Question of the day: Who is the most overrated hitter in baseball?
Reporters from around the Tribune family tackle the question of the day, then you get a chance to chime in and tell them why they are wrong.
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 over-rated. What do his 200-plus hits every season – heavily front-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.
Let’s call this the Juan Pierre factor (another candidate for most-overrated). 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.
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 matter 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.
Photo: Ichiro Suzuki. Credit: Ben Margot / Associated Press.