All-Overachievers Team

GreenMonster49

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Going back aways, RF Clyde Vollmer fits in the journeyman category for his July 1951 exploits.
 

Rovin Romine

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YMMV, but I don't think premise of this thread can be "guys who were absolutely regarded as having a chance to do well, who then did well or did great."

That's why I was originally so-so on Ortiz. He opens the door to the Boggs and Nixon and Pedroia and Youk-type nominations, and from there it's a short step to "Did anyone think Williams would hit .400? Did anyone think Clemens would K 20? When he was in A ball, who could know Mookie would put up 12WAR?" IMO, no one in this paragraph was an "out of nowhere" guy. But Ortiz is borderline.

Anyway - what do you'all think the standard should be?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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YMMV, but I don't think premise of this thread can be "guys who were absolutely regarded as having a chance to do well, who then did well or did great."

That's why I was originally so-so on Ortiz. He opens the door to the Boggs and Nixon and Pedroia and Youk-type nominations, and from there it's a short step to "Did anyone think Williams would hit .400? Did anyone think Clemens would K 20? When he was in A ball, who could know Mookie would put up 12WAR?" IMO, no one in this paragraph was an "out of nowhere" guy. But Ortiz is borderline.

Anyway - what do you'all think the standard should be?
When I think over-achiever, my mind goes to guys that were at best expected to be AAAA fodder or a bench player who exceeded those expectations and more or less forced themselves into regular playing time. Guys who never tore the cover off the ball or dominated hitters in the minors, but managed to be just as if not more effective once they got to the big leagues. That's where I'd disqualify guys like Youk and Boggs and Pedroia even if at one point in time their potential was dismissed or overlooked by poor scouting/management.

Boggs hit over .300 and had a .400+ OBP in 1000+ PA over two years in Pawtucket and never got a sniff because management was stupid. That he immediately was doing the same thing once he was finally called up should never have been a surprise. The signs were there.
 

Yelling At Clouds

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YMMV, but I don't think premise of this thread can be "guys who were absolutely regarded as having a chance to do well, who then did well or did great."

That's why I was originally so-so on Ortiz. He opens the door to the Boggs and Nixon and Pedroia and Youk-type nominations, and from there it's a short step to "Did anyone think Williams would hit .400? Did anyone think Clemens would K 20? When he was in A ball, who could know Mookie would put up 12WAR?" IMO, no one in this paragraph was an "out of nowhere" guy. But Ortiz is borderline.

Anyway - what do you'all think the standard should be?
Yeah, ultimately I do agree with you about what this discussion “should” be, so I regret suggesting Ortiz a bit. Although I think some of these names would have come up anyway just because that was the narrative for so many ex-Sox for whatever reason.
 

Cesar Crespo

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YMMV, but I don't think premise of this thread can be "guys who were absolutely regarded as having a chance to do well, who then did well or did great."

That's why I was originally so-so on Ortiz. He opens the door to the Boggs and Nixon and Pedroia and Youk-type nominations, and from there it's a short step to "Did anyone think Williams would hit .400? Did anyone think Clemens would K 20? When he was in A ball, who could know Mookie would put up 12WAR?" IMO, no one in this paragraph was an "out of nowhere" guy. But Ortiz is borderline.

Anyway - what do you'all think the standard should be?
I mentioned him already but why not Shea Hillenbrand? He was largely seen as nothing more than organizational filler and made an all star game.

Travis Shaw would be a more current example and was already mentioned a bunch of times.

edit: Brandon Workman.
 

Rovin Romine

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When I think over-achiever, my mind goes to guys that were at best expected to be AAAA fodder or a bench player who exceeded those expectations and more or less forced themselves into regular playing time. Guys who never tore the cover off the ball or dominated hitters in the minors, but managed to be just as if not more effective once they got to the big leagues.
This might also correlate with some late bloomers. We just missed him but Matt Stairs would probably qualify.
 

Rovin Romine

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I mentioned him already but why not Shea Hillenbrand? He was largely seen as nothing more than organizational filler and made an all star game.

Travis Shaw would be a more current example and was already mentioned a bunch of times.

edit: Brandon Workman.
I'm not sure. . .https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=hillen001she

But I'll put him in anyway.
 

nvalvo

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Eh, Brandon Workman was second round draft pick. His surprise was the surprise of most relievers: a guy who was so-so as a starting pitcher, got hurt, and then turned out to be pretty good in relief.
 

curly2

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Rich Gedman was undrafted out of Worcester High but put up 12 WAR from 1984-86.

Already mentioned: Nava (of course), Okajima being SO good in 2007-08, and Boggs, who was left unprotected a couple of times in the minors.
 

Rovin Romine

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OK, updated. I learned that many people don't bother to use B-ref or the like to see if a guy was remotely good (majors or minors) before appearing on their personal fan-radar.

Mike Lowell is an interesting one. In retrospect he had a bad year then we picked him up and got lucky when he rebounded to doing pretty much what he did the five years prior. So, probably not.

But a hard no on this guy: https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/boggswa01.shtml

Tell me that's not the most obvious and beautifully curved incremental progression (and decline) given his minor league seasons and his age. Where's the surprise?

****

The key to All-Overachievers Sox would be modest expectations greatly exceeded. Think scrappy over-achiever, surprise find, journeyman actually "putting it all together" when everyone has more or less given up on them. Utility guy who takes a main role and does it well.

1B: Brian Daubach
2B: BROCK HOLT! (team captain)
SS:
3B: Travis Shaw, Shea Hillenbrags
OF: Daniel Nava, Troy O’Leary
C:
DH: David Ortiz

SP: Tim Wakefield.
RP: Andrew Miller, Rich "El Guapo" Garces, Hideki Okajima "hero in the dark."

Managed by: Joe Morgan, Torey Lovullo
GM: Dan "Dumpster Diver" Duquette
 

bankshot1

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I have no idea what metric to use or what I'm measuring, but Hawk Harrelson's was a journeyman OF who fell into the Sox lap because he got into a pissing match with Charlie Finley and Finley released him, making Hawk a FA in the middle of the '67 pennant race. Hawk flew in '68, (AS and MVP consideration) and became for a brief moment a superstar in a Nehru suit.

That '68 season was to Hawk's career what one night in '03 was to Aaron Boone's.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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But a hard no on this guy: https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/boggswa01.shtml

Tell me that's not the most obvious and beautifully curved incremental progression (and decline) given his minor league seasons and his age. Where's the surprise?
So it's fine if WB isn't included - that's why I asked the question - but I just wanted to point out that maybe we can all see in retrospect his greatness but at the time, that conclusion wasn't foregone. Boggs was told that he was "slow, couldn't hit for power, and couldn't field" and had a below-average arm. As said upthread, he was left unprotected and any team could have claimed him. But none did. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2005-jul-31-sp-boggs31-story.html

He was a 1tool guy in an environment that was looking for 5-tool guys.

Finally, here's one of his scouting report from high school: https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/photo-wade-boggs-scouting-report-from-1976/

The key to All-Overachievers Sox would be modest expectations greatly exceeded. Think scrappy over-achiever, surprise find, journeyman actually "putting it all together" when everyone has more or less given up on them. Utility guy who takes a main role and does it well.
 

Wallball Tingle

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I know Adrian Beltre was a proven major leaguer, but I think his recent track record in Seattle didn't portend the monster year he had. The previous five years, his highest OPS+ was 112 with an 83 the year before he arrived in Boston where it was 141 with 28 homers and 49 doubles.

It's too bad they weren't able to get him post-2010 because he was the picture of consistency for several years after with Texas, as most of us know. Shit, in his final year before retirement, his OPS+ was league average! (99)

I don't think he quite qualifies, but he WAY exceeded my expectations.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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So it's fine if WB isn't included - that's why I asked the question - but I just wanted to point out that maybe we can all see in retrospect his greatness but at the time, that conclusion wasn't foregone. Boggs was told that he was "slow, couldn't hit for power, and couldn't field" and had a below-average arm. As said upthread, he was left unprotected and any team could have claimed him. But none did. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2005-jul-31-sp-boggs31-story.html

He was a 1tool guy in an environment that was looking for 5-tool guys.

Finally, here's one of his scouting report from high school: https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/photo-wade-boggs-scouting-report-from-1976/
If the events of Moneyball had happened twenty-odd years earlier, Wade Boggs would have been Kevin Youkilis.
 

lexrageorge

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Would Tazawa qualify? He was a raw and somewhat unheralded player when he came to the US, and ended up playing a key role out of the pen in 2013.
 

MuppetAsteriskTalk

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Nick Esasky - monster career year the one season he played for the sox
Mike Lowell - was supposed to be a washed up salary dump we had to take on to aquire Beckett.
Bronson Arroyo - played way above any expectation (unless I'm just misremembering the sentiment about him)
 

Card042

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Mike Carp off the bench/PH? Dude had some clutch moments in '13.

Mike Carp hits grand slam, Red Sox beat Rays in 10

Carp is 5 for 17 with two homers and nine RBIs as a pinch hitter this year. Boston has seven pinch-hit homers overall on the season.
"Mike has been so productive in that role," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "To sit there for nearly four hours and come up and swing at the first pitch you see for a grand slam, that's pretty remarkable."
 

Dotrat

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The key to All-Overachievers Sox would be modest expectations greatly exceeded. Think scrappy over-achiever, surprise find, journeyman actually "putting it all together" when everyone has more or less given up on them. Utility guy who takes a main role and does it well.
Wouldn't Tito qualify under this standard? I know that the consensus going into '04 was 'anyone not named Grady Little,' but IIRC, there was a fair amount of debate on the board when Francona was hired, with the detractors describing him as a mediocrity, or at best a journeyman who was unlikely to get the Sox a WS win.
 

Marbleheader

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Carney Lansford is an interesting guy for this discussion. He was a good 3B with California, batted .261 in 1980 there, but came here and won a batting title (.336 rare righty to do so) and finished 6th in the MVP in 1981 and had another very good year in 1982 and received MVP votes. If it wasn't for Boggs, he would have had a really nice career here. As it was, he was the #2 hitter for those A's teams of the late 80s early 90s and almost won another batting title.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Wouldn't Tito qualify under this standard? I know that the consensus going into '04 was 'anyone not named Grady Little,' but IIRC, there was a fair amount of debate on the board when Francona was hired, with the detractors describing him as a mediocrity, or at best a journeyman who was unlikely to get the Sox a WS win.
One might say the same about Belichick
 

Hoya81

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What about John Valentin? He was a modest draft pick (5th round) with ok minor league stats who developed into a very good offensive shortstop from '94-'98
 

brandonchristensen

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Pedey always seemed like an overachiever. I know he hit will in the minors but his cup of coffee was so bad, as was the start of his first year - expectations certainly weren’t as high as ROY and MVP.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Would Tazawa qualify? He was a raw and somewhat unheralded player when he came to the US, and ended up playing a key role out of the pen in 2013.
He got a pretty big deal (3 million) and got all kinds of hoopla for skipping over the NPD draft. It was considered controversial. He also was fast tracked to the majors after only half a season in the minors. At age 22 (his first season) he was placed in Portland, dominated and was quickly promoted to Pawtucket where he did very well in his 2 starts. He made his Major League Debut 2 months after turning 23 (June).

I think he falls in the same category as Workman. They were SP with good pedigree, they got injured, and they returned as MR.
 

reggiecleveland

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YMMV, but I don't think premise of this thread can be "guys who were absolutely regarded as having a chance to do well, who then did well or did great."

That's why I was originally so-so on Ortiz. He opens the door to the Boggs and Nixon and Pedroia and Youk-type nominations, and from there it's a short step to "Did anyone think Williams would hit .400? Did anyone think Clemens would K 20? When he was in A ball, who could know Mookie would put up 12WAR?" IMO, no one in this paragraph was an "out of nowhere" guy. But Ortiz is borderline.

Anyway - what do you'all think the standard should be?
Ortiz was a well publicized Twins prospect. Being a middle of the order power guy was what they hoped for. The Twins released him out of impatience that a talented guy was seeming a bust.Theo pounced.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Ortiz was a well publicized Twins prospect. Being a middle of the order power guy was what they hoped for. The Twins released him out of impatience that a talented guy was seeming a bust.Theo pounced.
Andrew Miller was the 6th pick in the MLB draft (and a top 10 prospect in all of baseball). I get why he's on the list tho. I just don't get why being a 2nd round pick works against Brandon Workman. The moment he got injured and missed basically 2 seasons of baseball, that 2nd round pick status stopped mattering. It probably stopped mattering before that. He was never on any Sox top 10 lists that I can recall. If he was a prospect on par with Jay Groome, maybe. He was never close.
 

nvalvo

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Would Tazawa qualify? He was a raw and somewhat unheralded player when he came to the US, and ended up playing a key role out of the pen in 2013.
Didn't he get the highest bonus ever for an amateur out of Japan and cause a minor international incident, leading him to blacklisted in NPB, which is why he's now pitching in Taiwan?
 

Rovin Romine

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There's always going to be subjectivity here, so it's good to talk it out.

So (and this is just my opinion) I think in general we can't name any player who has had an adversity blip, was overlooked by management, had a good year, or wasn't universally lauded. Sometimes you just trade for normally developing players at the right moment. It does not mean they're over-acheivers.

I think zero pedigre and/or huge overnight improvement should be considered. Or if you're a true come-back player, everyone has given up on. Like taking Dan Bard on a flyer last year and having him save games.

So with that in mind:
***
Miller had a pedigree and then for years 21 to 26 was a 5+ ERA guy. Which basically sets his expectation baseline. Then he converts to mega-reliever man. That's greatly exceeding expectations in a surprising way. Look at that insane jump in ERA+.

As pointed out above, Ortiz had a pedigree, was developing normally-ish and switched orgs. He then blossomed in a big way for the Sox, so that's why I think he's borderline but on the team.

[Tazawa] I think he falls in the same category as Workman. They were SP with good pedigree, they got injured, and they returned as MR.
I'd agree with the above, but feel free to argue from the numbers otherwise.

What about John Valentin? He was a modest draft pick (5th round) with ok minor league stats who developed into a very good offensive shortstop from '94-'98
Valentin might qualify - but he did peak at the right age, and look at his slugging numbers. . .that looks like a perfectly ordinary age based power development. I don't know about him. Further thoughts?

I would say almost half of the pitching staff in 1990 qualifies. Greg Harris, Dana Kiecker, and Tom Bolton combined for 31 wins that year and Jeff Gray saved nine games when Reardon was hurt.
Why don't you link to specific guys so we can discuss?

Carney Lansford is an interesting guy for this discussion. He was a good 3B with California, batted .261 in 1980 there, but came here and won a batting title (.336 rare righty to do so) and finished 6th in the MVP in 1981 and had another very good year in 1982 and received MVP votes. If it wasn't for Boggs, he would have had a really nice career here. As it was, he was the #2 hitter for those A's teams of the late 80s early 90s and almost won another batting title.
And as a 24 year old too. FWIW, I think that sort of leap qualifies. Pretty sure no one thought we were getting the batting champ when we acquired him. (Like another 3rd baseman, perhaps?)

Mike Carp off the bench/PH? Dude had some clutch moments in '13.

Mike Carp hits grand slam, Red Sox beat Rays in 10

Carp is 5 for 17 with two homers and nine RBIs as a pinch hitter this year. Boston has seven pinch-hit homers overall on the season.
"Mike has been so productive in that role," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "To sit there for nearly four hours and come up and swing at the first pitch you see for a grand slam, that's pretty remarkable."
Carp's the kind of guy I immediately think of for this team. . .but what do you think of his 2011? Does it disqualify him or not?


***
Again - I want to emphasize I don't have a secret formula here. There probably isn't one anyway.

Maybe those with stat sorting access can look at WAR jumps or something? That could be a good way to find guys.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Has no one really mentioned Saturn Nuts?

Bronson Arroyo was acquired off waivers and gave us 2 average seasons as a SP and was traded away for big lottery ticket Wily Mo Pena.

edit: post 69. Nevermind.
 

Rovin Romine

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Going back aways, RF Clyde Vollmer fits in the journeyman category for his July 1951 exploits.
"Dutch the Clutch" hit 13 homers in the month of July, 1951.
I don't know anything about this guy. His OPS+ numbers look stable though, for the year before he came here.

I guess that's another consideration.

(And here I grimace slightly)

Clutchness. Did the player over-achieve in something less than a full season? If so, I'd say it would have to have a tangible impact on the club?

So. . .maybe Tom Gordon in 98? He went from a so-so starter to a starter/reliever in 97. In his first dedicated year as a reliever he had 7 wins and 46 saves and got us a post-season berth against the Indians. I don't think we see the post-season without him. Cost him his arm, too.
 

Cesar Crespo

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I don't know anything about this guy. His OPS+ numbers look stable though, for the year before he came here.

I guess that's another consideration.

(And here I grimace slightly)

Clutchness. Did the player over-achieve in something less than a full season? If so, I'd say it would have to have a tangible impact on the club?

So. . .maybe Tom Gordon in 98? He went from a so-so starter to a starter/reliever in 97. In his first dedicated year as a reliever he had 7 wins and 46 saves and got us a post-season berth against the Indians. I don't think we see the post-season without him. Cost him his arm, too.
I was actually going to name him 5 minutes before you did but decided he was a much better SP than I remember him being. His 93-97 was very solid despite a bad 96. He had a 110 ERA+ in 898.1 IP in that span.

Maybe?
 

Al Zarilla

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I don't know anything about this guy. His OPS+ numbers look stable though, for the year before he came here.

I guess that's another consideration.

(And here I grimace slightly)

Clutchness. Did the player over-achieve in something less than a full season? If so, I'd say it would have to have a tangible impact on the club?

So. . .maybe Tom Gordon in 98? He went from a so-so starter to a starter/reliever in 97. In his first dedicated year as a reliever he had 7 wins and 46 saves and got us a post-season berth against the Indians. I don't think we see the post-season without him. Cost him his arm, too.
Vollmer seems to have turned it up a notch or two for Boston though. 40 HR in 805 AB for Boston vs. 29 in 1216 for Cincinnati and Washington combined. As for Clutch, well, it rhymes with Dutch and he probably had one or two walkoffs, especially in July. I thought he might have gotten playing time because Ted was off to Korea, but that wasn't until 1952. Instead, Vollmer got the RF job because Al Zarilla went to the White Sox after the 1950 season. Ha.
 

RIFan

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Valentin might qualify - but he did peak at the right age, and look at his slugging numbers. . .that looks like a perfectly ordinary age based power development. I don't know about him. Further thoughts?
I think there are 2 choices for SS on the overachiever team.

He's been brought up a few times, but John Valentin would be my first choice. Not so much because he came out of nowhere, but for the peak he hit. 32.1 WAR in his Sox career including 8.3 in '95. You had to go back to Rico Petrocelli in 1970 for anyone to top 4 as the primary shortstop. It has been a relative revolving door as SS since the Burleson trade. His minor league stats didn't show any indication that he'd become the hitter he did, particularly the power he showed at SS. 700 OPS in 524 MiLB games played. I did a quick rundown so someone will probably correct me, but his 1995 season was a top 25 all time WAR for a shortstop. The guys ahead of him are HOF'ers except for Arod and Semien. Plenty of "ifs" with how his career could have gone, but if not for Nomar pushing him to 3B and the knee injury he would have been an all-time Sox. Whatever the expectations for him, he certainly had to overachieve them for at least until injuries took over.

If you want to argue that he performed to expectations, the only real choice other than him is his predecessor, Luis Rivera. He would get the nod simply because he held the job for 4 years when every year they tried to replace him. No one expected him to be any more than a utility player, but he did hold onto the job for what was an eternity compared to the prior shortstops since Burleson.
 

Rovin Romine

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OK - Provisionally updated in the first post and here. Steve wright, Bronson Arroyo, Tom Gordon, Mike Carp, John Valentin/Luis Rivera, Clyde Vollmer, Carney Lansford.

Argue them in, argue them out.

We need some catchers, and starting pitchers. Or a 2b - we can stick BROCKHOLT in at catcher.


***
So, this would be a "Surprise Finds" team... basically the reverse of the Disappointments. Guys that exceeded expectations for at least one full season."

The key to All-Overachievers Sox would be modest expectations greatly exceeded. Think scrappy over-achiever, surprise find, journeyman actually "putting it all together" when everyone has more or less given up on them. Utility guy who takes a main role and does it well.

1B: Brian Daubach
2B: BROCK HOLT! (team captain)
SS: John Valentin/Luis Rivera?
3B: Travis Shaw, Shea Hillenbrags, Carney Lansford
OF: Daniel Nava, Troy O’Leary, Clyde Vollmer
C:
DH: David Ortiz, Mike Carp

SP: Tim Wakefield, Steven Wright, Bronson Arroyo
RP: Andrew Miller, Rich "El Guapo" Garces, Hideki "hero in the dark" Okajima, Tom Gordon.

Managed by: Joe Morgan, Torey Lovullo
GM: Dan Duquette
 

Yelling At Clouds

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I don’t think he should be the choice, but remember when Sandy Leon turned into Buster Posey for a couple of months? That was bananas.
 

sodenj5

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Pedey always seemed like an overachiever. I know he hit will in the minors but his cup of coffee was so bad, as was the start of his first year - expectations certainly weren’t as high as ROY and MVP.
I thought I was taking crazy pills because no one mentioned Pedroia until this post.

Yes he was a second round draft pick but he vastly outplayed even the most optimistic projections, outplayed his physical tools and profile, and may have had a HOF trajectory at the start of his career.

Bare minimum he’s a Red Sox HOFer and will likely have his #15 retired in a few years.
 

Cesar Crespo

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If you are that desperate at C, there is Scott Hatteberg.

Hillenbrand played a few years at C in the low minors too.
 

RIFan

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I don’t think he should be the choice, but remember when Sandy Leon turned into Buster Posey for a couple of months? That was bananas.
Leon might be the best choice. Every catcher that came before him was either a known commodity (free agent signing / vet that played to the prior levels) or well enough regarded Sox minor leaguer. You really have to go back to '61 and Jim Paglioroni who took the job as a 23 YO rookie and played 120 games. It's certainly not Gedman who was a respected minor leaguer. Maybe Salty, but he was at one point a highly regarded prospect and was a net under achiever overall.
 

bankshot1

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I thought I was taking crazy pills because no one mentioned Pedroia until this post.

Yes he was a second round draft pick but he vastly outplayed even the most optimistic projections, outplayed his physical tools and profile, and may have had a HOF trajectory at the start of his career.

Bare minimum he’s a Red Sox HOFer and will likely have his #15 retired in a few years.
the recognition is always appreciated :D

I don't know what expectations people here had for Dustin Pedroia, but ROY, MVP, the best fielding 2nd baseman in MLB his prime, one of the most entertaining Sox ever, and if not for injuries, IMO a very serious HoF candidate, probably exceeded my expectations of Dustin, in 2004.
 

Cesar Crespo

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the recognition is always appreciated :D
Baseball Prospectus absolutely loved Pedroia. He was the sabermetrics darling. He also peaked at #77 on Baseball America.

One could also make an argument that anyone who makes the HOF overachieved.
 

RIFan

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Rhode Island
3B: Travis Shaw, Shea Hillenbrags, Carney Lansford
I'll argue against Lansford as a member of this team. Yes he won a batting crown, but the guy parlayed a nice age 20 AA season into a direct full time roll in the majors and finished 3rd for ROY as a 21 YO. He got traded here for Burleson and Hobson (along with Miller and Clear). You can't be the central piece in a trade for 2 fan favorites, including 1 All Star, and not have big expectations to perform.

I think you could consider Mike Lowell in this spot. Mostly because everyone thought he was cooked and was a throw in with the trade. If overachieving is surpassing expectations he did that to a huge degree. Big rebound year in '06 and even better in '07. You won't find many people who would have said at the time of the trade he'd be a key guy in the next WS championship.
 
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TapeAndPosts

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2006
587
To me at least, the genuinely good players don't "feel" like overachievers because once they become good it resets the expectations. Maybe it looked like Pedey was overachieving for a while, but once we realized he really was that good it just felt like achievement, not overachievement, for a player whose true level was actually high.