2004 BA/OBP/SLG: .283/ .347/ .404
What a shame that we have to spend the offseason discussing what Furcal did off the field rather than on it. A second DUI and a trip to jail, not to mention that he was out drunk at 4am the day before a game. I understand that young guys do dumb things, but that’s an excuse that only flies on crappy Braves fan sites. Let me just say how disgusted I am with Furcal. Most 26-year-olds lose their job after doing something like that, but Furcal will likely get a pay raise. I feel sorry for Raffy only in the sense that I hope he gets his life back together. Is he sorry for what he did or sorry that he got caught? I’m unsure what Atlanta plans for him in the future, but with the SS market out of control I would find it hard to believe that he will not be back for the 2005 season. Guzman gets $4 mil a year and he can’t hit or field. The good news for Furcal is that he is on the right team if he wishes to turn his life around. Hopefully, during his strolls through “the yard” this off-season he’ll realize how lucky he is to be on the Braves.
Now, I’ll write about Furcal the player as if none of the unpleasantness occurred. This was another good season for Furcal. It’s hard to remember that he lost a significant amount of time to injuries. He started the year hurt, and just as he seemed to be coming out of an early funk, Bobby (I assume Cox ordered this) had Furcal attempt to steal third at Coors. This was not one of Cox’s better ideas. Furcal is tagged out, plus he jams his wrist and is out of the field for a month. Though he never went on the DL, he was limited to pinch-hitting duty for while. And with DeRosa at third, this meant plenty of playing time for Jesse Garcia, ugh. But, despite all of this Furcal recovered to have a good year, and I expect an even better player to emerge in 2005. One thing that was very good about Furcal is that his power from 2003 continued. His Iso-Power was .135 and his AB/HR was 40, compared to .151 and 44 in 2003. His walk-rate was up to 9.3%. If he gets much better, he’s going to get one heck of a free agent deal after next season.
I’m still not sure if Furcal ought to be a leadoff hitter with that OBP, but his offense is very good for a SS. Is his defense suspect? I’m not so sure it’s as bad as people make it out to be. He does bobble some balls, but he seems to have great range (I say this from visual observation since I don’t buy any current defensive metric.) But, more important is the gun this guy carries. Not only is he deadly for runners on their way to first, but he is a fantastic relay man. Furcal made several good throws to the plate this year, and I’m sure he deterred some attempts as well. I’m not sure how you begin to measure something like that.
I suspect 2005 will be Furcal’s last season in Atlanta, so I’m going to enjoy it. Having Giles and Furcal up the middle is hard to believe really. To get that much offense from your middle infielders is something most teams don’t have. I prefer to enjoy him while he’s in Atlanta, rather than miss him when he is gone.