Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chone Figgins Wasn't THE Worst Player In MLB

Looking back at 2009, you have to wonder just what happened to Chone Figgins. In Figgins contract and career year, he hit .298/.395/.393 with 42 stolen bases, led the AL in walks and played world class defense at third base. Figgins posted a 7.5 rWAR (Baseball-Reference wins above replacement) that trailed only Joe Mauer (7.6), Chase Utley (8.0), Ben Zobrist (8.3) and Albert Pujols (9.4). But then the clock struck midnight on his Angels career and he signed a multi-year deal with the Mariners. Not only did Figgins turn into a pumpkin but the neighborhood kids came by and kicked in his face.

The Mariners signed Figgins for four-years, $36 million and moved him from third (where he had just finished in the ranks of Evan Longoria and Adrian Beltre in UZR) to second. Side note: In the 2001, Baseball Prospectus raised the question concerning Figgins, "How many guys move off of shortstop and do even worse at second base?" From there, the Mariners moved Figgins back to third base in 2011 to left field, center field, third base and the bench in 2012 to the unemployment line in 2013. The M's will pay Figgins his remaining $8 million to not play with them. Not even on MLB the Show for PS3.

Figgins was bad in 2011-2012. Really bad. Like .188/.241/.243 in 2011 and .181/.262/.271 in 2012 bad. Seatlle hasn't seen a career end that poorly since Kurt Cobain. But was Figgins the worst player in baseball over the 2011 and 2012 seasons? Not quite.

Rk Player WAR/pos From To Age G PA BA OBP SLG OPS Tm
1 Chone Figgins -2.4 2011 2012 33-34 147 507 .185 .249 .253 .502 SEA
2 Wilson Valdez -2.5 2011 2012 33-34 176 508 .231 .270 .293 .564 PHI-CIN
3 Tsuyoshi Nishioka -2.5 2011 2012 26-27 71 254 .215 .267 .236 .503 MIN
4 Greg Dobbs -2.6 2011 2012 32-33 254 781 .279 .312 .388 .700 FLA-MIA
5 Joe Mather -2.6 2011 2012 28-29 139 326 .210 .260 .320 .580 ATL-CHC
6 Chris Coghlan -2.7 2011 2012 26-27 104 403 .207 .274 .320 .595 FLA-MIA
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/21/2012.

According to Baseball-Reference WAR, the worst position player the last two seasons was your 2009 NL Rookie of the Year, Chris Coghlan. You'll always have that fourth place finish in '09, Andrew McCutchen. Considering recent events, it's almost fitting for the Marlins have two players on this list.

I suppose a case could be made for any of those guys to be considered the worst because when you're talking about tenths of a win, it's just a tossup. Figgins definitely was hanging out on the wrong tier of the baseball hierarchy when it came to performance but he was in a different class when it came to cash. Figgins pocketed $19 million between 2011 and 2012. Coghlan, Joe Mather, Greg Dobbs, Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Wilson Valdez combined to make $11.46 million over those two years with Nishioka's $6 million preventing Figgins from lapping the group.

Final tally: Mariners paid Figgins $36 million over four years. Figgins produced negative $4.5 million (according to Fangraphs) over four years. Of course, that number is inflated by Figgins not playing for the Mariners in 2013.

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