2009 O’s Retrospective: Cesar Izturis

In part twenty-one of my almost 50 part series “Better Know An Oriole” (otherwise known as 2009 Orioles Retrospective), I take a look at shortstop Cesar Izturis… THE FIGHTIN’ GOLD GLOVER!

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The Orioles 2008 shortstop situation was a disaster, and so to solidify the position the Orioles signed former Gold Glover Cesar Izturis to a 2 year, $6 M contract. I liked the deal, even though Izturis can’t really hit much. I projected a .260/.311/.327 line for him, with a .290 wOBA and 3 HR in 550 plate appearances. With +7.5 run defense (over a full season), that would have made Izzy a 1 Win player.

Cesar ended up missing more time than I had expected, going on the DL in the middle of the year due to an appendectomy. He hit .256/.294/.328 with a .280 wOBA and 2 home runs (one on Opening Day). He walked less often (just 4.4% of his PA) than he had since 2003, and his strike-outs were also up a little bit (9.8%).  Overall with the bat though, he was who we thought he was.

It’s with the glove that Izturis shined. His +10.3 Ultimate Zone Rating was easily his highest since 2004, and second in the American League amongst shortstops – just behind Elvis Andrus’ +10.4 for Texas. Izzy was better on a rate basis, with his +9.2 UZR/150 games besting Andrus’ +8.3. I discussed his chances of winning the Gold Glove previously, and I don’t really like his chances given the time he missed and that he played for the Orioles. The on-field contributions were still welcome though.

Combining the bad offense and the great defense, Cesar came in at 1.3 Wins Above Replacement. That was worth about $5.6 M, which means that his contract has already almost paid off. He’s not a star – though after last year’s motley crew (totaling about -3 WAR) he sometimes seems like it – but Izzy is a fine stop-gap until the O’s can find their shortstop of the future.

Photo by Zuma Press.