Kotchman’s Defense Will Shore Up Infield
Each week through Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and break down the players in camp for the Indians at Goodyear, Arizona and examine their potential roles for the season to come. This week, we continue our Goodyear coverage by breaking down the players who the glue to the team if the Tribe is to make the playoffs.
By Christian Petrila
By no means is he the long-tern answer at first base, but Casey Kotchman is giving Indians fans reason to be optimistic going into the 2012 season.
Kotchman is entering his ninth Major League season with his sixth team. In 2011 with TampaBay, he hit a career-best .306 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI. However, the Indians brought him in for more than just his bat.
One of the big keys for Kotchman is his defensive prowess. In 727 career games at first, he has only committed 11 errors. That number is staggering because in 200 career games at first, Matt LaPorta has committed 12 errors. In other words, Kotchman averages an error about every 66 games. LaPorta averages an error about every 16 games. Indians fan know all too well how one error can change the course of a game. (1997 World Series, anyone?)
Not only that, but Kotchman is also an extremely patient hitter. He has drawn 240 and only struck out 289 times through his 2500+ at-bats. I don’t mean to keep picking on Matt LaPorta, but here’s the comparison again. LaPorta has only drawn 81 walks and has already piled up 206 strikeouts through only 909 at-bats. When people say “patience is a virtue,” Kotchman listened.
So far, his first Spring Training as an Indian has been kind to Kotchman. Along with 54 error-free innings at first, he is also hitting .296. His patience has also continued, drawing four walks with only six strikeouts. His OBP is .387, which is one of the highest on the team.
If he can continue to produce as he has throughout his career – especially his 2011 level – Casey Kotchman could prove to be an extremely valuable asset to the Indians. Regardless of what he does at the plate, he’s a pretty safe bet in the field.
Photo: Associated Press
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