Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chicago Cubs PWMBA: Kosuke Fukudome

The baseball season is coming. Professionals are playing the sport as we speak (or write) in beautiful cities as well as Kissimmee. As such, it's time to start looking ahead at some things to expect.

Or what we can't expect or predict in any reliable way as the case may be. In this series I am identifying a player on each team in the NL Central that is a question mark in terms of what to expect from them heading into the season. Some may be because of small sample sizes or interesting trends, other may be a jerk who plays for the Cubs.

Chicago Cubs Player Who Might Be Anything: Kosuke Fukudome

Fukudome only has one year of MLB statistics so it is difficult to determine how well it projects to his future production in the majors. He started off hot but definitely cooled down the stretch. He seemed to make some adjustments well but may have hit a slump toward the end of the season. It is also possible that pitchers have figured him out and he has not been able to adjust to them. The graph below shows his stats over the course of the season.

While there is a trend downward it is unclear if it is a cause for concern or performance below true capabilities. His final season stats were .257/.359/.379, good for a EqA of .260. Exactly league average is not the production the Cubs invested in and not the production needed from a corner outfielder.

The upcoming season will be interesting as it may determine how much money and time the Cubs will invest in Fukudome. If he performs well then he may be a long term member of the club. If not, then he may be looking for a new job where he can try to overcome a legacy as overhyped.

I admittedly have no knowledge of Fukudome's stats from Japan and cannot imagine how they would translate. If there are projections that compare them to minor league statistics I am unaware of them however I think the main issues to keep in mind are that Fukudome is only 32 and he has shown signs of being able to make adjustments and show patience at the plate.

Fukudome's season was comprised of a Jekyll first half and a Hyde second half. Somewhere towards the middle is where I would expect him to perform this upcoming season and in the long run of his career. Looking at his season stats, he was hitting .279/.383/.408 at the All-Star break. This is actually fairly close to most projections I have seen and seems to be a reasonable level to expect from him. Quite frankly, if he performs at any level below that and the Cubs can and should find a replacement for far less money and equal or greater production.


  1. Warning: the following observation is based solely on personal observation, not on empirical data. I may be talking out of my ass.

    But it's OK, because I acknowledge this possibility. Right?

    From what I saw of Fukudome late last season, his next adjustment needs to improve his plate coverage on outside breaking balls. I saw a lot of lefties working Fukudome outside late in the year, and Kosuke's slap-hit swing often pulled him out away from the plate and prevented him from making contact.

    Hopefully, Caleb will create a graph proving that I'm talking out of my ass.

    Also: we make graphs now. That's fucking awesome.

  2. Fukudome let a fly ball drop in the outfield in the world baseball series on sunday. does this help clarify his potential?

  3. Perhaps if you graphed it, Siouxz.