The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

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When is a slump not a slump?

Answer: when people are just making shit up.

Alex Remington over at Big League Stew has a new Slumpbot .200 up. Most of what he says is fine (though I question whether or not David Wright is actually the Mets’ biggest star, but that’s sort of a meaningless term anyhow). I take issue with his comments about Kosuke Fukudome, though:

"You can write a script for a Fukudome season — a torrid April, followed by slump after slump. In September, he has gone 15-for-81, good for a .185 average and .574 OPS. He also hasn’t homered in more than a month. All told, he’s hit modestly better this year than last year, upping his OBP by 16 points and his slugging by 32, but few North Siders would argue he’s earned the $11.5 million his contract paid this year, or have much faith that he’ll be worth the $26.5 he’s still owed through 2011. All in all, his offensive profile hasn’t much changed from 2008: he has a very good walk rate but below-average home run power, and good range for right field but not great in center. Those walks and his gap power make him useful, but he isn’t a star and shouldn’t be getting paid like one."

Hoo boy. Where to start with this one.

"You can write a script for a Fukudome season — a torrid April, followed by slump after slump."

You could write that script, but it would be bad and stupid and wrong. Check this out:

Kosuke Fukudome, May: 82 PA, 18 H, 1 HR, 15 BB, .277 / .415 / .415 / .830
Kosuke Fukudome, July: 103 PA, 27 H, 2 HR, 13 BB, .307 / .392 / .534 / .926
Kosuke Fukudome, August: 103 PA, 25 H, 4 HR, 16 BB, .287 / .398 / .506 / .904

Slump after slump after slump, hey? Fukudome’s been lousy in September and was terrible in June. The rest of the year… well, that all looks pretty damn good, doesn’t it? Oh, and his BABIP in June and September plunged, which indicates some rotten luck more than it does anything else. See how easy this is when you actually look stuff up instead of just assuming you already know?

"In September, he has gone 15-for-81, good for a .185 average and .574 OPS. He also hasn’t homered in more than a month."

Yes, he has been lousy this month. Though, as I mentioned, his BABIP is way down. His walks, however, are not down, which is a good sign; he hasn’t lost his patience or command of the strike zone.

"All told, he’s hit modestly better this year than last year, upping his OBP by 16 points and his slugging by 32, but few North Siders would argue he’s earned the $11.5 million his contract paid this year, or have much faith that he’ll be worth the $26.5 he’s still owed through 2011."

I would argue that. You know why? Go here and sort that list by OBP. Any particular trend jump out at you? That’s right: Kosuke Fukudome is one of exactly four Cubs batters who’s gotten on base for a good goddamn this season. Consider that one of those other batters only did it for half the year due to injuries and one of the others has just gotten himself thrown off the team, and what do you have left? Kosuke and Derrek Lee. I mean, Tyler Colvin seems like a nice guy, and I respect the work he’s done in the field so far, but over the incredible sample size of 16 PA (I know, but it’s his whole career to date. What do you want me to do?) he’s posted a line of .154 / .250 / .154 / .404. His OPS+? 7. Better than Alex Rios, but not exactly a wonder. You’d rather have that out in CF than a dude who at least gets on base at a pretty good clip?

"All in all, his offensive profile hasn’t much changed from 2008: he has a very good walk rate but below-average home run power, and good range for right field but not great in center."

I dunno. I think he’s shown some decent improvement this year. His numbers in all categories are up (except for SB — 6 SB and 10 CS? Yow, Kosuke! Cut that shit out!), and, unlike 2008, he didn’t just decline all year long. He was pretty damn good most of the year with two really awful months, both of which were accompanied by a really low BABIP. In 2008, he did in fact go on one extended slump where his BABIP stayed up. I guess maybe we just don’t agree about what his "offensive profile" actually consists of.

And he’s better in right than in center? I dunno. He hasn’t played much right this year, since the Cubs had a different underperforming star player out in right for most of the year, but last year’s BP numbers have him at -10 FRAA and a whopping 1 FRAR in right. Using his CF numbers for this year (due to very small amount of time in center last year), we see him at -11 FRAA and 5 FRAR. That’s kind of a wash, I’d say. Not really great either way.

"Those walks and his gap power make him useful, but he isn’t a star and shouldn’t be getting paid like one."

You do realise he makes a lot less money than this dude, who stank up creation all season long and then got hurt? And about the same amount of money as this dude, who also had pretty much nothing but a good walk rate going for him this year and then mouthed his way off the team? Hell, Aramis Ramirez makes about 40% more money than Kosuke and only played half the season. Carlos Zambrano makes 50% more money and only played two thirds of the season.

The Cubs have a lot of money, Alex. A shitload. They’re in a position where they can take a chance on $10M/year and see if it pays off. That’s what they did with Kosuke and Bradley. And Kosuke has shown good improvement this year, and will probably continue to improve next year, as I expect those low-BABIP-fueled down months will probably not reoccur.

Besides, if you’re going to jump on a team for overpaying for a Japanese star who hasn’t lived up to the hype, where’s the love for Daisuke and his 6.80 ERA, 69 ERA+, and 1.986 WHIP over 46.1 IP? Yikes.

Oh, and as for whether or not Kosuke Foukudome’s a "star" or deserves to be paid like one, well, let’s try a little experiment.

Kosuke Fukudome, 2009: .259 / .375 / .421 / .796
Mystery Player, career: .317 / .387 / .458 / .846

Mystery Player has been better, but not a whole lot better, yeah? His BA is higher, but his walk rate’s a lot lower (15.33% for 2009 Kosuke, only 9% for Mystery Player), which is why their OBPs are so similar. Is Mystery Player a star? I dunno, you tell me. If he is and Kosuke isn’t, I’d like to know what the cutoff is for determining that. Do you need an OPS of .800 and Kosuke misses by four points? Because that’s kind of harsh.

Oh, incidentally: Mystery Player makes more money than Kosuke, and is pretty much equally good in the field.


September 25th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

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