There’s no question that Torii Hunter can still swing the bat. He had his best season in a while at age 36 putting up .313/16/92 and and .817 OPS. However, he will be 37 halfway into the season this year. In a post PED baseball era, 37 year olds aren’t going to put up the numbers they used to have. So is it smart for the Angels to re-sign him and at what cost?
The Angels could go with a lineup of Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo with a bit of Vernon Wells mixed in. The defense would be compromised a little bit if they were to go that way and if Wells or Bourjos is traded it could leave a hole. Hunter is also a fan favorite and the front office may not want to anger the fan base after the way the season ended.
If you look into Hunter’s numbers deeper, you can see the regression start to begin. For example, he did hit .313 this season but his BABIP was .389 which was a career high for him. That suggests he might have been a little bit lucky this year. His power looks to be diminishing as well. The past three years, his extra base hit percentage has gone from 9.7% in 2009 all the way down to seven percent this past season. His at-bat per home run rate was 20.5 in 2009. This past year it was 33.4 and has gone up every year since 09. Only nine percent of the fly balls he hit were home runs, his worst rate since 1999. He also struck out at a career high 22.8% clip and walked at a 6.5% clip his worst since 2006.
Torii Hunter is a quality person and a good clubhouse guy to have. However, he’s close to reaching the end of the line. A one year deal for him would be ok but anything longer than that and I think he needs to be let go.