Remembering Figgins: Why the Signing Was a Steal at the Time
When Mariners fans think of Chone Figgins, they think of the overpaid second baseman whose only value is stealing bases. When Angels fans think of Chone Figgins, they think of the high-flying 3rd baseman who could play almost every position on the diamond . They think of the all-star who could get on base at high clips, hit for average, score runs, and steal bases.
Chone Figgins was drafted in the 4th round of the 1997 MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies. In 2001, he was traded to the Angels for Kimera Bartee. He made his major league debut in 2002, playing in 15 games. In 2003, Figgins posted a 1.4 bWAR in just 71 games. In 2004, Figgins got the starting job. He played at least 1 game at every position on the field except first base, pitcher and catcher in 2004. Figgins produced a 3.0 bWAR that year, and finished 24th in the AL MVP race. 2005 was a true coming out year for Figgins as he led the league in stolen bases (with 62) and finished 17th in MVP balloting. He batted .290 on the year while scoring 113 runs. 2006 was a down year for Figgins as his defense declined, but he still stole 52 bases with 93 runs scored. Figgins was back to his normal self in 2007 and 2008. He stole 75 bases, batted .303, and had a .380 OBP over the 2 years. In 2009, Figgins final season with the Angels, he had a career year. Figgins posted a fantastic 6.6 bWAR and placed 10th in MVP voting. He stole 42 bases and set career highs in walks (101), runs (114), doubles (30), and OBP (.395). After the Angels lost in the 2009 ALCS to the Yankees, Figgins became a free agent.
In December of 2009, Figgins signed a 4 year $36 million dollar contract with the Mariners. Assuming that 1 win above replacement is equivalent to 4.5 million dollars on the open market, Figgins only had to put up 8 wins over the life of his contract. That was a steal in my opinion as he had put up 19.6 bWAR in his 6 full seasons with the Angels. That means he averaged 3.3 WAR a year, so for the Mariners to assume he’d average 2.0 WAR each season over the life of his contract, was a reasonable assumption.
Figgins did put up a 1.1 bWAR in 2010, but that’s a far cry from his outstanding 2009. His 2011 was even worse, posting a -0.5 bWAR. In his 2 seasons since coming to Seattle, Figgins has a .6 WAR. If Figgins can rebound this year and average a 3.6 WAR for the next 2 years, he could break even on the contract value. Looking back this deal made a ton of sense for the Mariners, and you cant fault the front office in making the decision to sign him.
There is a strong possibility that Figgins may be returning to the leadoff spot this summer. Could a comeback be in store for the former all-star?
- Justin (@justinmillar)