The Orioles released Garrett Atkins yesterday. Could he be a good stop-gap solution for the Phillies?
Before I get into the pros and cons, let's make one thing clear -- this is not the Garrett Atkins who played for the Rockies from 2005 through 2008. That Garrett Atkins would be a no-brainer. He finished fourth in rookie of the year voting in 2005 and 15th in MVP voting in 2006. Over those four years, he had a .301/.364/.482 triple-slash line, good for an .846 OPS and a 110 OPS+. In the Phillies current situation, that Garrett Atkins would be an amazing addition to the team.
But we're not talking about that Garrett Atkins. Yes, technically, the Garrett Atkins released yesterday by the Orioles inhabits the same body and shares the same DNA as the Garrett Atkins described in the last paragraph, but that's about the end of the similarities.
The Garrett Atkins we're talking about here is a different creature. In 2009 and 2010, this Garrett Atkins has a .223/.299/.326 triple-slash line. That adds up to a .625 OPS and a 62 OPS+. I don't want to get too technical on you here, but that sucks. Big time.
So what good could this Garrett Atkins possibly do for the Phillies? That's the question. The Orioles are on the hook for his salary for this year, so the Phillies could get him for the league minimum for the remainder of the year. He plays third base, so he could replace Greg Dobbs now. And when Placido Polanco comes back but while Chase Utley is still on the shelf, Polanco can shift to second.
But should the Phillies do it?
I would probably land on the side of worth a shot. But, it's not an easy call at all. Here's what I see as the pros and cons:
Pros: He used to mash. As recently as 2008, he had a .780 OPS with 22 HR, and 99 RBI. He hits right handed and mashes lefties, and the Phillies lineup could use another power-hitting right-handed batter. He has historically been a better second-half player, with a career OPS almost .060 higher in the second half. He's only 30, and PECOTA predicted him to have a 1.7 WARP this year with a .291/.357/.466 triple-slash line. The last two years, his BABIP has been very low. And currently, the Phillies' third baseman is Greg Dobbs.
Cons: Despite having a $4.5M contract, he was released by the Orioles, who have an offense just slightly better than Ed Wade's Houston Astros. That should probably be a conclusive argument by itself. But his stats make it even worse. In 44 games this year, his OPS+ was 53 (following on last year's dreadful 66). He had a .214/.276/.286 triple-slash this year. And no, that's not a misprint. His WARP is -2.0. Again, not a misprint. He was designated for assignment almost two weeks ago, and no team claimed him on waivers.
There's no arguing that Atkins is having a horrible stretch over the past year and a half. But, given the Phillies injury issues, I would give him a shot. After all, Cerberus can't produce like this forever.