Furcal, who hails from the Dominican Republic, signed with the Braves as an amateur free agent in 1996. He hit the big leagues with Atlanta at age 22, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and ultimately spent six years there and another half dozen with the Dodgers during his prime.
Furcal posted nearly-identical batting lines over each of those stints — .283/.351/.406 in Atlanta, .284/.348/.409 in Los Angeles — though he obviously had some ups and downs over his first twelve years. Possessing surprising pop for his size, Furcal hit over 100 big league long balls and put up four-straight double digit campaigns.
One thing that never seemed to waver much was Furcal’s value on the bases and in the field. Both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference credit him with better than thirty career wins above replacement, in spite of an approximately league-average bat, based upon those contributions. Furcal ultimately topped three hundred career steals.
Furcal’s later career was marred by injury. After joining the Cardinals in the middle of the 2011 campaign, he put up a solid .262/.323/.367 batting line in 748 plate appearances for St. Louis. But he was forced out of action late in the tam’s 2012 World Series run with a UCL sprain, and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of the following year.
Though the elbow injury did not prevent Furcal from making a run at a return, he made just 37 trips to the plate with the Marlins last year before hamstring issues ended his season. That leg muscle apparently let him down again in his more recent bid with the Royals, as Flanagan tweets that Furcal decided to call it quits after another hamstring problem arose.
All said, the somewhat disappointing end to his career does not mar its excellence. At his best, Furcal was among the most productive players in the league, and he was at least an above-average regular for much of his career. MLBTR extends its best wishes as he turns the page.