Rafael Furcal: Rebound Candidate or Write-Off?

We all remember the days when Rafael Furcal was among the top shortstops in the game, don’t we?  That seems like ages ago, as he has fallen on hard times the past few seasons.  In 2008 it was injuries that limited him (143 AB).  In 2009, it was complete inability:

613 At Bats
.269 Batting Average (165 Hits)
9 Home Runs
47 RBI
92 Runs
12 Stolen Bases
.335 On Base Percentage
.375 Slugging Percentage
.303 Batting Average on Balls in Play

First let’s talk about the positives…  OK, well at least the positive, because there’s only one number there that truly is encouraging, the runs scored.  As long as the Dodgers continue to trust him at the top of their order he should be in position to score a significant number of runs once again.  That’s what happens when you have Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez waiting to chase you around the bases every time you get on.

Unfortunately that’s where things end.  Well, sort of.  The other numbers we are about to get into have to be put into perspective.  In his effort to return from back surgery, it’s very possible that it took him the first few months of the season to get re-acclimated to the game.

His legs used to provide his value, stealing as many as 46 bases in a season (2005).  Last season, while he stole just 12, five of them came in September (in six attempts).

What’s interesting is that prior to that he just wasn’t running:

  • April: four attempts
  • May: two attempts
  • June: two attempts
  • July: two attempts
  • August: one attempts

Was it that his previous back injury made it uncomfortable for him to attempt to run?  It is a possibility and his outburst at the end of the season certainly does give owners a touch of hope that he could rebound in the speed department.  Does he have the upside of a 35-40 SB threat?  Probably not, since he only 25 stolen bases in 2007, prior to his injury.  Still, getting into the mid-20s would have value.

How about the average?  Could the back injury have been affecting him there as well?  He has a career BABIP of .318, so it certainly is possible that he has some upside potential there, especially if the injury is what was limiting him.

Again, however, it’s tough to say with certainty that he is going to get back to that mark.  In 2007, prior to the injury, he posted a BABIP of .298.

How about the strikeouts?  Let’s take a look at his monthly rates:

  • April – 17.05%
  • May – 15.63%
  • June – 17.78%
  • July – 11.11%
  • August – 15.97%
  • September – 11.43%

He obviously improved, especially in the second half, lending credence to the theory that the back injury was the major problem.  This is one stat that I think he will certainly be better with in 2010.  From 2003-2007 he only had one season over a 12.7% strikeout rate.

So, the real question is, what type of gamble to you put into Furcal for 2010?  Before answering that, let’s look at my projection for him:

.270 (155-575), 10 HR, 45 RBI, 90 R, 22 SB, .296 BABIP, .339 OBP, .388 SLG

You can see that I’m expecting a rebound from him, but still a far cry from the player he used to be.  I really just don’t believe that his struggles were solely due to the remnants of his injury.  While he has some upside potential, he is far from a player that I would focus on.

The position is rich of players who could be the player that Furcal once was, like Elvis Andrus (click here to see my 2010 projection), Everth Cabrera (click here to see my 2010 projection) and Alcides Escobar (click here to see my 2010 projection).  I’d much rather take the risk on one of them, as opposed to the huge injury risk (among other things) hanging over Furcal.  Unless I am caught in a desperate spot, it is unlikely I have Furcal on any of my teams in 2010.

What about you?  Is Furcal a player you still think can produce like a top option at shortstop?  Are you looking to draft him?

Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here.

Make sure to check out some of our 2010 projections, including:

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

5 comments

  1. MDS says:

    16th in my SS ranks, likely wont be on a MDS team. I expect a .280 avg, 20 combine SB/HR and 140 combined runs/rbi… roughly the same numbers i can expect from erick aybar without the injury risk

  2. BLAZE says:

    They probably stopped running him so much b/c he’s been getting thrown out half the time the last two years. 20 stl/9 outs.

    Elvis Andrus is going 40 picks AFTER Furcal. Easy choice there.

    I’d rather have Yunel Escobar and Asdrubal Cabrera then Furcal and they also are being drafted behind him. I know alot will also consider Alcides Escobar and Everth Cabrera too, but i dont bank on much besides SB’s from those two. But their lines shouldnt be too far off from the one you’ve projected for Furcal minus a couple homers.

    So i wont consider Raffy as i’d rather get a better value after him but in all likely i’ll have a SS fairly early this year and won’t have to bother with any of these guys.

  3. Miles says:

    Furcal hasn’t been the same since back surgery and we don’t know how old Furcal actually is. I remember his age was an issue when he first came up.

  4. Keith says:

    Furcal was still hurt, Furcal still in hurt. You don’t have major back surgery above 30 and come back and play professional sports at the same level. Just like 80 year olds don’t come back from major back surgery period.

    I used to love this guy but I think he’s a great #8 hitter in LA or could be replaced internally. His OBP is way to low to be in front of Kemp, Ramirez, and Ethier. They need guys on base in front of them like Pierre (whoops he’s gone). Makes no sense to move the ideal leadoff guy with a .300 average, a .365 OBP, and 40 SB. What more do you need? Loney should hit 2nd. He fits perfectly. He is good at putting the ball in play has a .350 OBP and he’s fast enough to stay out of many double plays.

  5. Aaron says:

    I stayed away from his last season because I felt he was being overdrafted. I do think he has somewhat of a turnaround, getting closer to .285 and maybe a couple more RBI’s. Still, only a viable backup SS in a mixed league.

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