The Stark Truth?

     Today before work, I made a stop at "Borders" bookstore which is right across the street from where Chilis is.  I had some time to blow before work and desperately needed to get my mind off of things.  So I turned to baseball…yet again.  I grabbed an organic chocolate milk from the cafe in the store along with Jayson Stark’s, "The Stark Truth:  The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History."  I was really enjoying flipping through the pages and trying not to spill chocolate milk on it.  You know, so I didn’t have to buy it.  I mean not that I would mind buying it, just that who wants a book with a chocolate stain on it?  Once the milk was gone, I bought a coffee, my second of the day. 

     So anyway, I loved that Nolan Ryan was the "Most Overrated RH Pitcher" of all time according to Stark.  It really helps get my point across.  Look, the point is, is that Nolan Ryan was a great pitcher, but he is not the best ever.  He wouldn’t even fall in my top 5, and may not even be in the top 10.  But if he fell short of the top 10, he would be right on the outside.  I try and explain this to the "baseball fans" at work, but they seem to think that when I say "overrated," that I am calling him a bad pitcher or something.  I am not, it is just that he is not the greatest of all time simply because he has the most strikeouts of all time.  There is more to pitching than that strikeouts.  Although, they are a very effective way of retiring a batter, obviously. 

     So I agreed with a lot of the book.  JD Drew was the second most overrated RF of all time, Abreu was fifth.  Yaz was in there as being overrated.  Jeter was the second most underrated SS.  Although, I do not know how the leader of the most recognized franchise could be underrated.  He gets an incredible amount of respect and recognition.  And his defense is actually overrated.  But it is Stark’s opinion.  I mean I am fully aware of Jeter’s greatness and I feel that many others are too, whether they can admit it or not. 

     Dwight Evans was one of the most underrated RF of all time in the book.  And my Dad swears that he was superior to Jim RIce.  He watched basically every game each of them played, and he says Evans was superior in most ways to Rice.  I mean Evans is one of the five best RF’s of all time defensively, and his OBP was .18 higher over the course of a longer career.  Rice led in "OPS+" by only 1 point.  And their actual OPS was .14 points apart.  And I am not saying that Evans should be there.  Just saying that there is always support for Rice getting in, but not many seem to mention Evans.

     But overall, what I saw in the book was pretty interesting.  Don’t know that I will ever buy it, but I haven’t ruled out the possibility. 

    

7 Comments

Chocolate milk followed by coffee? Is your stomach made of cast iron?
I have respect for Stark. Does he use Bill James-style stats or does he just go by opinion and basic numbers?

He does use numbers of course, but they aren’t really Jamesian.

While we are at it , who is the “Most Overrated” RF according to Stark ? To me Catfish Hunter and Kirk Gibson are amongst the most overrated players of all-time .

I don’t remember who he had as the most overrated RF. I may end up buying the book though.

Sounds like an interesting book Joseph, but just based on what you have posted, I would say in some cases the Stark truth may be stark naked.

Nolan Ryan was a lot of things, but overrated wasn’t one of them. I would say it’s difficult to overrate a pitcher who has over 300 wins, 5000 strikeouts, who has thrown 7 no hitters and pitched for over 20 years. I wouldn’t say he’s the best of all time, but he’s certainly awfully tough to overrate and anyone who says he’s the best could probably make a legitimate claim.

It’s possible Yaz was a little overrated but he did some pretty remarkable things and you can’t shun a Triple Crown and a few batting titles. His most remarkable feat may have been when he was the only hitter in the American League to hit over .300 and won the batting title with a .301 average.

Rice and Evans were very different types of ball players. No question, Dwight Evans was way underrated. He had to contend with Lynn and Rice during their best years. Evans never put up the monster stats that Rice did while he was such a dominant hitter. In fact, I think he only hit over .300 once, and drove in over 100 runs once, but he was the model of consistency for nearly two decades. It’s like he was almost the Cal Ripken of outfielders. He just showed up every day and somehow made a contribution. It’s guys like Rice and Evans that get screwed over when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration. There are few who meant more to their teams the these two guys did to the Red Sox for so many years.

By the way, the only thing that makes Drew over rated is his contract. I’m not sure there are many who rate him very highly in anything.

I actually bought the book today because I enjoyed it. I think with Drew it is because he was supposed to be great and he doesn’t have any plus intangibles and of course the injuries are part of Stark’s case.

As for Ryan it is a case of him having the reputation of being the greatest pitcher of all time. For example: I was having a conversation with two coworkers about the greatest pitchers of all time, both of them said Nolan Ryan. What Ryan did was great, but results are more important than legend. He may be the single greatest strikeout pitcher of all time, but he was not the single greatest pitcher. I actually bought Bill James “the new historical baseball abstract” today too. And what he said was that Ryan was great but he didnt adjust the way he should. He would come after the number 8 hitters the same way he would come after the great hitters. He didn’t have to throw the ball as hard as possible to all hitters in order to be effective. I understand if the bases are loaded and the “8” hitter is up with one out, then yes try and stike him out. But if the bases are clear with one out and the 8 hitter is up, then a pitcher doesnt have to rear back and fire as hard as he possibly can, because obviously control can become an issue. So Stark’s point was that it was more of Ryan being like 20th all time (or something like that) rather than number 1.

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