Franklin Gutierrez left Sunday game with “left groin tightness”. This was just days after leaving a game early after running into a wall out in center field. These are just the latest in a long line of injuries that Gutierrez has had to deal with over the last few seasons.
His injury history reads like a horror story (courtesy of Baseball Prospectus):
When Gutierrez had to come out of the game on Sunday, the A’s announcing crew said that Gutierrez is a “great player”. I found this a little odd, as I simply didn’t percieve Gutierrez as a “great player”. I have really seen him as a decent player, a starter that could be good, depending on what he does with his bat. Of course, a lot of this depends on how you define “great”. How many “great” players are there in baseball? 1? 5? 10? 20? 30? Surely Gutierrez isn’t even the best player on the Mariners, and could the Mariners (sitting in last place, at 73-86 as I am typing this) have more than 1 great player (surely Felix Hernandez is a “great” player, but there is no one else that is even a candidate.)? So what kind of player do the Mariners have in Gutierrez, and when he is injured, just what kind of player are they missing?
Since joining the Mariners, Franklin Gutierrez has hit .255/.307/.370, which is good for a 88 OPS +. He has a 8.5 bWAR over those 4 seasons. That is an above average regular, but certainly not a great player. When you take out the great ’09 season and look at the last three years (10-12), he has a 2.3 WAR and that is over a 282 game period. That is not good, about what you would expect from a bench player. In that time, he has a 79 OPS +, meaning he is below league average at hitting by quite a bit. For comparison, the Houston Astros have a 82 OPS + on the year. The two players with 79 OPS + this year are Gordan Beckham and Brennan Boesch. He doesn’t walk much and strikes out about league average (which is too much for his walk rate). Combine this with the fact that he simply doesn’t hit for much power, and you are looking at hitter that isn’t very good.
Gutierrez is about an average runner. He has a 5.2 (1-10 scale) speed score but has just 74 stolen bases in his career (although it is a pretty solid percentage, meaning he picks his spots well). According to Baseball Prospectus’ baserunning metric, he has been in the negative over the last two years and 2 out of the last 3 years according to Fangraphs’ baserunning metric.
Of course, Gutierrez is mainly known for his defense. He has been a very good centerfielder because he gets great jumps and reads. He is and has been elite at fielding his position. This is where he makes his money.
So just on what he has done on the field over the last 3 years, it really looks like Franklin Gutierrez is a borderline starter. He may be the Mariners’ outfield version of Brendan Ryan (an average player) with less basrunning abilities and injury problems. The problem is that the Mariners are stuck with him next year to the tune of 7 million dollars. Trading him is not really an option. The Mariners would have to eat almost all of the salary and not get much in return at all, as his value is simply not going to be there. They are stuck with him. Like it or not, he will be a part of the Mariners 2013 roster. It would be silly to expect him to get healthy and figure things out at the plate again, but I guess there is always hope.
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Favorite general sports moment: The Texas versus USC college football national championship comes to mind, as does Gary Matthews Jr. catch on July 1st 2006.
Favorite Seattle Sports Moment: King Felix throwing a perfect game against the Rays
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