Regressed slightly as a hitter from his 2003 campaign, but within random variation. Furcal missed 19 games, mostly with early season injuries, causing his at-bats to drop by 101, but hit only one fewer homer and drew only two fewer walks. Basically, a few more singles and doubles didn’t fall, but no big. OBP was at about the league level, slugging slightly below, which is fine for a shortstop. GIDP were up from one to nine, but that’s probably random too. While not as outstanding as his 2003 25-for-27, his 29-for-35 effort as a basestealer will more than do.
Defensively, his range factors were pretty good, but some “advanced” metrics disagree, and he had a few too many errors. In my opinion, Furcal tries to do too much sometimes and make a difficult play rather than the safe one. (Actually, you could say that about all the Braves’ infielders except maybe Giles. The late, unlamented Jesse Garcia was a prime culprit.)
It’s probably Rafael’s last year as a Brave. He’s a free agent after the season, he’s going to get expensive, and the Braves weren’t too wild about his off-field problems. It seems likely that they’re going to have to choose between a long-term deal for Furcal and one for Giles. To my mind, there is no choice here. Giles is superior as a hitter in every way (Marcus’ career averages are better than Rafael’s career highs) and is a better defensive player as well, albeit at an easier position. There’s the injury thing, but Furcal’s had injuries himself. Yes, there’s baserunning, but Giles is an excellent baserunner as well. (31 of 39 SB over the last two seasons.) They are, it turns out, the same age. It’s an easy call.