Monday night, the Los Angels Angels return to Seattle to take on the Mariners. It is their second trip up north, but their first with a healthy Vernon Wells, meaning that both Wells and Chone Figgins should find their way into the starting lineups in the same series.
Why is this notable? Because Wells and Figgins have been two of the worst hitters - and biggest disappointments - in all of baseball this year. Adding Wells' OPS to Figgins' OPS yields a 1.018 OPS, while David Ortiz has a 1.019 OPS. Both players were expected to fill important roles this season, and instead both have been absolute nightmares.
Given the matchup that's about to kick off, I thought I'd take this opportunity to compare and contrast Wells and Figgins' situations. Obviously, both of them are feeling pretty low. But who's in the better place now? Who seems to have more to look forward to? Let's get to the breakdown.
240 batters have come to the plate at least 150 times this season. Figgins has been the second-worst, better than only former teammate Michael Saunders, now in triple-A. Wells has been the fourth-worst. He and Figgins share identical batting averages, but Wells' .296 SLG reflects superior power. Wells has probably also been slightly better in the field.
Erosion of Skills
Chone Figgins can no longer hit for average or draw walks. Vernon Wells can no longer hit for average, make contact, or hit for power. Figgins, while dreadful, is still closer to being the player he used to be.
Safeco Field normally has a pretty tame crowd, but these days Figgins draws boos whenever he makes an out or screws up in the field. However, it took Figgins some time to get to this point, implying a more forgiving fan base. Vernon Wells was getting booed during the first homestand of his Angels career.
Bad news for Chone: with top prospect Dustin Ackley on the verge of arriving in the majors, Figgins could start losing some playing time to Adam Kennedy, who has mysteriously been one of the Mariners' best hitters this season. Wells is in less danger of losing time. Mike Scioscia could get creative if he had to, but Mike Trout isn't nearly as close as Ackley is, and other solutions would have guys like Bobby Abreu or Reggie Willits in left field, which few people want.
Between now and the end of his contract, Chone Figgins is due about $22 million. Between now and the end of his contract, Vernon Wells is due about $77 million. Money!
Symbolism of Photo Tool Search Results
When I type "Chone Figgins" into our photo tool, these are the first results:
When I type "Vernon Wells" into our photo tool, these are the first results:
For Figgins, we get one picture of the player celebrating, and three pictures that don't include the player at all. For Wells, we get one picture of the player celebrating, and three pictures of the player in pure agony.
Neither Chone Figgins nor Vernon Wells has a whole lot to smile about these days, and it doesn't look like brighter days are necessarily ahead. However, Wells has one advantage that can't be ignored, and that's that he's guaranteed to earn $55 million more than Figgins by the end of his contract. Throw in the money he's already made and it's clear that, down the road, Wells will be in a better position to purchase a time machine, allowing him to go back and make sure that he doesn't get into this situation in the first place. There's no telling what effect that could have on things, given the grandfather paradox and all, but I'm not sure that any result could be worse for Wells than what he's going through right now.