Whither Orlando Hudson?

One of the more silent names on the winter market thus offseason has been of Orlando Hudson‘s. While the demand for shortstops appears strong amongst contending teams, the second base market is considerably dryer and Hudson is suffering from that.

Like Rafael Furcal, Hudson lost a significant portion of 2008 to injury, but much less so, still appearing in over 100 games and performing well. Marcel isn’t willing to up Hudson’s projected PA total much in 2009, but he still clocks in at 488 PA and an above average offensive projection, around 7.5 runs above average when pro-rated out to 600 PAs.

Second baseman get 2.5 runs for their position over a full season, so just like with Furcal, if we project Hudson for a full slate of games, we arrive at a figure of 10 runs over average if projected for 600 PAs. Moving to Hudson’s defense, UZR loved him while he was with Toronto but cooled on him as soon as he moved to Arizona. In the end, we’re left with him rating as roughly a +8 defender in Toronto and roughly a -4 while with Arizona. Now that could just be aging or injury, or just a fluke of the park or league and UZR is just one measurement so it’s really up to you to decide where to peg his defense.

Using -4 and +8 as the range of possibilities, we are left with a player between +6 and +18 runs over average, or between +23 and +35 runs over replacement per 600 PAs (we normalized to 700 last time, but I am using the more realistic 600 PAs this time since the offensive projection was not as well suited to 700 PAs as Furcal’s was.). Sticking with the $5 million per win as the market rate, we get an acceptable range between $11 and $17.5 million per year. First, yes, that’s quite a big range, but I think it’s interesting that for someone with such a high projected value, there’s been tepid interest at best for his services so far. Perhaps teams are really scared about his wrist injury and what that could do to his offense.

Given the deal Furcal is likely about to sign, three plus a vesting or four years outright, a three year deal seems a reasonable estimate for Hudson. If Hudson’s deal ends up being for less than Furcal’s on average, that might turn out to be a steal for whichever team capitalizes on the down market.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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Teams should be scared of his splits too. In his 3 years with Arizona, he hit .315/.393/.509 at home and .274/.339/.392 away. His splits are huge and Arizona is a good hitters park. His away numbers are closer to what he was doing with Toronto earlier in his career.

As for his fielding, it isn’t just that his numbers have been worse since he moved to Toronto. Its that his numbers have been declining for years. UZR/150, RZR (THT) and RF (ESPN) for some examples:
2004: 15.8/.841/5.79
2005: 7.0/.853/5.84
2006: -3.8/.790/5.47
2007: -2.9/.798/4.91
2008: -9.1/.784/4.82

Personally, I think Orlando Hudson has a strong chance at being one of the big free agent busts. Historically, 2nd baseman do not age well. Between his batting splits and his declining defense, I would be very afraid. Lots of options I would pursue before shelling out loads of money to Orlando Hudson.