The team tried to sign Hudson, 31, last year but a concern over his physical made the Nationals shy away from the two-time All Star. He eventually signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and had a solid season.
Many Nationals fans—and a few reporters—feel that Hudson is past his prime and that the team shouldn’t deviate from their plan to move Cristian Guzman to second and replace him with rookie Ian Desmond, who was very impressive in his September call up.
Many of the Nationals’ starting pitchers—including the newly acquired Jason Marquis—are ground ball pitchers and need a solid up-the-middle defense to be successful. Having Hudson at second, assuming he hasn’t slowed, would help them greatly.
I looked at several key offensive and defensive statistics over his career to see how his 2009 numbers compared with his previous seasons. Below are the categories, his 2009 numbers, and where they rank in his eight-year career:
Plate Appearances: 650 (2)
Hits: 156 (2)
Infield Hits: 18 (1)
Bunt Hits: 3 (2)
Runs Scored: 74 (2)
Doubles: 35 (1)
Triples: 6 (3)
Homers: 9 (4)
RBI: 62 (3)
Steals: 8 (3)
Walks: 62 (2)
Strikeouts: 99 (1)
Average: .283 (4)
OBP: .357 (3)
SLG: .417 (6)
OPS: .774 (4)
Total Bases: 230 (2)
Double Plays: 16 (4)
Pitchers per Plate Appearance: 3.86 (2)
Innings: 1272 (2)
Chances: 692 (5)
Putouts: 325 (1)
Assists: 359 (6)
Errors: 8 (3)
Double Plays: 77 (5)
Fielding Pct.: .988 (2)
Range Factor: 4.91 (6)
Hudson scored either first, second or third in two-thirds of those categories.
His 18 infield hits were his personal best, which shows he still has his legs. Hudson’s on-base percentage (3.57) and pitchers per plate appearance (3.86) indicate he is still being selective at the plate and able to draw a fair amount of walks. Hudson’s 230 total bases was his second highest number, meaning he still has his power.
The only troubling number was his 99 strikeouts which were a personal high.
Defensively, Hudson’s 325 putouts was his highest total, and his fielding percentage of .988 was his second best. However, his three worst range factors (how much ground he covers) were his last three years and his double plays, assists and total chances were down considerably.
That said, he won his fourth Gold Glove in 2009.
Offensively, Orlando Hudson’s 2009 season was as good as any in his career. Defensively, he has slowed a bit, going from a superb fielder to “just” a tremendous one.
According to the voters, however, Hudson is still the best defensive second baseman in the National League.
If the Nationals can sign Hudson to a one-year contract in the $5 million range, the team will have taken another step towards respectability in 2010.
This move would force Guzman back to short and Ian Desmond back to Syracuse for another year. Offensively, Desmond seems ready for the Major Leagues, but his make-the-flashy-plays-while-booting-the-easy-ones defense still needs some polish.
Hudson would bring a third Gold Glove to the Nationals infield, which will give the team additional national credibility while improving one of the worst team defenses ever.
I say sign him. What say you?