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Prospect Retrospective: Chad Tracy

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Chad Tracy of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005
Chad Tracy of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005
Elsa, Getty Images

Major league infielder Chad Tracy announced his retirement earlier this week. Let's review his career with a Prospect Retrospective.

Chad Tracy played college baseball at East Carolina University. He was drafted in the seventh round in 2001 by the Arizona Diamondbacks and was sent to Yakima in the Northwest League, where he hit .278/.350/.306 in 10 games. Promoted to Low-A South Bend in the Midwest League, he adapted very quickly to full season baseball, hitting .340/.393/.447 in 54 games. At the time he was considered a pure hitter who would post good batting averages and OBPs, but there were concerns about his home run power and his defense at third base. I gave him a Grade C in my 2002 book, although nowadays I would likely rate a similar player as a C+.

Arizona jumped Tracy to Double-A El Paso for 2002. He responded by hitting .344/.389/.486 with 39 doubles, eight homers, 38 walks, and just 51 strikeouts in 514 at-bats. He was over .400 for the first half of the season before cooling. His glove wasn't particularly good at third base and there were still questions about how much home run power he'd show. I had him rated at a Grade B entering 2003, writing that "whether he becomes a star or a Dave Magadan-type will depend on how much power he can develop, and whether 'hitting for average' means .290 or .330."

Promoted to Triple-A Tucson for '03, Tracy hit .324/.372/.456 with 10 homers, 41 walks, and 52 strikeouts in 522 at-bats. Reports on his defense improved, but there were still a lot of questions about his home run power. He was still a Grade B for me. At this point I was assuming that he would not become a big home run guy, writing that he could hit 10-12 homers in a full season but with an average in the .300 range. That was based on the numbers as well as the level, non-home-run-oriented swing I saw in person in Triple-A.

Tracy took over at third base for Arizona in 2004, hitting .285/.343/.407 with eight homers. In 2005 he moved over to first base and his power suddenly blossomed, with 27 homers and a .308/.359/.553 slash line. His wRC+ was solid at 130 and his 3.9 fWAR was the best mark of his career. He followed up with 20 homers in 2006 but keep in mind the offensive context of the time: his .283/.343/.451 slash resulted in a mere 98 wRC+.

It was downhill from there, as a knee injury limited him to just 76 games in 2007. He was never able to hold down a regular job again, hampered by injuries and the disappearance of his 2005-2006 home run power. Overall, he hit .274/.333/.439 in his career, wRC+95 over 938 games, with a career WAR of 6.6. Ultimately he showed a little more power and a little less batting average than his minor league numbers would predict.

Historically, Tracy Sim Score comp list brings up names like Mike Lamb, Ron Coomer, Xavier Nady, Leon Roberts, Gabe Kapler, and Sean Berry, all solid role players. This is a good outcome from an seventh round pick.