Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Casey Kotchman and the problem of prediction

So Casey Kotchman is sort of a headscratcher. He had some success with the LA Angels (along with the greatest fielding percentage for a first basemen in history), but last year in Seattle was widely considered a disaster. So Andrew Friedman of the Rays signed him to a minor league contract and he has had a very nice year for Tampa Bay. His PPG this year is .712, in Seattle last year it was .776, actually better. His PAPP was 2.67 in '11, and 3.41 in 2010. His isolated slugging is worse this year than last year. Last year his OBP was .280, this year it was .378 with Tampa bay. Career OBP is .336. In 07 it was .372. He had a .800 OPS this year, he has had 2 years with above .800 OPS. This year was his best Offensive WAR, but 07 was his best WAR. Statistics tell us that there are a such thing as outliers, and sometimes they just need to be tossed out. With that said, many metrics show that this is by far Kotchman's best year, his offensive winning percentage (what a team that rolled out 9 Casey Kotchman's for a lineup with average defense and pitching) is .609, his best in his career (last years' was just .291). His power was slightly better last year, but he is a much better hitter this year. Their is a clear difference in batting average on balls in play (.335 this year, a career high, and .229 last year). The groundball/flyball ratio is the same though, is putting the same amount of balls in play, and actually hitting more line drives. Throughout his whole career, he has put about 75% of balls in play, and nothing has really changed in that category. So he struck out a little more and walked a little less in 2010, but he had slightly better pop, other than that, there aren't many real difference between the 2 seasons. He may have been slightly unlucky last year, plus there was the issue with his eye in Seattle that he resolved in Tampa. In this case, it seems to be really hard to predict whether or nor Kotchman would have the season he has had in Tampa, other than track record where he had some success in LA, and only being 28 (so its hard to say he was washed up in Seattle). It also should be reemphasized that he was hitting the ball pretty hard in Seattle, he had just lost the OBP and efficiency (this year was a 3.1 O-WAR year, while last year he was -1.3 O-WAR). Maybe Maddon is just more of a genius then we give him credit for.

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