Question of the Day Pt. 1: Most Overrated/Underrated Player in MLB

This is part of a questionnaire I did with fellow blogger of mine, Doug V. We asked each other a question and both did a post answering our own question, and the other person’s question. My question to Doug was who he thought the most overrated and underrated players in baseball were.

Here were his takes: http://baseballgeekingalveston.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/question-of-the-day-most-underratedoverrated-players/

A year ago, naming the most underrated player would have been easy, Will Venable. Venable was a 20/20 guy last year, and a name hardly anyone knew. It has been a whole different story in 2014, Venable is failing to hit his own weight, and seemingly both his power and speed have disappeared. This leads me to my new most underrated player.

Most Underrated: Lonnie Chisenhall
The Indians 3rd baseman was once considered one of the top prospects in baseball, but failed to do much of anything in his first three years. Miraculously, Chisenhall is still only 25 years old, and it’s all starting to come together. Chisenhall is top 10 in the AL in OPS, posting a .908, fueled primarily by his ability to get on base at a .392 clip. He has only hit nine home runs, three of which came in one game, but still has enough pop for a .515 slugging percentage. Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, and David Ortiz are amongst the names with lower OPS than Chisenhall this year. While I would primarily wait until someone posted multiple years of unappreciated success to call them underrated, it was hard to ignore the lack of attention Chisenhall has gotten for his incredibly hot start this season.

Most Overrated: Andrelton Simmons
This was a little tougher choice given the vast array of overrated players in MLB. I was tempted to go with Jeter, because of the All Star Game hype machine, but decided not to ride down that controversial path. Instead I went with a national league shortstop. In fairness, Simmons hasn’t been talked about in near as high regards this year compared to last, and for good reason, he has been terrible. Known for his defense, Simmons is starting to give off one year wonder concerns. There were scouts and media types last year legitimately crowning Simmons as the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith. Keep in mind; this is the guy that unseated Yadier Molina as the platinum glove winner.

41 defensive runs saved were through the roof last year for the Braves’ shortstop, but this year he has only saved nine. That is still third among shortstops (trailing Jhonny Peralta and Zack Cozart) but if Simmons isn’t going to hit, he better be elite defensively. Given his position, Simmons is a middle of the road hitter, but doesn’t possess any true tool. He lacks power, doesn’t get on base, and has no real speed to speak of. I’m sure many will disagree with me here, arguing about those elite defensive numbers. Frankly, I’m still not convinced Simmons deserved the platinum glove last year, and probably isn’t even destined for gold in 2014.

It’s not crazy, it’s sports

AJ

How Good is John Mozeliak?

Credit: Post-Dipatch

  1. Jim Edmonds traded for David Freese
  2. Brett Wallace traded for Matt Holliday
  3. Holliday extension
  4. Luke Gregerson traded for Khalil Greene
  5. Lance Berkman signing
  6. Colby Rasmus traded for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski
  7. Rafael Furcal acquired for Alex Castellanos
  8. Albert Pujols walks
  9. Carlos Beltran signing
  10. Zack Cox traded for Edward Mujica
  11. Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Allen Craig all extended
  12. Jhonny Peralta signing
  13. David Freese traded for Peter Bourjos

That is a list of 13 major transactions that Mozeliak has pulled since taking over in 2007, and only one did not work out in the Cardinals favor. (Gregerson for Greene) It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the brilliance behind most of those moves. Edmonds had nothing left when he was traded, Freese went on to become a World Series MVP. Wallace has been a complete bust while Matt Holliday remains one of the game’s best hitters. Lance Berkman and Rafael Furcal both helped the Cards to a World Series title. While Rasmus has been good for Toronto, we don’t win in 2011 without that trade. Pujols is breaking down at a rapid rate in Anaheim while his departure freed up the money to resign Molina, Wainwright, and Craig. As well as bring in Beltran, and now Peralta. Zack Cox may never see the major leagues while Mujica gave the Cardinals (nearly) a full season of dominance as a closer. While the jury is still out on the Freese for Bourjos trade, the track record is good for Mozeliak.

Recently is when I realized just how good Mozeliak is, and it has nothing to do with the big trades. It is difficult to statistically quantify the success of many of these moves in one short blog post, other moves were so obviously successful it’s not worth looking at. Let’s focus on what is in my opinion, Mozeliak’s best work to date, the Allen Craig extension. A five year, 31 million dollar deal was inked last year to keep the first baseman/corner outfielder in Cardinal red. To put that in perspective, Allen Craig is arguably a top five first baseman in all of baseball, this year he will rank 20th in salary for his position. Craig finished last year with 97 RBI, good for 17th in the majors. 22 players finished with 90+ RBI last year, of those 22, four are still on their rookie contracts. Out of the remaining 18, Craig is the lowest paid player. 24 players hit .300+ last year, and again, excluding rookie contracts, Craig is near the bottom of the list in salary.

In comparison, Freddie Freeman just received an eight year, 135 million dollar contract last week. Frank Wren, the GM of the Braves is no slouch, but Mo blew him out of the water here. Freeman is five years younger than Craig, better defensively, and overall healthier so one could justify a slight pay raise from that of Craig’s contract. However, let’s compare their offensive numbers

Allen Craig:

Allen Craig

Freddie Freeman:

freddie freeman

Craig’s numbers compare favorably in nearly every category, particularly when calculated over a 162 game average. To justify a three year, $104 million difference in pay between these two? Well let’s just say Wren dropped the ball. Maybe Wren didn’t drop the ball too far, after all Nick Swisher makes $15 million, Albert Pujols $23 million, and in 2014 Ryan Howard will be the highest paid first baseman in baseball (yes, he still plays). In that perspective, Wren didn’t drop the ball at all. Freeman is younger and better than all of those guys, it just goes to show how good the Craig deal, and John Mozeliak are. Allen Craig is going to be an all-star for years to come, a potential future MVP yet Mozeliak is paying him like he is Garrett Jones (they will be paid the same this year). Just wow.

Of those 13 moves listed above, one worked out poorly, and only time will tell on the final two. That leaves 10 successful moves, essentially out of 11. If Mozeliak was a player that would be good for a .909 batting average, with a few home runs. Obviously that is an outlandish analogy, but it does give some perspective on how high the Cards’ GM success rate is.

It’s not crazy, it’s sports.

AJ

Photo Credit: Baseball Reference & St. Louis Post-Dispatch