So I’m not sure if any of you guys knew this, but I really like Franklin Gutierrez. I mean, he’s just incredible – have you seen him play center field?? It’s amazing! He covers more ground than any outfielder I’ve ever seen! And how about that smile? Okay, I’ll stop now, before I get the urge to write a Franklin Gutierrez love poem again.
Anyways. The obvious thing that comes to mind when you think of Guti, is defense. Outstanding defense. Unbelievable defense. Stupendous defense. I don’t know – it’s probably a different adjective for each person. But one way or another, it’s his defense. And that’s what I would expect you to think of, because Franklin’s 2009 was one of the best defensive seasons in the history of the game. His UZR (28.5) was practically off the charts – for comparison, the second best UZR in baseball, at any position, belonged to Evan Longoria, at 18.9 – well, technically Nyjer Morgan, but his was split between two teams. The second best for a center fielder went to BJ Upton, at 12.7.
Hopefully, that did a decent job of illustrating just how good he was. It wasn’t just his defense though – his solid offense (6.3 runs above average), combined with his ridiculous defense (28.5 runs above average), made him one of the most valuable players in the game. He was worth 5.8 wins, which is equivalent to roughly $26 million of value. We paid $455,000, and we got $26 million back. I suppose this one was a pretty good investment on Jack Zduriencik’s part, eh?
Guti’s bat took awhile to really get going, but his natural ability in the field, and unrivaled range, became apparent quickly. It took only two games for Franklin to earn one of Dave Niehaus’s best names ever; Death to Flying Things, or DTFT if you’re lazy, after making multiple outstanding catches against the Twins.
It’s been pointed out a couple of times, that Franklin Gutierrez was SO good defensively this year, that it’s going to be nearly impossible for him to repeat it. But that’s really nothing to seriously worry about – because of the fact that he’s only 26, and hasn’t yet reached his prime, he has a really good chance of developing more power, and growing into a better hitter. So yeah, you might see that 28.5 UZR drop into the 15-20 range, but you might also see that wOBA jump from .337 into the .345-.360 range. I’ll take those numbers to play center field for my team any day.
Franklin Gutierrez has given a great gift to Mariners fans this season – beyond the defense, beyond the clutch hitting, even beyond the extreme handsomeness – he’s allowed us to stop thinking about Adam Jones, and that’s something I really didn’t think was possible.
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