Name: Melvin Mora
Nicknames: "WTF MORA", "DFA" , "LOL MELVIN MORA"
Age on Opening Day: 39
2011 Stats: 42 games, 135 PAs, .228/.244/.276, 0 HR, 16 RBI
2010 Stats (COL): 113 games, 354 PAs, .285/.358/.421 7 HR, 45 RBI
I stepped on a piece of gum yesterday and it reminded me of Melvin Mora...
That's essentially how I'll remember Mora as an Arizona Diamondback. As a chunk of Hubba Bubba clinging to a sneaker, still glutinous and increasingly vexing. As a once gratifying piece of Stimorol, now a pestering lump of mucilage that has cleaved with the sole of my shoe.
Okay, moving on.
Most fans disapproved of the Melvin Mora signing a year ago and it was fairly easy to see why. Mora was an aging 39-year-old who had an OPS+ of 96 since 2005 and gradually declining defense. To make matters worse he was expected to be the 3rd baseman for the 2011 D-backs and the successor for the much beloved incumbent Mark Reynolds. Remember that? It was like waking up from a really jarring alarm clock during the middle of terrible nightmare, quickly realizing you only slept for four hours, and then remembering that Melvin Mora is replacing Mark Reynolds on your favorite baseball team.
To make matters even worserer, Mora found himself on a stretcher before the season even started after being involved in a relatively serious car accident. Things didn't get any better for him when the season began either. In Mora's first appearance as a D-back he garnered a -45.3% WPA, grounding into two double-plays and a fielder's choice with the bases loaded. First impressions are eerily frightening sometimes.
Feeling kind of down? Let's change the flow for a second and show some nice clips of Mora benefiting the club...
And we're back. Did you notice any particular common theme in those videos? Yep, The D-backs were trailing in each of those games. COINCIDENCE? The team went a comfy 17-25 in games which Mora appeared in and 13-17 when he started.
Most fans knew Mora would be a terrible downgrade from Mark Reynolds and expected him to have a poor season. Then again, not many of us were expecting him to be one of the worst D-back hitters in franchise history. Even scarier is the fact that Melvin considered his retirement announcement overblown and exaggerated through the media. He still wants to play in 2012. For realsies.
It’s hard to grade a season as average or better if the player gets dropped halfway through. Maybe his numbers weren’t too bad for a bench infielder, but we could have found the same subpar production for less than $2 million. On the other hand, the lack of his presence seemed to be good luck for the D-backs. Early in the season I remember some people joking that the Diamondbacks were playing so much better without Mora (when he was still on the DL), and the team did even better after he left.
I was unimpressed with the signing to begin with, and Mora’s wretched Opening Day performance - in terms of Win Probability, the worst by an Arizona position player all year - pretty much sealed it for me. He did little to redeem himself thereafter; much though he may have been a "class act". Hey, I think I could probably be pretty classy, if paid $2.35 million for three months work... As soco noted, in games Mora played, we went 17-25; when he didn’t, we went 77-43. That may not entirely have been his fault, of course, but it seems pretty damning in terms of his value to the team. Hey, at least it was a one-year contract.
It doesn’t bode well for a player when the best part of his stats is that he only appeared in 42 games. But he didn’t play much, he didn’t play well, and we paid him a fair bit of money for it. My expectations weren’t high for him, and he didn’t even manage to meet those.