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

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

Report: Seahawks players feel Sherman bombshell story ‘nailed it’

Turkey: Kanter a member of terrorist group, issues warrant

Chad Johnson says Roger Goodell consulted him on touchdown celebration rule change

Kevin Durant is not to blame for the NBA’s lack of parity, and he knows it

Khloe Kardashian called out Cavs fan who mentioned ‘curse’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Warriors’ Mike Brown: Steve Kerr may be back for the Finals

Dodgers transfer Andrew Toles and Scott Kazmir to the 60-day disabled list

Looking back at 40 years of women racing in the Indianapolis 500

U.S. national soccer teams to wear LGBT-themed jerseys to celebrate pride month

Mike Zimmer: Teddy Bridgewater still has ‘long ways to go’

Report: Clippers concerned about Chris Paul leaving to sign with Spurs

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

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

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker