Attend the tale of Wigginton
His arms were big but he couldn't run
When bases were loaded with gentlemen
They never thereafter were heard of again
He couldn't hit with runners on
Frustrating third baseman of Blake Street
He signed himself to Denver town
Insurance for Stewart if he was sent down
Who could have foreseen such torturous bane
Forced into starting again and again
Frustrating third baseman of Blake Street
SWING YOUR BASEBALL BAT WIGGY... *ahem*
This was supposed to be my Ty Wigginton 2011 review, but let's face it: you all basically know what there is to say. I believe that with the possible exception of Ubaldo Jimenez, no 2011 Rockie saw their production so carefully studied, so elaborately scrutinized to the point of futility. From the day he signed to the day he was traded, the player was on one kind of hot seat or another with someone, and rightly so. Wigginton was the most notable Rockies free agency signing of the 2010/11, which speaks volumes about what the front office THOUGHT they had going into a year in which the Rockies were making a deliberate effort to design a competitive team that was to stick together for the next two seasons.
As a result of this seemingly community-wide analysis, everyone's mind is probably made up on Ty by this point, and being the first major trade in a plethora of offseason activity as the the team desperately disassembled their two year "dream squad", people would probably be glad to have him out of sight and out of mind beyond an occasional comment meme or attempt to contextualize by comparison, preferably more along the lines of "remember when Ty Wigginton played for this team? Thank goodness we have Nolan Arenado now" and not "remember when Ty Wigginton played for this team? Thank goodness we have the ghost of Garrett Atkins now". And thus, what can be contributed to the Wigginton dialectic by such a player review, other than a sadistic prompt at recollecting arguably the worst season in franchise history?
Oh, wait. This whole series is probably doing that. Never mind! But tread lightly past the jump, readers. This kind of dark (and musical) tale is best reserved for graveyards on Halloween. I present the morbid, grim tale of the one they call "Wiggy".
One or two of you may have heard Andrew Martin, Resolution and I discuss Ty Wigginton on the most recent episode of Purple Row Radio. For the everyone of you that didn't, our basic conclusion was simple: Wigginton's arresting flaws so perfectly encapsulated the pent up, overflowing vats of liquid frustration in the fanbase's dank basement that he became the perfect scapegoat and effigy. Upon reaching the offseason, it seemed everyone wanted the team's priority to be to trade Wigginton. Same with the trade deadline. And the all-star break. And Spring Training. And before we even signed him.
Those of us who began to feel bad for this Clint Barmes level of community vitriol tried to calm the waters. "Remember, kids, there's a lot more wrong with this team than mean old Mr. Wigginton." But the tide did not slow, and before long, it became clear that moving on from Ty Wigginton was going to be a necessary step for most in terms of moving on from 2011 in general, and at last, November 20th saw him depart our mountainous shores for greener pastures out East in Philadelphia. We saved $2 million on the deal, which basically buys us one of the non-guaranteed contracts of Casey Blake or Kevin Slowey.
Now onto the season. Aside from his infamous lack of offensive production with runners in scoring position, what did Wigginton's 2011 look like? For one thing, we must remind ourselves that WIgginton was never supposed to be the player he was. While I like to argue that Jose Lopez should have had this role and that Wigginton would never have been signed if he did, that's probably not remotely true. This team loves lumbering utility types who have the outfield on their resume in addition to basically the entire infield, and it's not like Lopez had any sort of special season either. What I think we really have to thank for "starting third baseman Ty Wigginton" is the three-pronged collapse of Lopez, Ian Stewart and Jonathan Herrera, all three of whom are symptoms of that deeper problem that I feel at least partially exonerates Wigginton from any relevant agency to 2011's failure.
After Stewart was unable to recovery from injury and the related struggles, the team actually used this as an excuse to play scrappy favorite Herrera at second base while transitioning Lopez over to third, giving Wigginton plenty of time in the stead of Todd Helton and Seth Smith but not filling in the actual holes until Jim Tracy finally realized he basically tried to patch the third base hole with another hole at second base, hoping they'd just cancel one another out. Wigginton was in a better place than the others, did have legitimate experience as a starter (and at third, no less), and so the concession was finally made that Wigginton's "versatility" would have to be subdued in favor of any kind of infield consistency.
Wigginton ended up playing 68 games at third base, just over half of all games he made it onto the field, and more than any other Rockie trying to fill the hole. Though he walked at a higher than expected rate and saw a less absurd strikeout increase than certain other players on the team, Ty saw no notable Coors Field inflation and was generally disappointing offensively. He was average to poor in most defensive situations. In all, he was basically a slightly worse than usual but generally unremarkable version of Ty Wigginton that had to be on the field more than we would have liked.
And that concludes the review, and I am hoping this will prevent me from having to type the word Wigginton again for a long time. For my final grade, I award Ty Wigginton a D. Though B-R considered him a negative WAR player, Fangraphs has him barely in the positive. I feel comfortable in assessing his season as, in essence, a disappointment that he couldn't fulfill a role he wasn't hired to fill. His presence on the team was a nuisance to many and he will probably not be missed, but his singular contribution to the 2011 failure has been overstated.