Updated: Jun 7, 2021
Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
The great game of baseball. Full of young stars from all over the world including twenty different countries. The oldest Major League player to play in a game in 2019 was Ichiro Suzuki at 45-years-old. The youngest player to play in an MLB game in 2019 was Elvis Luciano a 19-year-old pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays. Baseball takes many shapes and sizes. In 2017, the American league's Most Valuable Player stood 5'6 and165 pounds in José Altuve* (notice the asterisk) and the runner up was the 6'7 and 285 pounds New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge. Americans swarm their desired stadiums in scorching heat and below-freezing temperatures. Baseball fans are passionate, and boy do we have an opinion on everything. Here is a list of my most overrated and underrated players on every Major League roster heading into the upcoming season. Whether that season is in 2020 or beyond. I look back on the player's 2019 season and look at their career numbers before that to see common trends. I will back up my answers with statistics and explain why I feel that a certain player falls into the category. I will site the commonly used stat FWar a lot, and this statistic is a pretty self-explanatory stat in general. FWar stands for wins above replacement, and it is effectively trying to capture how many wins a certain player will provide his team compared to the first replacement player they would call up from the minors to take his spot. An average player will produce about 2.0 FWar, and some of the best players in baseball can produce upwards of an 8.0 FWar season. The worst season we have seen from an FWar standpoint is Baltimore Orioles' first baseman, Chris Davis, in 2018 when he registered a -3.2 FWar. FWar is not based on a certain organization, it is a player worth on any organization. Some of the players were obvious choices with others being a little trickier.
Most Overrated: RHP Archie Bradley
After pitching to a 5.18 ERA in his first 34 starts as a Major League pitcher many people started to question Archie Bradley's once highly regarded top prospect status. Still, at only 23-years-old the Diamondbacks still regarded Bradley as a valuable pitcher. He went into 2017 battling for a rotation spot but lost to now World Series hero Washington Nationals Pitcher Patrick Corbin. Bradley served as a reliever in 2017 and grew his infamous wild beard. His beard might be top 5 in the MLB right now but he is the most overrated player on the Arizona Diamondbacks. After a terrific first season as a reliever in 2017 where he pitched 73 innings, had 79 strikeouts, and an elite ERA of 1.73, he has been pretty average ever since. In 2018 and 2019 he pitched a combined 143 1/3 innings with a 3.58 ERA. He has been a very serviceable reliever for the Diamondbacks, and they shifted him to more of a closer's role in mid-July after Greg Holland was demoted and then later released. This does not take away from the fact that he is not an elite reliever like many assume him to be after his 2017 season. He blew 3 saves out of 21 tries and had 5 losses. His FWar was 1.1 which ranked 37th amongst relievers in the Major Leagues just behind Scott Burlow of the Royals and Tommy Kahnle of the Yankees. Archie Bradley is a serviceable reliever with an A+ beard, but his past two seasons compared to his breakout year in 2017 have led him to become the most overrated player on the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Most Underrated: 2B/CF Ketel Marte
Even after finishing fourth in the 2019 National League MVP race Ketel Marte remains one of the more overlooked stars in baseball today. The 26-year-old Marte exploded onto the scene last year batting .330 with a .592 slugging and 34 home runs in 144 games. He split time between second base and center fielder while being an above-average defender at both spots. He also registered as an above-average baserunner. In 2020 (assuming there is a season at some point) he will be the starting second basemen with the acquisition of former Pittsburgh Pittsburg outfielder Starling Marte to play center field. Ketel Marte did pretty well in 2018 in his first full year as a starter producing an FWar of 2.6. The speedster built off that campaign in 2019 with an extraordinary FWar of 7.1. This ranked him 8th in all of Major League Baseball. This was just behind the New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and just above Los Angeles Angels superstar Anthony Rendon. Marte had an extremely good strikeout percentage of 13.6% which ranked him 17th in the league among qualified hitters. In this current baseball era, it is very uncommon for a power hitter to strike out at that low of a clip. Many power hitter's strikeout 20% or more of the time. The only player that had a better strikeout percentage than him while hitting more home runs was Alex Bregman. The switch-hitting Marte will look to build off of his 2019 season and solidify himself as one of the premier second basemen in all of baseball.
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Most Overrated: SS Dansby Swanson
Coming out of the University of Vanderbilt, shortstop Dansby Swanson was regarded as the best player in the draft 2015. He led the Vanderbilt Commodores to their first-ever National Championship after defeating the University of Virginia in 2014. This led to the Arizona Diamondbacks picking him first overall. He was traded to his hometown team the Atlanta Braves along with Ender Enciarte less than a year later in a deal that sent Shelby Miller to Arizona. This has gone down as one of the worst trades in the past decade as Shelby Miller pitched only 139 innings in three seasons for Arizona going 5-18 with a 6.35 ERA. Swanson has been the starter for Atlanta since 2017 after getting his first cup up coffee and performing well in 38 games in 2016. In his three years as a starter, Swanson has a batting average of .240 with 37 home runs and an OPS of .694. He hit his career-high of 17 home runs last season in 127 games. According to Fangraphs, he was a below-average hitter and fielder in 2019 ranking 21st among shortstops in FWar behind Jose Iglesias of the Reds and just above Elvis Andrus of the Rangers. Swanson has had a combined 3.9 FWAr in his first 445 games as a Major Leaguer. Compared to the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, Alex Bregman, who was picked one slot behind Swanson out of LSU who has a combined 19.1 FWar over his last 445 games. The 26-year-old Swanson still has a lot of upside and many writers predict he is on target for a breakout year this year, but Dansby Swanson is the most overrated player on the Atlanta Braves.
Most Underrated: RHP Mike Soroka
The 2019 Atlanta Braves were known for their young homegrown superstar talent. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies both produced incredible numbers and were ranked in the top 5 of their positions at just 22-years-old. Freddie Freeman continued to be the best first basemen in the Major Leagues while clobbering a career-high 38 home runs. Josh Donaldson bounced back in a big way for the Braves with a 4.9 FWar and an OPS of .900. With all this firepower on a roster, it is easy to overlook their 21-year-old rookie pitcher Mike Soroka. He was drafted 28th overall by the Braves in 2015 out of high school, and this is remarkable considering hockey was his main sport until he was 15-years-old. Their rookie ace got 6th in the CY Young voting just behind Washington Nationals stud Stephen Strasburg and above Los Angeles Dodgers legend Clayton Kershaw. Mike Soroka hurled 174 2/3 innings last season with an ERA of 2.68 and a WHIP of 1.11. To do this at 21 years of age in a hitter-friendly ballpark was quite remarkable. He used a combination of his turbo sinker reaching up to 96mph and pinpoint command to fool hitters. In his one playoff appearance in the NLDS against the Cardinals Soroka pitched 7 innings allowing only 1 run and having 7 strikeouts. He did this on the road in front of a sold-out St. Louis crowd. Mike Soroka was one of the best pitchers in the league as a 21-year-old in 2019 and he will look to be the ace of the Atlanta Braves for many years to come.
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Most Overrated: RHP Alex Cobb
The Baltimore Orioles. Not much to look at for this franchise and it is getting hard to believe how good of a ballclub they were just four short years ago. They lost 108 games last year and it would not be surprising in the next full Major League season if they lost even more games. Starting pitcher Alex Cobb has shown flashes of greatness in his Major League career and he was a very serviceable starter for the Tampa Bay Rays especially in his 2014, 2015, and 2017 seasons. He missed the 2015 and most of the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. He is known for his split-finger fastball and his improved curveball. In 2017 his first full season after the surgery he pitched a career-high 179 1/3 innings with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts. It took him a while to get the feel of his split-finger fastball again and did not start throwing it often until the next season. Due to his bounce-back season with the Rays in 2017, he scored a 4-year $67 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles have been in the last place in the AL East the past three seasons and Alex Cobb has not been doing much to help this case. In two seasons as an Oriole, he has pitched in 31 games with a 5.36 ERA with 33 home runs in only 164 2/3 innings pitched. He has never been known as a strikeout pitcher but is now only striking out 6 hitters per 9 innings. He only pitched in 3 games in 2019 while battling a variety of injuries and in those three starts, he threw only 12 1/3 innings with an eye-popping 9 home runs allowed. For a pitcher to have this poor of a decline as a 32-year old while stilling having 2- years and $29 million dollars left on his contract leads him to be the most overrated player on the Baltimore Orioles.
Most Underrated: OF/1B/DH Trey Mancini
When looking at the Baltimore Orioles roster it is shocking to realize for such a terrible team they have a major lack of young talent. There are a couple of bright spots on this roster and rookie left-handed starting pitcher John Means deserves a lot of credit for his spectacular rookie season leading him to be the Orioles representative in the All-Star game. Trey Mancini, on the other hand, has been a star in the making that almost no one knows about. After spending four years in the minors Mancini was called up in September of 2016 and became an everyday player in 2017. Mancini hit a home run in his first two career starts in 2016 and ended his rookie season batting .293 with 24 home runs in 2017. He was primarily a first baseman in the minors and played first base and the University of Notre Dame. He had to transition to an outfield/ DH role for the most part because of the Orioles still having to pay the disastrous Chris Davis for three more seasons. Mancini has struggled in the outfield as a defender, but his bat allows him to play every day. He had a down year in 2018 but rebounded in a big way in 2019 setting career highs in almost every offensive category. He batted .291 with 35 home runs, 97 RBIs, and a .899 OPS. He also struck out only 21% of the time which is a pretty good total for a power hitter in 2019. His stats were good enough for a 3.6 FWar which was 9th in the league among 28 qualified right fielders. Out of the eight guys ahead of him on this list, only one player has not made it to an All-Star game, and that player is Max Kepler of the Minnesota Twins. Mancini is a great hitter in the Major Leagues and has put up outstanding numbers especially when considering the players surrounding him on the miserable Orioles roster. The baseball world is supporting and sending all of their prayers to Mancini who has been recently diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. Of course, health is his number one priority and he is unlikely to play in the 2020 season, but with his attitude and the support he is receiving, he expects to make a full recovery.
Boston Red Sox
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Most Overrated: LF Andrew Benintendi
This 25-year-old left fielder has already accomplished two accolades that most baseball players will never achieve. In 2015, the Arkansas Razorback won the Golden Spikes Award which is given to the best college baseball player in the United States. He batted .376 with 20 home runs and an OPS of 1.205. After being drafted with the 7th overall selection by the Boston Red Sox in the 2015 MLB draft "Benny" was called up to the big leagues straight from Double-A only 421 days after being drafted. Benintendi then became a World Series champion in 2018 playing a vital role in the Red Sox 4-1 series win against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He batted second in the potent Red Sox lineup and provided them with many big hits, and a spectacular game-winning catch in the ALCS against the Houston Astros. Other than his 2018 season where he produced an FWar of 4.0 with a .290 batting average with 20 home runs to go along with 21 steals he has been a very average player in the Major Leagues. His defensive numbers have been boosted dramatically by arguably playing the easiest position in baseball of left field at Fenway Park. His power has not fully translated yet to the Major Leagues and his .431 slugging percentage along with 13 home runs both ranked well below average. His 2.0 FWar ranked him 11th in the league among left fielders behind Marcell Ozuna of the Cardinals and above Ryan Braun of the Brewers. He took a step backward after a superb 2018 season and it will be interesting to see what the college standout can provide the Boston Red Sox with in the future. With Benintendi and Dansby Swanson both be labeled as overrated, it is fair to say their prolific college careers have not fully translated to the Major Leagues.
Most Underrated: 3B Rafael Devers
It is a shame that baseball's influx of premium shortstops and third basemen allow players like Rafael Devers to be overlooked. The 23-year-old Devers signed with the Boston Red Sox as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in August of 2013. He has quite simply raked at every level since and has been the starting third basemen for the Red Sox since their 2018 title run. In his first full year as a starter, he batted .240 with a high strikeout rate of 24.7%. The young Devers looked overmatched at certain points throughout the season and some scouts did not believe that he could handle third base defensively. To say he improved in 2019 is an understatement. In almost every statistical category, Devers improved dramatically. He batted .311, had 32 home runs, 115 RBIs, 129 runs scored, and cut his strikeout rate to a much more manageable 17%. He took massive strides defensively and registered a 5.9 FWar. This ranked him as one of the most elite third basemen in baseball ranking 4th in the league. This put him in the same category with names like Matt Chapman of the Oakland Athletics and Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies. With the departure of former MVP Mookie Betts, the young third basemen will continue to develop and become one of the most feared hitters on the Boston Red Sox. For more on one of the best third basemen in baseball, be sure to check out the article about Devers on our great website titled "Rafael Devers, future Hall of Famer" by Chris Blake where he goes in-depth on how the 23-year-old Devers has morphed into a new, elite player after just a couple of seasons.
Most Overrated: OF Jayson Heyward
As a Washington Nationals fan, I regularly think about what would have happened if Jayson Heyward accepted Mike Rizzo's reported offer of over $200 million. Would Washington have hoisted the World Series Trophy in October if Heyward was a member of the Nationals? I seriously do not think it would have. Jayson Heyward signed an 8-year $184 million-dollar contract in December of 2015 and to say he has not lived up to his contract has been an understatement. Coming off a solid year with the Cardinals in 2015 where he produced a 5.6 FWar and won a Gold Glove it was fair to give Heyward the huge deal entering his prime. In his first four years as a Chicago Cub, he has produced a 6 FWar. Combined. The 6'5 240 pounds right fielder has struggled to amass power and has only produced an above-average slugging percentage in 3 of his 10 seasons. His once elite glove has declined over the past two seasons and he is now not even considered a threat on the base paths. He made headlines in the 2017 offseason by "completely overhauling" his swing and got high praise from then Cubs manager Joe Madden. These offseason tweaks provided minimal results from Heyward's first miserable season as a Chicago Cub and Cubs fans will have to wait four more years until one of the worst contracts in baseball has expired.
Most Underrated: RHP Kyle Hendricks
Flashy, electric, powerful. These are three adjectives that cannot be associated with Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. Do you know what can be associated with him though? Consistency. Kyle Hendricks has been one of the best and most consistent starters in all of baseball over the past 5 years. In an age where pitchers are applauded for their high velocity and wicked breaking pitchers, Kyle Hendricks is an anomaly. His 86.9 MPH average fastball velocity ranked dead last in all of the Major Leagues in 2019. The average fastball in 2019 was 93.4 MPH and with many hard-throwing young pitchers breaking into the bigs the velocity is only projected to go higher and higher. He led the Major Leagues in 2016 with an ERA of 2.13. Over the past three seasons, his ERA has been 3.03, 3.44, and 3.46. He keeps hitters off-balance by mixing up speeds and keeping balls away. "The Professor" a nickname likening him to baseball great Greg Maddux, uses pinpoint control along with an inside running two-seamer the freezes a lot of hitters. He is as efficient as pitchers come and pitched an 81-pitch complete-game shutout on May 3rd, 2019 against the St. Louis Cardinals. In his dominant performance, Hendricks allowed just four hits and threw only 17 balls. He did not allow a baserunner to advance past second base. His 4.1 FWar ranked him amongst the game's elite starting pitchers but many people will continue to overlook the soft throwing right-hander.
Chicago White Sox
Most Overrated: 1B José Abreu
José Abreu has been the face of the Chicago White Sox for the past five seasons. He signed with them after defecting from Cuba to a 6-year contract worth $68 million in October of 2013. After that contract expired, he signed a 3-year $50 million-dollar deal in 2019 which will keep him under contract with the White Sox through 2022. He won the Rookie of the Year in his first season as a 27-year-old batting .317 with 36 home runs and led the league in slugging with a .581 clip in. Ever since his magical rookie season, he has been an average player. He has never been a good defender and has been a liability on the base paths. In 2019 his -4 Defensive Runs Saved ranked dead last among American League first basemen. He has been a serviceable player for quite some time now but is not deserving of the star status many fans attribute him with. His 2019 FWar ranked him 14th in the Major Leagues out of 20 qualified first basemen. His single-season slugging percentage and the home run total has never eclipsed his rookie year numbers. His walk percentage in 2019 was minuscule at only 5.2%. Since he walks at this low of a clip his on-base percentage has always been hovering around league average. Abreu will continue to be a leader and mentor to the younger players. His bat will allow him to remain an everyday player in the Major Leagues for the future, but José Abreu earning a $50 million-dollar contract at 33-years-old, and his back to back All-Star nods is a stretch.
Most Underrated: 3B Yoán Moncada
When considering the best third basemen in the Major Leagues the first names that pop up into your heads are Anthony Rendon, Alex Bregman, and Nolan Arenado. These three players have consistently been producing for many years now, but it is now time to realize Yoán Moncada will soon be on this shortlist of elitists. Moncada was one of the most hyped prospects coming from Cuba in the past ten years. After being granted permission to come to the states from the Cuban government a bidding war ensued for the highly touted five-tool Moncada. He agreed to a deal with the Red Sox in March of 2015 for a signing bonus of $31.5 million dollars. In 2016 he was shipped to the White Sox along with Michael Kopech and two other prospects for ace Chris Sale. He became the starting second basemen for the White Sox, and people started to forget about him and write him off after an abysmal 2017 where he batted only .231 in 54 games. In 2018 he played in his first full year in the majors finishing with a .235 batting average and striking out an MLB-leading 217 times. He also had the lowest fielding percentage among second baseman in the Major Leagues at .963. After two down seasons, Moncada completely fell off the radar. In an article by Bleacher Report writer Jacob Shafer, he labeled Moncada, "MLB's $63 million-dollar phenom and Chris Sale trade prize turned likely bust". This was harsh labialization, but his 217 strikeouts and 21 error season did not help to go against the notion. The White Sox moved Moncada over to third base in 2019 and everything started to click for him. At 24-years-old Moncada batted .315 with 25 home runs and a .548 slugging percentage in 132 games. His 5.7 Fwar put him at 6th best among third basemen in baseball and his defensive metrics ranked him well above average. The once labeled one in a generation player had an excellent year in 2019 and he will be looking to prove everyone wrong who previously wrote him off.
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Most Overrated: 1B Joey Votto
The days of Joey Votto's walk percentage being the topic of every baseball fan's discussions are long over. It was only a few years ago when Votto's hawk-eye almost drew him some criticism. His high walk rates and taking borderline pitches urged many fans to want him to swing the bat more. With Votto's approach he still only struck out 17.2% of the time from 2011-2018. His career batting average is .307 with 284 career home runs. He is a six-time All-Star, won the NL MVP in 2010, and has also won a Gold Glove, but the 36-year-old first basemen had a disastrous season in 2019. It is almost sad to see former superstars hit their unavoidable decline. In 2019 Joey Votto batted .261 with just 15 home runs in 142 games. He ranked 17th out of 20 qualified first basemen in the Major Leagues with an FWar of 0.7. The most alarming numbers of his 2019 were his rise in strikeouts and his decrease in walks. His 2019 strikeout percentage was 20.2% which was the most in his career and his walk percentage was 12.5% the lowest it has been since his rookie season. His was below average at the plate, in the field, and a below-average baserunner. Joey Votto will look to rebound next season to regain his career numbers but at 36-years-old with 4 years and $100 million dollars left on his contract, Joey Votto is the most overrated player on the Cincinnati Reds.
Most Underrated: 3B Eugenio Suárez
When thinking about the most perennial power hitters in the game, names like Aaron Judge, Nelson Cruz, Cody Bellinger, and Pete Alonso will be the first few guys that pop into your head. But why not Eugenio Suárez? The 5'11 210-pound slugger from Venezuela was second to Pete Alonso last season in the home run race with 49 home runs. His OPS was .930 ranking him 17th in all of Major League Baseball just ahead of Cubs star first baseman Anthony Rizzo. With Pete Alonso's emergence in Queens, it became easy to overlook what Suárez did last season for the Cincinnati Reds. In his fifth season with the Reds, he batted .271 with 49 home runs and 103 RBIs. He has improved every season with Cincinnati and has become one of the most feared hitters in the National League. His defense has steadily improved after formerly being moved from shortstop in 2016. Suárez did lead the National League in strikeouts last year with 189 and committed 17 errors in the field. From a fielding standpoint, he committed two fewer errors than he did in 2018 while playing in 16 more games. After putting up two great power seasons in a row Suárez should now be considered one of the best perennial power hitters in the game. His 83 combined home runs in the past two seasons put him in elite company. Mike Trout has 84 home runs over the past two years and Christian Yelich has hit 80. In a baseball generation where power reigns supreme players like Eugenio Suárez need the recognition that they deserve.
Photo by AP Photo/ Patrick Semansky
Most Overrated: DH/RF Franmil Reyes
It is very difficult to talk about how power reigns supreme in baseball today and then label the Indian's 24-year-old Franmil Reyes overrated. The DH/RF batted .249 with 37 home runs and a .822 OPS. On paper, this seems like a serviceable player that any team would take on their roster but let us dive into his numbers a little deeper. In 150 games with the Cleveland Indians and San Diego Padres Reyes only managed to put up a 1.0 FWar. This was due to his horrid defense in right field and well below average baserunning. With the Padres being in the National League he had to play in right field which diminished his value. He had -12 defensive runs saved in the field. After being shipped to Cleveland he only played 3 of his 51 games in right field. Many teams in the American League today like to have a flexible DH role and rotate players in that spot. The Indians are hoping that Reyes is able to log some innings of average defense in right, but it is not looking too promising. His baserunning is also rated one of the worst in the league and he very rarely is able to take the extra base. Reyes has publicly talked about wanting to improve his defense, but with very average hitting other than the 37 home runs, and very poor baserunning this 24-year-old slugger is the most overrated player on the Cleveland Indians.
Most Underrated: RHP Mike Clevinger
The Cleveland Indians have been strong contenders in the American League the past five seasons being anchored by their elite starting rotation. With names like Cory Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco it is easy to forget about a starting pitcher like Mike "Sunshine" Clevinger. Some could even argue that Mike Clevinger is not even the most underrated player in the Indian's current rotation. Shane Bieber pitched 214 1/3 innings for the Indians in 2019 with an ERA of 3.28 and 259 strikeouts. While Bieber deserves more recognition and has a bright future ahead, I need to see at least one more solid year from him to consider him a top pitcher in the game. The 29-year-old Mike Clevinger has developed himself into one of the more complete pitchers in baseball. Clevinger's first season as a full-time starter for the Indians he heavily relied on his above-average slider putting up a 3.11 ERA in 27 games with 21 of those being starts. His average fastball was 92.5 miles per hour. By the end of 2019, his average fastball was 95.9 MPH, and it only improved as the season went along. The depth on his slider and horizontal movement also increased and he attributed these improvements to retooling his pitching motion. He made only 21 starts in 2019 but still posted an FWar of 4.5. Compared to other pitchers in the league the Nationals postseason hero Patrick Corbin compiled a 4.8 FWar in 2019 while making 12 more starts. If Clevinger had kept pace and pitched a full season in 2019 his FWar would have been slightly above the total that Stephen Strasburg put up in 2019. I would say this is pretty good company. Clevinger had 169 strikeouts in 121 innings while decreasing his walks per nine innings from previous seasons. Mike Clevinger will look to continue to steadily improve his production and shine as the brightest star in the Cleveland Indians rotation.
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Most Overrated: RHP Wade Davis
It was not too long ago when Wade Davis was considered one of the best relief pitchers in the game. He was so valuable to the Chicago Cubs that they sent future AL Homerun champ Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for one year of Wade Davis' services. In his three seasons as a full-time reliever for the Royals, his ERA was a minuscule 1.18 with 47 saves in 182 2/3 innings pitched. He compiled 234 strikeouts in those innings and only allowed 3 home runs in his 185 appearances. After being traded to Chicago, his 2017 season with the Cubs was another solid one earning him his third consecutive All-Star appearance with a 2.30 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings. His success as a reliever earned him a 3-year $52 million-dollar contract with the Colorado Rockies, also known as the place where pitchers go to die. In 2018 he was not his usual self but still put together a respectable ERA of 4.13 and set a franchise record of 43 saves, but in 2019 he was nothing short of a disaster. He had one of the worst ERA's among relievers last season finishing with an 8.65 ERA in 50 games. His fastball averaged 93.5 MPH down from his 96.7 MPH fastball he threw with the Royals in 2017. He also had a lack of control and hitters made him pay for his mistakes. He gave up 7 home runs in 42 2/3 innings which was more than twice the total he gave up with the Royals from 2014-2016. If you are wondering if it is just the Coors Field effect on Davis, think again. His ERA on the road was 5.40 and his ERA at home was 11.10. This is a drastic gap between the two, but Davis is still not putting him good numbers on the road. He gave up 3 of his 7 home runs allowed on the road. The days of Davis being a lockdown closer are long over, and he is now no longer a serviceable reliever in the Major Leagues.
Most Underrated: SS Trevor Story
Trevor Story lit the baseball world on fire with a historic start to his career in 2016. With the Rockies starting shortstop José Reyes being suspended to start the season Story won the starting shortstop job after a solid Spring Training. In his first game as a big leaguer, he hit two home runs against the Arizona Diamondbacks off of former Cy Young award winner Zack Grienke. He followed that up with hitting at least one home run in his next three games. He then hit a home run in his sixth game becoming the first Major League player in history to hit 7 home runs in his team's first six games of the regular season. Ever since this tear, many fans do not even have Trevor Story on their radar. The now 27-year-old shortstop has become one of the best shortstops in the game over the past two seasons. In his past two seasons, he has put together a 5.1 and 5.8 FWar. He hit 37 then 35 home runs while also putting together a batting average above .290. He is an elite fielding shortstop and is a well above average baserunner, stealing over 20 bags in each of his past two seasons. Considering all of the elite shortstops in Major League Baseball Story ranked 3rd in FWar in 2019 just behind Boston Red Sox Xander Bogarts and Oakland Athletics Marcus Semian, and above names like Cleveland Indians Francisco Lindor, Chicago Cubs Javier Baez, and New York Yankees Gleybar Torres. In 2019 he also hit his 100th career homerun becoming the fastest shortstop to reach this mark surpassing Alex Rodriguez in hist 448th game. Trevor Story does not garner the attention he deserves mainly due to the fact of being over shined by one of the best third basemen over the past five years in Nolan Arenado. Story is one of the brightest and most talented shortstops in the game and is by far the most underrated player on the Colorado Rockies.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Most Overrated: DH/1B Miguel Cabrera
Well, first off let me say it is sad that we have gotten to this point. Miguel Cabrera is one of the most respected and feared hitters of the 21st century. The 37-year-old first-ballot Hall of Famer has put up All-Star numbers since his 2004 season with the then Florida Marlins as an outfielder. He was sent to the Detroit Tigers in a blockbuster 2007 deal and the rest is history. He has never had an above-average year defensively at any position in the field but has still managed to compile a 70.6 FWar entering his 18th season. He is known around baseball as one of the nicest guys that have ever played the game and he is loved by the city of Detroit. He won the Triple Crown in 2012 compiling a .330 batting average with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs. This is one of the rarest feats in baseball and he became the first player to achieve this feat since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Ever since his last All-Star appearance in 2016 as a 33-year-old, Miguel Cabrera has been one of the worst players in the Major Leagues. In his 304 games from 2017-2019, he has compiled a 0.2 FWAr with only 31 home runs. In 2019 he played in 136 games mostly as a DH, batting .282 with 12 home runs. He expressed his frustration with his poor play and his lack of power. His slugging percentage was the worst of his career at .398 falling well below league average and even behind light-hitting Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler. His -0.3 FWar rated him 10th out of the 11 qualified DHs in the league above Oakland Athletic's DH/OF Khris Davis. With 4 years and $132 million dollars left on Miguel Cabrera's contract the former back to back MVP is the Detroit Tigers' most overrated player.
Most Underrated: OF Victor Reyes
It is difficult to find many bright spots on a baseball team that put together a 47-114 record in 2019. The Detroit Tigers win percentage of .291% ranked them as the 16th worst team in the history of baseball since the common era began in 1900. They finished 54 games back of the first-place Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. There are many diehard baseball fans in the world that I could bet $100 they could not name one player in the starting lineup other than Miguel Cabrera at any point during the season. The only qualified hitter on the Tigers was Miguel Cabrera and he played in the most games of any Tiger at just 136. When looking through the Tigers roster one player really seemed to be a solid player for this horrendous ball club. 25-year-old Victor Reyes split time between every outfield spot for the Tigers in 2019 and shined in center field. He was an elite defender and showed off his speed and versatility even while being listed at 6'5 and 220 pounds. In just 69 games at the Major League level in 2019, he batted .303 with 3 home runs, a .431 slugging percentage and a 1.6 FWar. He showed off even more power in Triple-A hitting 9 home runs in 65 games. There is growing optimism in the Detroit Tigers organization that Reyes can continue to produce next season as he did in 2019, and at worst he will be a solid glove-first defender in the outfield for years to come.
David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Most Overrated: SS Carlos Correa
The Houston Astros seemingly became the most hated team in all of the major sports overnight. The more the story unfolded over time the more the baseball world hates the Astros. Josh Redick is the obvious choice here to be overrated, but he has been falling off for years now. One of the player's most vocal characters was starting shortstop Carlos Correa. He acted very defensively, cowardly, and childish as he answered the media and was very unapologetic. When looking at the numbers it is clear the Correa has not been the same player since 2017. It is very interesting to think about what happened in 2017 and how it has affected his career after that. The former first overall pick was one of the game's most hyped prospects and bursted onto the scene as a 20-year-old in 2015. He was an All-Star in 2017 batting .315 with 24 home runs and a .550 slugging percentage in only 109 games. This was good for a 5.1 FWar. He has struggled with injuries ever since and has played in only 294 games over the past three seasons. In 2018 he batted only .239 with 15 home runs in 110 games. Last season he posted a .279 batting average with 21 home runs in only 75 games. These are great numbers for the amount of time he played but he cannot be considered an elite player if he continues to be hampered with injuries. He also was nonexistent in the 2019 playoffs batting .191 in the 18 games he was a part of. In his 50 career playoff games, he is a .247 hitter with a .474 slugging percentage. In his two World Series appearances, he has been registered as a below-average offensive player. Carlos Correa is a solid everyday player, but his injuries and average playoff performances lead to him being the most overrated player on the Houston Astros.
Most Underrated: LF Michael Brantley
There is one thing that comes to my mind when I think of Michael Brantley. He just gets hits. Brantley broke into the league with the Indians in 2009 as a 22-year-old. He has been a great player when healthy but did not receive much attention playing for the Cleveland Indians. In 2014 he made his first All-Star appearance for the Indians batting .327 with 20 home runs and a .890 OPS putting up a 6.5 FWar. He also was third in the MVP voting behind Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Mike Trout and Detroit Tigers DH Victor Martinez. After another solid season in 2015, he played in only 11 games in 2016 then 90 games in 2017. His last full season with the Indians came in 2018 when he batted .309 with a .468 slugging and struck out just 9.5% of the time. The Houston Astros rewarded him with a 2-year $36 million-dollar contract and after the 2019 season he had Houston should feel great about this deal. Brantley made the All-Star team for the third consecutive season batting .311 with a career-high 22 home runs in 148 games good for a 4.2 FWar This ranked him as an elite outfielder. He has always been an average to an above-average fielder in the outfield and always swipes a few bags. His batting average on balls in play was very similar to his .311 batting average so that also indicates he was not very lucky for most of the season. The 32-year-old Michael Brantley is a solid left fielder that when healthy is a borderline All-Star and has a spot on every team in the Major Leagues. He is a true professional and one of the only players on the Houston Astros that is respected and well-liked.
Kansas City Royals
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Most Overrated: LF Alex Gordon
Left fielder Alex Gordon has been a part of both of the Kansas City Royals World Series runs and played a big part in both of them. At the University of Nebraska, he won the Golden Spikes Award in 2005 which is given to the best amateur baseball player in the United States. He was selected as the second overall pick in the 2005 draft behind current Angels outfielder Justin Upton. He was called up in 2007 as a third baseman and was very inconsistent in the field. After being demoted and groomed as an outfielder his career took off. He put up four very solid seasons for the Royals from 2011-2014. He was an All-Star in two of those years and won four consecutive Gold Gloves'. He had a combined FWar of 21.2 while posting a batting average of .283 and a .453 slugging percentage in 624 games. He was a reliable outfielder with a flashy glove and a slightly above average bat, but since those four seasons, his career has taken a steep decline. He last was an All-Star in 2015 batting .271 with 13 home runs in 104 games. The Royals won the World Series that season dominating the 2015 New York Mets. Gordon hit a huge game-tying home run in the bottom of the 9th of game 1 to tie the game up at 4-4. Eric Hosmer would later hit a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 14th inning to win the game. In his four seasons with the Royals after their World Series victory from 2016-2019, he has a combined 3.4 FWar in 567 games. His batting average has been .237 with a well below league average .366 slugging percentage. His once elite defense has also declined even though he has still won a Gold Glove for the past three seasons. Alex Gordon is a 36-year-old outfielder on a non-contending team that has not been a solid player for the Royals since their magical run in 2015. It is time for the rebuilding of Kansas City Royals to move on from their once postseason hero Alex Gordon. Gordon has had a couple of solid seasons in his career but has never had a great bat and has not been an above-average player since 2015.
Most Underrated: SS Aldalberto Mondesí
Raúl Aldalberto Mondesí, now known by Adalberto Mondesí is an extremely talented and young switch-hitting shortstop out of the Dominican Republic who is still only 24-year-old. He signed with the Royals in 2011 as an international free agent and made his Major League debut in the 2015 World Series. He was the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to make his MLB debut in the World Series. The Royals did this for mainly defensive and baserunning purposes, but he did make one pinch-hit appearance striking out against New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard in game 3. In his first 72 games as a big leaguer in 2016-2017, he struggled mightily batting .181 while mostly playing second base. In 2018 he was named the starting shortstop in mid-June and in 75 games he batted .276 with 14 home runs and 32 stolen bases. This was worth a 2.8 FWar and he shined defensively at short. His blistering speed allowed him to put a ton of pressure on the defense and was 8th in the Major L345536eagues in stolen bases even when only playing in 75 games. All of the seven players ahead of him played in at least 141 games. In 2019 he was having a great under the radar season until a nagging left shoulder injury caused him to miss 60 games. In 102 games Mondesí batted .263 with 9 home runs, 43 steals, and a league-high 10 triples. His 43 steals were second in all of baseball even though he missed a good chunk of the season. Mondesí is one of the brightest young shortstops in the game and will have a monster 2020 season if he can stay healthy. His above-average bat, great defense, and elite baserunning will allow him to become the All-Star that many Royals fans hope he can become.
Los Angeles Angels
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Most Overrated: RHP Dylan Bundy
When looking at the Los Angeles Angels roster it is pretty hard to find overrated players. Their potent lineup will be one of the best in the American League. Their rotation will be below average but with Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani on the offensive side there is a lot to look forward to as an Angels fan. Justin Upton had a down year last year but overall he has had a pretty solid and consistent career. Newly acquired starting pitcher Dylan Bundy is the most overrated player on the Los Angeles Angels going into next season. Bundy was one of the most hyped pitching prospects in the past decade with the Baltimore Orioles. He was the fourth overall selection in the 2011 draft and was even called up for two relief appearances in September of 2012 but has never developed into the talented pitcher he was projected to be. After Tommy John surgery in 2013 and a shoulder injury when rehabbing in 2015, he entered spring training in 2016 out of Minor League options. He made the Orioles roster out of spring training and was a solid reliever for them up until 2016 All-Star break pitching to a 3.08 ERA in 36 innings. He was put into the rotation after the All-Star break and had a rough first outing but ended the year with a serviceable 4.02 ERA in 109 2/3 innings pitched. He became a full-time starter in 2017 and has made at least 28 starts in each of the past three seasons. He has been durable but often does not pitch very deep into games and his career-high for innings was 171 2/3 in 2018. This goes for an average of about 5 1/3 inning per start. His career ERA is 4.67 and he struggles with allowing home runs. He gave up 41 home runs in 2018 and 29 in 2019. His FIP has been around his ERA for his three previous seasons indicating that he also has not been unlucky. The Los Angeles Angels giving up four prospects for a below-average starter with only two years left of control and declining fastball velocity leads to Dylan Bundy being the most overrated player on the roster.
Most Underrated: 2B/3B/UT David Fletcher
This pick is a shoutout to all of the baseball Twitter fans out there. The Angels have many players that can fall under the underrated category including Anthony Rendon, Shohei Ohtani, Andrelton Simmons, and David Fletcher. Rendon finally got some of the recognition he deserved last season and he will always have a special place in Nationals fan's hearts. Andrelton Simmons has always been a wizard defensively but he is actually producing great numbers with the bat as well. Shohei Ohtani is literally this generation's Babe Ruth and will go down as one of the most significant and influential players in the history of baseball. We may never see a player like him again and I am looking forward to watching many Angels games in the future, but the most underrated player on the Los Angeles Angels is David Fletcher. Fletcher is quite simply a baseball Twitter meme. Fletcher is not known by most fans in the Major Leagues even while being a solid player in his first two seasons as a Major Leaguer. The 25-year-old split time between second base and third base in 2019 while also playing many games at shortstop and the outfield. The 5'9 180-pound Fletcher was an elite defender at every spot he played at especially when playing the hot corner. Next season Fletcher will be the primary second baseman and while hit towards the top of the order or be a second leadoff man at the bottom of the order. He compliments the power in this lineup with line drives and speed. He batted .290 in 2019 with 6 home runs in 154 games. He relatively has no power and is known for hitting many line-drive singles through the left side. He only struck out 9.8% of the time which was second in the Major Leagues in 2019 and he was known for getting big hits in late-inning situations. Fletcher will never get the name recognition that the other stars on the Angels have, but if he produces as he did in 2019 with his 3.4 FWar season he will be a solid starter for the Angels in 2020.
Los Angeles Dodgers
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Most Overrated: OF Joc Pederson
The 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers squad is rock solid. Their team is utterly unbelievable. It is unfathomable that so many players with this kind of talent are all on one team together. Every starting position player for them has made at least one All-Star appearance in their careers except for their starting second baseman and catcher. Their starting second basemen is 22-year-old Gavin Lux who is the second overall prospect in all of Major League Baseball, and their starting catcher is Will Smith who was a former top catching prospect and had a solid first 54 games at the Major League level last year. Joc Pederson is one of the longest-tenured Dodgers and will be entering his 7th season next year. The once highly touted prospect has vastly underperformed at the Major League level. He made the All-Star team as a 23-year-old in 2015 but ended the season batting only .210 with 26 home runs. He carries a career .233 batting average with an average of 25 home runs per season. After coming up and playing a lot of centerfield at the beginning of his career he has mostly been playing in left field the past few years, but he has also logged some games in right field and at first base. He ranked 8th in the Major Leagues among a pretty thin left field class in 2019 with an FWar of 3.0 behind Bryan Reynolds of the Pittsburg Pirates. Not only has Pederson been an average player for the Dodgers he is virtually unplayable against left-handed pitchers. In 336 at-bats in his career against lefties Pederson has a .188 batting average with 9 of his 144 home runs. Joc Pederson is an average platoon player in the Major Leagues but has not come close to panning out as the top tier prospect he once was.
Most Underrated: 2B/1B/3B Max Muncy
It is crazy to think about Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics giving up on this slugger three years ago, but to be fair, it did not exactly make front-page news when Muncy was released after spring training in 2017. Muncy batted just .195 with 5 home runs in 96 total games as an Athletic. The slugging Muncy did not receive a lot of interest as a free agent and later agreed to join the Dodgers on a Minor League deal. He was called up in 2018 after injuries to Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe. In 2017 while in Triple-A he worked on fixing his batting stance and bat path to gain more power. This paid off in a big way in 2018 and he soon became an irreplaceable bat. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts quickly realized that even when Turner recovered he was going to do everything he could to keep Muncy in the lineup. It also helped that Muncy was a solid defender at first, second, and third base. Muncy finished his 2018 season with a .263 batting average, a .582 slugging percentage, 35 home runs, and a 5.2 FWar in 137 games. In 2019 he put up very similar numbers batting .251, with a .515 slugging percentage, 35 home runs, and a 4.8 FWar in 141 games. He also walks at a very above average clip and has had close to a .400 on-base percentage in both of his full seasons with the Dodgers. He was a first time All-Star for the Dodgers in 2019 and hit 3 home runs in 5 games against the Washington Nationals in the NLDS. Muncy will primarily play first base next season for the Dodgers and has totally flipped his career around after being cut by Oakland. He was rewarded in the offseason with a 3-year $26 million-dollar contract with the Dodgers, and this 30-year-old slugger will be one of the most feared hitters in the National League for years to come.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Most Overrated: 1B Jesús Aguilar
The newly acquired 29-year-old Jesús Aguilar was an All-Star with the Brewers in 2018. He batted .274 with 35 home runs and a .890 OPS. He was acquired off waivers from the Indians in 2017 and made his Brewers debut in the spring of 2017. He was mostly used as a platoon guy until his All-Star breakout season in 2018. He even participated in the home run derby. He was extremely hot in the first half of the season, batting .298 with 24 home runs but slumped to a .245 batting average and 11 home runs in the second half. He started every game for the Brewers in the 2018 playoffs and continued his second-half cold streak batting only .216 while striking out 15 times in 37 at-bats. In 2019 he found himself being traded to the Rays at the deadline for middle relief pitcher Jake Farria. Aguilar batted .261 with the Rays in 37 games and ended his 2018 season with a combined .236 average with 12 home runs and a -0.1FWar in 131 games with the Brewers and Rays. This led to him being designated for assignment and then shipped to the Marlins going into the 2020 season. After a hot first half in 2018 and an abysmal 2019, it begs the question of was Jesús Aguilar really ever that good? In his 2018 season, his slash line was a well above average offensive season but his glove hurt his value. Before the 2019 season a projection system that Fangraphs uses predicted that he would indeed take a major step back. They cited multiple lucky hits that he had and his terrible speed and below-average defense for his steep decline. Aguilar was second in the National League in home runs in 2018 but he also struck out 25% of the time. His FWar was 3.1 which ranked him 7th in the Major Leagues among first basemen. This is a good spot on the list but with Aguilar's lackluster seasons other than his solid but not extraordinary year in 2018, he never should be considered more than just a platoon player.
Most Underrated: 3B/RF Brian Anderson
Alex Bregman, Matt Chapman, Anthony Rendon, Nolan Arenado, José Ramírez, Eugenio Suárez, Eduardo Escobar, and... Brian Anderson? This is a list of some of the most elite third basemen in the game who have put up back to back 3.0 or better FWar seasons in 2018 and 2019. It is important to note that these are amongst qualified third basemen but not many people would expect Brian Anderson to be on this shortlist. This is contingent on if they even knew who he was. Anderson was drafted by the Marlins in the third round of the 2014 MLB draft. After soaring up their Minor League system he was called up in September of 2017 and became the everyday third basemen in 2018. There are not many feared hitters on the Miami Marlins ballclub, but Brian Anderson's 2018 and 2019 seasons should at least put him on your radar. It was tempting to select Jonathan Villar for the Marlin's most underrated player. The 28-year-old waiver pickup from the Orioles produced a 24-home run season while stealing 40 bases in 2019, but Anderson, the Marlins homegrown talent, is in line for a great future. Anderson has played a lot of right field in the past two seasons as well as third base and produced above average in both positions. He improved mightily at third base from 2018 to 2019 and his very strong arm helped him throw out a lot of runners in right field in 2019. With the bat, in 2018 he batted .273 with 11 home runs and an above-average OPS of .757 in 156 games. In 2019, he batted .261 with 20 home runs and an OPS of .811 while playing in 30 fewer games. He has amassed a combined 6.5 FWar over his first two full seasons as a big leaguer and is one of the only bright spots on this miserable Marlins ballclub. He plays hard, is an above-average defender at two positions, an above-average hitter with increasing power, and is an average baserunner. Brian Anderson may never develop into a star in this league, but the 26-year-old third baseman and right fielder will be a solid player for the Miami Marlins in the present and in the future.
Most Overrated: LF Ryan Braun
The Milwaukee Brewers have been a solid ballclub over the past few seasons with their offense leading the way. Their starting pitching has not been a strength for quite some time now, but their whole lineup last season could have been considered underrated even without Christian Yelich. Josh Hader is their lockdown closer but after diving into the numbers he was not as dominant as most people think and San Diego Padres Kirby Yates should have easily won the National League reliever of the year over him. Even after considering Hader for this spot, he is still well above average, so I had to go with the longest-tenured Brewer, former MVP Ryan Braun. Braun won the MVP over Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp in one of the closest races in recent memory, and of course, we now know Braun was taking performance-enhancing drugs during the 2011 season and beyond. Braun has been with the Brewers since 2007 and transitioned into a full-time outfielder in 2008. In 13 seasons in the Major Leagues, Braun has a career .298 batting average with 344 home runs and an OPS of .893. He also has stolen 215 bases over his career and has stolen at least 11 bases every season except for the 2013 season when he was suspended for 65 games. Braun the past few seasons has been a very average player while getting paid like a star. He has never been a great defender in the field and will make at least $21 million on the remainder of his contract with the Brewers. This is a large sum to pay for a relatively small market team. Braun batted .285 last season with 22 home runs and a .849 OPS in 144 games. These are pretty respectable numbers but putting up this slash line with poor defense while making $19 million is not going to cut it. His 1.9 FWar ranked 12th amongst qualified left fielders behind the Boston Red Sox Andrew Benintendi. Ryan Braun has had a very good career with steroids overshadowing his accomplishments, and his past three seasons as an average player while making superstar money lead him to be the most overrated player on the Milwaukee Brewers.
Most Underrated: 2B Keston Hiura
Keston Hiura is a perfect example of a young superstar that receives little to no recognition due to him playing in a small market. Hiura was called up in the middle of 2019 and in 84 games he proved to be a star. After being undrafted out of high school Hiura played at the University of Californa, Irvine, and blossomed into one of the best hitters in all of college baseball. That led to the Milwaukee Brewers drafted him 9th overall in the 2017 draft. He was ranked amongst the top 50 prospects in the Major Leagues in 2018 and 2019 before being called up and he became the starting second basemen for the Brewers down the stretch. He played like a veteran and batted .303 with 19 home runs in 2019. He played average defense and was an average baserunner. He stole 9 bases and flashed some base-stealing potential in the Minor Leagues. His OPS was .938 and he registered an FWar of 2.1 which is an unreal total when only playing in 84 games. If he were to keep on track and play a full season he would have hit 36 home runs and had an FWar of 4.0 which would have ranked him 5th in the Major Leagues behind Ketel Marte, DJ LeMahieu, Max Muncy, and Ozzie Albies. Hiura got better with the bat as the season went along and was surprisingly a better hitter against right-handed pitching over left-handed pitching. The Brewers also have talked about how much Hiura has improved as a defender in spring training and he will be a middle of the lineup bat and the starting second baseman in the future for the Brewers. This 23-year-old second baseman will be a star in the Major Leagues for many years to come and hopefully, Hiura will gain more media attention as his career progresses.
Most Overrated: 1B/3B Miguel Sanó
Is it just me or does it feel like this 26-year old has been in the Major Leagues for the past 10 seasons? Miguel Sanó is a 6'4 270-pound first basemen/ third basemen from the Dominican Republic. In 486 games as a Major Leaguer, Sanó has 118 home runs, a .245 batting average, and a .498 slugging percentage. He produced very well as a rookie, hitting 18 home runs with a .269 batting average in just 80 games in 2015. He has served primarily as a third baseman in his career but has also spent time in right field, first base, and designated hitter. He was an All-Star in 2017 as the Twins hoped Sanó to be after he signed a mega-deal with the Twins coming out of the Dominican Republic. Before being called up, he was as high as number 6 on the Major League's top prospects list in 2015. After his All-Star season in 2017, many expected the young Sanó to blossom into one of the league's best powers hitters, but it has never turned out that way. He has struggled defensively especially at third base and it was important to the Twins to move him to first base for next season after the Josh Donaldson signing. Sano had a pretty productive season in 2019 batting .247 with 35 home runs in 105 games. He is a very slow baserunner and is known around the league for striking out often. Sanó struck out at an unbelievable clip of 36.2% of the time in 2019 and to put that in perspective, Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has never struck out more than 31.1% of the time in a season, and that was in his rookie year. Sanó is a serviceable player with a powerful bat but with his below-average fielding, little versatility, no speed on the base paths, and a high strikeout percentage lead him to be the most overrated player on the Minnesota Twins.
Most Underrated: DH Nelson Cruz
You have to be a spectacular player to be considered underrated when logging zero innings in the field in 2019. In an age where most teams primarily use the DH slot to rotate players in and out to keep them fresh, Nelson Cruz is your old fashioned powerful DH. The "Boomstick" has been in the league since 2015 and has been labeled an overrated player over different parts of his career. He was a poor defensive outfielder, and this was most evident in the 2013 World Series when he could not haul in David Freese's line shot to right field which would have won his Texas Rangers the World Series. The six-time All-Star has done nothing but rake the past few seasons and this is very surprising considering he is now 39-years-old. He had one of the best seasons of his career in 2019 batting .311 with 41 home runs and a 1.031 OPS in 120 games. His OPS ranked him fourth in all of the Major Leagues behind Christian Yelich, Mike Trout, and Cody Bellinger. He amassed a 4.3 FWar and had the second-highest walk percentage of his career. What is even more shocking is Cruz got better as the year went along. He batted .344 with 25 home runs and a 1.147 OPS after the All-Star break. This is unheard of for someone as old as Cruz is. Cruz never played in a full season until his age 32 season, but only 20 hitters in Major League history have accumulated more offensive runs above average in their careers after their age 32 seasons. Fifteen of these players in the hall of fame and three others have been caught with steroids (Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmiero). Cruz was caught and suspended in 2013 for PEDs but his career has since taken off. He is one of the most feared hitters in baseball and fans not appreciating what Boomstick is doing at this point in his career is a real shame.
New York Mets
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Most Overrated: 2B Robinson Canó
The New York Mets. For being in arguable the biggest sports market in the world they have not won a World Series since 1986. That is now 34 years ago, and they have faced some hardships over the past few seasons. The rotation that was supposed to be the best in baseball for years has seen Jacob deGrom become a superstar, Matt Harvey falling in love with the party scene then being traded, Zack Wheeler leaving for the rival Philadelphia Phillies, Noah Syndergaard having an average season and just had Tommy John Surgery, and Steven Matz never becoming the star people once thought he would be. Going into next season there is surrounding hype around the New York Mets young core and deservingly so, but I do not buy it and Robinson Canó will definitely not be an asset. First-year GM Brodie Van Wagenen's first big move was to trade for Robinson Canó and closer Edwin Díaz from the Seattle Mariners. After their production in their first season with the Mets if these two players do not start to produce it may go down as one of the worst trades in Mets history. From 2010-2017 Robinson Canó made the All-Star team 7 out of 8 years with the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners and was on his way to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. That was until 2018 where he was caught with performance-enhancing drugs and put up a pretty average season in the 80 games he played in. He was traded to the Mets heading into the 2019 season and started off the season with a bang hitting a home run off Max Scherzer on opening day. He also made his best defensive play of the season in that game while singling home an insurance run in the 8th inning. Van Wagenen was hailed a genius after one game, but the 36-year-old Canó put together a terrible rest of the season. He was well below average at the plate hitting a career-low .256 with 13 home runs in 107 games. He only put up a 0.8 FWAr and this ranks him as one of the worst second basemen in the league. He was a terrible baserunner and was an average defender especially compared to how good he used to be. The New York Mets will still have to pay him nearly $85 million of the $98 million left on his contract that ends in 2023 when Canó will be 40-years-old. This was a terrible trade for the Mets as it blocks Jeff McNeil from playing his natural position, and Robinson Canó will just get worse in the next four years on his contract as a New York Met.
Most Underrated: 3B/LF J.D. Davis
In one of the more underrated moves in the 2019 offseason, the New York Mets acquired J.D. Davis from the Houston Astros for three Minor Leaguers. J.D. Davis never produced with the Astros and was blocked at his natural position of third base by Alex Bregman. The Mets have a very good young offense including the 2019 Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil. McNeil was a candidate to be the most underrated player on the New York Mets, but he was an All-Star in 2019 and his 4.6 FWar showed the baseball world that he is a natural hitter that will be a staple at the top of the order for the New York Mets. Davis is over shined by these young superstars and it will be difficult for him to find a lot of playing time if Yoenis Céspedes and Robinson Canó are healthy, but that should not let you overlook how good of a player Davis has become. In 140 games he batted .307 with 22 home runs and a .527 slugging percentage. He registered a 2.4 FWar and performed well in the second half of the season and in pinch-hitting roles. He played third base and left field and his glove improved as an outfielder as time went on. Although he was rated one of the worst defenders in left field he proved to be the biggest Mets offseason addition and carried the ball club over his hot stretches. Trading for Davis at the time did not make much sense for the Mets because they did not have many spots available in the lineup, and Davis does not have a clear spot for next season, but Mets manager Luis Rojas will do everything he can to make sure Davis plays a crucial role. He showed the elite power that he flashed in the minor leagues and his plate discipline improved mightily since earlier in his career. Davis is entering the prime of his career and is still under team control through the 2024 season. The New York Mets trading for J.D. Davis did not make a lot of sense at first, but this trade could go down as one of the most successful trades in the Brodie Van Wagenen era.
New York Yankees
Brad Penner/ USA TODAY Sports
Most Overrated: C Gary Sánchez
Yes, Yankees fans I am ready for all of the smoke that I will receive after labeling Gary Sánchez the most overrated player on the New York Yankees. Do I think Gary Sánchez is a good player? Yes. Do I think Gary Sánchez is a top 3 catcher in the game? No. I would take Gary Sánchez on the Washington Nationals any day of the week, but Yankees fans have really hyped up Sánchez so much that he is now considered overrated. It is not Sánchez's fault, after hitting .299 with 20 home runs in 53 games as a 23-year old rookie I would say he set the bar pretty high, to say the least. He is a good player and will continue to be a top catcher in the game, but he has not continued his elite play. He is a two-time All-Star and had a pretty good season last year. He batted .232 with 34 home runs and a .841 OPS. He registered a 2.3 FWar which is above average for a catcher playing in 106 games. Before his 2019 season, he had a disastrous season in 2018 batting .186 in 89 games. He has always struggled with strikeouts and struck out 28% of the time last season. Yankees fans have raved about his arm and talk about how underrated of a defender he is, but he registered a career-low 23% caught stealing percentage last season. This puts him at 19th in the Major Leagues amongst catchers. Another statistic that I like to turn to is the great play of Yankees catchers other than Gary Sánchez. When Gary Sánchez was on the injured list last season the Yankees went 16-7 without him. The pitcher's ERA was lower and longtime backup Austin Romine thrived. My point here is that Sánchez is not irreplaceable, and he is not vital to the Yankee's success. Even though Sánchez has put up positive numbers with defensive metrics on Fangraphs he ranked 81st out of 82 catchers in 2018 for blocking runs. In 2019 he improved slightly but is still below league average. His framing metric also fell off dramatically and his bat did not make up for these defensive woes. Sánchez is a young catcher with a lot of talent, but he is not the superstar that many Yankees fans believe he is.
Most Underrated: OF Brett Gardner
There is a laundry list of players that have donned the Yankee uniform that will be idolized in baseball history. There have been so many legendary players on the Yankees that every single-digit number has been retired by the franchise. The Yankees by far have the most Hall of Fame players to ever play for them with more to come. There have been seven players elected to the Hall of Fame since 2015 that played at least one season with the Yankees. Since 2001 the Yankees have won only 1 of their 27 World Series titles after winning it in 2009. They have still had a winning record for every season since 1992 which is a remarkable accomplishment. With a team full of winners and powerful bats like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, and many more it is easy to forget about the 5'10 190 pounds 36-year old outfielder Brett Gardner. He has never been the leader of the team and has never been the talk of the Major Leagues, but every season he just simply produces. He was selected in the third round of the MLB Draft in 2005 and became an everyday player in 2009. The lifelong Yankee has stolen over 20 bases in 7 different seasons and stole 49 bases in 2011. He has spent time at all three outfield spots and mostly spends his time in left and center field. He has always been a great defender and always been an elite baserunner. He never put up terrific numbers with the bat but he put up a tremendous season in 2019 right when people started to think his days as a Yankee were numbered. He batted .251 with a career-high 28 home runs, a career-high .503 slugging, and a career-high .829 OPS. He is only one of the two Yankees to ever hit over 100 home runs and have over 250 stolen bases with the team. The other is Derek Jeter. He has been praised by teammates throughout his career as the guy that may not have the talent as some, but his work ethic and determination allow him to produce. According to FWar he was the 6th best center fielder in the Major Leagues last season registering a 3.6 FWar in 141 games. Gardner has put up consistent steady numbers for the Yankees for over ten years now and never received the proper recognition due to all of the big-name players he has played with.
AP/ Keith Allison
Most Overrated: DH/LF Khris Davis
The Oakland Athletics under the Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane have been a contender almost every year even though they are in a very small market. Many of the players on the roster do not have a big contract and the largest contract in Oakland Athletics history was a 6-year $66 million-dollar contract with third basemen, Eric Chavez, in 2004. There are many players on the roster that are very productive, and many baseball fans do not even know their names. One of the biggest names on the Athletics is their DH Khris Davis. He was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Oakland Athletics in 2016 for two Minor Leaguers after he had started to establish himself as a solidified power hitter. From 2015-2018 he batted .247 exactly in each of the four seasons and he hit more than 42 home runs in three straight seasons from 2016-2018. He is a very confident hitter and it showed by putting up three elite offensive seasons from 2016-2018 with very consistent production. He has always been a free swinger and always a threat for a home run, but his defense and baserunning are different stories. He is a horrendous left fielder and has been at the bottom of the league in almost every statistical category. He revealed in 2017 that he struggles with the idea of playing defense in the left fielder and even labeled it "The creature". This has led to him playing almost 90% of his games at designated hitter the past two seasons and that has tremendously hurt his value. Even though he put up the three straight 42 or more home runs seasons he has never posted an FWar above 2.7. This is due to his negative value as a fielder and his negative value as a baserunner. He strikes out nearly 27% of the time and does not walk much. I have not even gotten into the 2019 nightmarish season that Davis had. In 2019 he failed to bat .247 and he failed to hit 42 or more home runs, by a tremendously wide margin. He batted .220 and hit 23 home runs in 133 games. His slugging percentage was horrendous at a mark of .387. This led to an FWar of -1.0. This was last in the league amongst designated hitters and he hurt the Athletics ballclub by being in the lineup tremendously. Davis has put together a few great offensive seasons, but with his terrible 2019 season, no value defensively, and poor baserunning, he is the most overrated player on the Oakland Athletics.
Most Underrated: 1B Matt Olson
Freddie Freeman, Pete Alonso, Anthony Rizzo, and Paul Goldschmidt. These four players are at the top of most people's list when considering the best first basemen in the Major Leagues. These players have put up great numbers and have all received a lot of recognition for their achievements. What name that does not come to mind is the Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson, and this is utterly wrong. Matt Olson is elite. He was drafted out of high school in the first round by the Athletics in 2012 and made his Major League debut in 2016. He spent a good chunk of his time with the Athletics in right field in his first two seasons before he became the everyday first basemen in 2018. In a full 162 games, Olson batted .247 with 29 home runs in 2018. This was after he hit 24 home runs and had an OPS of 1.003 in just 59 games in 2017. He won the Gold Glove at first base in 2018 and followed it up with another Gold Glove season in 2019. Even though he missed 35 games in 2019 he led the Major Leagues amongst first basemen with 13 defensive runs saved. He has a tremendous amount of range for a first basemen and his footwork and soft hands allow him to save many would-be errors. He was even better at the plate in 2019 than in previous years batting .267 with 36 home runs in only 127 games. He registered a .896 OPS and he even received a vote in the American League MVP Voting. He is above average in every offensive category and is an elite defensive first baseman. He is also serviceable on the base paths and he does not strike out at an extremely high clip. He gets on base and the fits the Athletics mold perfectly. He is still only 26-years-old and has a lot of room to grow especially if he stays healthy. He ranked fifth in the Major Leagues in FWar amongst first basemen even though he missed a significant amount of time last season. His 3.9 FWar in 2019 followed up his 3.5 FWar in 2018 and Athletics fans should be excited about what the future holds. Matt Olson is an extremely underrated player and as time goes on and his production gets even better it will be interesting to see if the public finally realizes the bright young star that he is.
Yong Kim/ Staff Photographer
Most Overrated: 1B Rhys Hoskins
Let me take a deep breath before I start this one. I believe that Rhys Hoskins is the most overrated player in all of Major League Baseball. I know I hooked you guys in by the main picture of Bryce Harper, but as much as I want to rant about him, Harper is a well above average player. He will never even come close to his unbelievable MVP season in 2015, but he will always bat around .250 with 30 or more home runs and play solid defense. He did strike out 178 times last year but still had 99 walks. He could be called overplayed, sure, but salaries in baseball will only get higher and higher over the years and his 13 years $330 million-dollar deal contains no opt-outs and a no-trade clause. This means that he will be a Philadelphia Phillie making more than $25 million a year for twelve more seasons. Now let's talk about Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins was drafted in the 5th round out of college in 2014 and he quickly rose up the Minor League system and gained the baseball world's attention. He was known as one of the biggest sluggers in the Minor Leagues and he was called up in 2017. In 50 games, he slugged 18 home runs and played mostly left field. He was the everyday left fielder in 2018 and he batted .246 with 34 home runs while having a slugging percentage below .500. He was so bad defensively in left field that he was rated as one of the worst defensive left fielders in MLB history. His bat was a little underwhelming as well especially with the rise in home runs across the Major Leagues, but many baseball fans still believed that he was one of the premier young hitters in the Major Leagues. Then 2019 happened. He was moved to his natural position of first base and many people expected him to thrive defensively and that would translate to him being even better at the plate. Well, Rhys Hoskins was terrible on defensive and was not a good offensive player. He batted just .226 with 29 home runs in 160 games. He batted .180 with 9 home runs in the second half of the season and was a liability at the plate. He was a below-average baserunner and he was ranked 12th in the Major Leagues among 20 qualified first basemen with an FWAr of 2.2. I think this FWar is generous and the only positive statistics that you can point to was his .819 OPS and .364 on-base percentage. It is fair to say that Rhys has not lived up to the lofty expectations that most people had for him. His 29 home runs did not make up for his terrible .229 batting average. In a league where almost everyone hits 25 or more home runs, he was tied for 58th most home runs in the Major Leagues. He was also one of the worst hitters in the Major Leagues with runners in scoring position. He had the 7th worst batting average in all of the Major Leagues putting him in the same category as Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr and Oakland Athletics DH Khris Davis. Hoskins is a poor defender, a poor hitter in most offensive categories, and a poor defender. His expectations and hype surrounding Hoskins have led to this 27-year old being the most overrated player on the Philadelphia Phillies.
Most Underrated: SS/2B Jean Segura
Now I am going to take a drastic switch here and label Jean Segura one of the most underrated players in the National League. The Philadelphia Phillies had a solid ballclub in the 2000s with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, and their tremendous starting rotation leading the way, but ever since 2011, they have not been a good ballclub. It has now been eight seasons in a row where the Phillies have had a .500 or below record which is one of the longest streaks in the Major Leagues. The iconic players that led the Phillies to their 2008 World Series are now all either retired or on a different team. Some people projected them to be a competitive ballclub last year but with their terrible bullpen and average starting pitching, they finished 4th in the National League East with an 81-81 record. They made some good moves in the offseason most notably hiring manager Joe Girardi and signing shortstop Didi Gregorius to a 1-year deal which shifted Jean Segura to second base. Some people even believed that Segura would be traded for the fifth time in his career, but the Phillies made the right decision by keeping the now 30-year-old Segura. Segura was signed as an international free agent by the Los Angeles Angels in 2007 and made his debut at shortstop in 2012. After playing one game for the Angels he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. He was traded three other times in his career but has always started on the four teams he has been traded too. His first season with the Phillies was last season and he usually batted second in the lineup in front of Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper. He batted .280 with 37 doubles, 12 home runs, and 10 stolen bases. This was good for a 2.3 FWar but like most players on the Phillies, he had a down season. He has made the All-Star team twice in 2013 with the Brewers and in 2018 with the Mariners. The best season of his career was in 2016 when he batted .319 with 20 home runs and 33 stolen bases which resulted in a 5.0 FWar with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is known for his plate discipline and he was second-best in the National League with a strikeout percentage of 11.8%. Segura had a down season last year by his standards but is a great bat at the top or bottom of the order for most lineups. He is a contact hitter that has a little pop and elite baserunning skills. His consistent production and ability to play shortstop and second base pretty well lead him to be the most underrated player on the Philadelphia Phillies.
Matthew Sunday / DKPS
Most Overrated: RF Gregory Polanco
The Pittsburgh Pirates. One of baseball's most miserable teams. It is sad to see a small market but passionate fanbase like this be so miserable at the moment, especially when their future looked so bright just a few years ago. Andrew McCutchen is on the Phillies, Starling Marte is on the Diamondbacks, Pedro Álvarez is a free agent, Russel Martin is a free agent, and AJ Burnett is now retired. These five names were a part of one of the more exciting teams in baseball during the early to mid-2010s. With the electric outfield of Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte the baseball world clamored about the powerhouse outfield they could become after the Pirates called up their top prospect right fielder Gregory Polanco. Polanco was called up in 2014 and became an everyday starter in 2015. After being called up in 2014 he set the Pirates rookie record beginning his career with an 8-game hit streak. In his first full season at 23-years-old in 2015, he batted .256 with just 9 home runs in 153 games. He played average defense and many people involved with the Pirates organization admitted that they do not think he is fully comfortable in the field. In 2016 he improved mightily with the bat hitting .258 with 22 home runs and increasing his slugging percentage by over 60 points to .463. He produced an identical FWar of 2.2 in both of these seasons due to his superb base running, slightly above average fielding, and average hitting. Many people expected Polanco to take a major leap after these two above-average seasons, but he has taken a major step back even though he is entering his prime. The Pirates have not been rewarded by the $35 million-dollar contract that Polanco signed with them after the 2016 season. Even though Polanco battled a hamstring injury, he played in 108 games in 2017 batting .251 with 11 home runs while having a lower slugging percentage and not stealing over 10 bases for the first time in his career. He was a well below-average hitter and fielder and he only had a positive FWar due to his base running skills. He looked to bounce back in 2018 and had a better season, but still not the superstar year that many people thought he was capable of. In 130 games he hit a career-high 23 home runs with a .254 batting average and a career-high .499 slugging percentage. This was good for a 2.5 FWar which is respectable, but it ranked him 15th out of 21 qualified right fielders in the Major Leagues. In 2019 he missed almost the whole season due to a shoulder injury he sustained at the end of 2018 and in 42 games for Pittsburgh he registered a -0.2 FWar. He batted .242 with 6 home runs and was a below-average hitter, fielder, and his elite baserunning was nonexistent. The once superstar outfielder is a huge question mark heading into next season. He will be making $8 million-dollars if there is a season in 2020 which is second highest on the ballclub to pitcher Chris Archer. I will not even get into Archer's situation because it is almost sad at this point. Gregory Polanco will never be the player that most people thought he would become.
Most Underrated: OF Bryan Reynolds
On the first episode of the MoeCast, my baseball podcast with fellow host Chris Blake on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, I labeled Bryan Reynolds as the most underrated player in the Major Leagues. Many people like to point to first baseman Josh Bell who was an All-Star in 2019 but if you dive into the numbers more, he is not as good as most people think. He cooled off in the second half of the season and his horrid defense crushed his value. Bryan Reynolds, on the other hand, had one of the best rookie seasons that no one knows about in the past decade. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2016 and traded to the Pirates as one of the main pieces in the Andrew McCutchen deal. He did not make the opening day roster out of spring training but was called up to the Pirates ball club on April 20th and recorded his first career hit that afternoon. He then went on to break Gregory Polanco's Pirates hit streak record by recording a hit in his first 13 Major League games. That solidified himself as a starter for the rest of the season and he played every outfield spot for at least 25 games. He mostly played left field and made the highlight real on multiple occasions for his diving catches. Although he was not rated very well in the field his offense was the part of his game that shined the most. In 134 games with the Pirates Reynolds batted .314 with 16 home runs and a .503 slugging percentage. His on-base percentage approached .400 for most of the season and ended up at .377. He registered a 3.2 FWar which ranked him 7th in the Major Leagues among qualified left fielders and put him in elite company. This puts him in the same category as players like New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, and San Diego Padres outfielder Tommy Pham. One of the most impressive stats that he put up was his .880 OPS which put him only .002 points behind the Phillies $330 million-dollar man Bryce Harper. He ended up fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting behind New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, Atlanta Braves right-hander Mike Soroka, and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. The 25-year old outfielder showed a lot of potential and Pirates fans should be excited about what the future holds for him. He makes good contact and plays slightly below average defense with good baserunning. He hit 37 doubles and as he heads towards his prime those doubles will translate into more home runs. This outfielder for the Pirates has a bright future and with a combination of the unreal Rookie seasons by Pete Alonso, Mike Soroka, and Fernando Tatis Jr, and the Pittsburgh Pirates 69-93 record lead to Bryan Reynolds being one of the most underrated players in the big leagues.
San Diego Padres
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
Most Overrated: 1B Eric Hosmer
The San Diego Padres made a statement to the baseball world on February 19, 2018, when they signed legendary Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer to an 8-year $144 million-dollar contract. It was the largest contract in Padres history at the time, until last offseason when they signed Manny Machado to a 10-year $300 million-dollar deal. When they signed Hosmer, they labeled him as the leader and centerpiece around a team that is ready to win. The Padres have not made the playoffs since 2006 and they have only made the playoffs 5 times in their 50 seasons as a franchise. They have never won a World Series title. This squad has some talent and will be fun to watch in the future. Hosmer has now played two seasons for the ballclub and still has six years left on the deal, but he has been nothing but a liability. It must be sad for Royals and Padres fans to read this, but Eric Hosmer has not been good, and he has never been the great player that most people think him to be. In his two seasons with the Royals, he has a combined -0.5 FWar. This means that the Royals are losing value at first base, and if they plugged a random Triple-A first baseman into Hosmer's slot he would produce the same, if not better, results. Last season, Hosmer hit .265 with 22 home runs. He struck out at the highest clip of his career at 24.4%. He also led the entire Major Leagues amongst first basemen with 14 errors. He was arguably worse in 2018 when he hit .253 with 18 home runs and had a .398 slugging percentage. He has only missed five combined games over the past two seasons which goes to show he has to have been a pretty bad player if he played in two full seasons and combined to have a -0.5 FWar. His -0.4 FWar in 2019 ranked him as the worst first basemen in all of the Major Leagues tied with future hall of farmer Albert Pujols. It is sad to think about how bad these two players have been in the past two seasons. It is more reasonable for Pujols due to him being 40-years-old and battling a variety of injuries, but it does not make sense for Hosmer being so bad when he is entering his 30-year old season and he has never had injury issues. He was very lucky that in 2017 he had the best season of his career when he batted .318 with 25 home runs and a .498 slugging percentage which was good for a 4.0 FWar. The Padres expected Hosmer to keep putting up those elite numbers especially since he was entering his prime, but it has been a terrible marriage. Over Hosmer's nine-year career he has registered four-seasons where he had a negative FWar. He also had two seasons where his FWar was 1.1 or below. So, in 6 out of his 9 seasons as a pro, Hosmer has been a below-average player. This can be tough for fans to swallow, but those are facts. He has never flashed a lot of power and even though he has won 4 Gold Gloves he has never statistically ranked as an elite fielder. Hosmer is one of the most overrated players in baseball and he provides the San Diego Padres with below-average power, below-average hitting, poor defense, and bad baserunning.
Most Underrated: RHP Kirby Yates
When you think about the most dominant closer's in baseball it is easy to come up with Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees and Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers. These two players won the Reliever of the Year awards for the American League, and National League, respectively but Kirby Yates of the San Diego Padres got absolutely robbed for the National League award. Yates is no spring chicken. He is 33-years-old and is now playing for his 4th franchise, but something has clicked for him in these past two seasons. Yates signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2007 and made the roster 7 years later in 2014. In 154 1/3 innings from 2014-2017 with stints with the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, and San Diego Padres he had a 4.78 ERA with allowed 31 home runs and a 1.302 WHIP. His career looked to be in doubt going into 2018, but in 63 innings with the Padres he put up an elite 2.14 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 12 saves. He became the closer for the Padres after left-handed closer Brad Hand was traded to the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline. In 2019 he entered the season as the Padres full time closer. The 32-year old was absolutely sensational. In 60 2/3 innings, he had a 1.19 ERA with 101 strikeouts and 41 saves. He only allowed 2 home runs and he led the Major Leagues with his 41 saves. He made the All-Star team in 2019 and he will be a free agent after next season. I am sure that Yates will have plenty of suitors. He has quite literally gone from one of the worst relievers in all of baseball in 2015 and 2016 to arguably becoming the best closer in the game in 2019. You might be asking yourself how did Yates do it? He attributes his success to the development of a split-finger fastball when he was claimed off waivers by San Diego in 2017. He developed this splitter by watching Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees and Alex Cobb of the Baltimore Orioles. He relied on his slider and fastball earlier in his career, but when he gained total control of the split-finger fastball, it completely outlawed his slider. Since the beginning of the 2017 season opponents are hitting .139 against it. No other pitcher in baseball has allowed a lower batting average against their splitter in this time. This has led to more swings and misses with his four-seam fastball as well and even though Yates basically only throws his splitter and fastball he is now a top reliever in the National League. He has been a revelation for the San Diego Padres and through his hard work and development of his unhittable splitter, he is now the most underrated and dominant reliever in the Major Leagues.
San Francisco Giants
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Most Overrated: SS Brandon Crawford
The days of the San Francisco Giants winning 3 World Series in 5 seasons seems like 20 years ago. Their beautiful ballpark and electric fanbase led to many players being a staple in San Francisco. Players like Marco Scutaro, Gregor Blanco, Joe Panik, and Hunter Pence will go down as legends in the Bay Area without having much success in other cities. Buster Posey, Madison Bumgardner, and Tim Lincecum will go down as some of the greatest players to ever wear a Giants uniform. One of the staples for the San Francisco Giants franchise has been their shortstop, Brandon Crawford. The 33-year old Crawford grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and he attended college at UCLA. He grew up a Giants fan and his family even had season tickets. He was drafted in the 4th round by the Giants in 2008 and was called up in 2011 after being named the 6th best prospect in the Giants system. He was called up late in 2011 after battling a finger injury that he had in Spring Training. He became the everyday shortstop in 2012 and batted .248 with 4 home runs in 143 games. In 9 seasons as a big leaguer, he has a career batting average of .249 with 98 home runs and a .389 slugging percentage. That is not very good. Crawford has been known around the game for his glove winning the Gold Glove in three consecutive seasons from 2015-2017 but he is very overrated as an overall player. In his 8 full seasons as the starting shortstop, he averages 11 home runs per season with an OPS of .712. This puts him at an average to a below-average player. He has stayed healthy throughout his career, but other than his 2015 and 2016 seasons, he has only had one season in his career when he registered above a 2.2 FWar. This results in him being an average to a below-average player in five of his eight full seasons. To be fair, It does not help his case offensively that his home field is one of the toughest ballparks to hit a home run, especially as a left-handed hitter. Out of his 98 career home runs, 64 of them have been on the road. Throughout his career, he has struggled in the second half of seasons and when he is not hitting towards the bottom of the lineup. In 2019, he batted .228 with an abysmal .350 slugging percentage and 11 home runs. His defense remained solid, but it has been falling off since 2016. He has never been a stolen base threat and in 38 postseason games, he has a .236 batting overage with 1 home run. His 2019 season with his well below-average offense and solid defense led him to register a 0.4 FWar in 147 games. This ranked him 25th out of the 26 qualified Major League shortstops. The player 23rd on the list, Freddy Galvis, was a full extra win ahead of him at 1.4 FWar. Brandon Crawford has been the classic San Francisco Giants player and has always been a great defender, but he has never been as good as most people thought him to be and his terrible offensive production leads him to be the most overrated player on the San Francisco Giants.
Most Underrated: OF Mike Yastrzemski
For the second consecutive season, a surprising rookie with a famous last name in the San Francisco Giants organization put up a great season. If I were to make this list after the 2018 season my surefire pick for the most underrated player on the San Francisco Giants would have been starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez. The son of Iván "Pudge" Rodríguez, he was drafted as an outfielder in 2011 in the 6th round by the Minnesota Twins. He was converted to a pitcher in 2014 and was signed by the Giants in 2018. He had an unbelievable rookie season pitching to a 2.81 ERA in 118 1/3 innings, but in 2019 he had a 5.64 ERA and a -0.6 FWar in 99 innings. On a Giants squad that suffered their third straight below .500 season, rookie 29-year old outfielder Mike Yastrzemski stole the show. The grandson of Hall of Famer and former Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski, Mike was selected 36th overall in the 2009 draft by the Boston Red Sox but decided not to sign and played college baseball for Vanderbilt. In 2013, the Orioles selected him in the 14th round at 429th overall. After pilling up injuries and struggling at points in the Minor Leagues with the Orioles, he was traded to the Giants in 2019 for Minor League pitcher Tyler Herb. After batting .316 with 12 home runs in 136 at-bats in Triple-A, Yastrzemski was called up by the Giants on May 25th of 2019. On August 16th, he hit three home runs against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Arizona, including the game-winning home run in the top of the 11th inning. On September 17, he hit his 20th home run of the season which came in his first game at Fenway Park, which of course, was where his grandpa Carl "Yaz" played his entire 23-year career. In 107 games as a big-leaguer Mike Yastrzemski batted .272 with 21 home runs and a well-above-average .852 OPS. He played all three outfield positions and played most of his games in left field. He also fared well against left-handed pitchers batting .329 with a .943 OPS in 82 at-bats. Even though he only played in the 107 games he still registered a 2.2 FWar. This still ranks him ahead of Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, and Chicago Cubs $184 million-dollar outfielder Jayson Heyward. It makes you wonder why the Baltimore Orioles did not at least give him a shot on the Major League roster. He was an above-average hitter, above-average baserunner, and an average fielder in 2019. His elite .852 OPS in 2019 put him above Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper and former Tampa Bay Rays now San Diego Padres outfielder Tommy Pham. It will be intriguing to see if Yastrzemski can continue to produce next season batting at the top of the lineup and being an everyday outfielder for the San Francisco Giants.
Elaine Thompson AP
Most Overrated: 2B Dee Gordon
To the Seattle Mariners fans out there, simply put I am so sorry. The 2001 season was unbelievable. The Mariners went 116-46 and tied the 1906 Cubs for the most wins in the regular season in MLB history. Ichiro Suzuki was sensational in his first season in the Major Leagues. He batted .350 with 242 hits and a .838 OPS. He won the Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player award, Silver Slugger award, and a Gold Glove. He went on to win the Gold Glove in right field for ten straight seasons. For Ichiro's incredible run with the Mariners, it would be easy to think that they made the playoffs in multiple seasons and had great success. Since that 116-win season, they have not made the playoffs once. Out of the four major sports in the United States, the Mariner's 18 seasons without a playoff berth is the longest active streak. Sadly, there seems to be no end in sight. They lost 94 games in 2019 and have no stars on their roster. They also play in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, the AL West. The team includes the Houston cheating Astros, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, and the much-improved Los Angeles Angels. When looking at the roster it is easy to realize that Dee Gordon is one of the most overrated players on the Seattle Mariners. Gordon is the classic example of a player testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs and never being the same player after that. In 2016 as a member of the Miami Marlins he was suspended 80 games for testing positive for two substances after signing a 5-year $50 million-dollar contract that January. He was traded to the Mariners in 2017 and was moved to center field. He is now the everyday second baseman after Robinson Canó was traded to the New York Mets. His best season as a pro came in 2015 with the Marlins when he batted .333 with 58 stolen bases. He also won the Gold Glove award. In two seasons with the Mariners, he has batted .271 with 52 steals and a .648 OPS. His 2018 season he registered a 0.0 FWar and 2019 he registered a 0.5 FWar. His walk percentage is 2.7%. This ranks him at the bottom of the league. He was the worst qualified second baseman in 2018 and he was the second worse second baseman in 2019. His glove has slipped drastically since 2017 and he has never been a well above average hitter since 2015. He was not a good defensive centerfielder and since being moved back to second base his glove has never been the same. His 22 stolen bases in 2019 were the lowest total in his career since becoming a pro. It goes without being said that he is nonexistent in the power department. Dee Gordon's well below average hitting, below-average defense, and lack of ability to get on base as a speedster leads to him being the most overrated player on the Seattle Mariners.
Most Underrated: 3B Kyle Seager
One of the more interesting players on the Seattle Mariners is their longest-tenured player Kyle Seager. I am going, to be honest; I definitely have a love-hate relationship with Seager. I feel that he has never reached his full potential and has had some down seasons, but clearly I am loving on Seager at least for this segment on this article. The only other player that could have been considered for this spot is outfielder Mitch Haniger. He was an All-Star in 2018 and finished with a 4.5 FWar. That put him third in the Major Leagues among right fielders behind Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts and Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich. I did not select him for this spot because of his injury-riddled poor production in 63 games in 2019. Kyle Seager was drafted by the Mariners in the third round in 2009. He was called up in 2011 and became the everyday third baseman in 2012. He is the older brother of Los Angeles Dodgers starting shortstop Corey Seager. Kyle is not a flashy player and does not have the potential of his brother Corey, but he has put up consistent above-average production for a team that has never put many star hitters around him. He does not hit for a very high average and his career-high was .278 in 2016. His career batting average is .256. He averages over 24 home runs per season and he has played in 154 or more games in all of his full seasons except for 2019. In 2014 he was an All-Star, a Gold Glove award winner, and he also won the Silver Slugger Award. He is known for his exceptional glove and every season of his career he has rated as an above-average defender. In 6 out of his 8 career full seasons, he has posted an FWar of at least 3.5 or above. He even had two seasons where his FWar was 5.2. This puts him in an elite company and he never is really talked about due to him being outshined by his brother and the fact that he plays for the Seattle Mariners. He only played in 109 games in 2019 but still registered a 2.9 FWar. He hit .239 with 23 home runs and a .789 OPS. He stuck with his career trend and struck out only 19.4% of the time. Over his career, his strikeout percentage is a very respectable 17.5%. When healthy and at full strength, Kyle Seager will consistently hit around .255 with 25 home runs and a .760 OPS while having an elite glove. This type of play will allow him to have a spot on any organization in the league. In 2019 he put together his eighth consecutive seasons with at least 20 home runs. He is consistent and he is a tough out. He also hits fairly well against left-handed pitching and is a threat to hit a home run at any ballpark. His batting average and power numbers from March-September are consistent and he still has many years left in the tank. Kyle Seager is not the flashiest player you will ever see but his above-average baserunning, elite defensive play, above-average hitting, and his consistent numbers lead him to be the most underrated player on the Seattle Mariners.
St. Louis Cardinals
Most Overrated: SS Paul Dejong
It seems like every season the St. Louis Cardinals are a threat to make the playoffs. They are always well-coached and have a bunch of different players that they can call up from the Minor Leagues at a moment's notice that makes a big impact. One of the cornerstones for their success the past two seasons has been their shortstop, Paul Dejong. He was a 4th round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2015 and he made his Major League debut in 2017. He led all of the National League amongst rookies with 25 home runs in 2017. He was an All-Star for the first time in 2019 and he had a solid glove and an FWar of 4.1. He hit 30 home runs. Why would I put a 30-home run shortstop with a 4.1 FWar as the most overrated player on the Cardinals when I have been discussing FWar throughout this whole article? Because Paul Dejong cannot hit for average and he fails to show up in the biggest situations for the Cardinals. It would be easy to put a player like outfielder Harrison Bader in this spot as I believe he is one of the most overrated players in baseball, but I wanted to make this one a little more interesting. Bader has a terrific glove, but his bat is absolutely atrocious. Dexter Fowler also put up one of the worst seasons I have ever seen in my life from an outfielder last season, but I am going to pick on Paul Dejong. Dejong is a player that would find a place for a lot of franchises. He is only 26-years-old, has okay speed, and obviously can hit for a lot of power. There are many flaws that I see in his game and it starts with the cold stretches that he undergoes throughout the season. It seems to me like Dejong is very inconsistent and he is either hot or he is not at the plate. He is a barely above-average hitter even though he hit 30 home runs and had an OPS of .762. This is due to his poor batting average of .233 and his 149 strikeouts. In 2018, he only batted .241 and hit 19 home runs in 115 games. In 2017 he had his best offensive season when he batted .285 with 25 home runs in 108 games. Over his career, he strikes out 25% of the time, and even though he is an above-average baserunner he is not a stolen base threat. In the postseason in 2019, he batted .233 with a .267 slugging percentage. He struck out 14 times in 30 at-bats. He was also a much better hitter on the road then he was at home. He batted .219 at home with 10 home runs and .247 on the road with 20 home runs. In the second half of the season last year, he batted .202. Although his FWar is high, his value is highly overvalued due to his glove. He has a lot of power for a shortstop, but he grounds into a lot of double plays and he does not hit for average. He strikes out a lot and was a liability in the playoffs. His inconsistent bat and surrounding hype that is labeled to him in the baseball world leads to him being the most overrated player on the St. Louis Cardinals.
Most Underrated: 3B/2B/OF Tommy Edman
In Spring Training of last season superstar Washing Nationals now Los Angeles Angels third basemen Anthony Rendon made an observation. He discussed with Cardinals coaches that Edman was the real deal, and even though they told him Edman was a Minor Leaguer, Rendon knew that would soon change. He was drafted in the 6th round in the 2016 draft by the Cardinals. He flew up the Minor League system and began 2019 in Memphis with the Cardinals Triple-AA affiliate. He batted .305 with 7 home runs and 9 stolen bases in 49 games before being called up by the Cardinals on June 8th. He proved to be another solid player that the Cardinals Minor League system produced, like guys we have recently seen in the past like now Oakland Athletics outfielder Stephen Piscotty, San Diego Padres outfielder Tommy Pham, and Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk. He started to receive a lot of playing time shortly after his call up and he received playing time at third base, second base, and all three of the outfield positions. He spent most of his time at third base, but he rated as a positive defender in all of the five positions that he played. He is not the most intimidating athlete on the planet at 5'10 and 175 pounds, but he has sneaky pop and he is very fast. He led all Major League third basemen last season in sprint speed from home to first base. In only 92 games with the Cardinals he batted .304 with 11 home runs, 15 stolen bases, 7 triples, and an elite OPS of .850. He was an elite baserunner, elite defender, and a well-above-average hitter. He is a switch hitter and he hits well from both sides of the plate. He started to produce his best numbers as the season went on and he started to gain a power stroke in the last couple months of the season. He struck out only 17.5% of the time and was caught stealing only once in his 16 attempts. His 3.2 FWar was better than the San Diego Padres $300 million-dollars third baseman Many Machado's 3.1 FWar total, and if Edman played in a full season and continued his production he would have had a 4.9 FWar. This would have tied him with Atlanta Braves now Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson, and it would have put him above Chicago Cubs third basemen, Kris Bryant. Edman struggled against the Washington Nationals pitching in the NLCS like the rest of the Cardinals, but he put up a solid performance against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series. The 24-year-old Edman did not receive any rookie of the year votes and is relatively unknown to most of the baseball world. Edman is a solid player that will continue to display his consistent bat, great glove, and flashy speed at multiple positions for years to come.
Tampa Bay Rays
Chris O'Meara/ AP
Most Overrated: CF Kevin Kiermaier
The Tampa Bay Rays are good, and they have been for quite some time now. It is quite remarkable teams like the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays are good almost every year even though they are in such a small market. The Rays play in arguably one of the hardest divisions in baseball, the AL East with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, up and coming Toronto Blue Jays, and the disastrous Baltimore Orioles. The Tampa Bay Rays had the second-worst attendance in baseball last season, the only team worse than them was the Miami Marlins. The Rays also had one of the lowest payrolls in all of baseball like they do in most seasons. Since 2010, the Rays have had 90 or more wins in 6 of the 10 seasons. With a low payroll and playing in a tough division, players like Kevin Kiermaier are vital to their success. Kiermaier was drafted in the 31st round in 2010 and signed with the Rays shortly thereafter. He made his Major League debut in 2013 as a defensive replacement in game 163 to send the Rays to the playoffs. They realized his potential with the glove and he even flashed some promise at the plate. He is such an elite defender that makes unbelievable plays, and he has a lot of value if he produces anything at the plate, but his offensive production is one of the worst in the Major Leagues. He had his best offensive production in his rookie season in 2014 when he played mostly right field. He batted .263 with 10 home runs and an OPS of .765 in 108 games. He started to become known around the game as an elite defender and he had one of the fastest velocities in the Majors when throwing the ball in from the outfield. From 2014-2017 he had a respectable .262 batting average with a .750 OPS and 60 stolen bases. He hit his career-high for home runs in 2017 with 15. He won back to back Gold Gloves in 2015 and 2016. His peak FWar came in 2015 at 4.3. He was rewarded for his solid play with a contract he signed in March 2017 totaling $53.5 million over 6 years. Since he has signed this contract his production has steeply declined. In 2018 he suffered a thumb injury early in the season which resulted in him playing only 88 games. He batted .217 with a .370 slugging percentage and a strikeout percentage of 24.8%. He played in 129 games in 2019 and batted .228 with a .676 OPS. He stuck out a career-high 104 times and he had reverse splits resulting in batting .197 against right-handed pitching. He did win his 3rd Gold Glove, but his terrible offensive performance resulted in a 1.5 FWar. This puts him in the same category as a player like Boston Red Sox centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Kiermaier is a defensive wizard, but his well-below average hitting while being the second highest-paid player on the team, leads him to be the most overrated player on the Tampa Bay Rays.
Most Underrated: OF/ DH Austin Meadows
As I talked about earlier, on the first episode of the MoeCast, my baseball podcast with fellow host Chris Blake on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, I labeled Pittsburg Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds as one of the most underrated players in the Major Leagues. The other player that I mentioned on the podcast was Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Austin Meadows. Meadows was a superstar last season as a second-year outfielder and his first full season with the Rays. Meadows was traded along with superstar right-handed starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Chris Archer. Like I talked about earlier this was one of the worst trades in recent memory. Glasnow pitched only 60 2/3 innings in 2019 after starting off the season 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA. He then missed most of the season after straining his arm. He came back in September but did not pitch much. He regularly hit 100 mph and is on track to be one of the more dominant pitchers in the American League if he can stay healthy. These two players can be the faces of the Rays for years to come. Austin Meadows was one best prospect in baseball and was very highly touted in the Pirates organization. He was drafted 9th overall by the Pirates in 2013, and he was one of the most talented prospects in the draft. He was ranked the 2nd best prospect in all of Major League Baseball going into the 2018 season. With Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco the Pirates were hoping to plug Meadows in with that pair for the future, but the July 31st trade shocked most people in the baseball world. After being called up by the Pirates in 2018, he was named the National League Rookie of the Month in May, after batting .409 with 4 home runs, 7 RBIs, 3 doubles, and 3 stolen bases in 13 games. After playing in just 10 games with the Rays in 2018 after the trade, Meadows came into 2019 as a starter for Tampa Bay. The 24-year old outfielder was an All-Star. He batted .291 with 33 home runs, and an OPS of .922. He played mostly right field, but also spent a lot of time at DH and he also logged innings in left and center field. In 138 games he registered a 4.0 FWar. He received votes for MVP and his 4.0 FWar ranked him as the 7th best right fielder in Major League Baseball. Some of the players ahead of him include Milwaukee Brewers Christian Yelich, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger, and Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts. Meadows is not known for his glove but his speed in the outfield allows him to cover a lot of ground that most outfielders cannot. He stole 12 bases in 2019 and he was an elite hitter at home and on the road. Meadows was a perennial left-handed bat and he put up those great numbers in his first season in the American League as a 24-year old. Going into next season, Meadows will be one of the premier outfielders in baseball and his great 2019 season was very underrated because he played in Tampa Bay.
Justin K. Aller/ Getty Images
Most Overrated: 2B Rougned Odor
The Texas Rangers. What an interesting ballclub. They have not made the playoffs since 2016, and they lost back to back World Series' in 2010 and 2011. One of the longest-tenured players on the roster is their second baseman, Rougned Odor. He is known around the league for the direct hit heard around the world, the right hook that he landed on former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder José Bautista. It is almost hard to believe that Odor is still only 26-years-old because he has been in the Major Leagues since the 2014 season. He signed as an international free agent with the Rangers in 2011 out of Venezuela and he played for his native country in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He flew up the Minor Leagues and he had a high batting average at almost every stop. His emergence as an elite prospect allowed the Rangers to trade other second base prospects like infielder Leury Garcia to the Chicago White Sox to make room for Odor. After a terrific year in the Minor Leagues where he batted over .300 in 2013, he was named the Rangers Minor League player of the year. He was promoted to the Major Leagues in 2014 on May 8th and finished the season batting .259 with 9 home runs while having just 71 strikeouts in 114 games. He began 2015 as the starting second basemen but was demoted after hitting .144 over his first 29 games. He then caught fire in Triple-A, and after being recalled by the Rangers in June he ended the season batting .261 with 16 home runs and a .781 OPS in 120 games as a 20-year old. He then batted .271 with 33 home runs in 150 games in 2016. As the Rangers figured he was heading for stardom they signed him to a 6-year $49.5 million-dollar extension in March of 2017, but this is when it all went downhill. It was the right move to sign a 23-year old second baseman putting up great numbers to that contract, but Odor has been one of the worst players in all of baseball the past three seasons. In 162 games in 2017, he batted .204. He hit 30 home runs and had a .649 OPS. He stuck out 25% of the time, and for the third consecutive season, he led the American League among second baseman with 19 errors. After such a rough season and only one month where he hit over .216, it was surprising to see the Rangers not give him a single game off during his full-season funk. He was the worst second baseman in the majors by far with -1.4 FWar. In 2018 he rebounded in a sense batting .253 with 18 home runs in 129 games. He had a solid year defensively and stole 12 bases, but also led the American Leagues caught stealing 12 times in 2019. In 2019 he went back to the 2017 version of himself by once again having the worst batting average in Major League Baseball at .205. At least this was better than 2017 right? He again hit 30 home runs but struck out 30.6% of the time. In 145 games he struck out 178 times. His 0.3 FWar ranked him once again, the worst second baseman in the Major Leagues. Rougned Odor showed a lot of flash as a young player and got him much attention around the big leagues, but his terrible production after signing the 6-year extension leads to him being wildly overrated.
Most Underrated: OF Joey Gallo
If there is a season this year I named Corey Kluber my Comeback Player of the Year and Cy Young Award winner. The Rangers have a couple of young pieces on the team but still will not be competitive for the next couple of seasons. They also swung and missed on the Anthony Rendon sweepstakes this summer to headline him as the superstar and face of the franchise for their new ballpark. The best player on the Texas Rangers by a wide margin is their superstar outfielder Joey Gallo. If you would have asked me about Joey Gallo before this past season I would have called you insane to think that he would be my most underrated player, but after going on the Good Griefs Podcast Episode 3, I made a bold statement and said that Joey Gallo was my sleeper pick to win the 2020 American League MVP. It is fair to say that Joey Gallo will never win a batting title, but his power is simply unbelievable. He was drafted 39th overall by the Texas Rangers in 2012. He did well in the Minor Leagues and really took off in 2014. He was an All-Star in the Minors and he was selected to the All-Star Futures Game where he was named the MVP. He was called up by the Rangers in 2015 and batted .204 with 6 home runs in 108 at-bats. He only had 25 at-bats with the Rangers in 2016 and spent most of the season in the minors. He became an everyday player in 2017 splitting time between third base, first base, left field, and DH. He batted only .209 and was second in the league with strikeouts with 191 but hit 41 home runs in 145 games. He had a similar season in 2018, batting .206 with 40 home runs and 217 strikeouts in 148 games. After telling the Rangers that he did not want to play third base ever again he went into the 2019 season primarily as an outfielder and split his time between left and center field. He got off to an outstanding start to 2019 and he won the player of the week award from April 15-21. He became the fastest player in American League history to hit his 100th home run in only his 377th game. This was later broken by New York Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez after his 100th home run in his 355th game. Galo also set a record for hitting his 100th homerun with the fewest singles, at only 93. After being selected to the All-star game he hit a no-doubt home run off of left-handed reliever, Will Smith, in his only at-bat. After a variety of injuries, he only ended up playing in 70 games in 2019 but left a big impact. He batted .253 with 22 home runs and a .989 OPS. He had a 3.3 FWar and if he played a full regular season and kept pace his FWar would have been upwards of 7.0. This would have made him the best-left fielder in all of Major League Baseball. He had a great glove and was a great baserunner. The biggest hole in his game is obviously the strikeouts and his 38.0% career strikeout percentage is almost shockingly high. He made great strides in 2019 and I anticipate he will only get better in the batting average department and he will push the 50 home run mark. He is still only 26-years-old and if he stays healthy he will become one of the best outfielders in the Major Leagues.
Toronto Blue Jays
Mark Blinch/Getty Images
Most Overrated: OF Randal Grichuk
It will be hard for the Toronto Blue Jays to compete in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, but they are going in the right direction. They last made the playoffs in 2016 and they went 67-95 last season. They are going to struggle with their pitching especially after trading Marcus Stroman to the New York Mets close to the deadline last season, but the addition of the underrated left-handed starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and right-handed starting pitcher Tanner Roark will help this case. Their right fielder for the future is Randal Grichuk and this is a problem that they will need to be resolved if they want to become a competitive ballclub. As you can tell I am not the biggest fan of Randal Grichuk. Grichuk was selected with the 24th overall selection in the 2009 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Angels. He was selected one pick ahead of the best 25h overall selection in Major League history, Mike Trout. He had a rough start to his Minor League career and suffered a torn ligament, a fractured kneecap, and a broken wrist in his first two seasons in the Minor Leagues. He had a great 2012 and 2013 season's in the minors before being named the Angel's 4th best prospect heading into the 2014 season. He was then traded to the St. Louis Cardinals with Peter Bourjous for David Freese and Fernando Salas. He was called up by the Cardinals in 2014 and had his best season as a pro in 2015. In 103 games in 2015, he batted .276 with 17 home runs and a .877 OPS which put him at a 3.0 FWar. He was traded to the Blue Jays in January of 2018 for two Minor League pitchers. He produced pretty good numbers for the Blue Jays in 2018 after getting off to a very slow start. He batted .245 with 25 home runs. He was rewarded by the Blue Jays with a 5-year $52 million-dollar extension heading into the 2019 season. This deal was a little puzzling at the time, but Grichuk had a great second half and was entering his prime. On the outside, his 2019 season did not look that bad. His batting average was low at .235 but he led the team in home runs with 31, and RBIs with 80. When you dive deeper into his statistics though you can see why he was not a good player. His .738 OPS is not going to cut it for a right fielder especially when he was not a good defender. He also had only 35 walks compared to 163 strikeouts. He was 6th in the American League in double plays grounded into, with 20. He was a below-average fielder, baserunner, and hitter in 2019. Among the 28 qualified right fielders in the major leagues, he ranked 26th with a 0.5 FWar, which was the lowest of his career. He has never had an FWar over 2.2 other than his 3.0 first full season as a big leaguer. Grichuk is being paid a lot of money to put up a season like he did last year, and his outfield spot is in jeopardy to the Minor League players in the Blue Jays strong system.
Most Underrated: LF/2B Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
The Toronto Blue Jays might surprise some people next season. They have a young core that could lead them to a lot of success in the future, with the young superstars like shortstop Bo Bichette, third baseman Vlad Guerrero Jr., and second baseman Cavan Biggio. Bichette is 22, Guerrero is 21, and Biggio is 25. With these three cornerstones, it is easy to overlook a bright young talent like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The 26-year left fielder and second baseman became an international free agent in 2016, and soon signed a 7-year $22 million-dollar contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. He is the brother of the Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel. He was called up by the Blue Jays in 2018 and he became the first rookie in baseball's modern era to have 11 consecutive multi-hit games. In the 11th game after his third hit, he injured his hamstring and was placed on the IL. It haunted him throughout the rest of the season, and he was shut down in September. He began the 2019 season as the primary second baseman for the Blue Jays and he subsequently hit .175 in 13 games. He also struggled with throws from second base, so he was optioned to Triple-A. In Triple-A with the Buffalo Bisons, he began playing as an outfielder. After being called back up by the Blue Jays he thrived as a left fielder and was a great hitter for the team. In just 84 games he batted .277 with 20 home runs and a .869 OPS. He also led the Major Leagues in assists from left field with 9. Through his first 149 games as a pro, he has a batting average of .279 with 31 home runs and a .819 OPS. He was a much better outfielder then he was a second baseman and he still has much more room to grow. He still has five more years with the Blue Jays and at a very good price for a player of his caliber. By the way, his flow is absolutely electric. Even if he was tagged out in the picture above, it would have been worth it to show off that glorious lettuce. His 1.8 FWar puts him as an average left fielder even though he only played in 84 games. If he were to play a full season and keep up the consistent production, he would have been in the category with players like Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds and San Diego Padres outfielder Tommy Pham. This is all while learning to play left field after playing shortstop and second base his whole life. He had an extremely hot June where he batted .337 with 10 home runs and a 1.063 OPS. It would have been amazing to see the numbers he would have put up if he did not miss five weeks to injury right after getting hot in June and July. He flashed some speed and the Blue Jays are hoping this can lead to more stolen bases as well. Loudes Gurriel Jr. is a solid hitter, he did well for his first year as an outfielder defensively and is a good baserunner. He is the most underrated player on the Toronto Blue Jays, and it is sad that he will struggle to gain attention in the future with the three superstar infielders having the publics' focus.
USA TODAY Sports
Most Overrated: RF Adam Eaton
I applaud you all for not being scared off by the aggressively scrolling that you had to undergo to arrive at my favorite franchise, the 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals. It was a beautiful sight to see the Nationals win the title in their 15th season as a franchise. If you have not already, check out Kyle Leverone's beautiful piece on our great website titled, "Today is May 24". The day the Nationals were 19-31 and their season seemed to be over after just 50 games, but we stayed in the fight and shocked the world. From the departure of our once golden boy Bryce Harper, to the 7-run 9th inning victory to against the New York Mets, to the worst bullpen ERA to ever make the playoffs, to being down 3-1 against the Milwaukee Brewers in the bottom of the 8th with two outs and with Reliever of the Year Josh Hader in the game, to being down 3-1 in game 5 of the NLDS to arguably the best left-handed pitcher in Major League history in Clayton Kershaw, and to Max Scherzer missing game 5 of the World Series, we stayed in the fight and strived to go 1-0 every day. Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said it perfectly. "Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places". One of the key contributors to this World Series victory was our right fielder, Adam Eaton. I have a love-hate relationship with Adam Eaton. The two players I considered for this spot was Eaton, and catcher Yan Gomes. When analyzing Gomes, I know that he is a light-hitting defensive catcher. He struggled with the bat, but his ability to smother every single one of Patrick Corbin's wicked sliders provided him with too much value to name him as overrated in my mind. Eaton used to be a very underrated player. With the Arizona Diamondbacks, he was relatively unknown until people realized his consistent bat and glove will lead to a successful career in the Major Leagues. He was a pitcher and outfielder for Miami University and was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 19th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. In 2010 and 2011 in the Minor Leagues he batted .340 in each season. After batting .318 with 34 steals in the minors in 2011 he was called up a year later by the Diamondbacks in September of 2012. He was limited with injuries in 2013 and in 88 total games with the Diamondbacks in 2012 and 2013 he batted .254 with 5 home runs and a .706 OPS. He was then traded to the Chicago White Sox in 2013 in a three-team deal and he immediately became their everyday centerfielder. This is where his career blossomed. In his first season with the White Sox, he batted .300 with 1 home run and a .763 OPS in 123 games. In 2015, he batted .287 with 14 home runs and a .792 OPS. In 2016 he was moved to right field and put up very similar numbers with the bat. He hit .284 with 14 home runs and a .790 OPS, but his bat was not the only story. In right field, he was an elite defender which led to an outstanding 5.9 FWar in 157 games. That FWar rated him the 3rd best outfielder in all of the Major Leagues, only behind Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox. In three seasons with Chicago, he had an outstanding total FWar of 13.5. With his value this high, and the cheap contract he signed after the 2015 season at 5-years $23.5 million, he was traded to the Washington Nationals for three starting pitchers. These pitchers were Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López, and first-round pick Dane Dunning. This came as an absolute shocker due to the Nationals holding on to Gioltio for so long and his potential that had the baseball world buzzing for years. Giolito put it together in 2019 and was one of the best pitchers in baseball. In his first two seasons with the Nationals, Eaton only played in 118 games and was a pretty average player. In 2019 in his first full season with the Nationals, he was not that great of a player especially receiving a large chunk of at-bats hitting at the top of the lineup. He batted .279 with 15 home runs and a .792 OPS. His once elite defense in right field is now below average. He had a 2.3 FWar in 151 games which ranked him 16th out of 28 qualified right fielders. He had a great postseason and is a good player to have on your squad, but his below-average defense, lack of games played, and the three pitchers the Nationals had to give up for him, lead Adam Eaton to be the most overrated player on the Washington Nationals.
Most Underrated: CF Víctor Robles
When talking to fans of other teams in baseball Víctor Robles is a guy that some people bring up as being overrated. The Nationals were invested in Michael A Taylor as their centerfielder for the future throughout certain points in his career and an outfield with Michael A Taylor, Bryce Harper, and Víctor Robles was eventually supposed to be one of the best outfields in the game. Fast forward a few years later and Bryce Harper is now a Philadelphia Phillie, a young relatively unknown prospect by the name of Juan Soto has become a top 10 player in baseball at 21-years of age, and Michael A Taylor hit a home run in the World Series, but only played in 53 regular-season games with the Nationals in 2019 and has no clear role with the team for the future. After Howie Kendrick was playing primarily as a left fielder in 2018 and with the Nationals struggling, Kendrick tore his Achilles and was out for the season. The team needed a spark and that is when they surprised fans and called up 19-year old Juan Soto, but the call up would have surely been given to Robles if he was healthy. Robles was signed by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2013 and he batted over .300 in his first two seasons in the minors. Robles became the top-ranked Nationals prospect in 2016, and he was a top-five prospect in all of Major League Baseball. Many people labeled the Nationals prospect a future superstar, and Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo liked him so much that he reportedly was unwilling to send Robles as a part of a package for former Chicago White Sox now Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale, and former Pittsburgh Pirates now Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen. With this high praise, Robles has a lot to live up to. He has been touted as a five-tool player and he is one of the fastest players in all of baseball. He was called up in September of 2017 and played in 34 combined games with the Nationals in 2017 and 2018. In those 34 games, Victor batted .277 with a .843 OPS and 3 home runs. After the Bryce Harper departure, he became the clear-cut starting center fielder for the Washington Nationals heading into 2019. He was 22-years-old and was about to become the center fielder for a contending team with Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon set to become free agents after the conclusion of the 2019 season. He had some mental gaffes and puzzling plays in the outfield, but his overall numbers were not that bad. In 155 games he batted .255 with 17 home runs and a .745 OPS. He stole 28 bases which was 5th in the Major Leagues and he was second in the National League with 25 hit by pitches. He did not walk much but struck out a respectable 140 times in 155 games. He was very clutch for the Nationals and he hit a homerun on two separate occasions in the 9th inning to tie the game up with two outs. As a 22-year old his numbers were very good especially as a rookie. He matured as a player over the season and was a good player in the playoffs, but the strongest part regarding Víctor Robles is his glove. He led the Major Leagues with 25 defensive runs saved. Yes, 25. This means that he saved 25 runs over the course of the season. He also led all of Major League center fielders with outfield assists at 12. He was a Gold Glove finalist and was robbed of the award by Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain. According to FWar, Robles was the 8th best center fielder in baseball at 2.5. Robles is an elite defender, elite baserunner, and will only get better with the bat. With his defensive and baserunning skills, anything he does offensively will only add to his extremely high value. After all the praise going to Juan Soto, the 23-year old Robles deserves much more credit, and he is extremely underrated.