Kosuke Fukudome: Everyday Starter?
In a previous post, we examined the trade potential with Kosuke Fukudome. In short, he's not a top candidate. We'd be lucky to get a quad-A player or two (a quad-A guy is someone who excels in AAA, yet for whatever reason, cannot stick in the majors -- Quad-As are usually older too, 28+).
As the outfielder market settles (the settling has already begun with the Yankees bowing out of the Carl Crawford race), the Cubs are likely see Kosuke remain in a Cubs uni. So how should we use Kosuke? What can we expect from him in 2011?
Well, after nearly catching a rookie of the year trophy in 2008, Kosuke Fukudome has really lost his perception as a threating bat. In Japan, Fukudome was a Hideki Matsui -like power monster, but in the MLB, he's been just a good on-base guy. For his career, Fukudome has an above average OBP and an average power (SLG):
However, when we examine his number more closely, we find Kosuke has improved every year! Looking at wRC+, we realize Fukudome's rookie campaign was easily his weakest.
batting average of balls in play -- a metric that correlates strongly with luck -- we see his 2009 season proved outrageously unlucky against lefties (.229 BABIP):
Kosuke Fukudome deserves some everyday play. He's going to be 34 this coming season, but he still should be the best right fielder on our roster.
Bill James expects Fukudome to repeat his 2010 success, and hit around a .350 wOBA. Like wRC+, wOBA is an all-encompassing batting statistic. If Fukudome his ~.350 wOBA or 116 wRC+ in 2011, that would put him in some good company. Over the last 3 years, these players have sported 116 wRC+:
116 wRC+: Matt Kemp
116 wRC+: Geovany Soto
116 wRC+: Adam LaRoche
116 wRC+: Derek Jeter
After we add Kosuke's above average defense and base running, I think it's a no-brainer: Kosule deserves 600 PAs. We can shift Tyler Colvin to first (116 wRC+ in 2010, by the way) and then pray he learns how to coax walk. Or, we could even bring Alfonso Soriano in from left to first, but his UZR indicates he defends better than the fans think -- making such a move nearly useless.
No matter how we sort it, Fukudome aught to be under the ivy in right.