Even though Red is overrated by particularly rabid fan boys/girls too much, so is Ash to be perfectly honest. And Red automatically wins by not being Ash.
Besides, he's still got the highest level team in-game, and although it isn't the best team that's because his team was based off the plots of the games and so had to have things like Pikachu (because it's a mascot), the three starters with the elemental hyper beams, and somewhat plot-related Snorlax/Lapras. He's also the league champion (Lance being the champion at the league doesn't mean anything, it's like becoming the champion and yet the previous champion is still there for a rematch).
He has his own backstory, and he's deliberately not given much characterization for the player's benefit in RBY and FRLG.