2013 Toronto Blue Jays Reviews: Maicer Izturis
Maicer Izturis (3) attempts a slide at home plate. Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Name: Maicer Izturis
*162 Game Avg. is his career average based on if he played every game of a 162-game season.
Izturis signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays on November 8, 2012 just days before the Miami Marlins mega-deal took place. He was expected to be a slightly more consistent bat than Kelly Johnson after Johnson batted only .225/.313/.365 for the Jays in 2012. Izturis wasn’t expected to bring much power to Toronto especially since he slugged only .315 for the Los Angeles Angels last year so it wasn’t exactly as though Maicer was tearing the cover off the baseball before he moved north of the border. Some wondered if the Blue Jays would have bothered to sign Izturis after jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none Emilio Bonifacio was picked up in the Marlins blockbuster.
Izturis started very slowly out of the gate and batted only .193/.221/.289 in April. He was better each month after and improved his average in May, June and July before he struggled again in August prior going down with what became a season-ending ankle injury. Here’s a look at his splits by month.
To give credit, Izturis was fairly effective at the dish in June and July. We were talking at the game the other night about how if a player gets off to a hot start, such was the case with Ryan Goins, because when we see the (small-sample-size inflated) batting average we sometimes jump too quickly to conclusions about a player’s ability. It works the other way too – if a player gets off to a very slow start it takes seemingly a longer stretch of good hitting to even get their average back to respectable level, let alone the .400 we see flash on the scoreboard when a player gets off to a hot start. You’ll never see that from a player who bats .193 the first month of the season.
That’s not to stay that Izturis was good or even average this season. He was awful in the field as evidenced by his -12 Rdrs and nearly incompetent at third base. If a player allows that many runs playing defense then he must put up much better than a paltry 63 wRC+ to be effective. Izturis didn’t strike out (9.5%) or walk much (6.8%) but for the second consecutive season he produced almost no power at the plate. His ISO was .074 this year and even worse at .056 in 2012, which isn’t very good when the league average (for all positions) was .143 in 2013 and .151 in 2013. His wOBA of .269 is only a hair better than J.P. Arencibia‘s current .260. Izturis has put 52% of the balls he hits in play on the ground this year, which doesn’t makes his lowly .249 BABIP very surprising.
At the end of the day, Izturis’ fWAR was -2.1 and rWAR was -0.9, which wasn’t nearly good enough and basically tells us that the Blue Jays would have been slightly better off with a replacement level player in 2013.
I really hope there are greener pastures ahead for Maicer Izturis. He has two years remaining on his contract at $3 million per and in 2016 he has a team option for another $3 million with a $1 million buyout. It looks like unless the Jays are able to unload him in the trade market they will be stuck with Izturis in their infield next year. With a limited budget to improve the team an upgrade at second base is probably much lower on the priority list than starting pitching. It would be great if Izturis could return to his career line of .269/.331/.372 and be a one-win player. At least that would help avoid repeating a black-hole of production at second base next season. In my opinion he will be locked in a battle with Goins coming out of spring training for the starting second base position, unless of course the Blue Jays upgrade the position through a trade or free agency this offseason. If Izturis can’t produce at the plate the Jays might be better off going with Goins as their second baseman since he’s at least able to produce at an elite level defensively by keeping potential runs off the scoreboard.
Stats are courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com.