1B Solution

San-Man with his usual towering fly ball off a 1-2 count.  ;- )  He remains willing to give Kotchman a fair shot this season.  Dr. D turns his numbers to the infield and tears off after the ball in his erratic, but enthusiastic, Tui-like OF chase ...


=== 30,000 Foot View, Dept. ===

It is not Kotchman's result so far this April that has me predicting that he's going to hurt the ballclub in 2010. 

True, his 2010 result so far does nothing to dissuade us: he is running a 90 OPS+ ... Safeco-adjusted already and gaining from that friendly park synergy that was imputed ...

And that 90 so far is precisely the same as his 2009 and 2008 numbers (90 and 93 OPS+ respectively).  Notwithstanding it is the 730 days prior to 2010 that is my worry.


Glad that some are willing to give CK a fair chance at proving his 2008 and 2009 performances to be nonrepresentative.  I certainly would not be, but Zduriencik agrees with all y'all.


=== 1B Solution ===

As we all know, almost all huge trades are made within 6-8 weeks of the trade deadline, because sellers want to give the bidding a chance to roll.  Hey, I'm an eBayer.  You don't usually take offers on day 1 of the auction.

Assuming that the Mariners realize, sooner than later, that a first-base 90 OPS+ and 13 homers aren't going to work for a team that threatens to hit

This is a team in transition.  It is not the defending AL champion.  It is reasonable for them to use trial-and-error as they go in 2010, as it was in 2009.


The Mariners have developmental players who could play 1B.  Matt Tuiasosopo is obviously a great candidate for a jobshare with Kotchman. 

You will see analysis, elsewhere, that compares Tui's WAR in 2010 to Kotchman's WAR in 2010.   But in a rebuild, the question is not as simple as merely counting young-WAR-vs-old-WAR:  the question is which player has a future.  Which player do you want to invest time in!

Tui has upside for 2010, big time:  he's putting together very professional AB's and he has Buhneresque power.  But even if he does not have an upside 2010, he is still a player you plan to win your next pennant with.  Time spent on his 90 OPS+ is not wasted time.


The same would be true for Mike Carp, Michael Saunders and other players.  You could put Saunders at 1B, a la Darin Erstad, just like you slammed Tui in there at 1B on two seconds' notice.

BaseballHQ has the M's minor league bats as #1 in all of baseball.  It's not like you don't have interesting players available, correct?

I don't mind getting a 90 OPS+ from 1B if the player there is a dynamic young player who fits into your rebuild plans.  The most "convenient" short-term fix to the 1B issue would be simply for the M's to recognize Kotchman's 90 OPS+ as soon as possible, and to give as many 1B at-bats to young hitters as possible. 

If the M's ran with 50% Tui and 50% Kotch until June, when the trades are there, I'd be fine with that.  I'm not fine with letting Kotchman bop along on a 13-homer pace, if the ballclub itself is on an 80-homer pace.

You think Kotchman deserves more than 10 games?  That's reasonable.  But I'm looking at the games he already had in 2009 and 2008.


My $0.02,

Dr D


moe's picture

Well, what it reveals is that Kotchman doesn't hit the ball very hard, evidently.  His career BABIP is .276.  During his best year, '07, it was up to .305....but even that level seems to be unmaintainable because during that season his line-drive % and ground ball % actually were a bit lower than his career numbers.
So it seems that his one better than average year was an outlier.  He simply hit 'em (softly) where they weren't.  That kind of stuff happens, I suppose.  A season of bloop singles.
So his upside is basically very little more than we're seeing.  A guy who OPS's around 100 against righties.
He does have a UZR/150 that averages about +8 the past three seasons. 
All in all....He's an average MLB'er....at his best.
The upside to Tui is considerably higher: Unknown but higher thanwe see out of Kotchman right now.  Kotchman would probably be a nice 8th and 9th inning glove guy for Tui, but I suspect with a few weeks of regular 1B time, Tui would be his near equal with the glove.  I would like to see Tui, though, get the Byrnes starts in LF and a SS start a week...and some of those 1B days. 
OK...I'm done.  I hope Kotchman proves me wrong.  But he won't.


Very few 1.00 EYE hitters you'll see with a .268 average.  Kotchman achieves this by getting on top of the ball at all costs, getting blizzards of two-hoppers, yet with few IF hits.  He doesn't have a slap-hitter's speed down to first, yet that's the game he tries to play.
The bar for hitters at 1B is much, much higher than 90 OPS+.  It's more like 120 just to be an average 1B hitter.
I would hope that EVERYbody could agree that if Kotchman's OPS+ is going to be 90, then his mitt does not carry him to "ML average" at 1B.  The Mariners are thinking he can OPS+ 110 and THAT would make him "average."
There's a reason that 1 x $3.75 was his top offer.


You can't just say that his low BABiP means he hits the ball weakly.  Anybody that saw the homer he hit should know better, that was a line drive barely on it's way down when it hit the upper deck.  And the OPSs for the last 2 years are a bit contaminated by his part time play from '04-'06 (.245, .275., .169) and from his midseason switch teams (.252 in '08 w/Atlanta, .250 in '09 w/Boston).  We've talked about, here, why you might disregard the stats from after the trades, from learning new pitchers to dealing with injuries to dealing with family issues to hitting in an unfriendly home stadium to becoming a bench player to being dumped unexpectedly.  If you put his '07 and '08 with Anaheim together with his '09 from Atlanta, you get a .289/.352/.445/.797 line, good for about a 105-110 OPS+ with a .292 BABiP.  That's not upside, that's what he's done when he had a crack at close to full time play.
So far this year, he's had horrible luck, with a .200 BABiP the only thing keeping him looking like a schmuck.  I don't care who you are, nobody deserves a .200 BABiP, and there are signs that he's improved.  Go to Fangraphs, look at his Plate Discipline numbers, he's currently running the lowest Out of Zone Swing Rate of his career, and the highest contact rates in both OOZ and IZ of his career.  Now, I've already said what I think Kotchman is going to do, so I'm not going to do that again here, but I think you should give Casey another week or two before burning him in effigy in favor of Matt Tuiasosopo, who has struck out 5 times in 9 chances now.


Though in Kotchman's first 10 games of 2010, you don't have enough PA's to go on, agreed.  Once again, we are going off of his first 26 years of life here, not ten games.
Will cheerfully admit that Kotchman has been focused at the plate by his own standards.  Am encouraged by that.  He's been energized, precisely as Sandy predicted he would be.
And the plate discipline and contact rates are nothing new for him:  he's got a 1.0 EYE for his whole career, Mal.  He's a Wade Boggs wannabe.
The question is what happens to the ball after it goes into play, and we predicted before the season that the answer would be "not much."
First 10 games, that's what has happened when he's hit the ball:  not much.  But agreed, he's hit a few balls at people.  He'll have a higher BABIP than .200.  Maybe, like, .276 -- or make that .260 in Safeco.  With a whooooooollllllle buncha GIDP that end rallies.
Tui is taking tons and tons of pitches, hence the 5 strikeouts early, but agreed.  Nobody's saying he's a mortal lock to slug .500.


2 so far, leading the ballclub, on pace for 32 GIDP's full season.  ;- )
If he gets one in the weekend series, as I predict that he will if he hits third, his pace will go >50.  LOL.
Kotchman fans can relax about one thing:  he is going to get plenty of playing time to embarrass SSI -- if he's got the game to do so.   Let's see if he can put his money where youse guys' mouths is :- )


Danger of small samples.  Tui's BABIP is .750 at the moment. 
I think we can all agree - Tui isn't going to maintain .750 BABIP any more than Kotchman will maintain .200.
A side note about BABIP and Kotchman.  One standard in MLB is that April is low-offense month.  Many have opined WHY this is -- but almost nobody denies this reality exists.  April offense is inferior to every other month offense - pretty much every year - in every league.
That said - in 2007 - when Kotchman had his career year: .293-BABIP 1st half -- .318 second half.  He had a normal 2nd half increase.  (The league doesn't gain THAT much, of course - but the trend is for 3-5 more points of BABIP post-break.  Most of the 1st half drag actually happens in April, though).
That said - what happened his last two seasons?
2008 -- .278 1st half ... .260 second half.  That saw him plunge from a 102 to an 88 OPS+.
2009 -- .287 1st half ... .276 second half.  That saw a drop from 99 to 83.
My view of Kotchman is that the 'kicked-to-the-curb' rerun screwed up his mind, and he spent two seasons half-heartedly playing.  Not saying you necessarily want a player so mentally weak - but this supports the general concept that there was a REASON for the 2nd half plunges. 
The thing that most puzzles me, however, is his 2007 career year.  While his BABIP jumped in the second half - his OPS plunged (.854 down to .820).  Still good.  But, the loss was entirely in ISO.  Also, in the 1st half of 2007, he had 7 GDP - 10 in the second half.  Next season 12 in the 1st half, then 6 in second half (in limited PT).
I don't know what it was about his 1/2 half 2007 swing that was different -- but he had 9 HRs 16 doubles and 3 triples in that half season.  He's had a single triple in the rest of his career.  I think when Kotchman first got going, he was more of a pull hitter.  I think Anaheim "fixed" him - and his power vanished. 
I think Z is convinced he can return Kotchman to what he was in the 1st half of 2007 -- IF he plays the kid full time.  And I also think, that push back to pulling the ball a bit more plays right into the Safeco park effects.  I think Z expects Kotchman to hit .290/.360/.450 in Safeco - and he hopes to see a RETURN to the 20-HR power that he showed up in the major leagues with.


Tuiasosopo is on pace to strike out 81 times in less than 70 games, it's not just us Kotchman supporters that are betting on a risky horse.


Casey Kotchman Is Alive, Woozy -- MLB FanHouse
If you split the season from that point you get a guy who looked fantastic before June 16, .333/.411/.556/.967 with 8 home runs and a 3/2 bb/k ratio compared to a guy who was pretty lousy after, .263/.333/.390 with only 3 home runs and only a 1/1 bb/k ratio.  He didn't actually get a concussion, but it may have left him woozy or even gun shy for the rest of the season, though I expect he completely recovered during that offseason.  Oh, and only 4 GIDP before June 16 too.

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