Mets fans disgusted with Luis Castillo are clamoring for them to sign free agent Orlando Hudson.  Be careful what you wish for.

Many fans want the Mets to acquire free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson.  A three-time Gold Glove Award winner, Hudson is renowned as a two-way star at his position.  But, I don’t think Hudson is the player that many of his advocates believe.  I think the money that would be spent on Hudson would be far better spent on a starting pitcher or corner outfielder.

Let’s look at Hudson.  He is a 31 year-old second baseman.  Now, that doesn’t sound old but here’s a partial list of All-Star second basemen that fell off a cliff in their early 30s (or earlier):

Roberto Alomar, Edgardo Alfonzo, Carlos Baerga, Glenn Beckert, Dave Cash, Delino DeShields, Carlos Garcia, Damaso Garcia, Marcus Giles, Tom Herr, Glenn Hubbard, Chuck Knoblauch, Mickey Morandini, Johnny Ray, Harold Reynolds, Juan Samuel, Steve Sax, Mike Sharperson, Robbie Thompson and Fernando Vina.

It’s a demanding position and generally speaking, second basemen don’t age well.  Since the Mets employed Alomar, Alfonzo, Baerga, Herr, Samuel and Vina at various points in their careers, you would think the fan base would remember that point.

And Hudson has already shown signs of injury problems.  Here are his games played the past three seasons: 157, 137, 109.  Last year he had hamstring and wrist injuries that kept him off the field.  The wrist was the big problem and who knows how that’s going to affect his hitting going forward.  And the 157 games played in 2006 is really an outlier.  The next highest games played total for Hudson is the 142 games he played in 2003.  In his six full seasons in the majors, he’s averaged 135 games per year.  He misses a month per year, on average.

Additionally, Hudson’s defensive reputation no longer matches his actual production.  He was a good fielder when he was on the Blue Jays.  But the past three years he has not been a plus defensively.  His UZR numbers (The number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs and error runs combined) for the past three years are: -4.2, -2.4 and -6.1.  And those last two numbers are even worse if you extrapolate to 150 games.

Don’t trust UZR?  How about Chris Dial’s metric, which showed Hudson with -4.9 Defensive Runs Saved.  Don’t like that one, either?  How about The Hardball Times’ RZR, in which Hudson posted a .784 mark, which was the lowest of 17 qualified second basemen in the majors.  That metric doesn’t do it for you, either?  How about The Fielding Bible plus/minus system, which had Hudson at -4, for a rank of 23rd among MLB second baseman.

It’s time to stop living in the past about Hudson’s defensive prowess.  When four respected defensive systems all say that he’s a lousy fielder, we have to assume it’s more than a coincidence.

Proponents of bringing Hudson aboard also like to point to his offense.  He’s been a plus with the bat all three of his seasons with the Diamondbacks.  Last year Hudson posted a .305/.367/.450 line, which is really good for a second baseman.

But the problem is that it’s mostly an illusion caused by Chase Field.  In his three years with Arizona, here are his home and road splits:

Home: .315/.393/.509

Road:  .274/.339/.392

Those road numbers are right in line with what he did with the Blue Jays.  His final season in Toronto, Hudson posted a .271/.315/.412 line.

The best way for the Mets to upgrade at second base is not by signing Orlando Hudson to a long term deal.  Rather, they should simply move Daniel Murphy to second base and spend the money they would give to Hudson to one of the corner outfielders on the market.  Many worry what Murphy’s defense would look like at the position.  But that concern is probably as overrated as Hudson’s reputation in the field.

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