Thursday, June 5, 2008

By Jason Sinner - Columnist

Chone and tone don’t rhyme, but they should. Not just because of phonetics, but because Chone Figgins harmonizes the Halo’s offense.

Figgins went from being under fire to on fire in a very short period time. Coming off a relatively down year in 2006 in which he hit .267 with a .336 obp, and 100 strikeouts, there were significant rumblings as to whether he would fulfill his potential as one of the games premier leadoff hitters. An injury during spring training of 2007 set him back and he started the regular season as if he was going to fade off into the distance. Actually, it was less of a slow fade and more of an instantaneous blank screen created by poor bunting, popups, strikeouts, and overall atrocious plate discipline. Through May 28th of 2007 he was hitting .133 with a .212obp. Then something clicked. Perhaps a tip from his good buddy Nathan Haynes snapped him out of his funk, but suddenly Chone Figgins was a different ballplayer.

For the remainder of that year he hit .381 and raised his overall line to .330/.393/.432 becoming the player that everyone had hoped he would. In 2008, he picked up right where he left off. Although his average has dropped off from that torrid .380 pace he was on (now at .302), his OBP has actually improved and now sits at .423. This, to me, is the key indicator that he is playing a different game than a year ago at this time.

Now the fly in the ointment. Like many of his fallen brethren, he suffers an injury and is on the shelf as we speak. But the Halos have depth right? WRONG! There is not a bench player on the planet to take his place, and that has become painfully evident as we watch the Halos try to punch runs across in his absence. Let’s take a look at some numbers.

  • Figgins has played in 33 games. The Halos averaged 4.79 runs in those games
  • Figgins has missed 27 games. The Halos averaged 3.56 runs in those games
  • The Halos are 12-5 (.706) this year when Chone Figgins scores at least one run.
  • Could be small sample size? In 2007, the Halos were 48-17 (.739) when Chone scored at least one run.
  • In his absence, Halo 3bmen are 29-137 (.212) (most of this due to a Robb Quinlan hot streak).
  • His replacements in the #1 spot are 23-101 (.228)

Keep in mind that the guys playing third base are not the guys leading off.

Dare I say that we even miss him on the other side of the ball as well. Once a liability, he has become a very capable defender. Also evident as his replacements have been spotty at best.

There are rumors and hearsay. Theories and theorems. Ideas or thoughts or things just made up that the Halos could use a more ‘conventional’ third baseman. There isn’t a player around whose name hasn’t found it’s way into the fan rumor mill as a potential replacement. I’ll say it again as I do every time it comes up in regards to the little man in the top spot manning the hot corner. Yet now with one slight addition.

We have a third baseman. His name is Chone Figgins and he can’t heal fast enough.

Love to hear what you think!

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