Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 2/23/12

02 June 2009: Chone Figgins #9 of the Los Angeles Angels takes a big cut on June 2, 2009 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jays beat the Angels 6-4 in this night game at the Rogers Center in Toronto, ON. Photo via Newscom

Getty Images

The Seattle Mariners are looking for any way to get some value out of Chone Figgins. Since joining the team, the 34-year-old has been one of the worst regulars in the game. So to salvage what’s left of his contract, the Mariners are making Figgins a leadoff hitter — again. It’s a last ditch effort to improve his value, though it’s unclear whether Figgins’ contract can be saved.

Figgins had some interesting things to say when the story first broke.

“It would be great to go back to leadoff and do that again,” Figgins said. “If not, I have to change my mindset as a ’2′ hitter. I haven’t really changed my mindset to be a ’2′ hitter. I’ve stuck with being a patient hitter.

“In the ’2′ spot, you need to be a little more aggressive. It’s something I haven’t done more consistently. I haven’t been consistent being more aggressive in the strike zone.”

Did Figgins actually alter his approach in the two-hole, or is this just posturing from a player trying to regain his value? Over his career, Figgins has been much better in the leadoff spot.

Chone Figgins Plate Appearances BB% AVG OBP SLG Batting 1st 2981 13.3% .289 .367 .380 Batting 2nd 1515 9.4% .266 .336 .336

Figgins’ statement seems pretty accurate. He still maintained a strong walk rate while batting second, but he was definitely more aggressive. At the same time, Figgins rarely hit second when he was with the Los Angeles Angels. Most of the stats he accumulated while batting second came exclusively from his time with in Seattle. In the past two seasons, Figgins has been downright horrible.

Batting Second Plate Appearances BB% AVG OBP SLG 2010 688 10.5% .256 .337 .303 2011 206 5.3% .193 .235 .260

Last season, specifically, was an incredibly ugly one for Figgins. Perhaps convinced that he needed to alter his approach, Figgins’ improved his walk rate. Figgins was definitely more aggressive, too, as his O-Swing, Z-Swing and Swing percentage all rose. While Figgins made slightly more contact in 2011, he wasn’t able to square up the ball as often. Since he was swinging at less-hittable pitches, Figgins’ BABIP fell to just .215. While some of that is luck — Figgins’ career number in the category is .329 — it’s plausible to think that Figgins hurt his BABIP by swinging at pitches that he couldn’t handle as well.

If Figgins does decide to return to his patient ways, there’s a chance he can salvage some of his value. Even though he was a disappointment in 2010 — producing just 1.1 WAR — Figgins’ value was destroyed by a -12.3 UZR at second base. He has always been a much stronger defender at third base, and a return to the position in 2012 will only add to his value. If Figgins hits like he did in 2010 — and plays solid defense — he could be worth about two wins next season. While that’s far from ideal, the Mariners would at least get some value out of a nearly sunk cost.

If the Mariners start Figgins at third, it would come at the expense of Kyle Seager and Alex Liddi. Both players have been prospects at some point, but it’s unclear whether either guy is ready for the majors. Liddi hit 30 home runs in AAA this past season, but his strikeout rate is alarming. Seager, who rose through both AA and AAA this past season, is probably the more major-league ready of the two, but he doesn’t have a high ceiling.

While neither player is particularly ready to make an impact right now, playing Figgins at third will take away from their development in the majors. Seager and Liddi will be future contributors on this team, where as Figgins will be gone once his contract is up. Figgins should be the better player this season, but if the team struggles, Seattle may want to see what it has in Seager or in Liddi.

In the perfect world, Figgins produces well enough to be dealt. The Mariners might have to eat some of his remaining contract, but trading Figgins would allow them to save some money and see what the future holds for their youngsters. While Figgins won’t magically turn back into a 3- or 4-win player next season, the Mariners are trying to put him in the best situation to succeed. If he struggles, he’ll be easily replaced by younger — and potentially better — options. In short, the Mariners are putting Figgins in the best scenario for success. Here’s hoping he has something left in the tank.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

World Cup semifinals preview: US-Japan, Germany-England

Tim Duncan to help Spurs pitch LaMarcus Aldridge

Report: Knicks gave up on signing Marc Gasol 'long ago'

Kings terminate Mike Richards' contract due to 'breach'

Report: Nets believe they can trade Deron Williams

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mickelson likely committed no crime even if he gambled

Report: Dwyane Wade to decline option, become a free agent

Darren McFadden: I feel like a rookie again

Report: Mavericks a favorite to land DeAndre Jordan

Report: Kevin Love likely to re-sign with Cavaliers

Bo Ryan announces he'll coach Wisconsin one more season

Top seven storylines entering free agency around the NBA

Former FSU mascot killed in argument over gumbo recipe

Royals slipping in ASG voting, lose two more starters

Fred Smoot: I played with gay players, 'everyone knew'

Bobby Portis brings donuts for media at press conference

John Calipari shares his thoughts on Confederate flag

Steve Weatherford, Jason Kelce get into Twitter beef

Larry Nance Jr. apologized to 'Mr. Bryant' for rapist tweet

J.J. Watt 'tackles' stage crasher at Zac Brown Band show

Jimmy Butler reportedly wants to leave Bulls, sign with Lakers

Selecting the 2015 National League All-Stars

Taking a look at the Philadelphia Sixers' latest horde

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Mickelson linked to money laundering?

Reminiscing on 'Love & Basketball' 15 years later

Selecting the 2015 NL All-Stars

The Sixers' latest horde

Projected landing spots for NBA's top free agents

MLB changes format for Home Run Derby

Revis to work out with Patriots DBs

Peterson: I'm still NFL's best RB

Kobe gives great quote on friendship

Winners, losers and steals of the NHL Draft

Carmelo calls Porzingis a 'steal'

WATCH: J.J. Watt scores hockey goal

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.