in baseball for this long. His OPS is decent, but I’m not sure I’d take it when the tradeoff is someone who can legitimately not play the field.
Cruz was put on this planet to barrel up baseballs. He hasn’t been on great teams since his World Series runs in 2010/2011, so people have stopped talking about him. That has proven a mistake. His 162-game averages of 38 homers and 107 RBI are absolutely amazing. He may never make the Hall Of Fame because of his position, but he gets slept on big time, and the six-time All Star deserves better.
There you have it. This was easily the most research I’ve done for one of these thus far. I need to go settle down, crack a lime Claw, and watch Long Gone Summer tonight at 9/8c.
Who are your most over/underrated players? Please direct any and all hate to @jziller17.