Baseball BeatNovember 08, 2006
2006 All-OOPs Team
By Rich Lederer

OOPs, here it is! The sequel. The most Overrated Offensive Players in the game.

Last December, we introduced criteria for identifying overrated offensive players (or OOPs). It is simple and straightforward:

1. Batting Average > League Norm
2. On Base Percentage and Slugging Average < League Norm

By definition, the players who meet the above criteria are singles hitters who only walk on occasion and rarely slug home runs. In other words, batting average makes up the lion's share of their value. Put another way, the qualifying hitters have low 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-OOPs team this year, an American League player had to hit higher than .275 with an OBP less than .342 and a SLG below .437, while a National Leaguer had to hit higher than .264 with an OBP less than .334 and a SLG below .427. No first basemen or third basemen qualified. As such, we picked the players who were the closest.

Ideally, the standards for making the all-OOPs team would be adjusted position-by-position. However, it was never our goal to get overly technical with what was intended to be both informative and fun.

The 2006 All-OOPs team is as follows:

                           AVG    OBP    SLG
 C: A.J. Pierzynski       .295   .333   .436
1B: Shea Hillenbrand      .277   .313   .451
2B: Mark Grudzielanek     .297   .331   .409
3B: Melvin Mora           .274   .342   .391
SS: Yuniesky Betancourt   .289   .310   .403
LF: Garret Anderson       .280   .323   .433
CF: Juan Pierre           .292   .330   .388
RF: Jay Payton            .296   .325   .418

A.J. Pierzynski walked a grand total of 22 times in 509 at-bats. Shea Hillenbrand drew 21 BB in 530 AB. Mark Grudzielanek had 28 BB and 7 HR in 548 AB. Yuniesky Betancourt walked 17 times and hit 8 HR in 558 AB. Garret Anderson had 38 BB and 17 HR in 543 AB, Juan Pierre, 32 BB and 3 HR in 699 AB, and Jay Payton, 22 BB, 10 HR, 557 AB.

Melvin Mora was 19th in OPS among 22 qualified third basemen. He will be 35 in February. His three-year, $25 million extension that includes a no-trade clause isn't looking too swift for the Orioles at this point. Similarly, the Angels are still choking on a $48 million, four-year contract extension given to Anderson during the 2004 season that lasts through 2008. The deal also includes a team option for 2009 with a $3 million buyout. Pierre led the NL with 204 hits, but he also topped the circuit in outs with a career-high 532 (the 11th most ever and the second-highest total since 1982).

Based on the precedent set last year, Grudzielanek has earned the Baseball Analysts' OOPs Player of the Year award by virtue of having the highest batting average among those who qualify. Congrats, Mark! He was deemed to be the Most Overrated Offensive Player among all active players last year.

Grudzielanek is also the only LOGGY (Low Offense, Gold Glove Yokel) on the 2006 team. Orlando Hudson was the lone LOGGY on last year's OOPs squad.

Honorable mentions for the all-OOPs team go out to second basemen Josh Barfield (.280/.318/.423), Ronnie Belliard (.272/.322/.403), Jose Lopez (.282/.319/.405), Placido Polanco (.295/.329/.364), and Brandon Phillips (.276/.324/.427); shortstops Orlando Cabrera (.282/.335/.404) and Jack Wilson (.273/.316/.370); and outfielders Mark Kotsay (.275/.332/.386) and Willy Taveras (.278/.333/.338).

Well, to steal last year's closing statement, that'll about rap it up. OOPs, there it is!


My only real gripe is that overrated doesn't mean really mean "bad." Grudz is a perfect example. He plays decent defense and gets on base at a .330 clip while playing a position where defense matters significantly.

In fact, could you run the OBP and SLG numbers for "average AL second baseman"? I think you'll see that he's below average, but not by a ton -- after all, the league-wide numbers aren't too far off of Grudz's (OBP less than .342 and a SLG below .437), especially if you assume that 2B will typically not slug like a LF will.

AJ P'sky is also a good example of the above. His OBP and SLG are close to league averages at, what I'd suspect, a position which is below norms. I know nothing of P'sky's abilities defensively, though.

Ditto Yuniesky Betancourt. A .710 OPS from your allegedly slick-fielding shortstop isn't really awful, is it?

When the replacements for Grudzielanek end up being Aaron Miles and Ronnie Belliard, he's defintely overrated.

Does it have to be just one individual? I nominate the Twins leftfielders as a group. Their numbers (.286/.329/.417) are similar to Anderson's, but with a 6-point higher BA & OBP and a 16-point LOWER SLG. In other words, Iso-D is the same but Iso-P is 22 points worse.

Also, since no third baseman qualified, I think you should reconsider Nick Punto. The only reason he didn't make it is that his BA was so high (.290) that his OBP was forced up to .352. Still, his Iso-D is 6 points below Mora's and his Iso-P is a whopping 34 points under.

With respect to the first two comments, the All-OOPs team is all about offense (as stated) and has nothing to do with defense. Furthermore, the intention is to capture *overrated* offensive players rather than bad or awful. I thought I had spelled both of these matters clearly in the article.

Re the comment from James, Punto would be a good choice at 3B, too. He is a singles hitter whose offensive value is mostly caught up in his batting average. If Punto hit .270, he would be next to worthless.

Who's on the All-Anti-OOPs (i.e., underrated) Team? Adam Dunn probably makes it in years past, but he dipped this year.

Yes, Mark Grudzielanek bats above the league average. Yes, his OBP is low and his SLG is dismal. But is he really "overrated?" Using that term suggests that there must be some subjective element involved, that millions of people are out there celebrating the hitting prowess of Mark Grudzielanek. But is anyone doing that? I don't live in the Kansas City area, but I assume the hometown announcers might pump him up a bit. Then again, who else do they have to celebrate on that roster? Here in Wisconsin I think the Brewers home boys had Bill Hall a first-ballot hall of famer this past June. Grudz has made one all-star team, ten years ago. I've never seen any national media-- mainstream or alternative--discuss Mark Grudzeilanek at length. Perhaps you could make the argument that the Royals front office "overrated" him by handing him $4 million last year. But most baseball people seem to take Grudz for what he is. Ignoring the defense, he's a guy who hits for average, doesn't walk much, and generally couldn't hit the ball out of a Little League field. I think most people around the country, at least the ones who know he exists, would agree.

Juan Pierre is a different story. He led the league in hits (and outs). He's perennially among the league leaders in steals (and caught stealing). Given his postseason appearance, the Cubs media exposure, and the ongoing fascination with small ball at some of the major media outlets, he continues to be tremendously "overrated."

Obviously, this method ignores speed, which is an important and very valuable part of the game for some of these guys (Phillips 25/27, Barfield 21/26, etc). There's real value in that, and considering it doesn't "overrate" those guys, certainly not in the way that batting average beauty queens like Grudz or Anderson are overrated.

I think it's fair to mention this exclusion, in a method that purports to measure "offense." I know this is just a fun toy, but I also think that the people doing the "overrating" (Joe Sixpack and Your Beat Writer) are considering stolen bases quite a bit. When a given players steals are actually productive, these guys have lucked into an appropriate rating, not an overrating. To keep piling on Pierre - his CS are usually ignored, making him even more overrated.