Coming into the 2011 season, Casey Kotchman had played for 3 teams and his best major league season was back in 2007 where he hit .296-.372-.467 with 11 HRs, 68 RBIs and 64 runs scored in 443 at bats. In addition to the 11 hone runs he hit, he also hit 37 doubles and 3 triples, so there was some hope that he would turn some of that doubles power into balls flying over the fence going into the 2008 season. A doubles hitting first baseman certainly isn't ideal in real, nor fantasy, baseball unless you can make up the power elsewhere in your lineup. In addition, his plate discipline was excellent, as he walked (10.4%) more than he struck out (8.5%).
Prior to his 2007 season, Kotchman had several opportunities to make a name for himself in the Angels organization, and here is how he fared:
2004: .224-.289-.276, 0 HRs, 15 RBIs, 7 runs, 8.6 K%, 5.5 BB% in 116 at bats
2005: .278-.352-.484, 7 HRs, 22 RBIs, 16 runs, 12.6 K%, 10.5 BB%, in 126 at bats
2006: .152-.221-.215, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 6 runs, 8.5 K%, 10.4 BB% in 79 at bats
Kotchman was showing solid plate discipline and did not strike out too much in his 3 short-term stints breaking into the Angels starting lineup from 2004-2006, so his 2007 season appeared to be a breakthrough season. But was it?
More on Kotchman after the jump:
Kotchman followed up his 2007 season by hitting .272-.328-.410 with 14 HRs, 74 RBIs and 65 runs scored in 525 at bats. He hit 28 doubles in addition to the 14 HRs, but his slugging percentage dropped from .467 to .410, not a good sign.
In the middle of the 2008 season, Kotchman was traded to the Braves in a deal that brought Mark Teixeira to the Angels. The next season, Kotchman hit .282-.354-.409 with just 6 HRs, 41 RBIs, 28 runs scored and an excellent 28-32 K/BB rate in 298 at bats. He again was traded to the Red Sox at the trade deadline, so if you didn't know by now, Kotchman was not a major league first baseman. Well, he wasn't a starting major league first baseman, that is. He had a very good eye at the plate, but did not have the power to play the position on an everyday basis.
Kotchman didn't last long in Boston, and found himself playing in the spacious ballpark in Seattle in 2010. Not a good mix. In his 414 at bats with the Mariners, he hit .217-.280-.336 with 9 HRs, 51 RBIs, 37 runs and a 57-35 K/BB rate. Kotchman was not retained by the Mariners last offseason, and lanced with the Rays in spring training. What has followed next is surprising.
The Rays started the season playing Dan Johnson at first base, but by the end of May Johnson had hit his way out of the starting lineup. This spelled opportunity for Casey Kotchman. Kotchman took over the starting first base job and has run with it this season. He is having his best season at the plate, as he is hitting .340-.399-.476 with 7 HRs, 38 RBIs and 33 runs in 347 at bats. He still has the great eye at the plate as his K rate of 10.7% and BB rate of 8.1% are solid, but the power-his ISO is only .135-is still now there. Not a surprise.
Kotchman has benefitted from a BABIP of .370 which is 0.65 higher than his career high BABIP of .305 set back in 2007. His BA has lucky written all over it, and I am not buying this resurgence from him this season. I don't see him keeping this up into 2012, but we will take another look once the season is over.
What do Fake Teamers think of Kotchman's resurgence into relevance this season?