35) Jack Clark
If there was a player today most like Clark, it would be Adrian Beltre, meaning he really knew how to turn it on during his contract years, not that he knew how to get hit in the junk.
Clark started out with the Giants, before moving on to the Cardinals. then he inked a big deal with the Yankees. The year before he signed with the Cardinals, he posted a .320 batting average with the Giants in only 57 games. If his season was not cut short, he would have done some serious damage. Before cashing in with the Yankees, he had a fantastic season, hitting .286 with 35 HR and 106 RBI. However, it was all downhill from there; Clark hit .242 with the Yankees and never could recreate his glory days.
34) Wally Joyner
While there isn’t really a stat for this, I always referred to Joyner as “Mr. Meaningless.” Of his 204 career home runs, It seemed like about 150 them came when it totally didn’t matter. Looking for a big Wally Joyner home run? Tune in for the 8th inning of a 9-1 ball game. Joyner is also the classic example of a guy who first seasons were the best, and he lived on reputation after that. In his rookie year, Joyner hits 21 homers and drives in 100 runs; his second season is his biggest, he smacks 34 taters and knocks in 117. But in the remaining 14 years of his career, he only ever hits 20 home runs once and never again drives in 100.
33) Steve Sax
Three words summate his career – “Steve Sax Syndrome.” When you get a syndrome with your name on it, you have reached a select rung of baseball infamy. Sax inexplicably became incapable of making routine throws to first base in 1983, committing 30 errors that season. This is when the term was coined, it being a the fielder’s variant of “Steve Blass disease,” named after the Pirates pitcher who suffered a similar breakdown of basic mechanics. As his accuracy suffered, fans sitting behind the first base dugout began wearing batting helmets. Even before his syndrome days, and after for that matter, he was never a premier defensive 2nd baseman.
32) Barry Zito
Zito is the poster child for inflated salaries for deflated performance. Since he signed the seven-year, $126 million deal with the Giants in 2007, he has never won more than 11 games in a season, he’s never had a winning percentage above .500, he’s never pitched 200 innings, never had an ERA under4.00, and never had a WHIP under 1.3. In fact since his Cy Young season in 2002 (23-5, 2.75 ERA), Zito has a higher ERA than Carl Pavano, a worse strikeout to walk ratio than Paul Maholm, and a higher WHIP than Ted Lilly.
31) Carlos Lee
Speaking of overpaid based on performance, Lee’s numbers from last year: .246 BA, 24 HR, 89 RBI, 67 R, 3 SB. Would you pay this guy $17 million per year? If you would, then you should work for the Houston Astros.
30) Graig Nettles
Graig Nettles was a sure-handed third baseman. If a ball was hit within 20 feet of him, Yankee fans knew that Nettles would be able to make the play. He will always be remembered for his ability to charge balls and make off-balance throws and for his post-season heroics. Other than that, Graig Nettles was average at best. Nettles had a knack for hitting when the games mattered the most. That is what made him a fan favorite in New York.
29) Carl Crawford
Now that he wear a Red Sox uniform, Crawford’s luster is onmly going to become more over-stated. The “All-Star” leadoff man has a career on-base percentage of only .331 and he’s only topped 100 runs twice. those numbers are a bit light for a supposed “table setter.” Some idiots like to compare Crawford to Rickey Henderson, which is ludicrous considering Henderson had a .401 career OBP and topped 100 runs five times in his first six full seasons.
28) Lou Boudreau
If you think Orlando Cabrera is a Hall-of-Famer, you must be a Lou Boudreau fan. Statisically, Boudreau and Cabrera are indistinguishable, and Cabrera doesn’t belong in any Hall of Fame.
27) Bruce Sutter
I have a problem with relievers; I honestly think closer may be the single position in all of sports whose value has been so grossly inflated that it has almost no meaning. Nothing proves this more than Willie Hernandez winning both the Cy Young and the MVP in 1984, and Dennis Eckersley winning both those awards in 1992 and neither Hernandez or Eckersley pitched more than 95 innings in those seasons.
It is that inflation in value that allowed the floodgates of relievers into the Hall of Fame. After the floodgates opened on letting relievers in, Sutter was inducted. I’m even willing to let you have the “great closers,” like Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, and from this generation, Mariano Rivera and maybe Trevor Hoffman. Of course, this means you have to define great ones, which means I have to point out Lee Smith has 178 more career saves than Sutter and isn’t in Cooperstown.
26) Jose Canseco
We’re not even going to mention the word “steroids.” I always knew Canseco was overrated; the majority of his thump as a “great” player comes from his being the first 40 HR/40 Stolen Base player. While in a 17-year career he drives in more than 90 runs 8 times, for a power/speed combo platter he only scores more than 90 runs 3 times. This is largely due to his mediocre career batting average of .266, with an also blase on .353. Then there’s that whole “home run that bounced off his freaking head” issue.
25) Jorge Posada
Posada has been overrated both offensively and defensively. For someone who is allegedly a “great hitting catcher,” his career average for a season is a scant 15 HR and 60 RBI career average is middle of the road. He has only ever hit 30 HR or 100 RBI once in his 17 year career. Defensively, in 2006, he threw out 37 percent of potential runners, which was a career high. Over the course of his career, he has only had a 27 percent success rate in throwing players out.
24) Kirk Gibson
Kirk Gibson has been immortalized due to his World Series heroics for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. That one-legged homer in Game 1 against the A’s has defined his mediocre career, a career in which Gibson:
- Never hit 30 Home Runs in season.
- Never drove in more than 100 runs.
- Scored in 100 runs in a season only once.
- Stole more than 30 bases only once.
23) Bernie Williams
The meaningful part of Williams’ career happened in October; his 80 RBI and 51 extra-base hits both stand as postseason records. However, he may have been one of the weakest-armed outfielders in the modern history of the game. He needed a cut-off man to play catch.
22) Alfonso Soriano
“Mr. Clutch,” Soriano struck out 11 times in 30 at-bats during the 2003 ALCS. Once he signed the huge contract in 2004, he has been a massive financial black hole. His batting average, RBI, and stolen base totals have continued to slide throughout the years. He may personify the usual terrible Cubs-type personnel decision.
21) Chuck Finley
Chuck Finley was once known as a Yankee killer…and then Tawny Kitaen beat the shit out of him. That’s right, the model/actress/basket case did one thing the Yankees couldn’t; hit Chuck Finley. A look at his stats is all you need. In 1996, he went 4-0 with a 0.57 ERA in 31.1 innings. In 1998, in 20 innings, he posted an ERA of 1.80. From 1999-2000, in 27.2 innings, Finley had an ERA of 1.31 against the Bronx Bombers. Otherwise, Finley only had three seasons that were worth noting. From 1989-1991, he went 48-27 with a 2.92 ERA. In comparison during his Yankee-killing years, he only went 54-47.
20) Derek Jeter
Jeter has been far and away the most overrated player in the Major Leagues during his career. You know why? Because he plays in New York. Jeter always gets hyped because of his defense, but that is usually because he makes one highlight-reel play for every twenty balls he boots.
19) Denny McClain
In 1968 and 1969, McLain went 31-6 and 24-9, respectively. He won the Cy Young and MVP during his incredible 1968 season. Other than those two years, McLain was far from stellar. If you remove those two years from his career, he finishes with a career record of 76-76, and his ERA balloons to over 4.00.
18) Dave Stewart
Dave Stewart was dominant for only a short stint. Stewart won 20-plus games in four straight years from 1987-1990. He was average at best throughout the rest of his career. After 1990, he didn’t win more than 12 games, and his ERA was under 4.00 only once over the next five seasons.
17) Don Drysdale
While his earned run average was 2.95, Drysdale’s numbers are far from dominant. He only had two years where he won more than 20 games. He also only had two full seasons where he lost fewer than 10 games. His win percentage was .526, but he played for a team which hadthe best win-percentage in the National League during his tenure.
16) Nomar Garciaparra
From 1997-2000, Nomar Garciaparra held the title as the best shortstop in the majors, based largely on his .357 and .372 seasons in 1999 and 2000. But his career went downhill after that. Garciaparra was never the same.; the rest of his career was ravaged by injuries.
15) Rabbit Maranville
We’ve all heard it…“Why can’t (insert player here) get in the Hall of Fame, if Rabbit Maranville can?” Maranville seems to be the standard-bearer for this cause as he is arguably the weakest Hall-of-Famer who wasn’t a Yankee (see Phil Rizzuto). Granted, he was a solid defensive shortstop, but baseball has been full of those, and a lot who hit better than .258 lifetime.
14) Rube Waddell
Today, Waddell would either be “eccentric” or tested for metal retardation. He had the metal acuity of a child; he could be distracted by puppies and by the sound of firetrucks. Imagine what airplanes would do to him? The reality is Waddell only won 197 games and drank himself out of the league.
13) Pete Rose
He’s got the most hits in baseball history, but that doesn’t make him the greatest hitter in baseball history. His hits record is greatly overplayed; he couldn’t carry Ty Cobb’s jock when it came to hitting:
- Rose: batting average .303; on-base percentage .375; slugging percentage .409, career high of 82 RBI, 198 career stolen bases
- Cobb: batting average .366; on-base percentage .433; slugging percentage .512, seven seasons of 100 or more RBI, 892 career stolen bases
12) Sandy Koufax
In my mind, Sandy Koufax’s career stacks up comparably to Dave Stewart. He is largely terrible at the beginning of his 12-year career; he only has an ERA under three in 5 of those seasons, wins 20 games in only three of those seasons, which is as many seasons as he loses more than 10 games.
11) Reggie Jackson
For a guy who was supposed to crush the baseball, he was only a .262 career hitter with .490 slugging percentage. He only ever scored over 100 runs once, and only struck out less than 100 times twice. Oh, but wait…I forgot it all gets magnified if you do it in October as a Yankee.
10) Phil Rizzuto
Let’s be honest; the only reason Rizzuto is in the Hall of Fame is because he was a Yankee. This is why Rizzuto is the worst player in the Hall of Fame.
Another solid defender with no bat, Rizzuto was a .273 hitter with 38 career home runs, a .351 on-base percentage, and never a stolen base threat. Other than he was a Yankee, what about that screams Cooperstown?
9) Don Mattingly
Its no accident this list is heavy on Yankees. “Donnie Baseball” was the one of the premier American League first basemen for the back big chunk of the 1980’s. From 1984-1989 he hit for average and hit for power. He was the cornerstone of a the Yankee team. After 1989, Mattingly didn’t hit over .300 again until 1994, but his season was limited to 97 games.
8 ) Steve Garvey
I won’t even get into his “Mr. Clean” image which dissappeared when he got caught impregnating half the female population of Southern California. Rather, lets’ talk about a guy who was converted from a third basemen who couldn’t throw into a first baseman who was a “great clutch hitter.” Granted, he did retire with National League Championship Series NLCS career records for home runs (8) and RBI (24) and was named LCS MVP in both 1978 and 1984. Of course, this fails to mention his anemic World Series performances, where in 28 career WS games he drove in a paltry six runs.
7) Don Sutton
Sutton owes all of his career number to one factor: longevity. The only reason he racked up 324-256 record and over 3500 strikeouts was the fact he pitched 23 seasons in the major leagues.
In all that time, Sutton only won 20 games only once and “Garvey-ed” come World Series time, where he went 2-3 with a 5.26 ERA.
6) Dizzy Dean
See Rube Waddell and Sandy Koufax – in the Waddell piece, replace the phrase “197 wins” with “150 wins;” in the Koufax bit, replace the word “begininng” with “end” and you basically have all you need to know about Dean.
5) Brooks Robinson
If Reggie Jackson was tagged as being a one-dimensional player as a slugger, Robinson needed to wear such a tag as a fielder. The only skill Brooks Robinson had was as a fielder. Robinson was a career .267 hitter, bolstered by the anomaly of 1964 in which he hit .317.
4) Tony Gwynn
Gwynn was often considered the best pure hitter of his era. He is tied with Honus Wagner with eight batting titles. But unlike Gwynn, Wagner was never a fat guy who hit a lot of useless singles so he could be the front end of a lot of double plays.
3) Wade Boggs
Boggs could be just like Tony Gwynn with three major differences. Boggs could field at third base, Boggs actually hit 20 homers in a season once, and Boggs was just slow, not fat and slow.
2) Lou Brock
Other than the fact Brock could steal bases at a blistering rate, his career is largely unremarkable. Yeah, I get that he passed 3,000 hits, but clearly the longevity in his 19-year career aided that (it only takes 158 hits per year to do it over 19 years). Otherwise, Brock was an average outfielder who lacked power.
Check back for our next post, in which we will reveal the most overrated player in baseball history. You will be surprised at the selection; the case for our selection is a “must-read” if you are a baseball fan.