Detroit Tigers: 3 Free Agent First Base Options They Could Pursue
We discussed Valbuena at length here, but here is a recap: Valbuena had 613 at-bats in his last two seasons with the Angels, roughly a season’s worth. In that time, he mashed 31 home runs, 24 doubles and collected 98 RBI. However, he also struck out 206 times and posted a meager .199/.277/.390 slash line with an 81 OPS+.
Valbuena was a solid part-time player in 2017, posting a 12.0% walk rate and hitting 22 home runs in 117 games. Those numbers slipped in 2018, when he hit nine home runs in 96 games along with a 6.6% walk rate and a very ugly 34.7% strikeout rate.
Valbuena is your typical three true outcomes hitter, with 44.1% of his plate appearances in the last two years resulting in a walk, strikeout or a home run. Unfortunately, 29.9% of those were strikeouts.
However, Valbuena is a solid enough defensive first baseman who also has plenty of experience at third base and even second base, if needed. He swings from the left side and has posted better numbers against right-handers in his career.
Ultimately, Valbuena is probably the cheapest first base option on the market. He is more of a platoon option than anything, meaning he would platoon with John Hicks. Valbuena would be useful in that role, although likely not useful enough to merit much on the trade market.