Ty Wigginton Traded to Philadelphia

As soon as Ryan Howard went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon to close out the National League Division Series, the Phillies were left with two clear options to replace him in the short-term. On one hand, they could pursue an above-average, starter-quality first baseman like Michael Cuddyer — a player who would require significant financial and time commitments. Or, the Phillies could rebuild with scraps — playing platoons on the cheap until Howard returns, perhaps as late as May or June.

Sunday night the Phillies opted for the latter, acquiring Ty Wigginton from the Phillies in exchange for cash or a player to be named later. Instead of paying Cuddyer multiple millions — possibly eight figures — over two to three years, Philadelphia will merely owe Wigginton $2 million for the next season as the team works through the early parts of 2012.

Wigginton’s entrance into Philadelphia’s roster makes the Phillies’ plan clear. A carousel of Wigginton, John Mayberry Jr. and Ben Francisco will replace Howard — with some Jim Thome thrown in as part of the Tilt-A-Whirl that makes up Ruben Amaro‘s grand carnival. When Howard returns, Wigginton will slot in as a right-handed bench bat capable of filling in both at third base for Placido Polanco and at second base for Chase Utley. Both players have a recent injury histories, so even without Howard’s injury, Wigginton ostensibly fills a role for the Phillies.

As a full-time first baseman, Wigginton would be a full-scale disaster. Wigginton hasn’t been an above-average hitter since 2008, when he was playing in Houston. He couldn’t ride the hitters’ parks of Baltimore or Colorado to OBPs above .320. His only asset at this point is power — he has hit 48 home runs in roughly 1,500 at-bats during the past three years — but that still hasn’t been enough to make him a relevant hitter. Despite the gaudy homer totals, Wigginton has compiled an ugly -14.6 batting runs above average since 2009. Simply put, that doesn’t play at first base.

He could be marginally useful if deployed only against left-handed pitching. Wigginton posted a 109 wRC+ against lefties last season, similar to his 113 career mark. Still, first basemen posted a 125 wRC+ last season overall, so he still projects as below average even in a platoon.

In the other infield spots, Wigginton’s bat is more palatable. National League second basemen only managed a .699 OPS, and the senior circuit’s third basemen — typically considered a position of power — managed a .705 mark. Wigginton’s bat becomes an asset off of first base (between .714 and .731 the past three years).

But what the position change added to his offense, it was mitigated with his poor glove. Wigginton’s advanced fielding section on his player page is a sea of minus signs. This is unsurprising from of a player who has the body of a first baseman, at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. He hardly passes the eye test at either second or third base. Perhaps if his weaknesses were hidden by platoons and defensive replacements (such as Michael Martinez), he could be useful. As it stands, his presence will be exploited over any substantial amount of playing time.

The term “poor man’s Michael Cuddyer” has already been bandied about. “Poor” might be an understatement. Cuddyer has produced 47.4 batting runs above average since 2009, a full 62 runs (or about six wins) better than Wigginton. Still, as unappetizing as it might be to watch a clearly inferior — bordering on replacement-level — option for the first two months of the season, the Phillies will see a return on their move to go cheap.

Perhaps the team will realize that return this year, with enough available cash to re-sign Jimmy Rollins. Or maybe Philadelphia realizes the return one or two years down the road, where the prospect of more than $40 million committed to Hunter Pence, Ryan Howard and Michael Cuddyer could stifle the team’s ability to improve via the free-agent market.

Ty Wigginton won’t produce like Cuddyer in Howard’s absence. And, frankly, he isn’t likely to produce much at all. But the freedom he affords the front office is well worth the short-term decline in production.




Print This Post



If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to Jack's new project, The Sports Desk on Beacon Reader. Jack also writes for Sports On Earth, The Score, The Classical, and has written for Disciples of Uecker, among others. Follow him on twitter at @jh_moore.

39 Responses to “Ty Wigginton Traded to Philadelphia”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. tyke says:

    “acquiring Ty Wigginton from the Phillies” & “the prospect of more than $40 million committed to Hunter Pence, Ryan Howard and Michael Cuddyer”

    sorry for partying

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. agam22 says:

    Agreed, Wiggington is bad but it’s better than a long term deal for Cuddyer

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. jkafka says:

    I would never say Wigginton won’t produce like Cuddyer. Sure, Ty has been slightly worse than Cuddyer the past few seasons, but neither player is consistent enough to actually predict what their season stats will look like. You could look at Wigginton’s BABIP the past two seasons as being a consistent .270-.271, but even that’s too small a sample size for me when it comes to both these players’ consistency. With the Phillies having enough depth to use Ty primarily against lefties, I think he’ll have a bounce back, and will be a much better risk than Cuddyer, at least monetarily. Really, the only reason Cuddyer is almost guaranteed to outproduce Wigginton is because some team will overpay him to be a fulltime player.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bballer319 says:

      Ty is slow and doesn’t beat out grounders. He pops up a good deal as well. If his babip is higher than the .270s, I’ll be shocked. He’ll likely hit .240s yet again. Throw in some putrid defense and you essentially have a win-neutral player. Does the benefit of his playing multiple positions poorly, overcome his inability to hit the ball with any reasonable prowess? Removing his games at Coors and the numbers get even more ugly, so .270s babip and .240s avg is essentially his ceiling.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Zach says:

        Really, the only reason Cuddyer is almost guaranteed to outproduce Wigginton is because some team will overpay him to be a fulltime player.

        Cuddyer is worth 2.1 WAR/600 PA over the last 3 years.
        Wigginton is worth -0.3 WAR/600 PA over the last 3 years.

        Making Wigginton a full-time player probably isn’t going to make him better than Cuddyer.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. DD says:

    Not sure why you mention Ben Francisco as a 1B option- he’s never played there. I assume you mean Mayberry plays 1B and Francisco plays OF. I’d say it’s unlikely he plays much at 2B, even if Utley is out, he’s a corner player through and through.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Blake says:

    Does the addition of Wiggington to RAJ’s Tilt-A-Whirl effectively extinguish all hopes of Brown’s potential fantasy value in 2012?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • DD says:

      Doesn’t affect Brown, because Ty is not a primary OF option, especially if they still have Francisco. Also, Amaro said they will try to keep Brown in AAA all year, which although unlikely, that alone will kill his fantasy value.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • LTG says:

        Yeah, RAJ believes players are only valuable if they are approximately 30 or above. At 24 Brown is still too young for the MLB roster.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • abreutime says:

      Brown will play if he’s ready, which he’ll need to show in AAA (where he’ll likely start the season). This makes it slightly less likely that he’s called up quickly, as Mayberry is now less likely to log significant time at 1B.

      Overall, I’d say it has minimum effect.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Yirmiyahu says:

    No offense to the author of this piece, but this is the most boring time of the baseball year. On fangraphs in the past week, we’ve seen articles on earth-shattering acquisitions like Ty Wigginton, Jason Bartlett, Matt Treanor, and Mark Kotsay. I can’t wait till the real (off)season starts.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Drew says:

    In reference to the second paragraph:

    I wasn’t aware the Phillies could acquire a player from themselves.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Phrozen says:

      They’re just that good.

      Although, it could almost come true–if the PTBNL turns out to be Wiggington, the Rockies could acquire Wiggington from themselves.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Person says:

    According to Baseball Reference’s WAR, Wigginton cost the Rockies a full win last year. Michael Martinez ended up at an even 0 for much less money, plus he can play SS and CF, where Wigginton has 13 innings at SS and 0 at CF for his career. This seems like wasted money to me

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Phrozen says:

      Michael Martinez hit .196/.258/.282 last year. Wiggington hit .242/.315/.416.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Person says:

        I know that he did, but he runs the bases better and fields better. As I said, he was a neutral player, where Wigginton cost the Rockies 1.1 wins last year. By fangraphs Wigginton was worth .3 and Martinez -.4, but it’s hard to think that Martinez could hit that bad again, and even if he does the difference between the two players isn’t that large.
        Wigginton Career
        Fielding- -77.3
        Baserunning- -11.5

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Phrozen says:

        WAR aside (and fWAR actually gives Wiggles a .7 WAR advantage), Wiggles is an outstandingly better hitter than Mini-Mart. Yes, he doesn’t field well at all, but MM spent nearly as much time as a PH as he did a defensive player.

        As far as speed, they’re actually rather comparable. MM is not very fast.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Phrozen says:

        Also, I like calling him Wiggles. Not sure if I’m the first to do that or not, but that’s what I’m calling him now.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • hk says:

      I’m just wondering, why would you use bWAR when commenting on an article on Frangraphs? Is it becausse bWAR made your point, but his +0.3 fWAR did not or is there another reason?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • hk says:

        * Fangraphs, not Frangraphs.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Yirmiyahu says:

        Just because we’re on fangraphs doesn’t mean that fangraphs’ version of WAR is supreme and any other version is meaningless. Especially for batters, BR’s version of WAR is just as legitimate. Neither version should be ignored.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Person says:

    I just used fangraphs in my last post. Yes, there is a difference between the two, but even last year it was only a .7 difference. And it’s hard to believe martinez won’t hit better than .196, and Wigginton isn’t getting any younger. His WAR over the last 3 years, using fangraphs, has been -.7.

    Plus, you’re arguing for him because he put up .3 WAR, and costs a good bit more than Martinez? Why trade and take on 2 million for .3 WAR, when he is already 33. Fangraphs WAR or not this trade isn’t a good one.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • hk says:

      As a Phillies fan, I don’t really like the move in and of itself. I would have preferred that they sign Wilson Betemit if the cost was going to be similar. However, I do like Wigginton more than Michael Martinez, who may or may not hit better than .196. After all, he was a 28 year old rookie who only compiled a .310 wOBA in 2,200 minor league plate appearances.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Person says:

        No doubt Martinez isn’t good, it’s strange that the Phillies picked him in the rule 5, and then kept him on the roster hitting under .200 all year. The Phillies definitely could use an upgrade, I was just saying Wigginton wasn’t the right guy.

        This shows how slow the baseball news is, we were actually debating the merits of Michael Martinez and Ty WIgginton

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. every thinking rockies fan says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA SUCK IT PHILLY

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nik says:

      your team is paying as much as we are for this guy. And we may actually get some production as you know.. he’s like on our team.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jim says:

        philly fans have become so arrogant they think that they’ll succeed even through having on of the worst players in baseball over the last 10 years become part of their starting crew. i hope you’re happy with your new player’s .262 career high-leverage wOBA and .295 mark with RISP. suckers

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nik says:

        yeah career high-leverage and RISP data! Oh boy, that really rocks my boat for a guy who’s upgrading Michael Martinez.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jim says:

        say what you will, but when june rolls around and all there is to talk about is how great halladay is and how shitty wiggy is, we’ll see who’s got the last laugh

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Spoilt Victorian Child says:

        We had the worst starting player in baseball this year, I don’t think Wigginton is going to make that much of a difference.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Robbie G. says:

    My thoughts:

    1) Ty Wigginton, John Mayberry, and Ben Francisco are all right-handed hitters.

    2) I believe that Francisco is a free agent. I expect the Phillies to let him walk.

    3) I can see Philly signing a fourth OF who bats left-handed to either platoon with Mayberry or play in LF if/when Shane Victorino is injured (wherein Mayberry will play in CF). This fourth OF is not a guy who is going to make a ton of money but would presumably be a veteran.

    4) I fully expect the Phillies to keep Domonic Brown in AAA for the entire season. The plan, presumably, is to allow Shane Victorino to walk at the end of the 2012 season, for Mayberry to become the full-time CF starting in 2013, and for Brown to become the full-time LF starting in 2013.

    5) Mayberry seems good enough at this point to play every single day. I see no reason why he would play at 1B at any point this season.

    6) Thus, Ty Wigginton would be the full-time 1B while Ryan Howard is out, if Jim Thome is unable to play in the field. Thome hasn’t played in the field for years and it is my understanding that he is a non-option as a fielder. However, maybe Thome can still play some in the field, which means that a Wigginton/Thome platoon at 1B while Howard is out would make sense.

    7) I can also see the Phillies playing Chase Utley at 1B occasionally and their utility IF to play 2B on these days. This makes sense if Thome is unable to play in the field.

    Anyway, handing Michael Cuddyer, who would be mostly useless upon Howard’s return, a large multiyear contract was going to be a mistake, so I am on board with this move.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. byosti says:

    Wigginton’s full season numbers over past couple of years also look worse because he hasn’t put in the best position to succeed. He’s not an everyday player and should not be facing 495 more RHP than LHP over the past two seasons. If Charlie can keep a nice platoon going with him with Thome, they shouldn’t miss Howard much at all for the time being. Could also spot start him for Utley against a lefty when need be. Of course theory and having Charlie actually doing that are two completely different things.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jim says:

      why would you not start utley against a lefty? he’s got virtually no platoon splits

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • byosti says:

        No, I mean when Charlie does decide to want to give Utley a rest, to use Wigginton against a lefty rather than for some reason resting Utley for Wigginton against a righty. If it was up to me, I’d start Utley as much as I can.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Joe says:

    Wigginton is actually slightly below replacement value the last 3 years.

    Why is this being couched as Wigginton vs Cuddyer as if these were the only 2 potential options… how about Wigginton vs ANYONE else possibly posting 0 WAR? (which would be a slight improvement)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. My echo and bunnymen says:

    Sunday night the Phillies opted for the latter, acquiring Ty Wigginton from the Phillies in exchange for cash or a player to be named later.

    Haha

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Phils_Goodman says:

    If Wigginton is replacing Michael Martinez, I’m fine with that move. I’d still like them to go after Wilson Betemit to platoon with Polanco, but that is looking unlikely now.

    I’d like to see Mayberry, Utley and Thome get the time at 1B before Howard returns. I only mention Utley at 1B because it could increase his playing time with less strain on his body.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *