Juan Uribe.This time last year, the combination of these two words was a running joke amongst the Dodgers fan base. Yet, these days, Uribe has become a folk hero of sorts. He is, without a doubt, the ultimate story of redemption and retribution in the Dodgers organization this year. Knowing the way General Manager Ned Colleti operates, this story may just be getting started.
I’m no sports writer. I’m no blogger. I haven’t worked on any sort of long format piece of writing in almost half a decade. So it makes complete sense that the man who will bring me out of retirement is Uribe. I, too, joined in the well documented and public hatred of poor Juan in his first two years in Dodger Blue.
The man was a walking meme:
And was vilified by everyone from small town bloggers (oh hey guis) to national sports writers. It’s not hard to see why. There really is no way you can defend a two season stretch like the one Uribe had from 2011-2012. With a line of .191/.258/.284 over only 66 games in 2012 (remember, Mattingly refused to start him due to his supreme awfulness), Juan’s $21 million dollar contract over 3 years was looking to have won the Dodgers’ organization the most expensive/heaviest/ugliest paper weights in recent memory. If we could encapsulate Uribe’s first two years in one perfectly apt visual aide, well, look no further friends:
I’m not sure exactly why, but sometime towards the final stretch of the 2012 season I began to feel sorry for the poor sap. Maybe the realization that the Dodgers’ postseason hopes were as dead as Matt Kemp’s labrum, but I found myself cheering for the guy the few times he came to the plate. Maybe I was just hoping a lone man’s words of encouragement would snap Uribe out of his career nosedive (remember: he was pretty much kind of not that bad of a player in his two years as a Gaint from 2009-2010 with a fWAR of 2.8 and 3.0 there respectively). At the beginning of the 2013 season, I began to call him King Uribe, because, hey, we all knew that if anything this dude was as FAR from being the king of anything, let alone the king of the baseballs. It was hilarious. Heck, I even named my fantasy baseball team after him and drafted him in the final round, much to the chagrin of my fellow baseball nerd friends. (PS. I totally kicked all their asses, and I give all the credit to Juan).
But you see, suddenly something started happening. Juan Uribe started playing baseball like a major league baseball player. One might cite his game winning home run on April 11th (yes, the same day Grienke’s collarbone was wrongfully assaulted by some shit for brains moron in a Padres uniform) as the beginning of Uribe’s rise to fame. It was a great moment for the much maligned, much taunted, much…well, everything I guess, player. Actually, I think I’ll just let Juan speak for himself on this one. Take it away Juan:
I mean. Gosh. Just look at him. Don’t you just want to hug him? He just wants to be part of the team, you know? Makes my goddamn sub zero heart just melt into nothing. I want to hug him and gently whisper in his ear, “Juan, you ARE part of team, and everythin gon be okay.” BUT I DIGRESS.
I’m not sure if Uribe decided after this game that he was going to do his best to make a difference on his team, or if it’s just the simple fact that he’s in his last year of his godawful(?) contract and decided it was time to really start trying (like most players do). I’m going to go with the former, because it paints Juan as a hero. And let’s face it, he IS a hero.
Uribe’s final line at the end of the season was a pretty darn good .278/.331/.438, especially considering the atrocities that were his previous two years. He hit 12 home runs. That’s four times as many as he hit in the last two years COMBINED. And here’s the kicker: he held a fWAR of 5.1. Yes, that means he is worth about FIVE wins. Compare that to this Cuban kid everyone keeps talking about, who held an even 4.0 fWAR this year. Yes. Juan Uribe is worth more wins than everyone’s precious little Puiggy. And because I’m a masochist, let’s take a look at Matt Kemp’s fWAR compared to Uribe’s. Yup. It’s just as bad as you’d think it would be. -0.4. Now this is in no way fair to Kemp, who we all know would probably be doing some amazing Matt Kemp things if not for Coors’ Field (FUCK YOU) and all 33178327189372 of his other injuries this year. But I just want to drive home this point: Juan Uribe was awesome this year. No. You don’t get it. Juan Uribe was AWESOME this year. Whether he was making highlight reel worthy defensive plays at third or having himself a three run home run game (JUAN URIBE YES THAT JUAN URIBE HAD A THREE HOME RUN GAME I KNOW IT’S CRAZY I STILL CANT BELIEVE IT BUT I LOVE IT OK SORRY NO MORE CAPS LOCK I PROMISE), no one can deny the season he’s had. He is our low key hero. Oh, yeah and of course, there’s this:
There are the Hanleys, there are the Puigs, there are the A-Gons; this is true. There’s no way I would want to downplay everything they’ve done for this team. But let us not forget to give credit to Juan Uribe for a fantastic year. And well, let’s face it, he’ll probably be around for AT LEAST another year. I’m perfectly alright with that. For he is our King, and our King is good.
Long live #KingUribe