Who is the most overrated hitter in the major leagues?

May 24, 2010

Single out Ichiro

Phil Rogers

Chicago Tribune

What's the definition of "most overrated"? You could look at it just in terms of hitting ability, but in my opinion major league baseball is always about the money, so l'm going to consider it in relation to a hitter's value to a team. That makes this an easy question, as Ichiro Suzuki — who you can argue is the best pure hitter in the game — is clearly the most overrated.

What do his 200-plus hits every season — heavily loaded with singles — do for the Mariners? He had a majors-high 225 in 2009 and they scored the fewest runs in the AL. He's again leading the majors with 58 hits (including 48 singles), and Seattle is 14-26. Singles hitters, even those with speed, need to be in deep lineups to realize their value.

The drop in power numbers in recent years makes the guys who do regularly drive the ball to walls, and over walls, as valuable as they've ever been. A singles hitter in a bad lineup is a hood ornament on a beater. These days, that's Ichiro.

progers@tribune.com

Reyes' career stalled

Dan Connolly

Baltimore Sun

In answering properly, you have to find someone who is considered one of baseball's best yet doesn't have the consistent numbers to back it up.

The Mets' Jose Reyes is my choice.

In 2006, as a 23-year-old, he hit .300 with 19 homers and 64 steals and was catapulted to the top of all "young guns" lists. He hasn't hit .300 or had an on-base percentage over .358 since.

This year, coming back from injury, he is barely hitting over .200 and isn't close to cracking a .300 OBP. He's only 26 and has plenty of promise. He is fast, a flashy fielder and certainly would be a welcome addition to any team.

But he hasn't been as good at the plate as expected. He's good, maybe very good — but not one of the elite.

dconnolly@tribune.com

Not so fast, Crawford

Mandy Housenick

The Morning Call

It would be easy to pick on cheaters such as Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, whose numbers have gone down dramatically since their little secrets were discovered. But neither of these 'roiders really matters in 2010.

One talented player who has failed to take that next big step toward stardom is Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford. He is fast. Really fast. He can hit for average and power. But he has yet to do it all for an extended period of time, something that, combined with the Rays' dominant pitching, would really distance them from the Yankees and everyone else in baseball.

Crawford has stolen 10 bases but has been caught four times. And his on-base percentage (.373) is lower than even Ichiro's career OBP. Sluggers are expected to have a high OBP because of walks. The same is expected of speedsters. But for Crawford's OBP to be behind the likes of aging slow folks Bengie Molina, Magglio Ordonez and Todd Helton, well, that's just ridiculous.

ahousenick@tribune.com

Drew the short straw

Bill Shaikin

Los Angeles Times

J.D. Drew of the Boston Red Sox is a nice complementary player, but he should not be paid as if he were a force in the heart of any batting order. Drew's supporters point to his ability to get on base, which would be more impressive if he had the speed to capitalize on it.

Drew is in his 13th season, but he has never played 150 games in a season, has hit 25 home runs just once, has scored 100 runs just once and driven in 100 runs once. He has played in one All-Star Game.

The Red Sox are paying him $14 million this season, yet they have commonly batted him sixth or seventh and he regularly batted sixth, seventh and eighth during the pennant stretch last season.

wshaikin@tribune.com

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