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Dumberer and Dumbestest
by Alex Ciepley
Gary Gillette of ESPN.com has a column up today regarding the most overrated players in the game. Unfortunately, it's an Insider piece, so you gotta pay to read. Fortunately, you can probably do a few better things with your saved change.
To no surprise, Gillette picks on Kerry Wood as his starting pitcher de hype. His reasoning includes these gems:
The Cubs right-hander has won an average of less than 10 games per year since making his big-league debut despite average run support. He has led the NL only once in strikeout, in 2003; he's logged 175 innings or more only twice. Wood's fabled 20K one-hitter in 1998 was due as much to a strike zone as wide as a Hummer as it was due to his electrifying stuff.
Hey, remember that phrase being thrown around a few years back... fuzzy math? The definition over at Mirriam-Webster's just got a new entry. Wood has won "an average of less than 10 games per year"? Yeah, maybe if you count the year in which he didn't pitch. Wood entered the season with 67 career victories compiled over six seasons. Um, 67 divided by 6 is... 11.16. Yeah, it's not an overwhelming number, but where in the world do you get "less than 10" from the number 11?
So he's only led the NL in strikeouts once in his six years. But he's finished third twice, and fourth once. Gimme a break, dude.
The 175 innings point is pretty convenient, too, buddy. It must've been nice to eliminate that 174.3 innings he pitched in 2001, or the 166.7 innings he threw his rookie season. If you wanna say he isn't durable, no problem and no arguments, but don't pick an arbitrary cutoff number just to make your article look a little shinier.
Say it with me!
Of course, most of the rest of Gillette's list is pretty much hogwash. Most overrated first baseman? Rafael Palmeiro. Most overrated second bagger? Craig Biggio. Most overrated right fielder? Larry Walker.
You can't make these things up. And Kerry has nothing to hang his head about here. Stick him on any list that includes Biggio, Palmeiro, and Walker--two of whom are going to the Hall of Fame--and I'm sure you'll see plenty of smiles all around.