On a night when the Angels blew a fuse in the ninth, I thought I'd swim against the tide and go positive for a post. Even as Chone Figgins went 1-for-5 tonight and got a little sheepish on the stick in the final inning, it was a marvel watching him nab ball after ball in the field. I got curious as to what some of the more advanced metrics at FanGraphs were saying about Figgins' defense and overall performance this season, as of July 27th, and wasn't surprised at what I found: Figgins is a sweet little destroyer with a haloic grin.
In fact, the Angels have the highest WPA in the Majors concentrated at third base
On a team with marginally net positive defense, UZR suggests Figgins is the second-best defender on the team at 3B. (UZR really likes Juan Rivera in LF, and thinks Kendrick is undervalued at 2B, and Abreu likewise in RF. UZR thinks Gary Matthews Jr is an atrocity in the outfield).
How about using a metric that values power far more, like wOBA, and looking at the number of runs above average based on weighted OBA?: Figgins is still the third most valuable player on the club (after Torii and Bobby), good for 15.1 runs above average. (And GMJ is at a ghastly -10.1 runs below average.)
Of course any of these numbers can change in upcoming weeks, but if I was skeptical of resigning Figgins or Abreu next season due to age concerns, I don't think I am anymore. These guys are two of the most disciplined and valuable hitters in the MLB at the moment, and what they may lose in speed, they give back in their approach at the plate. That approach cascades down the entire lineup, which is currently valued as the third best overall offense in the MLB.
So...bring 'em back.
(Oh...and please, please DFA Gary Matthews Jr.)