Can you take me higher?
To the place where blind men see
Can you take me higher?
To the place with golden streets
Although I would like our world to change
It helps me to appreciate
Those nights and those dreams
But, my friend, I'd sacrifice all those nights
If I could make the Earth and my dreams the same
The only difference is
To let love replace all our hate
So let's go there
Let's make our escape
Come on, let's go there
Let's ask can we stay?
Oh how we all love a good FRIEDMAN'd. The Kazmir trade, the Delmon deal, the way he's somehow managed to build bullpens from gold or spit and molasses, etc. I think we may have seen his piece de resistance this time, though. With Carlos Pena departing for greener pastures in Wrigley, Friedman was asked to take us higher. We needed to go to a place that many thought would be impossible. We needed a firstbaseman that could not only hit but play strong defense on a shoe-string budget. With many here on DRB, I was thinking Dan Johnson was the answer. After a great year in Triple-A,Johnson looked like he could provide the patience and power it would take to get us to the land where are dreams take place here on earth.
But Friedman had a different plan. Many a saberist, myself included, laughed at the signing of Casey Kotchman (or as I so cleverly call him Krotchman). The former top pick and prospect had been an abysmal hitter the last few years. Yes, he has a sparkly glove at first, but a premium offensive position needs more than his paltry career .318 wOBA would add. The thing we didn't bank on, though, was Friedman's ability to help "the blind man see." With the aid of Lasik surgery Kotchman's a new man at the plate*. He's been an incredible addition with his .373 wOBA. So what exactly happened to turn this pumpkin in to a carriage?
I'm not wrong often, just ask my friends**. So I went looking at Kotchman's season on the year to see what it is that he's done to make the unexpected happen. What has happened apart from seeing the ball that's allowed him such success? So let's get in to his stats under the stats that help give us a look at what's going right for him.
His walk and strikeout rates are right in line with his career norms, so it doesn't appear that his newfound vision has helped him in that regard. His new eyes are just like his old eyes in regards to plate discipline seemingly. Has he been hitting for more power than we expected? Well, no actually. His Iso of .112 is actually below his career .132, and his HR/FB% is slightly down as well. Maybe he's just hitting a lot of line-drives? Well, he is hitting line drives much higher than his career norm at 22.5% of the time. GREAT! Here's our start. His line-drive ability has gotten better! That doesn't fit the agenda though. The DRaysBay agenda is clearly anti-Kotch, so we have to dismiss the line-drives. Every good saberist knows that line-drive rates aren't predictive. They are the batted ball type that is most likely to be incorrectly scored or liable to fluctuate (perhaps the two go hand in hand), and fortunately we can dismiss his improved line drive rate in explaining his success.
So what else besides line-drive rate can we look to for this season in explaining his success? Well he has a career low in in-field fly balls! That's a huge gain! Wait. Actually. Per DRB Guideline 69.420 (not to be confused with the only other DRB guideline 420.69 that states that sternfan1 is always in the wrong and should be banned), only when our pitchers are seeing inordinate success are we allowed to use in-field fly ball rates as sustainable. Have to strike that one out too (like every Dan Johnson at bat, amirite?). Speaking of the infield and outs, Kotch is doing a great job so far at getting infield hits. In fact, his 9% infield hits not only are a career high, but they're over double his previous career high. So he's obviously not only gained eyesight, but he's faster. Then why is his speedscore exactly the same as his career numbers despite the uptick in infield hits? That makes no sense.
The last place I thought I'd look was our old friend BABIP. Welp, here it is. The Golden Ticket. I've done it. I effing did it. I found a way to make non-stop rocking possible. Just increase your BABIP. That's it. Friedman once again has tricked us all. It didn't fit in to the DRB anti-Kotch agenda, but Friedman found a way to increase BABIP. It was so simple, I can't believe no one ever thought of it. A homecoming. A plain and simple homecoming. Bring the coach's son home, and the hits will fall. Bring home the golden boy, and he'll exceed every saberists dream.
You know, I never expected that Friedman's crew would be so damned cutting edge we'd never see the latest Fridman'd here at the Saber Shrine to Sternberg and Co. We missed it, and sternfan1 saw it. Who else saw it? Who else new Kotchman's homecoming would completely transform his game at the plate***. Who knew he'd come here and stick it right to OUR agenda? I, for one, am pissed at his success. But wait, we must, like the great Scott Stapp implores, follow Friedman to a higher place and "let love replace all out hate." Well, then Magic of Kotch come over me. Descend upon me like the Spirit. That I may be whole.
*This isn't actually true. He's actually pretty much the same guy he's always been at the plate.
**Yeah, like they exist.
***This isn't actually true. He's actually pretty much the same guy he's always been at the plate.