Juan Uribe, Future Ex-Dodger

If it seems like the entire team has suffered through a hitting slump at the same time over the last few weeks or so, well, it’s because they have. Not one regular Dodger has a June OPS over .800; only Bobby Abreu & Elian Herrera are even over .700, and neither has been immune to the extreme offensive outage which has struck over the last week.

That being the case, it seems unfair to single anyone out. We’re going to do it anyway.

Just over a year ago, on June 20, 2011, Juan Uribe hit a homer off Brad Penny, then with the Detroit Tigers, now toiling in the San Francisco minors after a failed stint in Japan. In the calendar year since, Uribe has added only one more dinger, this one coming off Esmil Rogers, who was so bad for Colorado that despite having one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball, they DFA’d him a few weeks later. In fact, of the five homers Uribe has hit as a Dodger, only one – last April 29 against San Diego’s Clayton Richard – has come against a pitcher who has been continuously in the big leagues over the last season-and-a-third.

Uribe has actually been so atrocious as a Dodger – even after taking a month to heal from his latest ailment, he’s hitting just .185/.214/.296 with eight whiffs and not a single walk since his supposed return to health – that he’s getting close to being one of the most historically inept Dodgers since the club moved to Los Angeles. Since 1958, there have been 158 non-pitchers to receive at least 410 plate appearances, which is where Uribe is at right now. The results, well, aren’t good:

Rk Player OPS+ PA From To Age H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Juan Castro 44 622 1995 2011 23-39 116 19 4 3 .207 .260 .271 .530
2 John Kennedy 47 414 1965 1966 24-25 73 12 2 4 .193 .242 .266 .508
3 Alfredo Griffin 57 1788 1988 1991 30-33 370 52 10 2 .227 .273 .274 .548
4 Juan Uribe 59 410 2011 2012 31-32 80 19 0 5 .212 .269 .302 .571
5 Chad Fonville 59 575 1995 1997 24-26 128 10 2 0 .245 .302 .272 .574

 

In another day or two, Uribe will have enough plate appearances to pass Kennedy and be, by one measure at least, the third-worst LA Dodger hitter with that amount of playing time over more than half a century. If he keeps failing, he’ll sink below Griffin too, to become the second-worst. (Castro’s historic status seems secure, of course.) Some of the fondly-remembered names that appear on this list with more offensive production? Aaron Miles. Juan Pierre. Oscar Robles. Dee Gordon. Cesar Izturis. Dioner Navarro. Jose Vizcaino. Not exactly guys you want to be looking up at to say, “man, I wish I could hit like they do,” right?

This is exactly what we were worried about in February…

That’s the bad news. Here’s the worse news: only two players in major league history who ever had an age-31 season as poor as Uribe’s or worse ever rebounded to be even a league-average offensive ballplayer again, and you’re not going to like who one of them is. It’s a list that’s littered with catchers and shortstops who could never hit in the first place, like Larry Cox, Kurt Manwaring, Dal Maxvill, and Willy Miranda, and who certainly never turned it around as they continued to age.

When Uribe returned earlier this month, I attempted to talk myself into it, arguing that at least he could improve the defense, strengthen the bench by relegating Jerry Hairston or Herrera to it, and at least give less opportunities to Adam Kennedy. It, like everything else he’s tried to do in Los Angeles, hasn’t worked out. Now we’re into discussions about whether he’s “historically bad” or just “really, really bad”, and while I don’t think a move is imminent, the more people I talk to, the more I believe that the odds might actually be against him surviving the season without being DFA’d, especially if there continues to be little hope that he’ll improve.

Juan Uribe, massive disappointment, and potentially one not long for the team.

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