Joba Chamberlain is the most overrated player, say other players


Sports Illustrated conducted a poll of 187 major leaguers. I presume they asked more than just this one question and will be publishing it soon, but for now they’re releasing the results of the “who is the most overrated player in baseball” question. The top five:

  • Joba Chamberlain 12%
  • Alex Rodriguez 5%
  • Gary Matthews Jr. 5%
  • Nick Swisher 4%
  • J.D. Drew 3%

Kind of weird results if you ask me. The fact that hardly anyone broke 5% leads you to believe that there is nothing approaching agreement on a question like this.

To the extent Joba Chamberlain has been overrated by anyone recently it was probably by people like me who thought that he maybe should have beaten out Phil Hughes for the rotation slot. But (a) we were probably wrong; and (b) it’s not like a lot of players read people like me anyway.  Most mainstream people have been questioning Chamberlain for a long time now.

A-Rod is also an interesting answer. I can see it, though between him and Chamberlain and even Nick Swisher appearing here, I wonder if the players were interpreting the question as “who gets more media coverage than they really warrant” as opposed to how overrated their skills are. A-Rod and Swisher are both good, but probably get too much attention. I don’t know that anyone really overrates their value as players.

Surprised to see both Matthews and Drew in the top five too. If anything I think Drew is underrated, with people slamming him (wrongfully, I think) for his perceived lack of effort or malingering while underselling his contributions on the field. You’d think that, if anything, Drew would fare better when other players rated him than media people and fans, but I guess not.  As for Matthews: does anyone actually consider him decent at all to justify a claim that he’s overrated?

Eh, just a poll so who cares, but kind of curious anyway.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.