(pictured: Morbo. Not pictured: Morbo destroying Jayson Stark)
Contrary to what this post's title implies, I actually like Jayson Stark. He's an entertaining writer, and I dig the whole Useless Information department. But it seems like Jayson now wants to enter the kind of IAMTHETRUTH sports douchery that sells now.
Have you seen his new book? The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History. Except he keeps mentioning in the promo material that this is all subjective. Which would in fact mean the title should be The Stark Opinion. Hey, can we maybe ban sportswriters from using the word "truth" until they quit acting like bellicose teenagers or even worse, Skip Bayless? The punishment will be death by catapault, just like Rex Banner would have liked it.
But anyway, back to Jayson. I guess to get some publicity going for the book, he presents his top 10 overrated players in the game today. Not all of it moves me to anger, some of it (Barry Zito, Alfonso Soriano) makes sense to me. But two picks stick out like a white man in Harlem (hey, that's me!).
First, Richie Sexson, of whom Stark says:
"Sexson and Adam Dunn fit into a category of overratedness I figured I'd better get to in this column someplace: Guys We Love Because They Can Pulverize A Baseball About 900 Feet."Damn it Jayson, Adam Dunn and Richie Sexson shouldn't even be in the same sentence together. Unless perhaps you were to say "Adam Dunn beat Jayson Stark senseless with a bat for saying his skill level is comparable to Richie Sexson." To the untrained eye, I guess you could make the case that Dunn and Sexson are comparable. You know what, strike that. Change untrained to idiotic. If your eyes are stupid, maybe you agree with Stark.
Richie Sexson is 32 and has 278 career home runs, a career .348 OBP and has never walked 100 times in a season. He also appears to be on a precipitous decline.
Adam Dunn is 27 and has 209 career home runs, a career .379 OBP, has walked over 100 times in a season 4 times (including the past three). He is on pace to have his 4th straight 40 home run season.
Both of these players strike out a ton. Dunn is absolutely ridiculous with his strikeout rate. But unlike a Dave Kingman or a Richie Sexson, Dunn complements his absurd number of strikeouts with a terrific eye. If Scott Hatteberg is the poor man's Jason Giambi, as was argued in Moneyball, consider Adam Dunn a middle class Jason Giambi. Who coincidentally is mobile enough to play the outfield. Left field anyway. Adam Dunn is by no means a perfect player, but let's act like reasonable people and not lump him in with Richie Sexson. Or I'll hit you in the face with a pie.
Somehow though, Jayson wants to sink lower into the vat of stupidity he's cooking up. Number 5 on his overrated list is none other than Venezuela's own Bobby Abreu, of whom he says:
When people battle me on this guy, I always sum it up this way: As great as Bobby Abreu can be, he lacks that all-important Derek Jeter gene. There is no voice in his head, screaming: "This ball has to be caught." Or: "That runner on third has to be driven in."AGGGGGGHHHHHHHH! Deep breaths...deep breaths...OK, think I'm ready again.
First of all, Bobby Abreu was walking before it was cool to walk. He was also hitting home runs while he walked before that was cool. I once heard Mike and the Mad Dog say that Bobby Abreu was better than Carlos Beltran. And before 2006, that was true. I wanted the Mets to trade for him, which obviously looks silly now because something is wrong with him. But his numbers prior to 2006 were astounding. I'm not listing them here because if you don't know Bobby Abreu was awesome already, you probably don't know much about baseball.
On to more irritating manners.
Derek Jeter is an excellent baseball player. One day, he'll be in the Hall of Fame. But Derek Jeter does not define hustle or grit or intangibles or any of the other bullshit. And come on, the Derek Jeter gene? If someone ever said that Jose Reyes lacked (or even had) the Derek Jeter gene, I would punch them in their smug face. You can call home run hitters Ruthian or lefty's with nasty stuff Kofax-esque, you can call compare great fielders to Ozzie Smith. But you can't proclaim that a player trying hard and winning is "like" another player. All of those guys on the field want to win. And anyway, if we're going to make up this Derek Jeter gene because he's a winner, shouldn't it be Yogi Berra? He's the only man in baseball history with 10 World Series rings.
There is only one person on this planet with the Derek Jeter gene. And that person's name is Derek Jeter. His parents have pieces of the Derek Jeter gene, but not the whole thing. There are also some other people who have had the Derek Jeter gene in/on them: Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johnason, Jessica Biel, that Ms. Universe chick and I guess Jayson Stark has swallowed some at some point in his life. So please Jayson, when telling us that you're tearing down myths and all that other bullshit, don't quantify it by dragging a tired old one out.