2006 All-Anti-OOPs Team
In the comments section of the 2006 All-OOPs Team, Brian Gunn asked "Who's on the All-Anti-OOPs Team?" I thought it was a worthwhile project and have come up with the the most underrated offensive players in the game. We could affectionately call this squad the All-UPs for Underrated Players (rather than All-UOPs) so as not to compete with the University of Pacific.
The criteria for identifying underrated offensive players would be the flip side of OOPs.
1. Batting Average < League Norm
By definition, the players who meet the above criteria are sluggers who hit for power and walk frequently. In other words, batting average accounts for a minor share of their value. Put another way, the qualifying hitters have high Isolated Discipline (IsoD) and Isolated Power (IsoP). IsoD equals OBP minus AVG, and IsoP equals SLG minus AVG. These isolated stats tell you what's not a part of batting average.In order to make the All-UPs team this year, an American League player had to hit lower than .275 with an OBP and SLG higher than than .342 and .437, respectively, while a National Leaguer had to hit lower than .264 with an OBP higher than .334 and SLG above .427. No second basemen or shortstops qualified. As such, we picked the players who were the closest.
Ideally, the standards for making the All-UPs team would be adjusted position-by-position. Nonetheless, as with our All-OOPs team, it's not our goal to get overly technical with something that is intended to be both informative and fun.
The 2006 All-UPs or Anti-OOPs team is as follows:
AVG OBP SLG C: Mike Napoli .228 .360 .455 1B: Jason Giambi .253 .413 .558 2B: Jose Valentin .271 .330 .490 3B: Morgan Ensberg .235 .396 .463 SS: Bill Hall .270 .345 .553 LF: Adam Dunn .234 .365 .490 CF: Andruw Jones .262 .363 .531 RF: Austin Kearns .264 .363 .467 DH: Frank Thomas .270 .381 .545
Mike Napoli tied for seventh among all catchers in home runs with 16 while accumulating the fifth-highest walk total (51) despite only 268 at-bats. Jason Giambi placed dead last in batting average among all qualified first basemen, but the former MVP tied for first in BB (110) and ranked fifth in HR (37). Put it all together and he had the fourth-best OPS (.971), finishing behind only Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, and Ryan Howard. Morgan Ensberg led all third basemen in BB with 101 while cranking 23 HR. Bill Hall hit 10 more HR than any other shortstop and had the highest SLG.
Although Adam Dunn had the lowest batting average among all qualifed left fielders, the lefthanded-hitting slugger ranked second in HR (40) and first in BB (112). Andruw Jones had the second-worst AVG among 18 center fielders with 502 or more plate appearances, yet he had the sixth-best OBP and the fourth-highest SLG. Only Carlos Beltran, Vernon Wells, and Grady Sizemore had a better OPS than Jones. Austin Kearns went yard 24 times while working pitchers for 76 walks. Am curious, how did those relievers work out for the Reds?
Harmon Killebrew is the only player who has ever slugged as many homers as Frank Thomas did last year with as few doubles. In 1964, Killer yanked 49 HR and only 11 2B. Thomas had the same number of two-base hits with 39 long balls.
Honorable mentions for the All-UPs team go out to catcher Gregg Zaun (.272/.363/.437), first baseman Carlos Delgado (.265/.361/.548), third basemen Aubrey Huff (.267/.344/.469) and Troy Glaus (.252/.355/.513), and outfielders Pat Burrell (.258/.388/.502) and Nick Swisher (.254/.372/.493). Although Jim Edmonds came up shy of 502 PA, he put up a lower-than-norm AVG (.257) and a higher-than-average OBP (.350) and SLG (.471).
If Mark Grudzielanek was named the Most Overrated Offensive Player based on having the highest batting average among the All-OOPs recipients, then Adam Dunn would be the rightful Most Underrated Offensive Player honoree. (Mike Napoli had a lower AVG but failed to qualify for the batting title.)
The 6-foot-6, 275-pound Dunn turned 27 yesterday, suggesting that his peak offensive season may be at hand. However, he experienced a miserable August and September (.174/.309/.348), putting into question whether he has seen his best days. His body type and tools are such that I would be inclined to bet "against" rather than "for" much, if any, improvement.