NO. 4 -- Juan Pierre
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.
It was easier to argue the other side in 2003, the year Pierre and the Marlins won the World Series. That year, Pierre walked 55 times, struck out only 35 times, got 204 hits, reached base more than any leadoff man in baseball and led the league in steals.
But 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.