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Highs and Lows of UZR 2007-9: Hawpe

As explained in the overview post, here, this is part of a series looking at the best and worst defensive performers over the past three combined seasons. Rankings are done by adding a player’s UZR with his aggregate positional adjustment so as to level the playing field with regards to difficulty. Essentially, it’s removing the grading curve.

Previously covered:
The Best
5th, Ryan Zimmerman 43.7 runs above average.
4th, Omar Vizquel 45.8 runs above average.
3rd, J.J. Hardy 48.7 runs above average.
2nd, Franklin Gutierrez 51.4 runs above average.
1st, Chase Utley 54.8 runs above average.

The Worst
5th, Jason Bay -64.9 runs to average.
4th, Ken Griffey Jr. -66.9 runs to average.
3rd, Jermaine Dye -80.6 runs to average.

Tonight, the second worst player from 2007-9: OF Brad Hawpe.

As big of a fall as it was from Griffey and Bay to Jermaine Dye, it’s an even bigger fall down to Brad Hawpe. Brad Hawpe is the Chase Utley of bad, riding a remarkably consistent stretch of awful fielding to a whopping -101.1 total runs below average.

Hawpe finished with the second worst total in both of 2007 and 2009 and was by himself atop the 2008 all-awful leader board. His range ratings have been bottom of the barrel for some time now. His terrific arm managed to push him above average in 2006 as he recorded 16 assists. He’s never come close to repeating that total since and his range has deteriorated further, so that his three year total reached this vaunted triple digit club.

Hawpe’s value is vastly inflated thanks to the continuing under appreciation of defense and the still understated effect of parks. Most people see the solid average (.283 career) and four consecutive seasons with 20 plus home runs. Some even see the OBPs above .380 and OPS above .879 for each of said four seasons leading to wOBAs of .376 to .389 from 2006-9. Once you park-adjust those numbers, however, they drop to providing just about 20 runs above average, runs that are taken away — and then some — by his defense. All told, Brad Hawpe has averaged 0.6 WAR in the three years covered in this ranking.

Trade rumors surfaced this past July concerning Hawpe but were quickly denied by the Colorado front office. Now with an entire winter to work with, the Rockies would really benefit from shopping Hawpe’s name around, especially to American League teams, to see if someone would bite. After all, his contract ($7.5M next year, $10M option in 2011) is not bad, even considering his defensive deficiencies. As a DH, Hawpe would probably gain a half win or so in value, and who knows, maybe there is a team out there that values Hawpe as an outfielder. Either way, the Rockies should explore finding someone more suited to patrol their spacious outfield.