Today’s Titletown Ten post will focus on the most overrated players in Boston sports since 1980. In February, we posted about the ten most underrated players in Boston sports. We received some feedback from many of our followers who came up with their own lists. Underrated and overrated players always makes for a good sports debate. We expect there will be great discussions about these topics amongst the fan base!
Before we get to the list, let’s keep in mind that an overrated players list is not a list of underperforming players. You’ll see some All Stars on this list, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be overrated. It’s simply a list of players that were valued by fans higher that their actual production. We all have fan favorites and you’ll see many of them on this list. As great as it’s been to be a Boston sports fan through such a championship driven era, there are always players that get valued higher than they should. With that said, let’s get to it…
Here’s First Score Boston’s list of Most Overrated Players since 1980.
#10. Clay Buchholz – Red Sox: Another season. Another spring training talking about Buchholz’s talent and potential to be great. Entering his 10th season, the discussion around Buchholz is the same. If he stays healthy, he’ll be an elite pitcher. At age 31, what are the chances that this will happen this year? There’s always a chance, but it’s time to call it like it is. This is a player who can’t be relied on and has shown little durability. The talent has been, and still is, through the roof. Until he shows he can utilize his talent consistently, his talent level continues to be overstated.
#9. Paul Pierce – Celtics: Look. Paul Pierce was a great Celtic. He had great talent. He was an elite scorer in his prime. He helped lead the Celtics to a title and was the NBA Finals MVP in 2008. This is not stating that Paul Pierce is not a great player. He should be a Hall of Famer. He should have his number raised to the rafters at TD Garden. With that said, Pierce is being compared to all-time great Celtics. The argument that Pierce is the best scorer in Celtics history is quite a stretch on a team that had John Havlicek and Larry Bird. Pierce is being debated as a top all-time Celtic. Yet, at no point in his career, was he ever considered to be an elite player in the NBA. Name a season that Paul Pierce was considered to be a top five player in the league, never mind the best player. He made the All-NBA second team once in his career. On a team with 17 NBA Championships, he won one. In the context of Celtics history, he is not a top player.
#8. Ben Coates – Patriots: Here’s another example of a player who was very good in his prime, but his impact was overstated. Coates was the Patriots leading receiver during the Drew Bledsoe peak years. Many fans forget that this team was an annual playoff contender and they put the Patriots on the Boston sports radar. Coates was a top tight end in the league, but outside of one big season, he was never overly dominant. In 1994, he had 96 catches for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns. Outside of that season, he only had one more season with over 66 catches and 750 yards. He never had double-digit touchdowns in a season. And here’s the big one… In seven career playoff games for the Patriots, Ben Coates had just 22 catches for 204 yards and one touchdown. That’s an average of three catches for 29 yards per game. Not exactly a big game player.
#7. Chandler Jones – Patriots: Why is Chandler Jones on this list? It’s simple. He disappears in big games. Fans who think Jones is a great player point to his sack totals. Yeah. He had 12.5 sacks last year. He had two after Week 9. Do you know how many career sacks he has in the playoffs? He has two in nine career games to go a long with just 13 tackles. As the games get bigger, you see and hear less about him. He becomes a non-factor. He’s far from elite. Don’t be surprised if the Patriots move on sooner rather than later.
#6. Tim Wakefield – Red Sox: There haven’t been many more likable Boston players than Tim Wakefield. He did what was in the best interest of the team. What he has done for the Boston community stands out. Wakefield played 17 years for the Red Sox during a period where the team’s success peaked and fan interest was through the roof. Wakefield was a solid #4 starter for the Red Sox over his career. He often gets credit for a lot more than that. His career numbers for the Red Sox are a 186-168 record with a 4.43 ERA. And, here’s what a lot of fans are missing about Wakefield. His career postseason ERA is 6.75 in 72 innings. Not good. He gets credit for taking the ball in Game 3 in the ALCS vs. the Yankees in 2004 and pitching well in the ALCS in 2003. However, there’s not much talk about the multiple playoff games he started where he didn’t give the Red Sox any opportunity to stay in the game. At the end of the 2011 season, there was discussion amongst fans and media about retiring #49. Huh?! Tim Wakefield was a great role player on the Red Sox. Role players don’t get their numbers retired.
#5. Milan Lucic – Bruins: In the 2008-09 season, Milan Lucic scored 17 goals and 42 overall points. He was also one of the most tough and physical forwards in the league. He was only 20 years old. It was at that point, that Lucic was compared to Cam Neely. He showed signs of it. He played hard and he had opposing defensemen on the lookout. He could score. He was going to progress year after year. As we sit here today, Lucic is now in his ninth season and he has only scored 20 goals three times. His physical play is shown in spurts, but its nothing like it was in his early years. He’s 27 now. He should be entering his prime. For Lucic, the prime years were 20-23. In Boston, he was treated like a star, but only played like one in short stretches.
#4. Julian Edelman – Patriots: Remember how the Patriots finished the regular season? If not, they lost four of their last six games and stumbled into the playoffs. There were obvious flaws. They were not the same team as the first ten games of the season. What was going to change all of that in the postseason? Julian Edelman was back! Edelman is a great slot receiver. He’s good at returning kicks. He’s not a game changing player. That guy is Rob Gronkowski. In Patriots Nation, Edelman is put on a pedestal with the elite receivers in the league. Players like Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown, and Brandon Marshall can make game changing plays to win games. Julian Edelman is not that guy.
#3. Rajon Rondo – Celtics: From a pure talent standpoint, Rondo had it all outside of a pure shooting touch. What he didn’t have was the ability to improve because he wasn’t coachable. We’ve all seen the triple double numbers. Not many players in the league have been capable of putting up numbers like Rondo. However, outside of those numbers, there hasn’t been much to get excited about. Look at how much better the Celtics are without Rondo. Look at what happened to the Mavericks last year when they acquired him. If he’s your fourth best player like he was for the Celtics in 2008, then you’re in good shape. If he’s one of your top two players, good luck.
#2. Richard Seymour – Patriots: Seymour was a key player on the Patriots defense that was the foundation for a run of three Super Bowl Championships in three years. At times, he was dominant on the defensive line. However, his impact was overstated. The Patriots had more impactful players on that defense starting with Ty Law. Seymour seemed to always get the most credit. There were certainly games where he stood out. There were others where his impact was less visible. Seymour had 4.5 total sacks in 15 career playoff games. He never had more than 1.5 sacks in any postseason. Other Patriots players had bigger impacts on defense.
#1. Jacoby Ellsbury – Red Sox: When the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury, many in Red Sox Nation were asking how the Sox were going to replace Ellsbury’s production. What production?! Aside from the 2011 season, the production hasn’t been there. After the 2013 season, Ellsbury became the highest paid outfielder in all of Major League Baseball. This was for a player who, at the time, had a career batting average of .297 and one season with double digit home runs. In nine seasons in his career, Ellsbury has made the All Star Team once. His career OPS is .768. Sound like numbers of a player who got the highest paid outfielder contract in baseball? The Red Sox replaced Ellsbury with Mookie Betts. Anyone miss Jacoby?
So, there’s the list. Surely, our readers will have some varying opinions. Who’s in your Top 10?