Fans overrate certain players. It’s just a fact and the norm at this point. Whether it’s because they like said players’ teams, get caught up in the hype around flashy plays or pretty swings, the reality is that certain players are not as good as the numbers may seem. Taking a deeper look, they actually turn out quite average.
And teams are taking notice of just how much we as fans overrate players. One key free agent was expecting a contract north of $200m this offseason but had to settle for far less because teams refused to get caught up in his hype. Thus, let’s take a look at five players in particular who, despite their accomplishments, are overrated as can be.
1 JD Martinez
Martinez is one of the most dangerous power hitters in the game. He slugged 45 home runs with 104 RBI last year in just 119 games with the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks and also hit a respectable .303 to boot. Sure enough, he and agent Scott Boras were expecting to receive contract offers at or around $200m in free agency this winter.
But there's the rub. Martinez has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career and his phenomenal season actually worked against him because of how many games in which he appeared. He has played in more than 140 games just once in his career because of his constant struggles with injury.
That isn't to say Martinez isn't a fantastic hitter but because he has so many issues staying healthy, he can be over-hyped. Just as the Boston Red Sox, who saw right through the $200m demand and wound up giving up $110m over five years.
2 Jay Bruce
Jay Bruce, like Martinez, is a great hitter. He only hit .254 with the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians last year, but also slugged 36 homers with 101 RBI. Staying in the AL might have been the best idea for Bruce because of being able to take advantage of the DH rule, but he instead opted to re-sign with the Mets as a free agent for $39m over three years.
Though not a large deal, this could wind up hurting the Mets. Citi Field is notorious for being a premier pitcher's park and Bruce, with both Cleveland and New York last year, only hit .227 at home. The year before, with the Cincinnati Reds and then the Mets, he hit just .239 at home, though 2016 was a down year for him in general.
But Bruce is also a liability in the field. He posted a decent DRS in the outfield last year (6), but his UZR was low at 1.8. Bruce turns 31 in a couple of weeks, and chances are those fielding metrics will drop, especially in Citi Field's spacious outfield. The man is a fine hitter but because of his hit-or-miss fielding, he's definitely overrated.
3 Dellin Betances
Betances has posted solid bare bones numbers for his career. The tall righty reliever holds a 2.29 ERA in 291 appearances and has 504 strikeouts in 314.1 innings. Sure enough, his dominance in the bullpen has helped him be named to four consecutive AL All-Star teams.
Of course, those numbers are all meaningless. Betances is good at striking hitters out, but he also gets flustered on the mound and Yankee fans often hold their breath when he enters the game, especially last year. Betances had a real problem with walks and posted a BB/9 of 6.64. His swing-and-miss rate (Swing%) also dropped from 41.8% to 34.5%. Batters also swung less at his balls thrown out of the zone, with that number dropping from 30.8% to 23.6%.
Betances also saw his first pitch strike percentage drop from 60.9% to 51.3%. Last year was exceptionally bad for him, with the Yankees barely using him in the postseason because of his control issues, but what people don't realize is that Betances has always had control problems. They were just magnified last year because of hitters becoming wise to them.
It doesn't matter how many strikeouts a pitcher can accumulate. If they allow baserunners leading up to them, what does it matter? Betances needs to learn this and adjust accordingly if he wants his career to continue.
4 Albert Pujols
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Yes, Pujols is a three-time MVP with 614 career home runs before the age of 40, but MLB fans have watched his decline happen in slow motion for the past few years. Last year alone, though he had 23 homers and 101 RBI, Pujols hit a career-worst .241 with an abysmal .286 OBP.
Also, consider this. Before signing a 10-year, $240m deal with the Angels before the 2012 season, Pujols had a lifetime batting average of .328. That number has since dipped to .305 following his batting just .262 in an Angels uniform. Pujols also grounded into 26 double plays last year, which led the majors.
His walks have declined each of the past three years and his strikeouts have gone up. His contract is an absolute albatross and, despite that, fans still cheer his name because of the player he used to be. If that's not overrated, I don't know what is.
5 Eric Hosmer
Eric Hosmer is a fun player to watch. Between his slick plays in the field and a decent home run swing, it's no wonder the man has turned into a perennial All-Star. Still, when taking a deeper look at his numbers, Hosmer really isn't worth the hype.
Hosmer may have four Gold Gloves at first base, but his fielding metrics prove that diving for everything doesn't really help. He has a career DRS of -21 at his position and his career UZR is even worse at -29. He's only 28 years old now, but those numbers strongly suggest a move to either the outfield or DH may be in his future.
That will not happen now that he has joined the San Diego Padres of the NL West on an eight-year, $144m contract. The DH rule isn't there to protect him, so Hosmer is on his own.
Not only that, but he is a first baseman in an era where more home runs are being hit, and his career high in the statistic is only 25. Throw in that his new home stadium is Petco Park, where hitters go to die, and Hosmer's career is almost definitely bound for a sharp downturn.
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