[ oh-ver-rey-tid ]
too highly rated or praised:
I don’t know why that coach was so sought-after; he’s an overrated blowhard and has accomplished nothing.
[ uhn-der-rey-tid ]
rated or evaluated too low; underestimated or undervalued:
It’s an accomplished album from an underrated band, and will hopefully get them the recognition they deserve.
Hall of Fame third baseman, Brooks Robinson, has a career rWAR total of 78.4 over 23 seasons. The recently retired, Adrian Beltre, who will be on the HOF ballot in 2024, has a career rWAR total of 93.5 over 21 seasons, approximately 15 points greater than Robinson’s.
Brooks Robinson won the AL MVP Award in ’64 and finished in the top five in MVP voting in five different seasons. Adrian Beltre never won a MVP Award. The closest Beltre ever came to winning a MVP Award was in 2004 when he finished second in NL MVP voting. The next closest was in 2012 when he finished third, this time in AL MVP voting.
Brooks Robinson was an 18-time All-Star and a 16-time Gold Glove winner. Adrian Beltre was a 4-time All-Star and a 5-time Gold Glove winner. Taking into account each player’s production over the span of their careers, as well as the accolades each player received, can we determine if either player was “too highly rated or praised” i.e. overrated or “undervalued” i.e. underrated?
Thanks to seeing Robinson’s and Beltre’s rWAR numbers juxtaposed with the various awards each player had won during their respective careers at BaseballHarmony.com, the thought of taking into account a player’s production and the praise said player had received over his career, with the purpose of measuring whether or not that player was overrated or underrated came to mind.
We wanted the measurement to be as simple as possible; ideally something that could be calculated quickly and without the use of a calculator.
To ensure simplicity we began by choosing a single statistic to measure a player’s overall production. We settled on Wins Above Average (WAA). One of several reasons as to why we chose WAA over rWAR was that we believe WAA is a better indicator than rWAR in terms of measuring a player’s value to his team over the length of his career.
We then needed a way to measure the amount of “praise” a player had received during his career. To do that, we identified five different ways in which a player is both subjectively and officially praised: Rookie of the Year voting, MVP voting, All-Star voting, Gold Glove voting and Silver Slugger voting.
We weighted both the player’s production and the amount of praise the player had received over the course of his career by way of the following:
Rookie of the Year voting share* 10
MVP career voting share*10
All-Star Game Starts*4
NOTE: in the years in which two All-Star Games were played (’59-’62) only one was counted regardless if the player had started and/or was named to both All-Star Teams.
We named the player’s WAA*3, Production Points (ProPs). One caveat with respect to ProP’s- we excluded seasons in which a player accumulated a negative WAA total and did not win a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger award, was not listed on a MVP or ROY ballot or named as an All-Star. Obviously if a player did not receive praise for their negative season that season should not count toward their overall total.
We then compared that total to the player’s Praise Points. A player’s Praise Point (PraPs) total was calculated by adding up the weightings of the awards listed above.
After calculating a player’s ProP and PraP, we simply divided the two to come up with a Production/Praise Ratio (PPR) and then multiplied it by 100. The closer the player’s PPR is to 100, the more likely the player received the adequate amount of praise over his career given his production i.e. he was neither overrated nor underrated. Generally speaking, the greater the PPR, the more underrated the player. Conversely, the lower the PPR, the more overrated the player.
We’ll go through Andre Dawson as an example.
Dawson played in 21 seasons and accumulated a career WAA total of 29.2. However, in the year 1976 and the years 1993 thru 1996, Dawson had negative WAA seasons which equaled a total of 6.60. Dawson did not win any awards in those seasons and was not named on a MVP ballot so obviously he was not praised; therefore we ignore them and add back the 6.60 to his career total. With that adjustment Dawson now has a total of 35.80 WAA, rounded to 36. We’ll use integers for the sake of simplicity.
We take that 36 and multiply it by 3 which is 108 Production Points or ProPs. Now we have to calculate Dawson’s Praise Points or PraPs. By scrolling to the near bottom of Dawson’s Baseball-Reference page we can see that he won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1977 with a 42% share of the vote. Dawson’s career MVP voting share which includes his 1987 NL MVP win is 2.36. Dawson was named to eight All-Star teams, seven of which he started and won eight Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers.
We weigh Dawson’s awards by way of the following:
ROY Share: .42 * 10 = 4.2
MVP share: 2.36 * 10 = 23.6
All-Star Games: 8 * 2 = 16
All-Star Games Started: 7 * 4 =28
Gold Gloves: 8 * 2 = 16
Silver Sluggers: 4 * 2 = 8
Total PRAP: 95.80
After rounding off we have Dawson with 108 ProPs and 96 PraPs. 108 divided by 96 gives us a PPR of 1.13 which comes to 113 after multiplying by 100.
Dawson’s 113 PPR score means that by this method Dawson was not an overrated player. Given his production over the course of his career, Dawson received an adequate amount of praise. In fact, one could argue that Dawson may have been a tad underrated when looking at his career in its entirety.
Let’s take another example. This time we’ll go with Carlos Beltran which happens to be the most similar player to Dawson according to Baseball-Reference’s Similarity Score.
Beltran’s career WAA total is 34.4. If we add back the seasons in which his WAA was negative and he did not receive any accolades in said seasons, we get 40.3 or 40. Below is the PPR calculation for Beltran:
WAA: 40 * 3 = 120
ROY Share: .95 * 10 = 9.5
MVP Share: .76 * 10 = 7.6
All-Star Games: 9 * 2 = 18
All-Star Game Starts: 7 * 4 = 28
Gold Gloves: 3 * 2 = 6
Silver Sluggers: 2 * 2 = 4
Total = 73
120 ProP/73 PraP = 1.64.
1.64 * 100 = 164 PPR
Beltran’s 164 PPR indicates that over the course of his career, Beltran was an underrated player, more so than Andre Dawson. In fact, the biggest difference between Beltran and Dawson is the amount of MVP shares each received during their careers: 2.36 for Dawson versus .76 for Beltran.
Dawson won the NL MVP Award in ’87 as a member of the Chicago Cubs and finished second in MVP voting twice with the Expos. Beltran’s highest MVP Award finish was 4th in 2006 as a member of the New York Mets. That season Beltran accumulated a total WAA of 6.4, second only to Albert Pujols’ 6.6 total. Incidentally Pujols did not win the MVP Award that year. Instead it was the Phillies’ Ryan Howard who totaled 3.1 in WAA that season. In ’87 Dawson won the NL MVP Award with a 1.80 WAA which was the 25th highest in the NL. Nevertheless, Dawson totaled a .80 MVP voting share.
Two of Beltran’s top four yearly WAA totals (4.1 in 2001, 3.7 in 2003) were achieved while he was a member of the Kansas City Royals. In those two seasons Beltran did not win an award nor was he named to an All-Star Game. Those two seasons also represent Beltran’s second and third highest oWAR seasons of his career yet he wasn’t officially praised for them aside from a ninth place finish in MVP voting. Not until Beltran was playing in New York did he receive league-wide praise. Still though by this measure it wasn’t enough.
Below are Beltran’s top five WAA seasons and the PPR calculation for each season:
2006: 6.4, 151
2008: 4.9, 668
2001: 4.1, NA
2003: 3.7, 555
As the numbers above indicate, Beltran wasn’t close to receiving the amount of praise warranted for his four best seasons in the majors.
Beltran’s 2006 6.4 WAA total was just shy of the 6.67 WAA total we require for a season to be deemed an “elite season.” Why 6.67? If a player were to accumulate 100% of the MVP voting share, start an All-Star Game, win both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Award all in the same year, said player would had to have produced a 6.67 WAA total to earn a 100 PPR. Since 1980 (the first year the Silver Slugger Award was voted on) that has occurred exactly once- Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997. That season Griffey Jr. totaled 9.7 in WAA.
How about a player winning both an MVP Award and a ROY Award with 100% of the voting share as well as being voted to start in the All-Star Game and capturing GG and SS honors? Well that’s never happened. The closest a player has come is Ichiro in 2001. That year Ichiro was named the AL MVP with a 74% voting share and ROY with a 99% voting share to go along with his start in the All-Star game, his GG and SS Awards. Had he been a unanimous selection for both the MVP and ROY, he would have had to produce a total of 10 WAA.
Below is what a player has to total in WAA for each award to earn a 100 PPR or “break-even:”
According to the table, a player named to an All-Star Game roster should have totaled at least .67 in WAA for the season. If a player was voted to start the All-Star Game, then by this measure he should be at least a 2.0 WAA player. How about a starter in the All-Star Game that was also a Gold Glove winner? He should have accumulated at least 2.67 WAA. The requirements, we feel, are not overly stringent. The purpose here isn’t to be provocative. For our purposes, the requirements seem to be fair.
Let’s take a look at some more individual examples so you can make up your own mind.
We’ll begin with perhaps one of the most polarizing players in MLB history when it comes to discussing overrated/underrated players- Derek Jeter.
Jeter’s total career WAA is 29.90. Jeter had five seasons in which he had a negative WAA total. However, in only two of those seasons (1995 and 2013) was Jeter not named an All-Star. In fact in 2012, with a negative 0.3 WAA total, Jeter started in the All-Star Game, won a Silver Slugger Award and finished seventh in AL MVP voting with 20% of the voting share. Therefore, we will only add back his 1995 and 2013 negative WAA totals to his career total. Jeter now has 31 WAA to work with.
Jeter’s PPR calculation is as follows:
WAA: 31 * 3 = 93 ProP
ROY Share: 1.0 * 10 = 100
MVP Share: 2.77 * 10 = 27.7
All-Star Games: 14 * 2 = 28
All-Star Game Starts: 9 * 4 = 36
Gold Gloves: 5 * 2 = 10
Silver Sluggers: 4 * 2 = 8
Total = 120
93 ProP/120 PraP = 0.78
0.78 * 100 = 78 PPR
By this measure Derek Jeter has received too much praise over the course of his career i.e. he was overrated. However, he isn’t the most recent notable overrated New York Yankee. Former Yankee, Alfonso Soriano, has Jeter beat when it comes to being overrated. Soriano has a PPR of 70.
Perhaps the most overrated Yankee of them all is Bobby Richardson. Richardson has a career WAA total of negative 9.1. Richardson’s best season was in 1962 when he totaled 1.1 WAA. Even after adjusting for Richardson’s negative WAA seasons, he is left with a negative 6.9 career WAA.
Richardson was an All-Star in eight different seasons and made one start. He also won five Gold Gloves. In ’62 he finished second to Mickey Mantle in AL MVP voting with a 54% share. His career MVP share total is .77.
Given that Richardson had a negative career WAA total his PPR is also negative, that being -55. Below are some other notable MLB players with a negative PPR:
Here is a list of some notable overrated players:
Conversely below is a list of some notable underrated players:
Finally, players who are neither overrated nor underrated (within 5 points of 100 PPR):
Let’s get back to the two players that inspired this article: Brooks Robinson and Adrian Beltre. By this measure Brooks Robinson is considered to be slightly overrated with a 95 PPR, whereas Adrian Beltre is extremely underrated with a 296 PPR.
That isn’t a slight against Robinson. He was clearly one of baseball’s greatest third basemen and acknowledged for his accomplishments. However Adrian Beltre, who was perhaps better than Robinson, was not.