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Orlando Hudson is Making Ned Colletti Look Smart

When the Dodgers signed Orlando Hudson in late February for 3.38 million the only risks involved were Hudson’s ability to pass a physical and whether they could still find playing time for Blake Dewitt. Barring injury, Hudson’s skills were unlikely to erode over one off-season to the point where he would become a poor one-year signing. Add in a price tag that left the Dodgers paying for fewer than one win above replacement level, and Ned Colletti used his budget to upgrade his lineup once more.

Hudson has been fantastic. Uncharacteristically, Hudson’s slash line is .315/.396/.444. This is a player who recorded an average line of .294/.365/.448 over the past three seasons. A .368 BABIP has lead to the batting average inflation with an influx of added singles. Those extra hits have done little to help his power production, but along with a career high walk rate have improved his on-base percentage by more than enough to make up the deficit. Plus, it’s probable that Hudson will showcase some more power heading forward given recent ISO:

2006: .168
2007: .147
2008: .145
2009: .129

ZiPS has Hudson batting .297/.372/.437 for the rest of the season, or about eight runs. Combined with his offensive accomplishments to date and Hudson is looking at nearly 20 runs over the span of a single season; easily a career best.

Hudson isn’t the glove demon he once was with the Jays, but his -7.5 UZR/150 is essentially the same as last year despite some differences in the component factors. For one, his double play prowess has returned to above average levels. Hudson’s range has went south, but his sure handiness when he does get to balls is about as well as you would expect.

Add in the playing time and positional adjustments and Hudson is looking at his best season in half a decade. If that’s the case, he will have earned nearly five times what the Dodgers paid him in base salary. That’s a fantastic return on a relatively low risk signing. I don’t think the team that signs the (then) 32-year-old Hudson to a longer contract this off-season will have the same luck.