Before this season started, I quipped the following when the Giants signed Juan Uribe:
If Juan Uribe makes the team, speculation is that he’ll earn about $1M for his services. That contract is paying him like he’s a .25 WAR player, which is about right. I don’t like Juan Uribe as a player but I don’t mind this move. He’ll provide some depth at shortstop while not being Ivan Ochoa or Brian Bocock.
Of course, Juan Uribe has had his best season this year since his 3.6 win 2004 season. After posting wOBA’s of .291, .286, and .296 the previous 3 seasons, Uribe looked as if his days of being a league average hitter were over. But, baseball can be a strange game sometimes, and Uribe has put up a .345 wOBA this season in 309 plate appearances. Bocock and Ochoa, he’s not.
On the season, Uribe has been worth 1.9 wins thanks to some solid hitting and very good defense at 2B — his UZR at 2B rates currently as +3.1 runs, or pro-rated, 10.9 runs in 150 games. At the plate, not much has changed with Uribe. He’s still posting a BB% around 6% — slightly below league average rate for walks — and his K% of 20 is pretty much around his career levels.
The difference is in Uribe’s power and BABIP. In 2009, Uribe has posted his best ISO since his ’04 season in which he slugged 23 HR’s in the hitter friendly confines of US Cellular Field. The Cell has long been a better than league average park for hitting home runs and scoring. So, it’s not that surprising to see that Uribe had some of his best power years there. But, AT&T Park, has been a neutral run scoring environment for the past 4-5 years now, and, remains one of the tougher parks in the game to homer in. Yet, somehow, Uribe has found his power stroke again in the NL.*
*It’s never a bad idea to write about a guy who just blasted 2-HR’s in a game. Uribe becomes the 3rd Giant this season to hit 2 or more home runs in a game. Ryan Garko did it recently, Sandoval did it twice in his scorching June, and Molina did it earlier in the season against Colorado. In ’09, the Giants are 2-3 in games in which a player homers twice or more. Last bit of trivia, since 1954, there have been 498 single games in which a Giants hitter has hit 2 home runs or more.
A quick leaderboard of the total number of games in which a Giant hit 2 or more HR’s, and the percentage that they represent of the 498 total games since 1954.
|Name||# Games||% Total|
McCovey, Bonds, and Mays. Doesn’t get any better than that.
Back to Uribe. We mentioned his power, but his BABIP has also been above-average this year. Uribe’s career BABIP in over 1,000 games is .288. Uribe’s ’09 BABIP is currently sitting at .321. That’s nearly 30 points better than his career BABIP average. Based on his BABIP, Uribe’s hitting stats should probably regress some, but he’s still had a very nice year. All things considered, Uribe has been a steal for the Giants this year. He’s getting paid around $1M for $8-9M in value.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Giants lock Uribe up for a short-term 2-year deal after the season. Maybe something like 2/6 or 2/8. If he remains a utility infielder, he could have a nice niche to fill on this team going forward.