Age: 31
Born: December 12, 1979
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 5th Round, 137th Overall, 2000
How Acquired: Minor League FA
College: UCLA
Agent: Jeff Blank
Atkins is a classic example of a modern baseball phenomenon: the Coors Field slugger. He put up big numbers during his age 26-27 seasons and solid numbers the year before and the year after, and except for 2006 it was all due to the Rockies home ballpark. He’s also had a growing platoon split. The big seasons (which included 320 RBIs from 2006-08) made an impression that won’t shake easily, as a lot of fans continue to regard him as a productive slugger. The simplest thing to do is catalog his home/road and L/R splits in his time as a regular in Colorado: 

Year Home OPS Road OPS OPS vs. LHP OPS vs. RHP
2005 .903 .649 .794 .767
2006 .999 .933 1.123 .935
2007 .936 .773 .782 .882
2008 .904 .661 1.014 .709
2009 .680 .624 .790 .559

Atkins has always been a poor defensive player no matter what measure you look at, and he doesn’t run well. The Pirates signed him to a minor league contract for 2011 with a non-roster invite.

2000-04: Hit well in minors without really dominating until second season in extreme hitter’s environment in Colorado Springs. Always showed doubles more than HR power, and good plate discipline. Ironically, got stuck in AAA due to presence at 3B of Vinny Castilla, whose career was almost entirely a product of Coors.

2005-07: With Castilla gone, took over 3B job and had huge peak season at age 26 in 2006. Showed very good strike zone judgment.

2008: Had decent season, but plate discipline and hitting against RHPs tailed off badly. Played first much of second half due to injury to Todd Helton.

2009: Hitting collapsed. In another irony, the Rockies’ charge to the playoffs began when new Pirate manager Clint Hurdle was fired and replaced by former Pirate manager Jim Tracy, one of whose key moves was benching Atkins much of the time in favor of Ian Stewart.

2010: Signed by Orioles as free agent to take over at least part of their 1B job. Hitting was abysmal, leading to release in June.

Atkins is expected to compete for a RH bench bat role with Steve Pearce, Andy Marte and Josh Fields. Of the four, he’d be easily the worst choice, so hopefully Hurdle isn’t influenced by any lingering affection for him. There’s no reason to think Atkins can turn things around. Except for the two-year period at ages when hitters tend to peak, he’s never hit anything other than miserably away from Coors. His isolated power has dropped sharply four years in a row. His line drive rate has dropped three straight years, replaced by groundballs, which won’t do much good given his lack of speed. According to fangraphs, he’s struggled badly with both fastballs and sliders the last two years, suggesting he can no longer handle hard stuff. I don’t know whether his contract contains an out clause in the event he doesn’t make the major league roster, but it’d be unfortunate to see him anywhere in the organization except Indianapolis.

Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
2011: $800,000 (minor league contract)
2010: $4,000,000
2009: $7,050,000 (avoided arbitration)
2008: $4,387,500 (avoided arbitration)
2007: $400,000
2006: $335,000
2005: $317,000
Signing Bonus: $190,000
MiLB Debut: 2000
MLB Debut: 8/3/2003
MiLB FA Eligible: Eligible
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 1 (USED: 2003, 2004)
MLB Service Time: 5.167
June 3, 1997: Drafted by the New York Mets in the 10th round, 300th overall.
June 5, 2000: Drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 5th round, 137th overall.
June 22, 2000: Signed by the Colorado Rockies to a minor league contract with a $190,000 bonus.
November 20, 2002: Contract purchased by the Colorado Rockies.
November 6, 2009: Signed by the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent.
June 27, 2010: Desginated for assignment by the Baltimore Orioles.
July 7, 2010: Released by the Baltimore Orioles.
December 23, 2010: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league free agent.