Juan Uribe Bounces Back

For most baseball players, having Juan Uribe‘s recent track record after the 2008 season meant you had a nice little career and could either retire or play independent league ball somewhere. Uribe, who also got into trouble when he was alleged to have been involved in a 2006 shooting in the Dominican Republic (his name was cleared in 2007), simply was not producing on the field. Here are Uribe’s respective AVG/OBP/SLG lines and WAR from 2006-2008, which were his Age 27-29 years (when hitters normally peak):

2006: .235/.257/.441, 1.2
2007: .234/.284/.394, 0.3
2008: .247/.296/.386, 0.2

Not pretty. Uribe was simply refusing to take a base on balls during that timespan, with a BB% of 2.6% in 2006 and 6.0% and 6.2% from 2007-08. With the drop in power, Uribe’s lack of patience was frustrating to say the least. His five-year career with the White Sox, which included a World Series Championship in 2005, ended after the 2008 season; he latched on with the Giants for 2009.

Despite his pathetic walk totals, there were some reasons to think that Uribe may be able to be a useful bench player. He could play shortstop, second base, and third base, and was solid defensively according to UZR. His BABIPs were brutally low during those years, and he had a HR/FB% in 2008 that was less than half of what it was in 2006. Brian Sabean knew the Giants’ offense wasn’t guaranteed for anything last year, and gave Uribe a chance. Uribe signed a Minor League contract, but made the team’s final roster out of Spring Training.

Since his arrival in San Francisco, Uribe has been an important part of the lineup, contributing 4.6 WAR in 215 games. Last season, his wOBA was .351 thanks in part to a rejuvinated .325 BABIP. The power also came back, as Uribe slugged .495, the best mark of his career since 2004. His walk rate decreased to 5.8%, but with the extra bases coming, nobody complained.

This season, Uribe’s BABIP has turned Mr. Hyde to 2009’s Dr. Jekyll. Aat .268, one would think a drop that dramatic would cripple Uribe like it did from ’06-’08. However, the infielder currently has a .328 wOBA, solid stuff from a guy playing premium positions. But how has he been able to relatively maintain his offensive value? He’s walking more. A lot more. He’s walking in 8.4% of his plate appearances in 2010, the single highest rate of his career. He does have three intentional walks this season to last year’s two, but that hardly makes up a significant chunk of his newfound patience. ZiPS thinks he’s good for a .330 wOBA for the rest of the year. Simply put, Uribe has adjusted his game this season in light of a depressed BABIP. As has been said before, staying afloat in Major League Baseball requires Darwinian-like adaptation. Juan Uribe has learned how to survive.

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Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat

14 Responses to “Juan Uribe Bounces Back”

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  1. stan says:

    in a game against the Mets this year, Uribe saw 21pitches and reached base five times without swinging the bat once (four BBs + one HBP). If i wasn’t at that game, I never would have believed it had happened.

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  2. GiantPain says:

    Just another reason to believe that the 2010 Giants are a charmed team.

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  3. Mark says:

    Either I’m reading this wrong, or you meant to say “intentional walks,” not “unintentional walks.”

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  4. NSCEGF says:

    Thank you Hensley “Bam-Bam” Meulens.

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    • B says:

      There really might be something to this Meulens guy. I’m more content watching the Giants right now than I’ve been since….what, 2003 maybe? This is the first extended stretch in years I don’t feel the need to bang my head against a wall to make the awful management decisions stop (though in all fairness, this has only been the case since Bengie was traded). The only real complaint I have is why Rowand plays, and when he does play, is in CF over Torres….

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    • quincy0191 says:

      No kidding. The entire Giants team is outperforming its offensive projections almost solely because they’re taking more walks; I read some analysis some time back that basically pointed out that their overall numbers are pretty much in line with pre-season projections, except they’ve drawn like fifty more walks than expected (by now, it’s probably higher). If it wasn’t for Meulens, I’d expect to be back near the bottom of the NL in runs scored instead of closer to the middle.

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  5. Darwin says:

    Unfortunately, for his adaptation to provide evolutionary benefit, he’s going to have to survive long enough to reproduce his adaptations. I’m not sure what that means in baseball terms… maybe it means he has to start a school for Juan Uribe’s Little Hitters?

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  6. AK707 says:

    If only boch realized this and would convince Renteria to learn third and second, we could have uribe playing short every day.

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  7. Part-Time Pariah says:

    I miss Juanito, as a Sox fan. I remember anytime Ed Farmer would interview him, Uribe would only say ‘profundo’ (somehow indicating that he’d hit a homerun that day).

    Good shit.

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  8. GBeck15 says:

    “To the untrained eye, this could look like I haven’t bounced back and it’s rubbish!”

    “But you have bounced back!”

    “I knooooow!”

    -I’m Alan Partridge

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  9. durs836 says:

    It also should be mentioned he’s a great clubhouse guy, especially for the young guys. He seems to keep things light and loose and along with Huff and Wilson, he helps make urban’s flipcam sessions that much more entertaining

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  10. Patrick says:

    “Here’s the 1–2 pitch to Palmeiro. A ground ball past Jenks up the middle of the infield. Uribe has it, he throws—out, out! A White Sox winner and a World Championship! The White Sox have won the World Series, and they’re mobbing each other on the field!” -John Rooney’s final call

    Uribe’s a stud.
    & the 2nd to last out from that world series had Uribe diving into the stands to snag a pop out (definitely a highlight reel play).

    I think most Sox fans and White Sox players are happy to see that he’s doing well in San Francisco.

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  11. Stu says:

    He’s a big story this year

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