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Thursday, April 21, 2011
The 2011 all-overrated squad

By David Schoenfield

Howard/Buchholz/Jeter
Ryan Howard, Clay Buchholz and Derek Jeter have spots on the all-overrated team.
I did my all-underrated team the other day. Here's the all-overrated team. Now, all these guys aren't bad players. In fact, most of them are good players -- just not as good as I think they are widely viewed. And just because I included them doesn't mean I hate them or their team.

C -- Ivan Rodriguez, Nationals. He's had a Hall of Fame career, but it's been a long time since we've seen vintage Pudge. He hasn't posted an adjusted OPS above the league average since 2004 and posted a .286 OBP over the previous two seasons. And yet the Nationals still brought him back.

1B -- Ryan Howard, Phillies. When I asked for overrated nominees on Twitter, Howard easily received the most votes. Over the past three seasons, 16 first basemen received at least 1,500 plate appearances. Howard is 14th in OBP. He's fifth in slugging, but 10th in OPS. Look, Howard is a good player. He hits home runs and drives in runs. He seems like a great guy. But he's not one of the top five first basemen in the game and shouldn't be finishing in the top 10 in the NL MVP vote every season.

2B -- Ian Kinsler, Rangers. How good would he be away from the friendly hitting confines of The Ballpark? He's a career .312/.394/.530 hitter at home, but a pedestrian .246/.317/.404 on the road. He also has trouble staying healthy (he's played 140 games just once in five seasons).

Chone Figgins
Chone Figgins is off to a rough start, with just a .217 OBP through 17 games.
3B -- Chone Figgins, Mariners. OK, with a terrible start and a bad 2010, maybe nobody rates him too high anymore. The Mariners signed him to a big four-year deal after his fluke 2009 season -- his WAR totals via Baseball-Reference.com since 2006: 0.3, 2.8, 2.5, 6.9, 1.1 -- and now they're paying the price for misreading that season.

SS -- Derek Jeter, Yankees. I know, too easy. I'm not a Jeter hater -- I've written that you can make a case for him as the second-best shortstop of all time. His slow start isn't alleviating concerns that he's getting old.

OF -- Delmon Young, Twins. With a .298 average, 21 home runs and 112 RBIs, Young had a really great season in 2010, right? Except his OBP was only .333 (and .324 career) and nobody thinks his defense is any good. A classic example of a guy with Triple Crown stats that mask other problems.

OF -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox. Red Sox fans weren't happy when I mentioned in a recent chat that Ellsbury wasn't all that. I'll stick to that comment. His career OPS+ is 92 (below league average) and while he does steal bases, I think he's more adequate than great on defense. If he didn't play in Boston, he'd be known as "Michael Bourn."

OF -- Hunter Pence, Astros. He's consistent and durable and a good player who plays hard, but his .336 OBP prevents him from being the true star many fans view him as.

P -- Ricky Nolasco, Marlins. I'm with Eric Karabell on this one: Sabermetricians love his SO/BB ratio, but his career ERA is 4.40 in a good pitcher's park and he hasn't pitched 200 innings since 2008.

P -- A.J. Burnett, Yankees. Even when he was good, he wasn't that good. For years, we heard that he had the best stuff in the game, but his career ERA is 4.00. Now people are back on the Burnett bandwagon after his 3-0 start, but his WHIP is still an unimpressive 1.46.

P -- Clay Buchholz, Red Sox. He had a 2.33 ERA last season (helped in part by 10 unearned runs) and a lot people said he was a bit lucky since his strikeout rate wasn't impressive enough to match the few number of hits he gave up. So far, they've been proved right as Buchholz has stumbled out of the gate with a 10/14 SO/BB ratio and six home runs allowed (he gave up only nine all last season).

P -- Joba Chamberlain, Yankees. Have so many words ever been written about a mediocre middle reliever?

P -- Francisco Cordero, Reds. He's third among active pitchers with 292 career saves, but he's hardly a lights-out closer with a 3.23 career ERA and 1.36 WHIP. He's proof that a lot of guys could rack up 200-plus saves if given the opportunity.