The Chicago Cubs may have dodged a bullet. Yes, I’m comparing the failure to sign a quality player like Chone Figgins to avoiding being shot. Figgins is about to get 4 years and $36 million (with another $9 option year) from the Seattle Mariners, which sounds about right given all the hype. The Cubs were rumored to be looking at Figgins a few weeks ago, but those rumors tapered off. And now Figgins is set to be a Mariner, for big cash.

But is Figgins really worth it? I think some facts get lost in the hype…

Yes, Figgins can play average to above average defense at several positions – but did you know he has played just 13 games outside of 3rd base in the last two years? Add in another year, and it’s just 44 in three years. That means over the last three years, and in stark contrast, he’s played 358 games at third base.

Yes, Figgins gets on base, and sports a very nice career .363 OBP – but did you know that his career OPS is just .751, and his career OPS+ is 99? That’s right. As a hitter for his career, Chone Figgins is a below average hitter. And don’t think that SLG – the other half of OPS – is just about hitting home runs. It is merely reflective of a player’s ability to get extra base hits. Think doubles aren’t something you want in a leadoff hitter?

The fact is, these kind of free agent contracts – think Soriano, Fukudome, Bradley – where you outbid your competition in years and dollars for guys who are very good, but suffer from certain flaws, rarely work out for teams not named the Yankees. Why? Because crappy contracts don’t hamstring the Yankees, but they sure hamstring everyone else. Figgins would have been a nice player to have, but not for that contract. In two years, you’ll agree.

  • DK

    I agree now. You want make the sex?

    • Ace

      All I have to do is make a good point?

  • DK

    I question your ability to make a good…”point”.

  • KB

    I don’t have to wait 2 years. I agree now.

    We already have a 3rd baseman. He’s our best player.

    (One note, though; OPS+ is taken from OPS, which is unfairly weighted by making SLG and OBP equally weighted, when OBP is actually more important. Thus, Figgens is an above average MLB hitter.)

    • Ace

      That’s a good point, Kabes, but I’m not sure on the numbers of it. That is to say, is there a study out there that says a guy who has a .400 OBP and a .400 SLG will produce more runs than a guy with a .300 OBP and a .500 SLG?

  • KB

    LOTS of studies. OBP is, by far, the best indicator of whether or not a team scores runs.
    SLG is second.

    • Ace

      I feel yah, but I’d like to see some statistical evaluations of my .400/.400 and .300/.500 question. Maybe I’ll break out the old graphing calculator and see what I can come up with.

  • KB

    Remember in “Moneyball,” when Billy Beane was saying that OBP was twice as important as SLG, but Paul DePodesta was arguing that it was four times as important?

    Those numbers seem too high for me, but they were definitely discussing the multiple studies on the subject, including DePodesta’s personal current and historic evaluations.

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