Immersed in a multitude of other offseason storylines, people did not bestow much attention upon when Juan Uribe re-signed a two-year, $15 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Presuming the hefty, 35-year-old’s best days were behind him, his services were not coveted by MLB and Twitter GMs alike.
He struggled mightily his first two years in a Dodgers’ uniform and only amassed a mediocre 47 runs and 50 RBIs in his third. On the surface of traditional statistics, it appears Uribe’s golden days were extinct. The flawed, cumulative stats don’t do the right-handed hitter justice. In reality, Uribe had his best season of his career in 2013. He set career highs in on-base percentage, wRC+ (weighted runs created plus), and fWAR (Fangraphs’ WAR).
A combination of Gold Glove defense and consistent offense, Uribe finished with the 24th best fWAR at 5.1. The stat, which attempts to quantify all-around performance, says Uribe had a better 2013 than the likes of Freddie Freeman, Buster Posey, and Carlos Gonzalez. The rationale being Juan Uribe quietly was the second best defensive third basemen behind Manny Machado. He finished with the 4th best UZR (ultimate zone rating) and 13th best DRS (defensive runs saved) in Major League Baseball.
While defense is the focal point of his game, his offense is not to be scoffed at either. In 426 plate appearances last year, he churned a solid .278/.331/.438 slash line.
All of this prosperity last year seemed overlooked because of his previous injury-riddled campaigns. In retrospect, teams like the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees should have matched or exceeded the Dodgers’ frugal offer. Time and time again, there is a niche on the free agent market that all teams strive to expose. Well, it seems Uribe was that niche. Thus far, he’s composed a masterful .333/.344/.548 clip and while the monstrous line will probably regress as the year persists, Uribe’s capability to be an All-Star should never be questioned again.
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