By request of commenter Todd (ask and ye shall receive), here’s a quick breakdown of the recently non-tendered third-baseman Garrett Atkins.
Atkins has gone from great (.410 wOBA) to very good (.368) to OK (.337) to bad (.291) with the bat, though that last one is largely the result of a .247 BABIP. His strike-out rate is up a little and his contact rate is falling. I don’t know if the drop in power is partially a fluke, but his HR/FB has been going down quickly as well (13.2% to 10.9% to 9.9% to 7.3%). The current projections for Atkins currently range from around .275/.345/.450 (FanGraphs fans, Bill James) to .258/.329/.410 (CHONE, already taking into account leaving Coors). Splitting the difference-ish (while acknowledging that moving from the NL to the AL is tougher), you get something like .265/.335/.425, which would make Atkins about an average hitter.
Defensively Atkins posted a -0.7 UZR/150 at third last year but with marks of -8.6 and -14.6 in the two years previous. The Fan Scouting report, which is kind of corroborated by the UZR breakdown, has him as not rangy at all but with OK hands and a fine arm. You’re probably looking at something along the lines of -5 to -7 with the glove next year.
Put that together – in, say, 550 PA – and you’ve got a a fairly solid 1.5 Win player (worth ~$6.8 M). Despite my earlier claim that I wouldn’t go much over a million bucks on him – just looking at the trend-line scared me off – Atkins would probably be worth a flyer at $3-4 M. There are a lot of risks there though, so I’m still leery. It might be a situation where teams underrate him due to his recent struggles, or everyone might think that themselves (like what happened with Derek Lowe last years) and the demand drives his price up to where it should be (or more). I’d still look elsewhere for a third-base solution for next season, but there would be worse things than having Atkins at the hot corner in 2010 (like having Ty Wigginton there – in fact, other than a less bad glove, there’s not a ton separating Wiggy and Atkins).