Well, we can only presume that Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez will not be exchanging Christmas cards with the baseball staff at CBSSports.com.
In a piece published on Monday, the website published its list of most overrated players in baseball, and yes, Hosmer and Perez made the cut at their respective positions. Hosmer, 27, batted a composite .266/.328/.433 with a career-high 25 homers while suffering through a prolonged slump during the second half of the season. Perez, 26, appeared in his fourth straight All-Star Game and won his fourth straight Gold Glove while hitting .247/.288/.438.
So what’s the argument for their overratedness? Let’s go to the explanations, as written by CBS Sports’ Matt Snyder:
Here’s Snyder on Perez: “Perez also makes a ton of outs. He hit .247 last season, which was 120th in baseball, and his .288 on-base percentage was 143rd among 146 qualifiers. Yes, only three players with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title got on base at a worse clip than Perez. Given that he actually isn’t all that powerful, relatively speaking, he’s a black hole on offense.
“A great defender who should be an everyday catcher? Absolutely. A no-brainer All-Star on an annual basis? Not even close.”
And here’s Snyder on Hosmer: “While 2015 looks like it might’ve been Hosmer’s career year, he fell back to a .266/.328/.433 (101 OPS+) line in 2016. The 25 home runs are OK, but we’ve already established a ton of homers were hit last season and first base is a slugger position (12 first baseman had more homers). You’re looking at a roughly, overall, league average hitter manning a position that should have a big-time bopper.
“Again, Hosmer is good. He’s just not great.”
In fairness, Snyder adds a caveat: “Overrated” does not mean terrible, just that the public opinion/perception of that player’s value is higher than his true value.
So for the moment, we’ll ignore the face that the previous idea is actually true, and that all these overrated/underrated arguments are operating on a shaky premise (because the person laying out the case has to first assume there is one monolithic view of a player’s value) and we will dedicate some equal time to Perez and Hosmer.
The case for Perez: Yes, the numbers suggest that Perez has been a below-average offensive player for the last three seasons. But according to FanGraphs.com, he has led all American League catchers with 10.3 WAR (wins above replacement) since 2013. Jason Castro is second with 8.3 WAR.
If you look at both leagues, Perez is only behind Buster Posey (19.9 WAR), Jonathan Lucroy (15.2), Russell Martin (14.3) and Yadier Molina (12.2).
Perez led all qualified American League catchers in WAR again in 2016, besting Martin and Stephen Vogt. He also started the All-Star Game again.
In this way, Perez seems close to properly rated. He is not close to an MVP candidate, and his offensive output suppresses his total value. But there is a case he is the best and most consistent catcher in the American League, which is perhaps why he keeps starting the All-Star Game.
The case for Hosmer: This one is less clear-cut, especially after Hosmer followed up a tremendous first half with a disappointing second in 2016.
The advanced metrics have never loved Hosmer, particularly his defensive range. Since 2013, he has been worth just 6.3 WAR, which ranks ninth among American League first basemen.
But there is an argument that Hosmer has been very good in even-numbered years while underperforming in odd-numbered years. His best seasons came in 2015 and 2013. He was less valuable in 2014 and 2016.
Of course, Hosmer has only appeared in one All-Star Game, which came after a great first half in 2016. So there seems to be some consensus about where he ranks.
In addition, much of his profile comes from his performances during two deep playoff runs, and whether you believe in things like clutch or not, perhaps he should get some credit for this.
These moments may not say much about his value during the regular season. But Hosmer would probably take them.