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Free Agent Profile: Ray Durham

Ray Durham

I asked 5 people to name the 2nd-baseman who hit 26HR, slugged .538, hit .341 against lefties, and hit .331 with RISP.  They all answered either Chase Utley, Robinson Cano, or Bill Hall.  Unfortunately, none of them were right.  I was looking for Ray Durham, but I wasn’t too surprised that not one of the 5 could figure it out.  After all, Durham is a .281 career hitter who hadn’t hit over 20HR or driven-in more than 75 in a season before 2006.  But it appears, at least from his offensive performance this year, that Ray-Ray is just entering his prime at the age of 34. 

Here’s a look at the tremendous 2006 numbers for Durham…

  • Batting Average: .293
  • On-Base Percentage: .360
  • Slugging Percentage: .538 — terrific for a 2B
  • OPS: .898 — amazing for a 2B
  • Doubles: 30
  • Triples: 7 — he can still motor around the bases
  • Homeruns: 26 — great for a 2B
  • RBI: 93
  • Runs: 79
  • Stolen Bases/Caught Stealing: 7/2
  • Walks: 51
  • Strikeouts: 61 — excellent BB/K ratio

You might think, based solely on his 2006 statistics, that Ray Durham is a corner-infielder or outfielder.  Those numbers are simply spectacular for a middle-infielder, especially one that hit in an otherwise unproductive lineup — Durham was easily the Giants’ best hitter this season.  Need more evidence of Durham’s greatness this year?  Check out his situational stats…

  • Bases Empty: .265/.332/.541
  • Runners On: .326/.391/.535 — he really picks it up when there’s guys on base
  • RISP: .331/.395/.554 — AWESOME
  • RISP w/2 outs: .304/.409/.500
  • Bases Loaded: .462/.500/.923

That should be all the numbers you need to believe that Durham was in fact a terrific hitter in 2006.  It amazes me that so little was said about his performance, but I noticed that he was producing more than ever, probably only because I watch quite a bit of Giants baseball.  In case you’re the world’s biggest skeptic, here are Durham’s splits to get you believing…(keep in mind, Durham is a switch-hitter)…

  • Vs. Lefties: .341/.413/.650 — 1.063OPS…WOW!!!
  • Vs. Righties: .277/.342/.501
  • Home (ATT Park): .284/.372/.541 — great for a pitchers’ park
  • Away: .300/.350/.536
  • Day Games: .283/.353/.539
  • Night Games: .299/.364/.538

Those are simply ridiculously good for a middle-infielder.  Why wasn’t Ray Durham mentioned as one of 2006’s best hitters?  Because he played for the lowly Giants, but also because this was a very abnormal year for the veteran 2nd-baseman.  Was it a fluke?  Probably, but not completely, because Durham has shown some improvement at the plate over the past few years and 2006 may have been the top of his ability.  He’ll almost surely drop at the plate a little next season, but a 2nd-baseman with that much power can fit into just about any lineup in baseball. 

One thing that may stand in Durham’s way is his defense.  While he’s acceptably sure-handed on groundballs and has adequate range, Durham is an adventure on pop-flies, and that’s putting it nicely.  Every time there’s a sky-high pop-up hit Durham’s way, the crowd at ATT Park holds its breath to make sure Ray-Ray doesn’t lose it in the sun, is able to keep his glove on the ball, and squeezes it properly.  There were countless times when the ball hit Durham’s glove and bounced out, when he was clueless about where the ball would land because his sunglasses were oddly on his cap instead of his eyes, and when Durham just couldn’t make the catch.  Ground-ball, good; fly-ball, potentially disastrous.  But his sub-par defense might be a risk a team looking for an offensive jump-start would be willing to take.

Where will Ray Durham wind up?

The Giants will likely let Ray Durham walk away as a free agent because they have top prospect Kevin Frandsen waiting in the wings.  Durham however will have plenty of suitors, many of them in California.   The Padres, A’s, and Dodgers all figure to play a major role in the Ray Durham bidding, joining the Rangers, Mariners, and Red Sox as his potential suitors.  So where will Ray-Ray be next season?

My prediction: Ray Durham will sign a 3year deal worth 27Million to join the San Diego Padres, replacing Josh Barfield at 2nd-base for the Friars, after the young 2nd-sacker departed for Cleveland in a trade with the Indians earlier this month. 

Stats prediction: .285/.350/.480; 20HR, 85RBI, 8SB. 

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Tomorrow’s Monday’s Profile: Eddie Guardado

(I will not post on Baseballistic tomorrow because I’ll be away)

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Today’s Moves…

The Cincinnati Reds signed Shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a 3year deal, greatly improving their infield defense and adding depth to their middle-infield. 

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Trivia!

Yesterday’s question was…

Can you name 4 members of the Braves’ 1991 starting rotation?

The correct answer…

Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, and Charlie Leibrandt

Today’s question is…

When Ray Durham left the White Sox for the A’s in 2002, he was the White Sox all-time leader in which of these categories?

  • Stolen Bases
  • Leadoff Homeruns
  • Extra-Base Hits
  • Doubles
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