Some, perhaps even many, revere Ryan as one of the most powerful, fire-balling strikeout artists to ever set foot on the mound. And it’s hard to doubt that opinion, as he still holds the record for most strikeouts in MLB history with 5,714.
Ryan played an unreal 27 seasons to get them. But like many others on this list before him, he was somewhat one-dimensional as a pitcher. His 324-292 overall record resulted in a somewhat lackluster .524 winning percentage. His career ERA was 3.19, not bad, but not the stuff of legends. Ryan is certainly considered to be up in that status. He led the league in strikeouts 11 times but somehow never won a Cy Young award. It’s kind of surprising to learn that Ryan only made 8 All-Star Games in 27 years. He is the all-time leader in no-hitters with seven. So while he could mow down batters at insane clips, Ryan was a bit paradoxical as a pitcher. He probably could have won quite a few more games and is overrated as a result.
Carter enjoyed a 16-season career with five teams where he hit 396 home runs and drove in 1,445 runs. He had 2,184 total hits, not an amazing number but certainly not bad. But he only hit .259 overall, not exactly a Hall of Fame batting average.
Some baseball metrics claim Carter is the most overrated player in MLB history. While those stats may or may not hold weight, the fact of the matter is that Carter was largely remembered for one single home run. He won a second straight World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993 with a walk-off homer, immediately cementing his place in baseball history. Carter was certainly a big part of those impressive runs for Toronto, and they were great. But overall, he’s more well-known for that one huge hit than his entire career of achievement.
McGwire was a monstrous presence who captivated the nation throughout his legendary chase of Roger Maris’ home run record during the fateful summer of 1998. He ultimately broke the record of 61 by hitting 70 that season. It was a record that would stand for a mere three years. All told, McGwire hit 583 home runs and batted in 1,414 runs throughout his career. “Big Mac” also owns the Major League Baseball record for the best at-bats per home run ratio with 10.61. By comparison, Babe Ruth, the closest player, hit a home run every 11.76 at-bats.
But it is largely all for naught. McGwire ultimately admitted to using steroids for a large part of his career in 2010. He became one of the most pointed-at figures during the PED scandals that put an asterisk on essentially that entire era of baseball. McGwire has not been yet been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame despite being the fastest player to hit 500 home runs. It’s unknown if he ever will. Overall, you just can’t respect his stats as legitimate.
Zito came out smoking hot when the Oakland Athletics drafted him out of the University of Southern California in 1999. He picked up the MLB game quickly, going an astonishing 23-5 in 2002 to win the American League Cy Young.
He made the All-Star team again in 2003 and a third time in 2006, persuading the San Francisco Giants to reward him with a seven-year contract worth $126 million. There’s not much else to say other than Zito’s play dropped off a cliff after that. He ended his career with a subpar 165-143 record and a lofty 4.04 ERA. Zito did help the Giants win the 2012 World Series, but he is still one of the most overrated – and overpaid – starting pitchers in MLB history.
Maris held one of baseball’s most hallowed records for many years with his 61 round-trips in 1961. He was the AL MVP that year and the previous year of 1960. Other than that, however, other players on the New York Yankees largely overshadowed him.
Maris was a career .260 hitter, not a number that matches his legendary status. He led the American League in home runs in 1961, of course, and in RBI in both 1960 and 1961. Outside of those two magical years, Maris failed to put many relevant numbers on paper. Injuries slowed him during multiple seasons as well. Maris did make seven All-Star Games and win three World Series titles. He ended his career with 275 home runs and 850 RBI. Not bad at all, but definitely underwhelming based on how much Maris is talked about as another legendary Yankee.