It happens every season. Someone unexpectedly bounces back, breaks out, or finally starts demonstrating promise, and the hyperbole gets out of control. Announcers and bloggers start throwing around plaudits and then the shine comes off. Rather than admit they were wrong, most double down on the praise, overhyping mediocrity as stardom. It’s the nature of the fan connection. Everyone wants to believe in their team and that means believing that the players on their team are capable of stardom. When the hype train gets out of control, the overrated label comes into play. So who are 2019’s most overrated players?
The 2019 MLB All-Overrated Team
Overrated Catcher: Pedro Severino (8 HR, .840 OPS, 1.0 fWAR)
Pedro Severino is not overrated. Catcher is hands down the most difficult position on the field. All catchers deserve respect. That said, there are two factors that prompt Severino’s inclusion here.
First, the Baltimore Orioles are absolutely terrible. That means they might not deserve an All-Star, but they get one anyway. So when the hype begins that Severino might be an All-Star, it should be clear that unless he is exceptional, he is merely an All-Star by default. As he’s 17th among catchers (minimum of 100 at-bats) in fWAR, he’s not exceptional. Catcher is simply a less crowded pool than first base or outfield, meaning Severino is a more plausible candidate than Trey Mancini, the Orioles’ best player.
Secondly, and no offense to Severino, he has been an absolute zero with the bat until this season. So some of the hype is simply the unexpected nature of his production. It represents a major departure from his career norms, and in an Orioles season with little to be excited about, that’s going to get some attention.
First Base: C.J. Cron (17 HR, .882 OPS, 1.3 fWAR)
C.J. Cron hit 30 home runs for the Rays last season then got cut. So he has to feel vindicated with the season he is having. That said, he does not belong in the finale of the new All-Star voting system.
Cron is 16th among first baseman in fWAR, behind Garrett Cooper who has played half as much. He is seventh among just American League first basemen. He has the exact same number of home runs as Luke Voit and Carlos Santana, the two players ahead of him, and six less than Edwin Encarnacion. He also has less fWAR than all three. He’s a nice player, not an All-Star. It is nice to see Minnesota having a good season, though.
Second Base: Jose Altuve (10 HR, .809 OPS, 0.8 fWAR)
No complaints here. Jose Altuve may be 19th among second basemen in fWAR, but he has a track record of stardom and remains as fun to watch as anyone.
Shortstop: Dansby Swanson (15 HR, .791 OPS, 1.4 fWAR)
This one is not even close. The Braves’ broadcast crew talks about Dansby Swanson like he has suddenly become a young Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra or Barry Larkin. It is the very definition of overrated.
Dansby is finally doing what a number one overall draft pick should do, and that’s show signs of being a productive major league player. However, that does not make him a budding star. He is 18th among major league shortstops in fWAR. A few of those names also play elsewhere, but even that means he is barely in the top half of the league. He has 0.5 less fWAR than Francisco Lindor or Fernando Tatis Jr., both of whom missed over a month with injuries. Braves’ country needs to scale the hype, and the All-Star votes, way, way back on this.
Third Base: Gio Urshela (6 HR, .824 OPS, 1.1 fWAR)
Josh Donaldson was the initial choice here, but a former MVP having a decent year and getting All-Star votes is really nothing to complain about. However, a guy who is 23rd at the position in fWAR, and second on his own team at the position (behind DJ Lemahieu)? That’s overrated.
The fan vote is always interesting. It is an easy way to see which teams are having good seasons. The Yankees are having a great season, despite a litany of injuries, and their fans voted in droves. Gio Urshela is a nice find for the Yankees, who are having an unexpectedly nice season. But Yankees fans are delusional if they think the rest of the league wants to see him in the All-Star game.
The Overrated Outfield Mess: Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Aaron Judge, Josh Reddick, Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, Nick Markakis
That’s more than three. Yes, yes it is. All of those names qualified for the final vote. Do you know what they all have in common? None of them are in the top 30 in fWAR. How do you single out just three of that many misses?
If the fans get it right, and they occasionally do, Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Meadows, and either George Springer, Michael Brantley, or Joey Gallo will start the All-Star game. If they get it wrong, it is going to create a mess. All the other finalists have obvious flaws.
Charlie Blackmon can’t hit on the road. Jason Heyward has rebounded from a three-year slump to post decent numbers, but he has 0.9 fWAR. Josh Reddick has the exact same fWAR as Jason Heyward. Aaron Judge has barely played. Nick Markakis and Albert Almora Jr are 87th and 88th among outfielders with 0.4fWAR (though seeing Almora in tears over an injured fan means he might be an All-Star human being). Nice players, all of them, but putting them in the same conversation as Trout, Yelich, Bellinger is just silly. On the other hand, Cubs fans, Astros fans, Yankees fans, and Braves fans clearly like what they are seeing so far.
Most Overrated Overall
It’s either Dansby Swanson or Gio Urshela. Urshela is so unexpected a find, it is hard to fault fans for being excited about him. But in a 2019 season on pace for 1,000 more home runs than in 2018, Swanson’s new career-high of 15 is small potatoes in terms of meaning. He’s hitting less than .260 with an OBP of .322. He’s doing fine, which compared to where he has been is something to take note of. It does not mean he is suddenly a star.
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