Overbay Signs With Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed free agent Lyle Overbay to a one year $5 million contract.  According to GM Neal Huntington, Overbay will be the team’s everyday first baseman in 2011.

If Lyle Overbay were to have an exit interview prior to his departure from the Toronto Blue Jays, he’d be far too classy to say what was actually on his mind: “Well, you won’t have Lyle Overbay to kick around anymore, Toronto.”

Of course, that’s assuming that Overbay’s internal monologues take place in the third person, and that Overbay was aware of his status as the scourge of the sports radio phone-in types in this city.

Let’s get this one thing straight: Lyle Overbay can be a valuable member of a baseball team if he’s used correctly.  And by used correctly I absolutely, positively mean he should be platooned and used as a defensive replacement whenever possible.

Over the course of his career, Overbay has a staggering OPS difference of .130 when he bats against right handed (.838) vs. left handed pitching (.708).  In fact, if you tally up the totals of the last three seasons, no other first baseman in all of baseball, not Albert Pujols, not Miguel Cabrera, and certainly not Ryan Howard, has hit more doubles against right handed pitching than Lyle Overbay.

Alternatively, over those same three years, no first baseman has collected a worse OBP, SLG, and obviously OPS, against left handed pitching.

The only redeeming factor that Overbay brings to playing everyday is his defense.  He consistently ranks among the best defensive first basemen in the league, and having the privilege of watching him play in Toronto, I can tell you that his rankings are not one of those statistical hiccups that gives a bad to the eye defender an inflated ranking.

However, the fact remains that for as long as he remains allowed to hit against left handed pitching Lyle Overbay will be a frustrating player to have on your favourite baseball team.  Perhaps adding to the frustration is that Overbay is a really good guy.

I got to speak with Overbay during one of my nervous and awkward interviews with Blue Jays players a couple years ago.  Trying to get interviews is a bit of a free for all during the pregame warmups and I understand that while it would be fun for me to film my segment, it’s actually other guys’ livelihoods.

Nonetheless, a particular Napoleonic Sportsnet reporter attempted to intercept the Jays first baseman right after learning that we had set something up with him.  To his credit, Overbay ignored Le Petite Douche, came over to where we had set up, and actually made a joke or two at the slimy reporter’s expense before playing along with our goofy interview and being a great sport.

If the Blue Jays move forward with their proposed plan to play Adam Lind at first base this coming season, I have no doubt in my mind’s soul that the same sports radio phone-in types who criticized Overbay during his tenure at first base here in Toronto will be the first to wish his steady fielding was guarding the line on the right side and picking balls out of the dirt on errant infield throws.

Unfortunately, Overbay’s departure also means that the Lyle Overbay impersonator is no longer in business in the Toronto area.

Comments (16)

  1. A consistently under-rated member of the team. His glove’ll be missed: that game where he turned three double plays was absolutely amazing.

  2. Well said. Overbay’s skills are wasted on a non-contending team, but good for him for making that money.

  3. Final Jeopardy …

    Answer: Napoleonic Sportsnet reporter, known as “Le Petite Douche.”

    Question: Who is Barry Davis?

  4. Never could understand why people loved crapping all over the guy so much. I can’t think of too many other people I’d want to have on the other end of those E5 shitballs coming from 3rd. I’ll miss him. Hope he does well in his new home.

  5. There goes my wife’s favourite player.

  6. Good defensive 1Bmen are not only hard to come by, but they’re highly undervalued. People will miss Overbay when Lind is sucking it up defensively at first.

    Also, is La Petite Douche Sam Cosentino? I hope not, because I like him. Barry Davis IS a douche though.

  7. So, what are the thoughts on the Overbay trade with the Brewers? Have we gotten over Gabe Gross yet?

  8. Overbay’s defense and hitting against RHP will be missed. His Ko’s and lack of timely hitting won’t be. He was never as good as his 1st year as a Jay. The wrist injury tookforever to heal. Cito did not use him correctly against LHP, with predictable consequences. He will help the Pirates but not enough for them to be competitive.

    Didn’t Griffin say he was asking for a multi year deal at $8 million per season?

  9. @Oakville69: He likely was as a first negotiation figure. Crawford was looking for a 10-year deal.

  10. I will admit to having hated on Overbay for the first month and a half of the 2010 season. But he got better as the season progressed, and I would not have been averse to another year of Overbay at first.

    Regarding platooning, how do you really platoon at first base? All first basemen are lefties. So, you’d have to find a lefty who hits left handed pitching well. Not an impossible task, but not an easy one, either. Unless you have a top tier first baseman, in which case you’re not platooning him, he’s your everyday.

  11. all first baseman are lefties

    Albert Pujols would like a word.

  12. Others that come to mind without looking it up: Konerko and Cabrera?

  13. I apologize. I’ve been corrected and quite strongly. I’ve had this image in my head that they all were for awhile.

  14. Aw, I will miss making fun of his exclusive preference for Pearl Jam’s “Ten”.

  15. When Overbay is ON he was better than solid at the plate and in the field. In fact, he flashed gold glove defensive skills at first base and has one of the better throwing arms in the league. His wrist did take a long time to heal, which is somewhat understandable. The wrists have very delicate small bones and the entire swing is affected with any sustained injury. I don’t think Lind will make as many mistakes at first, but Lyle should get a ton of credit for keeping his teammates errors to a minimum. He made first base look really easy, which is really isn’t. The guy could hit too. He was a doubles machine when he was here. Good luck with the Pirates.

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