Jayson Stark of ESPN.com is out with a book about the most overrated and underrated baseball players of all time, which sounds like the beginning of a cottage industry to me.
Soon to follow: "The Stark Truth 2.0: Guys Who Were Underrated Before Everybody Who Read My Book Discovered Who They Are. Now They're Overrated." "The Stark Truth 3.0: Lots of Guys Can Go From Underrated to Overrated in a Hurry, But Never The Other Way Around. What's Up With That?" "The Stark Truth 4.0: I Didn't Have Time For a New Overrated List This Time, So I'm Just Writing About Everybody on the Yankees Roster."
Stark is doing a lot of promotional work for his book. At this rate, his book will be overrated some time in mid-June. Friday, he discusses on ESPN.com his picks for the most overrated players in the game today.
By reading the column, Dodgers fans will feel a little better about how the J.D. Drew deal went down. Instead of owning two of the top four overrated players in the game today, the Dodgers now only have No. 4, Juan Pierre.
Of Pierre, Stark writes: "Speed guys aren't automatically overrated. (See Reyes, Jose, for more details.) But for years now, we've been getting way too worked up about players whose mere ability to bring their legs with them to first base can make a pitcher want to call his therapist between pitches.
"And that brings us to Pierre, a fellow so likable, it pains me to put him on this list. How can you not like a guy who loves baseball so much, he beats the grounds crew to the ballpark?
"But I've been listening to GMs (mostly American League GMs) gripe for so long that Pierre is as overrated as any player in baseball, I'm finally ready to concede. . . .
"Leadoff hitters with .303 on-base percentages, who are on pace to walk 31 times in 748 trips to the plate -- i.e., the Juan Pierre presently playing out the first season of his five-year, $44 million contract with the Dodgers -- they're overrated. When Pierre reaches first in the late innings of a close game, he's still a game-changer. But think how much more often he would reach first if he actually walked three times a week instead of once."
It could be worse, Dodgers fans. The Dodgers could still have Drew, who is ranked No. 2 (behind Barry Zito) by Stark.
"Let's just say this guy is really fortunate the Red Sox's great start has obscured his messy .169 average since April 21," Stark says of Drew. "Because so far, the occupants of Fenway have been shockingly patient with him."
Caveat emptor: Stark ranks Sandy Koufax as the No. 1 most overrated left-handed starting pitcher in history.* (*Borders and Barnes & Noble now offering large blocks of salt with every book purchase.)
"Sandy Koufax, overrated."
It's tough to leave that one out there without elaboration, twisting, like a big fat Dodger blue piñata being surrounded by rather miffed bat-wielding Dodgers supporters.
Outrageous opinions, of course, are a quick, easy and time-tested way to sell books. Stark loads up on them like Gaylord Perry at a slippery elm-pine tar-Vaseline condiments bar -- Nolan Ryan is the most overrated right-handed starter of all-time, Steve Garvey the most overrated first baseman, Lee Smith the most overrated relief pitcher . . . you can see where he's going with this.
You could put together a fairly fabled All-Time All-Freeway Series All-Overrated Team from Stark's selections: RHP: Ryan.
C: Charles Johnson (No. 4 most overrated catcher).
2B: Steve Sax (No. 1).
3B: Gary Gaetti (No. 4).
SS: Maury Wills (No. 2).
OF: Dave Winfield (No. 1 among right fielders).
OF: Drew (No. 2 among right fielders).
OF: Pierre (No. 3 among center fielders).
DH: Dave Parker (No. 2), Reggie Jackson No. 3).
I know what you're thinking.
"How in the world can anyone, book deal or no, call St. Sandy overrated?" From Stark's book:
"He had six tremendous seasons -- in a 12-year career. He also has six seasons that nobody wanted to put a frame around. Of all the pitchers in baseball who pitched as many innings as he did between 1955 and 1960, he had the second-worst ERA in the entire sport. Only the inimitable Chuck Stobbs (4.28) was worse.
"And remember, we're not talking about just a year or two of Koufax's career. We're talking about half his career. So, sorry. Much as this book would prefer to love and worship Koufax as much as the rest of you, we can't ignore That Other Half. Can't." Topic for future research: John Wooden, overrated? He won 10 championships at UCLA, but, hey, what about those other 18 seasons?
It's been all Ducks since they joined the league
Is it just coincidence that the Kings have not been back to the Stanley Cup finals -- or even remotely close -- since the Ducks were born?
You could look it up:
June 9, 1993: Kings lose Game 5 of Stanley Cup finals to Montreal, 4-1.
June 24, 1993: Ducks make goalie Guy Hebert their first selection in NHL expansion draft.
Oct. 8, 1993: Ducks lose inaugural game to Detroit Red Wings, 7-2. How times have changed.
Oct. 9, 1993: First chapter of "L.A. Kings: The Lean Years" begins to be written.
A frozen tale of tape since then:
Last appearance in Stanley Cup finals:
Kings -- 1993.
Ducks -- 2007.
Last appearance before that one:
Kings -- Um . . . well . . .
Ducks -- 2003.
Appearances in conference finals:
Kings -- One in 40 seasons.
Ducks -- Three in last five seasons.
Seasons with best record in Southland:
Kings -- Six.
Ducks -- Seven.
Last time played with a goalie fans could trust:
Kings -- 2001-2002, Felix Potvin.
Ducks -- 2006-2007: J-S Giguere.
All-time number of goalies arguably as good or better than J-S Giguere:
Kings -- One, Rogie Vachon. Last played with Kings in 1978.
Week 21 power rankings
This was the week the Ducks equaled the post-1986 Montreal Canadiens in Stanley Cup finals appearances . . .
1. Ducks: The bandwagon is getting awfully crowded. The team is now so trendy, fans north of Orange County are calling them the Anaheim Ducks of Los Angeles.
2. Ottawa: The Ducks will find more postseason motivation when the team flies in for Game 3. The name of Ottawa's airport is Hull.
3. Portland Trail Blazers: "And with the first pick of the 2007 NBA draft, the Portland Trail Blazers select . . . Sam Bowie!"
4. San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons: In 2005, everyone said the NBA couldn't survive another San Antonio-Detroit finals. We are about to find out.
5. Angels: FSN made a big deal during Thursday's telecast about the big upcoming "K-Rod versus A-Rod" matchup. Of course, the Angels were losing, 12-0, at the time.
6. Dodgers: Strange days indeed. This season they have a better chance of winning the World Series than the Freeway Series.
7. "At World's End": Just to clear things up, this film is NOT a documentary about the post-1992 Pittsburgh Pirates.
8. Pierre Gauthier: Ducks and Senators get sloppy, spill the secret of NHL success. Step One: Hire Gauthier. Step Two: Wait for Gauthier to leave. Step Three: Reach Stanley Cup finals.
9. Jerry West: Recent decline has been sad. Today, he's the logo for NBA teams whining about the lottery.
10. Detroit Red Wings: The state of things, mid-2007: In Detroit City Power Rankings, Wings rank only third, just above Lions.
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