Fan Foils By The Numbers: Todd Hundley

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Todd Hundley seems like a natural for the second installment of Fan Foils.

You know who's a fan of Milton Bradley? Todd Hundley. The former catcher was one of the most disliked Cubs of recent generations. But Milton's meltdowns nearly wipe Todd from our memories.

Almost.

Todd Hundley played 14 big-league seasons from 1990-2003. The first nine were for the New York Mets, where he peaked in 1996 & 1997. He was fantastic those two seasons, including blasting 41 homers in 1996, breaking the single-season record for a catcher that had been held by Roy Campanella. Hundley put up 4.7 and 4.4 WAR those two seasons and looked like an absolute star in the making.

In retrospect, he was possibly/probably an, ahem, "product" of the era.

After an injury-shortened 1998, he moved across the country for two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The first was pretty blah, but then he had a nice 2.6 WAR in just 90 games during the 2000 season. He would sign with the Cubs during the next offseason.

While researching for this article, the No. 2 Google hit on my search was this article by Al. In it, Al notes that:

So GM Andy MacPhail signed Hundley to a four-year, $24 million contract. For a catcher at Hundley's age at the time (turned 32 in May 2001), it might have been one too many years, but it didn't seem that much at the time, and the move was widely hailed by fans and media alike.

Al also noted that Hundley was raised in nearby Palatine and attended Fremd High School. Bringing him "home" seemed like a great fit.

Oops.

Al has a nice recap of the problems with Hundley outside the lines. On the diamond, Hundley was, well, bad. His slash lines were:
'01: .187/.268/.374
'02: .211/.301/.421

Those lines produced -0.6 WAR (66 wRC+) and 0.3 WAR (90 wRC+) seasons. For reference, Darwin Barney's miserable 2013 season produced a 51 wRC+. That's right. The Cubs big offensive addition managed to hit down in "Darwin territory." He did manage to hit 28 homers in 161 games as a Cub. Yeah.

Of course, I have to note the positive contribution Hundley made. The fairly-new-to-the-job Jim Hendry somehow managed to pawn Hundley back off on the Dodgers in exchange for Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek. Those two became integral pieces of the 2003 playoff team while Hundley played all of 21 games in one season for the Dodgers before retiring.
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