Was Carlos Febles Ever Good?

I have in my mind some notion that Carlos Febles was a good player once. Sure, it didn't last and didn't matter, but it happened, once. Right? He was some late Clinton-Era Mike Aviles, or so I remember, part of Dos Carlos. And then his sister married Angel Berroa (or something crazy like that, probably not that, but like it) and he rode off into the sunset.

Did this happen?

1998 22 29 .400 .483 .600
1999 23 524 .256 .336 .411
2000 24 399 .257 .345 .316
2001 25 317 .236 .291 .363
2002 26 404 .245 .336 .348
2003 27 219 .235 .299 .260

What a strange career. There were always the low batting average, but some years he walked a little and had some decent power, but never in a consistent way. To be sure, he was a second baseman, but for his era the composite line was never even close to average, peaking at an OPS+ of 88 back in the golden light of 1999. What I like best about Febles's career is the absolute destruction of his final season. At age 27, with the Royals actually competing for the division, with Febles a seasoned veteran... yea... here's a .299 OBP and a .260 SLG in a high offense era. Nice working with you.

But was he ever good? Well, according to baseball-reference WAR, he was worth 1.5 wins in 1999 and 1.3 in 2000, thanks to positional adjustments and some decent defense. I definitely know that I didn't value defense at the time. Did anyone else? Was that enough to stand out in the loaded fin de siele Royals lineup? Not really.

Prospect hype? Maybe. Baseball America rated him the 30th best prospect in baseball prior to the '99 season, but I would have not known about that then.

Ultimately, the notion of Febles as a good player seems rooted in a familiar culprit: he started well. In the chart above you can see the good play in his cup of coffee in 1998. In 1999, he was a first half sensation. After 53 games in '99 he was hitting .329/.405/.546. It was a long way downhill from there. Over the next 345 PAs he hit .219/.301/.342, basically your standard issue Chris Getz line.

He followed that up with an rough 2000 at the plate (though he was still worth about a win thanks to defense and walks) that firmly established his actual offensive level.

Anyway, Carlos Febles.

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