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Orlando Hudson: A Primer

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Orlando Hudson's physical is today (per Diamond Leung of the Press-Enterprise), and he could be in camp as early as Sunday.  What do we know about Mr. Hudson?

He is the only player in Major League Baseball history to have the name Thill anywhere in his name (his full name is Orlando Thill Hudson).

Hudson was drafted in the 43rd round of the 1997 draft, the 1280th pick.  He is one of the lowest drafted players to ever make the majors.  David DeJesus, now with the Royals, was drafted one pick after Hudson, but did not sign.

He has worn uniform number 1 since 2004, with both Toronto and Arizona, but that number is retired with the Dodgers (Pee Wee Reese).  Hudson also wore number 3 when he first came up with Toronto in 2002-2003.

Hudson played baseball, basketball, and football at Darlington High School in South Carolina.  His father Marcus steered him toward playing baseball, a decision that seems to have paid off, having made roughly $13+ million so far with the potential for $8 million more with the Dodgers in 2009.

Before the 2008 season, Hudson turned down a multi-year contract with Arizona.  Per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:

From what we understand, before the 2008 season, the Diamondbacks offered Hudson a four-year deal worth about $29 million. It would have been for roughly $5 million in ’08 and $24 million for the next three years -- his first three free-agent years.

Apparently, Hudson responded with a huge counteroffer, a deal so unrealistic that it actually upset people with the Diamondbacks. Hudson wound up avoiding arbitration in 2008 with a $6.25 million deal, and you know how his offseason unfolded.

It's not quite Jody Reed territory, especially since Hudson has a chance to parlay a good and healthy 2009 into a bigger and better contract, but who knows with this economy?

Hudson was married last November, and former Destiny's Child member Michelle Williams was a surprise guest, singing at the wedding.

He got his nickname "O-Dog" from the character played by Larenz Tate in the 1993 film Menace II Society.

Hudson's fielding prowess is a subject of some debate.  Here are his fielding numbers using a few different sources:

Year Fangraphs
UZR/150
Prospectus
RAA
Bill James
Plus/Minus
2003 2.6 20 +22
2004 16.3 17 +35
2005 8.1 17 n/a
2006 -1.6 16 +13
2007 1.3 15 +20
2008 -9.3 11 -4

It appears he suffered a dropoff of some degree.  One has to wonder if injuries have played a role in his fielding decline and, more importantly, can he be healthy enough to improve on them in 2009?  At the very least, Hudson will be an improvement defensively over the Dodgers' 2B in 2008.  Jeff Kent, Blake DeWitt, and Luis Maza combined for a -17 using plus/minus, so Hudson doesn't have big shoes to fill.

In Dodger history, there have only been three switch-hitting regular second basemen.  Only Tom Daly, Jim Gilliam, and Jim Lefebvre have played 100 games at 2B in a single season.  Ten of the 13 seasons by these three players have produced a 100 OPS+, a number surpassed by the O-Dog in each of the last three seasons.