Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why I Find the "Overrated Baseball Players" List Amusing

There was a whole to-do yesterday over four Yankees being named to Sports Illustrated's poll of the Most Overrated MLB players, with Alex Rodriguez, Joba Chamberlain, and Derek Jeter taking the top three spots, and Nick Swisher tying Jayson Werth and Jonathan Papelbon for fourth place.

And for once, A-Rod, the "winner" of the contest voted on by his peers, outdid Derek Jeter, No. 3 on the list, when it came to handling negative attention with a smile and a laugh. For that matter, Joba Chamberlain, who came in second, said all the right things, too. Jeter, not so much.

Here's the scoop. Erik Boland of Newsday describes the scene in the clubhouse yesterday, with Joba, who "won" the title last year, teasing A-Rod about it:
"I lost," Chamberlain proclaimed for the rest of the clubhouse to hear. "I got beat out. No. 2, though...I guess I passed the torch on to Alex."


Upon seeing Rodriguez enter the clubhouse, Chamberlain, surrounded by reporters, yelled at the third baseman.


"You’re next Al, you’re next!"

Here's how A-Rod reacted:

Rodriguez smiled for almost the entirety of the time he spent talking about the anonymous poll.


"I’ve been on this list before," A-Rod said before pausing and taking note of 3/5 of the list comprising Yankees. "So it’s three Yankees? So I’ll see you guys next summer again."


Rodriguez also poked fun at his past reasons for making headlines.


Players vote?


"I’m sure I’ll be on it next summer so I’ll try to come up with some better material for you guys," he said.   "But, I will say this. If this is the only thing we’re talking about, fellas, we’re doing good."
 Here was Jeter's reaction, which wasn't quite so jovial:
Jeter was not close to being amused.


"We're doing this again?" he said. "I have no comment on anonymous polls. I've never understood those anonymous polls."


He added: "It's the same thing they do every year, right? I'm focused on more positive things. How about that? There's your quote."


Discussing his chase of 3,000 hits later on, Jeter amended that.


"Consistency is underrated," he said, putting emphasis on "underrated." "That's the quote."

Jeter usually has the right thing to say, as in saying nothing while saying something, but I thought he came off as really cranky here. This poll, voted on by 185 MLB players, is the quintessential example of the "you're just jealous" sentiment. Yankees win every year (Jeter was just as perturbed when he "won" the honor a few years back), because players are jealous of the attention and money they get.

Jayson Werth is on the list this year because he's making a ton of money with the Washington Nationals, and others are envious of his money. Nick Swisher is on the list because of his fame, endorsements, and probably jealousy about his TV-star wife. I would like to think that Jonathan Papelbon is on the list for being annoying, but his inclusion is most likely about jealousy, too. Any player who is on this list ought to consider it a badge of honor, quite frankly. A-Rod and Chamberlain took it in that spirit, while Jeter was peeved.

At any rate, Jeter's talk of his "consistency" is no longer applicable to his career, unless you consider consistently hitting .257 over the past year, with just seven homers, as a good thing. From the start of his career, until May 31, 2010, he put up the following stats:

.317 BA .387 OBP .458 Slug .845 OPS

Here are his stats from June 1, 2010 through yesterday:

.257 BA .333 OBP .336 Slug .670 OPS

Yikes!

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