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2/17/1979 (38 y, 7 d)
2000 June Amateur Draft - Round: 17, Pick: 1, Overall: 491, Team: Florida Marlins
$21M / 3 Years (2012 - 2014)
Willingham announced his retirement from baseball Monday, ESPN reports. (11/24/2014)
Josh Willingham: Honoring the Hammer
David Brown (FanGraphs)
American League Tiered Outfield Rankings — April 2»
David Wiers (RotoGraphs)
Eno Sarris' Bold Predictions for 2014 Fantasy Base»
Eno Sarris (RotoGraphs)
A Transitional Time In Twins Outfield
Mike Petriello (RotoGraphs)
Josh Willingham Stands to Improve in 2014
Brandon Warne (RotoGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
A rarity as a 30-year-old still under team control, Willingham was a good value for his team last year. His .373 wOBA at the plate and passable defense in the outfield corners (-6.6 UZR/150), provided the Nationals with about $10 million in value. Seen in total, not much changed for Willingham other than the regular playing time and his HR/FB percentage (17.4% in ‘09, 14.4% career), an improvement which one might be tempted to attribute to the friendlier confines of his Nationals stadium if it weren't for his .578 slugging percentage away from home (.406 at home). Since his fly-ball, walk, and strikeout rates have held remarkably steady his whole career, his mild fluctuations in batting average are probably the result of the swings in his line-drive percentage (low of 16% in ‘06, full-year high of 21.8% in ‘09). He's settled in as a patient player with power at the plate.
The Year Ahead:
Halfway through 2009, it seemed that Willingham was on his way to a career year. Instead, his .304/.419/.576 first half gave way to a .225/.322/.432 second half and his full-year totals looked exactly like the rest of his career. Because he is a player that broke into the Majors late, and because of the fact that his defense is a negative, he's a candidate for an early regression. On the other hand, getting out of the cavernous stadium in Florida has to have helped his home-run power, which remained relatively strong all year despite his poor OPS splits last year. Fantasy managers know who he is for now – an all-bat DH-in-waiting with patience and above-average power. As long as they don't go all-in on his future, they should reap mild rewards in deeper leagues. How's that for enthusiasm? (Eno Sarris)
Like David DeJesus, alongside whom he'll now be playing in Oakland, Willingham is a player whose real-life value is generally misunderstood. Writing in January of 2009, our Dave Cameron noted the similarities between Willingham -- generally considered either a strong role player or borderline starter -- and Jason Bay, a player given a four-year, $66 million deal before the 2010 season. Nor did 2010 do anything to dispel the notion that the two are in the same class: Willingham struck out less often, walked more often, and hit for more power than did Bay. Perhaps the reason for the two players' perceived differences is the fact that Bay has performed much more ably in the fantasy categories, recording four 100-RBI, 100-run, and 30-homer seasons while Willingham has failed to reach even one of those thresholds. It's no given that Willingham's 2011 will be any different, but mid-20s home runs and mid-70s RBIs and runs are a likelihood. (Carson Cistulli)
The Quick Opinion:
May not cost as much as Jason Bay, but
be almost as valuable.
Despite playing in Oakland’s cavernous stadium, Willingham was able to hit 29 homers and slug .477 last season. Now, he’s off to play in Minnesota, where the confines are unfriendly, but not equally so. While the move will help his home run totals a little bit, playing for the Twins could mean more chances for driving in runners and crossing the dish himself, compared to the Athletics. If guys like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Denard Span can be reasonably healthy and productive, Willingham could have himself a field day when he manages to stay on the field. The 33-year-old has never played 145 games in his career, though he has always managed to appear in 100 or more. If he plays his normal number of games -- let’s say 130 -- he could post a .255/25/70/85 line without much difficulty. That’s going to be pretty darn good in AL-only and OBP leagues, and worthy of a roster spot in most standard leagues. Any ottoneu format, with five outfield slots and a deep bench, would enjoy this obligant pork. (Zach Sanders)
The Quick Opinion:
Willingham’s move to Minny should help him hit a couple more homers and boost all of his counting stats, but injuries are always going to be his biggest issue. He’s pretty darn good in AL-only and OBP leagues, and he’s worthy of a starting spot in most standard leagues.
Josh Willingham's 2011 and 2012 home run totals were a surprise to many people. In 2011, he hit a career high 29 dongs while playing for Oakland. In 2012, he was expected to regress, but didn't. He hit an additional six homers (35 total). The key to the power increase has been been his decision to pull the ball more and take advantage of shorter left field fences. He should have 30+ home runs again in 2013 if he stays healthy. The rest of his game is pretty consistent. He will steal a half dozen or so bases. Also, his average should be around .260 which hasn't varied by more than +/- 0.017 over his full-time career. There might be some concern about a slight increase in strikeouts (20% strikeout rate from 2004-2010 and 24% from 2011-2012), but not enough over look his power. (Jeff Zimmerman)
The Quick Opinion:
Josh Willingham's power should continue to shine if he is able to stay on the field.
On the surface, Willingham's 2013 looks like an unmitigated disaster. Not only did he hit just .208/.342/.368, but he posted the worst strikeout rate of his career (27.2%), the worst popup rate of his career (17.6%), and his second-lowest home run per fly ball rate of his career (11.8%). Add to that his typical brand of less-than-adequate outfield defense, and just 111 games played due to a knee injury, and it's easy to see why he was exactly a 0.0 win player. But if it's possible to sell hope on Willingham, here it is: On April 27, Willingham stole his only base of the season versus the Rangers. It was an awkward play, and one which ended with Willingham making an ugly slide at second which wrenched his knee. On that day, he was hitting .254/.397/.542. From that day, until he went on the disabled list on July 2 with a medial meniscus tear, Willingham hit just .214/.342/.353. And for whatever reason, Willingham rushed back to the team five weeks later, just to hit .182/.318/.315 down the stretch. While it's certainly possible that Willingham has begun his inevitable decline at age 34, there's also some buy-low potential on a guy who was nagged by a knee injury for almost the entire season. He's already shown his power plays well at Target Field with 35 home runs in 2012, and if his poor defense necessitates a move to designated hitter -- a position the Twins have no present in-house options for at this time -- that's fine for fantasy players. He should be a popular bargain-bin guy this upcoming fantasy season. (Brandon Warne)
The Quick Opinion:
Willingham is coming off an injury-riddled 2013 season, and as a result should be viewed as a possible buy-low, lottery ticket type of player for the 2014 fantasy season.
Willingham retired after seeing sparse playing time in Kansas City's improbable playoff run after the Minnesota Twins dealt him in a mid-August waiver deal. Willingham's retirement ends a career that spanned 11 seasons, and started with him as a catcher with the Florida Marlins back in 2004. The left fielder was often plagued by injuries, but when healthy provided good power, plenty of strikeouts and a good number of walks to go along with shaky outfield defense. Ultimately, the Alabama native opted for retirement to spend time with his young boys over taking a 1-year deal with low base pay to be someone's designated hitter. Happy trails, Josh. (Brandon Warne)
The Quick Opinion:
Willingham retired this winter after 11 big league seasons with the Marlins, Nationals, A's, Twins and Royals.
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Updated: Friday, February 24, 2017 3:33 AM ET
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