In part nineteen of my almost 50 part series “Better Know An Oriole” (otherwise known as 2009 Orioles Retrospective), I take a look at third-baseman Melvin Mora… THE FIGHTIN’ BASEBALL TERM EXAMPLE!
Melvin had an unexpectedly great 2008, batting .285/.342/.483 with 23 HR and 104 RBI. Coming into the ’09 season though, I expected the 37 year-old to regress to the tune of .271/.333/.418 with 16 HR and a .334 wOBA. With a bit below average defense (-5 runs), that would have made Melvin about a 1.7 Wins Above Replacement player in 550 plate appearances.
Mora started off on a roll, batting .313/.421/.500 in his first five games before hitting the DL with a leg injury. While he made it back at the end of April, but his bat didn’t. Missing time here and there, Mora finished with just 496 PA and a line of .260/.321/.358, 8 HR, and a .302 wOBA. His walk rate was about where it was last year (7% to 6.7% – below his career average of 8.9%) and his BABIP was low at .285, but not extraordinarily so. The power dropped off due largely to a 5.4% HR/FB rate, but The Hardball Times’ PrOPS line for Mora, which adjusts for batted-ball info, was only .277/.336/.398. That’s still lower than I had projected, but Melvin actually played slightly above average defense (+1.3 UZR) to partially make up for it. He ended up being just a 0.9 WAR player* according to FanGraphs - worth $3.8 M, well below his $9 M salary.
* And that doesn’t even include his non-steals baserunning, which was some of the worst in all of baseball, and actually negates almost the entirety of the 0.9 WAR. Mora was pretty much a replacement level player in 2009.
The Orioles didn’t pick up Melvin’s club option for 2010, and there’s a fair chance that no team will give him a guaranteed roster spot next Spring. Mora was great in his peak years in Baltimore (’03-’05) and, despite his many issues, will be fondly remembered by the O’s faithful for his contributions to the team and the city. So long Melvin.