Josh Willingham, not Cuddyer Should be Teams Focus

This off-season the outfield free agents aren’t that great. There are some solid ones though like Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham. While the two players are nearly identical Willingham is the better player. They both hit from the right side of the plate. Both are in their lower 30s, they both can hit for power. For the most part Willingham has been the more successful player, posting WARs between 2-3 for 5 seasons. Cuddyer has posted WARs between 2 and 3 himself but between those years he’s had a ,8 WAR season and 0 WAR season. The 0 WAR season was due to injury but he still played 70+ games that year.

Since 2006 both players have been nearly identical.

Name   G PA H       SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA       WAR
Josh Willingham   771 3109 696       29 11.3 % 21.0 % .216 .298 .262 .361 .478 .365       14.8
Michael Cuddyer   814 3446 848       40 9.0 % 16.9 % .184 .307 .275 .347 .459 .351       12.3

Cuddyer has been the slightly more durable player but during the 2004 and 2005 seasons Willingham only played a combined 28 games. Willingham has shown better power, the ISO differential is .032. Willingham also has a higher OBP and BB%. Cuddyer’s plate discapline is much better then Willingham’s, he struck out 4.1% during that span. The BABIP results aren’t that signifacant at all, Cuddyer’s .307 BABIP is a sustainable number so nothing can be taken from that. Willingham has also produced more WAR over that time span. Besides Cuddyer’s SB, K% and PA Willingham has proven to be the better player.

Why are teams more interested in Cuddyer then? Cuddyer is a much more versatile player then Willingham. Since 2009 Cuddyer has played 1,370 innings at first base, he played 140 innings at second base last season and 107 innings at third base in 2010. He did play 1,154 innings at third baseb between 2004 and 2005 but I doubt he’d play third unless needed. His normal position is right field so he’s gotten a ton of innings in the outfield. Besides the offensive production that right there is a big reason why teams may be more interested in Cuddyer.

Willingham will probably prove to be the cheaper option though. In 2011 Willingham made $6 million dollars, Cuddyer made $10.5 million. Cuddyer is rumored to be looking for a 3 year deal worth more than $30 million dollars. Willingham should be able to be had for a 2-3 year deal at $8 million annually. Neither player will transfrom whatever team they go to but both will be solid players who should be able to produce between 2 and 3 WAR a season. Teams that are looking to get a solid outfield option should defiantly take a look at Willingham.

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