Todd Frazier has 38 home runs this year. That’s probably a strange way to start off a post about Juan Uribe but hang with me.
Todd Frazier has 38 home runs this year. Todd Frazier also has a wRC+ of 100 this year. That is a pretty remarkable combination. According to wRC+ Frazier has been exactly an average hitter this year despite the fact that he is currently 8th in all of baseball in home runs. This interesting and seemingly unlikely union piqued my curiosity and sent me down a statistical rabbit hole in search of home runs and terrible wRC+’s. At the bottom of that rabbit hole is where I ran into Juan Uribe.
Juan Uribe has not played an MLB game since July 30th. In that game he went 0-for-3 and he was released by Cleveland a few days later on August 6th. This probably wasn’t a surprise to most people as A) Most people probably would be more surprised to learn he was still in the league to begin with, and B) he was running a 54 wRC+ over 259 PA with Cleveland this year.
But I’m not here to argue that someone should give Uribe a job because his current talent level deserves one (although you probably could; he was nearly a 2-WAR player as recently as last year). I’m here to argue for someone to give him a job because Juan Uribe is on the cusp of history. Juan Uribe has 199 career home runs.
You might think that 200 career home runs isn’t that much of a milestone and it’s only because humans love round numbers that we even recognize it as a milestone. And you would be absolutely correct in saying that. But much like Todd Frazier’s 38 home runs this year, Juan Uribe’s 200 career home runs would be fairly unique. In fact they would be entirely unlike anyone before him because Juan Uribe would be the worst hitter to ever hit 200 home runs.
That is the board of directors of the Terrible 200 Club (patent pending) and as you can see Juan Uribe is poised to unseat Tony “why the hell am I standing sideways at the plate” Batista as CEO with one more measly home run, and by a pretty decent margin. Obviously though his bid is now under threat because he is 37 years old, has been without a team for over a month now and was absolutely awful when he did have a team. It is entirely possible, maybe even likely, that he never hits another MLB home run. And it’s not like there is another current player who is a slam dunk to make a run at Batista if Uribe never steps into the batter’s box again:
–Brandon Phillips will get to 200 but he is sneaky old. He turned 35 in June, so while he is nowhere near what he was earlier in his career it seems unlikely that he plays long enough to see his career wRC+ fall below 90.
–AJ Pierzynksi is all but done at this point. At 39 years old and nearly a win below replacement level this year it’s probably more likely that the ghost of Clete Boyer gets signed and hits 38 home runs to get to 200 as it is Pierzynski hits 12 more in his career.
-Which bring us to James Jerry Hardy. Hardy seemed to be doing his best to crater his wRC+, posting a dreadful 50 last year, but he has rebounded (relatively speaking) to post a 93 so far this year. One has to wonder if he can even get to 200 home runs (he still needs 16 more to get there and he has hit only 26 over his past 1404 PAs), and secondly, if he does, will he post a wRC+ low enough to “best” Batista? You could probably argue that any version of Hardy that is good enough to get to 200 homers is probably also good enough to not decimate his career wRC+.
The easiest solution is for some intrepid and/or awful team to just give Uribe a spot so that he can chase history with each swing. Atlanta, Arizona, Minnesota, what have you guys got to lose? Would a Kickstarter or GoFundMe to pay some of his salary help? It would just be such a shame for the baseball public to be denied a potentially marvelous thing when it’s so close to realization. Like teasing a dog by pretending to throw a ball or every season after the first one of Homeland.
Somewhere Tony Batista is sitting in a recliner, probably in some crazy way that no one else sits in recliners because he is Tony Batista, just waiting for the news that Uribe has been picked up by someone so he can hand the crown to the new king of the Terrible 200 (patent pending). He just needs a little help. Let’s make this happen, MLB.