Former Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay, now playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, makes his return to Rogers Centre for the first time in an opposing uniform tonight. During his time in Toronto, Overbay was an unfortunate lightning rod for frustrated fans due to his reputation as a ground ball double play, rally killing machine.
However, it should be noted that while only six batters in all of baseball grounded into more double plays than Overbay in 2008, the left handed hitter turned things around for his last two seasons in Toronto, as only twenty batters out of more than 100 with at least 1100 plate appearances between 2009 and 2010 grounded into less double plays than Overbay.
While the GIDP hatred may be a little overblown, how does Overbay rank among other first basemen during his time in Toronto?
From 2006 to 2010, eighteen first basemen had more than 2500 plate appearances. Among those, Overbay ranks second last in wOBA and OPS. Only Ty Wigginton was worse. On the defensive side of the game, Overbay’s UZR/150 over his five years in Toronto was 0.3. Of the 32 players with at least 2000 innings at first, Overbay ranked 16th.
As a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Overbay was awful offensively and average defensively, and likely not worth the four year $24 million contract that J.P. Ricciardi handed him in 2007. Right now, for the Pirates, Overbay is almost an entire win below replacement, the worst among regular first basemen, and fifth worst among all players who would qualify for the batting title.
I know it’s going to be tempting for Blue Jays fans to boo him, but come on, it would just be cruel at this point, no? His numbers are already booing him on a daily basis.