When Chone Figgins was announced for the 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, his name immediately trended on Twitter. Of course, Figgins was a popular player for the then Anaheim Angels, who he won the World Series with in 2002. But, no one has really ever thought of Figgins as a Hall of Fame player. So, it was no surprise that he received not a single vote from a Baseball Writers Association of America member.
Still, despite probably not being a so-called “Mariners legend” – outside of the obvious overpay the Seattle Mariners made for his services – Chone Figgins was a good ballplayer. It should be noted that Figgins hit for the cycle on September 16, 2006 – hit a single, double, triple, and home run in the same game – making him forever a part of the PSA “Hit for the Cycle Club” Set Registry.
The Chone Figgins rookie card mentioned in that registry is the 2002 Bowman Chrome #249. Considering that a mere 11 examples of the base card and 9 examples of the refractor have been graded by PSA, it’s safe to say hobbyists didn’t think of him as a future Hall of Fame “hopeful.” But with the announcement of him simply appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot, interest spiked in this rookie card. It’s a nice looking card, featuring Figgins in an old style Anaheim Angels uniform in the follow-through of a successful swing, watching the baseball likely hitting a gap somewhere.
Chone Figgins’ Angels Success
The 5-foot-8 switch-hitting utility player hit a lot of gaps in his career, hitting .291/.363/.388 for a 99 OPS+ in his 8 years with the Angels. These stats made him an above-average hitter 4 out of 8 seasons. Figgins’ offensive value was greatly boosted by his stolen base ability, averaging over 40 plus steals a season. Figgins also played second base, third base, shortstop, center field, right field, and left field in his career. Defensive Runs Saved sees Figgins as a disaster in the outfield, below average at second base, and significantly below average at shortstop. But, at third base, which became Figgins’ best position, Figgins was above average.
In fact, Figgins had one of the best contract walk years you could imagine in 2009. Not only did he have a solid .298/.395/.393 slash line (110 OPS+) with 42 steals, he had a career high 101 walks and an absurd 29 Defensive Runs Saved at third base. These numbers helped Figgins secure a 4-year, $36 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. That contract would turn out to be a disaster for the Mariners/
The “Mariners Legend” Chone Figgins…
Seattle didn’t treat Figgins well. Not only did he get moved to second base full-time where he was below average (-10 DRS in 2010 alone), but his bat just never really got going. He played in 161 games in 2010, but mustered only a pitiful .259/.340/.306 slash line. His only saving grace was 42 stolen bases against only 15 times caught, making him a plus in the running game.
The 2011 and 2012 seasons were even worse. Figgins suddenly became extremely injury prone. When he did play, he couldn’t even hit .200. After hitting around .180 – .190 in limited action in those years, the Mariners released him after the 2012 season, eating his $8 million salary for 2013.
Figgins wouldn’t even make his way back to the Major Leagues in 2013, although he caught on as a bench player with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014. It wasn’t a great final stint in 38 games, and he was released by the Dodgers in mid-August. He did manage 0.7 WAR though, so he wasn’t a total negative. While Figgins retired a rich man, and did sign a one-day contract to retire as an Angel, I’m sure that’s not the way he wanted to spend the second half of his career.
To be fair to Chone Figgins, he was an All-Star caliber player for several years. He could steal bases with the best of them and had great on-base percentages. If there was any knock against him, it was his misadventures in the outfield – not entirely his fault. While Figgins is never going to be more hobby relevant than in the wake of this news, his Angels career and his rookie card are worth remembering.
~ Amelia <3