Is Ichiro the most overrated hitter in baseball?

The Chicago Tribune polled a couple of writers on which hitters were the most overrated in MLB. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun said Jose Reyes, while Mandy Housenick of The Morning Call went with Carl Crawford and Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times noted J.D. Drew.

While some of the names were a little surprising, the award for biggest head-scratcher went to Phil Rogers of the Tribune, who said Ichiro was the most overrated.

What’s the definition of “most overrated?” You could look at it just in terms of hitting ability, but in my opinion major league baseball is always about the money, so l’m going to consider it in relation to a hitter’s value to a team. That makes this an easy question, as Ichiro Suzuki — who you can argue is the best pure hitter in the game — is clearly the most overrated.

What do his 200-plus hits every season — heavily loaded with singles — do for the Mariners? He had a majors-high 225 in 2009 and they scored the fewest runs in the AL. He’s again leading the majors with 58 hits (including 48 singles), and Seattle is 14-26. Singles hitters, even those with speed, need to be in deep lineups to realize their value.

The drop in power numbers in recent years makes the guys who do regularly drive the ball to walls, and over walls, as valuable as they’ve ever been. A singles hitter in a bad lineup is a hood ornament on a beater. These days, that’s Ichiro.

Rogers is basically penalizing Ichiro because he’s not what Adrian Gonzalez is to the Padres. Because he doesn’t hit for power, he can’t carry the M’s like can Gonzo can for San Diego, so therefore he’s overrated.

Sorry, but that’s some backwards logic.

Ichiro has never been considered a power guy and there’s a reason he has always hit at the top of Seattle’s lineup: He gets on base. That’s what the club pays him for and while Rogers may think that the M’s overpay for that service, Ichiro is what he is. It’s not his fault that the rest of the Mariners’ offensive is a collective of hot garbage.

Plus, the Mariners have been built on pitching and defense because of their home park. They play small ball and Ichiro is the catalyst for their offense. Again, it’s not his fault that Seattle averages a fraction of a run every night. He’s doing his job, so what is Rogers looking for?

Of all the names listed in the article, I’d have to agree with Shaikin’s choice of Drew for the most overrated. He’s making $14 million this season to essentially, as Shaikin so aptly put it, be a complementary player. The last time I checked, Drew hasn’t finished with an average over .300 since 2004, unlike Ichiro, who hasn’t hit less than .300 once since he’s been in the majors.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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