2010 in Review: Chone Figgins

Jul 16, 2010; Anaheim, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins (9) bats during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. The Angels defeated the Mariners 3-2. . Photo via Newscom

The Mariners signed Chone Figgins to a four year, $36 million deal back in December, which, at the time, was received with wide acclaim. However, in 2010, the first year of the deal, he posted a paltry WAR of 0.6, and came nowhere near earning the $8 million he received.

Offense: While the walks and doubles were there, Figgy’s offensive numbers as a whole were disappointing. His .259/.340/.306 line was the worst of his career, as was his .302 wOBA. The Mariners signed him for his ability to get on base, and while his .340 mark was above average, it was still his worst since 2006, when his wOBA was a mediocre .320.

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what went wrong for Figgins in 2010, but bad luck may have had something to do with it, as his .314 BABIP was well below his career average of .337. His LD%, though, was his worst in four years, indicating that he may have been legitimately making worse contact in 2010 than he has in the past. If so, it could have been caused by the noticeable increases in both his O-Swing and O-Contact rates, as hitters tend to make weaker contact on pitches out of the zone.

There may be reason for hope, though, as Figgy finished the year strong, posting a .322/.376/.383 line in September & October. If he could at least move back towards his career norms in 2011, it could go a long way towards salvaging his contract.

Defense: After spending most of the last three years at third base with the Angels, the Mariners decided to move him to second base, where he had started just 22 games since 2006. That experiment, though seemingly sensible at the time, failed, as Figgins went on to post a -12.3 UZR over 161 games. Not only did he make 19 errors, but his range was bad too, at 6.3 runs below average. Granted, UZR isn’t always accurate with only one year of data, so there’s a decent change Figgy isn’t really this bad of a second baseman. Nonetheless, it’s clearly time to move him back to third.

Oh, and he did start one really awesome double play.

Outlook: We have him locked up for three more years, and it’s unlikely that any team would be willing to take on his contract, so he’s more than likely going to remain a Mariner. If the organization can learn from their mistakes, he’ll be back at third base from the start, hopefully turning around that negative defensive value. As for his offense, at 32 years old, I can’t imagine that it has hit full decline mode yet, so I expect it to be back at an at least respectable level in 2011.

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