Atkins to Pittsburgh

Brad Hawpe wasn’t the only former Colorado Rockies’ slugger to find a new team over the holiday weekend. For the second consecutive winter, Garrett Atkins will attempt to re-establish himself with a perennial cellar-dweller. The Baltimore phase of his mission went stunningly poor, so his new (minor league) deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates couldn’t possibly go any worse, could it?

Oftentimes, baseball can be appropriately described as weird. Atkins’ case is no different. The (now) 31-year-old averaged a home run every 27 plate appearances from the beginning of the 2006 season until the final pitch of the 2008 season. Atkins has averaged one homer per 55 plate appearances in the baseball played since. An overall decline in production (from .305/.369/.498 to .223/.299/.326) accompanies the declining appearances of Atkins’ home run swing.

Teams used to pay Atkins to hit homers and reach base, now they pay to see if what malfunctioned. The Orioles bailed after a little more than 150 plate appearances; exposing Atkins to waivers in late June. No team bit and the Orioles chose to bite the proverbial money bullet and release him. That was the week of Independence Day. Atkins hasn’t seen time in a game sanctioned by Major League Baseball since.

In a perfect world, Atkins rediscovers his power stroke (his ISO has declined four straight seasons) and makes the Pirates’ 25-man roster. He’s a righty who started daily, so it stands to reason that the more pronounced his platoon split the worst his season. As such, it surprises no one that Atkins’ biggest platoon differentials came over the last few seasons. Still, with Lyle Overbay (a lefty with recent struggles against same-handed pitchers) around, Atkins could find some playing time if he does make the roster. Becoming the right-handed portion of a first base platoon is not a side task on the road to the city of riches, but it is a way to stay in the game.

The jokes about the franchise and the predicament of the player (almost out of options) are predictable. It’s obvious how a contract like Atkins’ differs from some of the more criminal in recent Pittsburgh history. The previous regime gave Jeromy Burnitz (age: 37) $6 million. Since it’s football playoff scenario season, consider the following actions that Atkins would have to take in order to ensure a disaster equal to the Burnitz’s signing: A) kneecapping Pedro Alvarez; B) kidnapping Andrew McCutchen; C) photographing (then publishing) Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, and Luis Heredia doing keg stands. One of those might happen if Atkins gets catty, two if he becomes severely distraught, but all three? Unlikely.

Also unlikely is Atkins recapturing his previous success. A small risk to take to gain first-hand knowledge nonetheless.



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Jason B
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Jason B
5 years 9 months ago

You’re right, this is different from Burnitz b/c it’s a low-dollar, low-risk reclamation project.

Start of third paragraph: “now they pay to see if what malfunctioned.” Not sure that’s a complete cogent thought.

Stetson Allie? That’s a person’s name? Ye gads!

“What is your name?? Lan…Lanolin?!? Like sheep’s wool?!?” *Totally gobsmacked face*

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
5 years 9 months ago

Not too surprised Hurdle is bringing Atkins along with him to Pittsburgh. I doubt he recovers, he was too much a product of Coors.

Andy
Guest
Andy
5 years 8 months ago

Home run power at coors still might translate into gap power in PNC

I haven’t looked at Atkin’s spray charts, so this is just spitballin’ on my part, but whatevs, I doubt he gets many pa’s even with this team.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

… or PEDs.

Seriously when a guy’s power is consistent over 3 years, and then consistently and drastically decreased … one has to look outside of “againg curve” or anything of the sort. His power disappeared during his “peak years of age”.

Either pitchers found out what he couldn;t hit, or he had injuries, or came off PEDs, or something.

Andrew T. Fisher
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Guys who abused PEDs don’t have the body type the doughy Atkins does. Lazy guys have that body type.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 8 months ago

as a rockies fan my entire life, there is no way garrett atkins was juicing… what happened was he lost his swing mechanics, stopped hitting line drives, and started hitting too many ground balls… the man had no idea what he was doing at the plate after 2008. there is also the potential emotional/psychological factor of losing his best friend, and i believe roommate, matt holliday. we like to say stuff like that doesnt affect major league players, but its way more likely to be a combination of lost swing mechanics and lost mental health than PEDs

Andrew T. Fisher
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

@fredsbank I don’t buy the depression-due-to-losing-Holliday argument. Not one bit. His production decreased pretty linearly every season from 2006 to 2010. Graph his yearly wOBA. You won’t be able to tell which year Holliday left. It was poor conditioning that led to eroding skills, a little more each year.

NEPP
Guest
NEPP
5 years 8 months ago

And he sucks defensively…so its like win-win.

DIVISION
Guest
DIVISION
5 years 8 months ago

How many guys have been overvalued by playing their early careers at Coors only to be almost out of baseball a couple years later?

Amazing.

puffy
Guest
puffy
5 years 8 months ago

If it isn’t reported as such, inflated stats work to create interest. Mainstream consciousness is incapable of cirtical analysis of even the simplest topics.

puffy
Guest
puffy
5 years 8 months ago

“Oftentimes, baseball can be appropriately described as weird. Atkins’ case is no different. The (now) 31-year-old averaged a home run every 27 plate appearances from the beginning of the 2006 season until the final pitch of the 2008 season. Atkins has averaged one homer per 55 plate appearances in the baseball played since. An overall decline in production (from .305/.369/.498 to .223/.299/.326) accompanies the declining appearances of Atkins’ home run swing. ”

No mention of his playing in Coors. Biased “reporting” is an epidemic. Remove a very thin layer of etiquette, and we are right back in the stone age.

DIVISION
Guest
DIVISION
5 years 8 months ago

It was intimated that he played his early career in Coors at the beginning of the article.

Everyone who follows MLB knows that.

Atkins was a mainstay of those Rockies teams from several years back.

There needs to be a formula to determine a player’s statistical inflation from playing at Coors.

Sabermetic statheads SPEAK!

OmarStrollin
Member
OmarStrollin
5 years 8 months ago

His decline began in 2009 when he was still playing half his games in Coors. And it’s not as if moving to the AL East/Baltimore put him in an unfriendly hitting environment. Camden Yards was the fifth-most homer happy stadium in baseball, with Rogers Centre and Yankee Stadium coming in 4th and 3rd, respectively. Yes, Coors was second, but it’s not like he was suddenly playing all of his games in San Diego, Oakland, etc. The decline is on Atkins, not the park he was playing in.

puffy
Guest
puffy
5 years 8 months ago

His mention that his progression is “weird” implies that the Coors factor fails to explain the variance in performance. This is where his biases are revealed. Had this been a player he didn’t “like”, it would have very easily been explained away by the Coors factor. In fact, the whole article would highlight the Coors factor, and how Atkins doesn’t belong in the major leagues. If “reputable” media like FOX, NBC and CNN can do this all day, so can Fangraphs.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 8 months ago

in 2006 atkins posted a great 136 wRC+ on the road and an acceptable 93 in 2007, and in 2008 65.

so, you’re wrong, his decline was not a result of coors

puffy
Guest
puffy
5 years 8 months ago

I don’t know how wRC+ is calculated, and I have no confidence in the input that supports the results.

What I do know is that I’ve seen enough failed (biased) efforts to “normalize” data not only in baseball, but much more impactful contexts. What I am also confident of, is that you are stupid enough to misinterpret the data enough to see what you want to see.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 8 months ago

ok, what measure would you prefer, wOBA, sOPS+, OPS+, WAR, what? because they will all lead you to the same conclusion: atkins was boss in 06, decent in 07 and 08, and godawful after that. why that would be something i just ‘want to see’ i cant really tell you, but its what’s there, and you’d have to be pretty fucking stupid to not realize it

Andrew T. Fisher
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Matt Holliday!

woop.

puffy
Guest
puffy
5 years 8 months ago

Holliday was garbage in Oakland, but is posting stats again now that he’s hitting with the probably the 2nd best hitter that’s ever walked the earth (roids or not).

He’s a solid player, but Coors made him out to be elite, which he isn’t. Stick Adrian Gonzalez next to Pujols and he’d put Holliday to shame.

Andrew T. Fisher
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Oh, so it’s just thanks to Pujols huh? Funny how no one else has magically performed well around him. And you’re just plain false. Holliday’s best two years in Colorado were 2007 and 2008, good for 12.8 fWAR. His two years outside of Colorado? 12.5. That’s your difference between elite and just good?

He had the 4th best wRC+ among MLB outfielders in 2010, 3rd best in 2009, 4th best in 2008, and 2nd best in 2007. Seems pretty consistently elite.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 8 months ago

you cant use wRC+ when talking to puffy, he doesnt believe in it

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 8 months ago
Joey B
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

With all due respect to Mr. Burnitz, they traded Rajah Davis for Matt Morris’ $10M contract. While technically not a signing, it was so wrong on so many levels, it has few, if any, equals.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 8 months ago

Matt Morris!! Eep! Cover your eyes Pirates fans. What a woefully bad idea. “Bad idea jeans” bad, as Simmons would say (before moving on to 90210 and Teen Wolf).

Andy
Guest
Andy
5 years 8 months ago

While Morris was probably a good last hurrah for littlefield, I’d have to say that Derek Bell’s 4.5 million dollar “operation shutdown” leaves the most lasting legacy.

Nats fan
Guest
Nats fan
5 years 8 months ago

The Pirates always make me sad. Even though I am not FAN, I hope they win soon!

Kirsh
Member
Kirsh
5 years 8 months ago

I’d like a little more certainty in a utility corner infielder than Atkins. He and Andy Marte could both completely flame out, and the bench wouldn’t be any good at all.

RetireNutting
Guest
RetireNutting
5 years 8 months ago

How’s this for certainty… they picked up Josh Fields and they’ve still got Steve Pearce if they don’t use a freshly acquired 4th option exception to send him down to AAA, again. Between Atkins, Fields, Marte, Pearce, Overbay, Alvarez, Bowker, Clement and Jones one has to think the Pirates will have 1B, 3B, and RF covered, right? I think the idea is that one of these guys will have to step up by the shear volume. Not sure I buy it but we’ll see. Better than heading in to 2010 with Milledge, Jones, Laroche, Bowker, Clement and Pearce vying for significant playing time at 1B and RF though.

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