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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brisbee: The 10 most underrated players in baseball, part 2

Part 1 here.

What is an underrated baseball player?... It’s the Supreme Court definition of obscenity: I know it when I see it. There’s a feeling of je ne sais notice that goes along with the player, good, great or otherwise. The only thing I’m pretty sure of is that players who have won the All-Star voting in recent years aren’t eligible. That’s a clear popularity contest, and the popularity eliminates players from consideration. Sorry, Josh Donaldson.

10. Old Man Jimmy Rollins
9. Kyle Lohse
8. Cody Allen
7. Lorenzo Cain
6. Austin Jackson
5. Jordan Zimmermann
4. Russell Martin
3. Corey Kluber
2. Kyle Seager
1. Ben Zobrist

The District Attorney Posted: August 20, 2014 at 02:50 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: austin jackson, ben zobrist, cody allen, corey kluber, grant brisbee, jimmy rollins, jordan zimmermann, kyle lohse, kyle seager, lorenzo cain, russell martin

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. madvillain Posted: August 20, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4775590)
Austin Jackson? Seriously? Maybe 3 years ago. He's rated right where he should be now and that's "solid starter".
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 20, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4775592)
Garrett Anderson and Bobby Abreu are oversights.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 20, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4775595)
Austin Jackson? Seriously? Maybe 3 years ago. He's rated right where he should be now and that's "solid starter".

I wouldn't even go that far. 95 wRC+ this year is more like "adequate starter". You'd replace him if you could, but wouldn't pay a lot to do it. 2012 is looking to be a massive fluke.
   4. Joey B. has reignited his October #Natitude Posted: August 20, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4775643)
Yep, I remember about three or four years ago when Fangraphs kept saying that Zimmermann was more lucky than good and his success wouldn't last.

As someone who has seen almost all of his starts, I can back Brisbee up, and Fangraphs couldn't have been more wrong on that one.
   5. spike Posted: August 20, 2014 at 05:25 PM (#4775692)
Aaron Harang has been making an a good case all season
   6. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2014 at 05:45 PM (#4775709)
I wouldn't even go that far. 95 wRC+ this year is more like "adequate starter". You'd replace him if you could, but wouldn't pay a lot to do it. 2012 is looking to be a massive fluke.

c'mon now, having a down year with the bat this year but the guy was 3.3 WAR in 2013. That's a lot better than "adequate starter".
   7. God Posted: August 20, 2014 at 07:49 PM (#4775834)
Strictly speaking, the most underrated player in baseball has got to be Mike Trout.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: August 20, 2014 at 08:05 PM (#4775852)
Brian Giles forever!
   9. boteman Posted: August 20, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4775860)
Underrated by what measure? He doesn't get mentioned on Baseball Tonight?? That's my definition of obscenity (the show, I mean).
   10. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:29 PM (#4775991)
Martin is having a pretty unusual career for a C. Very good but heavily used early in his career, he had seemed to settle into league average which is normally followed by further durability and production declines, often becoming a backup C in the early 30s. There's an alternative C aging model for the guys who don't mature into full-timers until later (Posada and, with injury, Fisk to an extent) who tend to age well.

Martin's combining those two, having a very nice bounce back with the bat in his early 30s.

Post-war, ages 23-26, 50% games at C, at least 2000 PA ... I get 22 seasons ranging from 5 WAR (Earl Williams) to 26 (Bench) with Martin at #13 with 14 WAR.

From 30-32, 20 of those guys played at all and one of those guys is Craig Biggio so we'll take him out. Also Wieters hasn't gotten to 30 yet. I guess these guys maintained better than I thought ...

Carter from 24 to 18 WAR
Berra from 15 to 14
Bench from 26 to 13 (perfectly respectable total)
Pudge II from 22 to 12
Torre from 21 to 11 (and a position change)
Munson from 20 to 10
Freehan from 16 to 10
Kendall from 18 to 10

The "big" dropoffs are Parrish (14 to 4.5), McCarver 13.5 to 0, Fosse 13 to 0 and Williams from useful to out of the game.

From a WAR perspective, the most similar 23-26 were maybe Berra, Parrish, Sundberg, McCarver, McCann (not a good start) and Fosse. Berra and Sundberg (7.8 WAR) are the good comps, the other three not. Sundberg's offense was still good at 30, 31 and 33 (32 not so much) so he seems a very reasonable comp for Martin.
   11. Moeball Posted: August 21, 2014 at 12:11 AM (#4776073)
Now, let's see if I understand this:

Jimmy Rollins, who won the NL MVP award in 2007 even though he wasn't the most valuable player on his own team, much less in the entire league; the same Jimmy Rollins who has won 4 Gold Glove awards in the last 8 years despite being a below average fielder at his position over that period; the same Jimmy Rollins who provided a paltry .579 OPS in the one World Series his team has won in recent memory and was caught stealing in his only attempt during that series...is a more underrated player than his teammate who has won no MVP awards, no Gold Gloves despite being far and away the best fielder in the league at his position during this time and who provided an excellent .875 OPS in the winning World Series and who also, by the way, stole 3 bases in that series without being caught?

By the way, the "resurgent" Jimmy Rollins, whose bounce-back season this year is part of what is inspiring the author of this article, isn't having as good a season this year, either, as his apparently overrated teammate.

Damn. Chase Utley just can't catch a friggin' break.
   12. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: August 21, 2014 at 12:48 AM (#4776083)
Well, Jimmy Rollins is underrated among a lot Phillies fans I know who think he positively stinks.

Jonathan Lucroy belongs on this list, perhaps at the very top.

   13. God Posted: August 21, 2014 at 01:03 AM (#4776087)
Lucroy has arguaBLY entered that "so underrated that he's overrated" category, though. The first thing you hear about the Brewers these days, no matter who's speaking, is how underrated Jonathan Lucroy is.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2014 at 02:11 AM (#4776103)
Now, let's see if I understand this:

Not so hard to understand.

Rollins is under-rated. Nobody even bothers to rate Utley. :-)
   15. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2014 at 02:13 AM (#4776105)
Plus, gripe all you want but there's no denying that Chase Utley is no Cody Allen!
   16. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 21, 2014 at 05:25 AM (#4776112)
It's just awesome that chase utley is so underrated he can't even make the underrated list.
The dude gets no respect,ever.
   17. steagles Posted: August 21, 2014 at 06:41 AM (#4776114)
It's just awesome that chase utley is so underrated he can't even make the underrated list.
The dude gets no respect,ever.
do you people even realize that your comments validate the writer's point?


rollins is underrated because he's constantly compared (unfavorably) to utley, so instead of appreciating his own level of consistency and production as an individual, all you do is gripe about how he's not as good as utley and doesn't deserve what he's gotten.
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: August 21, 2014 at 06:56 AM (#4776117)
do you people even realize that your comments validate the writer's point?


Or missed the point where he points out, if you win the vote for starting the all star game, by (his)definition, you can't be underrated.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 21, 2014 at 07:56 AM (#4776133)
Jonathan Lucroy belongs on this list, perhaps at the very top.

Damn. Chase Utley just can't catch a friggin' break.

The truly under-rated can't make a list like this.
   20. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 21, 2014 at 08:14 AM (#4776137)
a few guys who have had careers nobody really noticed

josh willingham. could hit. he was (and is) poor defensively but as a hitter he was always a surprise.

denard span. do you know he has led a league in triples twice in his career? he plays really good defense and when he has a year when his hits fall span is really valuable. he has had multiple 4 war seasons and that ain't nothin'

angel pagan. similar to span. line drive hitter, contact guy, not a lot of walks. not as good at defense as span but a bit more pop. he helps your team

adam lind. had a several year timeout for not hitting after a big 2009 but he's back the last 2 seasons. mostly a platoon guy but being a lefty that means he is in the lineup 70 percent of the time. and the sucker can hit. goofy looking which detracts from people taking him seriously.

jhoulys chacin. when the guy gets 30 starts he is really good. injuries though. goodness
   21. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 21, 2014 at 08:19 AM (#4776139)
and not to be hard on brisbee but bbtf has been talking about martin's work with the pirates since early last season. it was immediately obvious to the most casual observer of baseball. martin is just a great fit for that team.

so taking swipes at the baseball nerds in my mind is inappropriate.
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 21, 2014 at 08:20 AM (#4776141)
and the most interesting thing about martin never gets mention. at least according to baseball reference martin's full name:

Russell Nathan Coltrane (Jeanson) Martin
   23. BDC Posted: August 21, 2014 at 08:38 AM (#4776147)
Am I misremembering, or was the BBTF consensus pretty sanguine about Rollins's 2007 MVP award? I mean, sure, fool can see he was down the WAR leaderboard a ways, but Gold Glove shortstop, 30/40 man, scored an unGodly number of runs, hit .296, and the Phillies finally won the division after he guaranteed it, if I recall the narrative. Not a bad candidate by any means.

I may have taken part in some discussions to the effect that David Wright had had a better year, and of course Pujols and yes, Utley were candidates, but as travesties go, people were not on the warpath about it.
   24. Rants Mulliniks Posted: August 21, 2014 at 08:52 AM (#4776150)
I can't seem to find the first part of the article despite the provided link, but Iwakuma should be on the list.
   25. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: August 21, 2014 at 10:22 AM (#4776218)
These "underrated" lists always ignore bad players. It's easy to say "this player is good, and people don't know he's very good." It's harder to say "this player is not good, but he's not nearly as terrible as people think he is. Even though, that too, would be underrating the player.
   26. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 21, 2014 at 10:32 AM (#4776226)
Apparently the Royals' manager is among those underrating Lorenzo Cain, since as of at least a couple of days ago he was mainly pinch-hitting. Had to drop him from my fantasy team because of that. *sigh*
   27. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 21, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4776232)

These "underrated" lists always ignore bad players. It's easy to say "this player is good, and people don't know he's very good." It's harder to say "this player is not good, but he's not nearly as terrible as people think he is. Even though, that too, would be underrating the player.


Nick Punto was the captain of that team for years.

   28. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 21, 2014 at 11:24 AM (#4776286)
jamey carroll that kind of guy. he didn't get a full time chance until late in his career and put up 2 war seasons thanks to walks and defense
   29. The District Attorney Posted: August 21, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4776319)
I can't seem to find the first part of the article despite the provided link
Sorry. Fixed.
   30. Moeball Posted: August 21, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4776373)
These "underrated" lists always ignore bad players. It's easy to say "this player is good, and people don't know he's very good." It's harder to say "this player is not good, but he's not nearly as terrible as people think he is. Even though, that too, would be underrating the player.


Nick Punto was the captain of that team for years.


Nah, the Capt2n is the captain.

I am willing to concede that it is slightly possible that Derek Jeter is not "nearly as terrible" a fielder as I have always thought he was. He may not actually be the worst fielding shortstop in history.

Derek Jeter, underrated!

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