I’m currently reading a book by ESPN baseball analyst Jayson Stark entitled The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated & Underrated Players In Baseball History. It’s a good book which I’ve known about since it hit shelves in 2007. I’ve just been too lazy (and cheap) to buy it until now. Sorry, Jayson.
Anyway, the title of the book is pretty self-explanatory. Position by position, Stark breaks down the most overrated and underrated players in baseball history, in his opinion. It’s a great read and I’d recommend it to anyone. But that’s not the point I’m trying to get at here, so let’s move on.
So there’s this one section in the book where Stark is discussing the most underrated relief pitcher of all-time, who he claims is Goose Gossage. A fair choice given that Goose isn’t as recognized for his Hall of Fame career as some other guys in his position, but again, this is not the point I’m trying to make. I digress, once again.
Getting closer to the point, Stark describes how good Goose was during his career by showcasing some of his numbers. And keep in mind that in the later stages of his career (like, for instance, his final year in baseball with the Mariners in ’94), Goose wasn’t nearly the pitcher he was in his prime. To help you understand, here’s a quote pulled directly from the book, as written by Stark, page 38 for those of you following along at home:
“These are the stats accumulated by the right-handed-hitting portion of the populace while facing Goose over a period spanning all 22 seasons of his career: .211 batting average, .284 on-base percentage, .311 slugging percentage. After reflecting on those numerals, I thought: how can I make you astute readers understand how insane those numbers are? So I began looking at active hitters whose career offensive stats were in that neighborhood. I found a handful. They were all pitchers. In other words, the Goose spent 22 years making the greatest right-handed hitters alive hit like pitchers.”
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with anything. If this were a courtroom, the judge would be saying, “You better be going somewhere with this!” in an ominous tone. Don’t worry. I wouldn’t hold your feet to the fire without a punch line.
The punch line is this: Casey Kotchman. Why Kotchman? It’s simple, really. After reading that section in the book, and more specifically those stats associated with Goose, my immediate thought was, “I bet Kotchman’s stats this year are worse than those numbers.” So naturally, I set out to prove my theory.
Thanks to the power of Google, I quickly found out that, yes indeed, Kotchman’s 2010 numbers are in fact worse than the numbers posted by right-handed hitters facing one of the most dominant right-handed pitchers of the modern era. Imagine that.
For a quick rundown, here are Kotchman’s 2010 stats, with the stats of right-handed batters against Gossage in parentheses: .194 batting average (.211), .272 on-base percentage (.284), .306 slugging percentage (.311).
As you can see, right-handed hitters facing the Goose performed better in all three categories than Kotchman against anybody in 2010. And yet it took an injury to Mike Sweeney for the team to consider promoting Mike Carp, who then ultimately led management to decide that it was time to bench Kotchman. That completely makes sense.
I guess the moral of the story here is this: If a player doesn’t have a track record of performance to a) warrant his acquisition, b) warrant a starting position and c) ultimately warrant playing time of any kind (which is where we’re currently at with Kotchman), why put him on the team in the first place? Kotchman does not make this team better (and I’m sick of hearing about his glove, that’s a cop-out), and it’s time to grant him his outright release. Why waste the bench spot. He can’t get any better just sitting on his ass all day.
And that’s my rant about Casey Kotchman. A big thank you to Jayson Stark for providing me the ammo I needed to really shoot Kotchman’s high-flying plane out of the sky.