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:
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.
Spring training is tough for players under the best of circumstances. Even in an age when players work out all year, getting back into the swing of baseball-at-full-speed is tough. Many players spend the bulk of February and March knocking off the rust and getting their timing back. Because of this — and because the games have no real stakes — it is not wise to take spring training statistics super seriously. Especially if the player in question is assured of a spot on the roster and is trying to avoid injury before the regular season arrives.
Spring training for Shohei Ohtani is doubly difficult. Not only does he have to knock the rust off from the offseason, but he (a) has to get used to a new country and language; (b) has to get to know all new teammates, coaches and, really, an entirely new baseball culture; and (c) do all of that while dealing with a media crush that hasn’t been seen in baseball since Ichiro first arrived 17 years ago. In short, Ohtani is under massive pressure and has to make massive adjustments in a short time.
With that said, neither the Angels nor Ohtani can be all that pleased with how his spring training has gone. In two actual major league exhibition games he’s allowed eight runs in two and two-thirds innings. Seven of those came on Friday when he was shelled by the Rockies in an inning and a third. If you include B-games against minor leaguers, he has allowed 17 runs on 18 hits, four of which were homers, in four games. As a hitter he’s 2-for-20.
As Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register notes, Ohtani’s peripherals are not bad, as he has struck out a lot of guys and walked very few and the average on balls in play against him has been brutal, which is not super sustainable. Bad luck and some fat pitches at a time of the year when luck doesn’t really matter and the pitches, because of the rust, are likely to be fatter than normal.
As Fletcher also notes, Nolan Arenado, who faced Ohtani on Friday, said that his stuff looked good and that he’s going to be a good big league pitcher. Ohtani and Angels officials are all striking the right notes about bad luck and adjustments, saying that they’re not worried.
I imagine they’d be worrying even less if things had gone well this spring. Unless of course this is just a professional wrestling-style work aimed at getting more of us to watch his regular season debut, in which he’ll reveal that he was sandbaggin’ all along.