The Cubs go into the 2011 season with 7 of the defensive positions pretty much set in stone. Sure its possible someone could unseat Dewitt as the everyday 2B, but I don’t really see that happening. The lone position that is up in the air is right field.
Last year the two split time in RF with Fukudome playing 816 innings out there with Colvin only getting 388. Colvin surprisingly had the better UZR between the two of them, but Kosuke’s total zone rating was better. So its likely that both are pretty equal fielders or at least were last year. The other surprising thing is both had nearly identical wOBA’s. Colvin coming in with a .352 and ‘Dome with a .353. Giving both of them wRC+’s of 112. This means both guys were almost nearly identical last year in all facets of the game.
What’s amazing about their stats is that they arrived at those wOBA’s in a completely different fashion from one another. Fukudome destroyed Colvin in the OBP department by 55 points (371-316), but Tyler cruised to victory in the SLG department by a whopping 61 points (500-439).
So the question arises. Who do we want starting in RF on a regular basis, especially if both give us the same production. My opinion is Kosuke Fukudome, and here are a few reasons why:
On base skill. Fukudome is really the first outfielder in a long time to have a strong focus on OBP. Since 2000 only Sammy Sosa has a higher OBP as a Cubs OF’er (with over 500 PA in the OF as a Cubs). Not only that but the majority of our team is built to hit for power. The Cubs last year ranked in the bottom 10 in OBP, but middle of the pack in SLG. We need to try to get some people on base for Pena, Soriano and Ramirez. Colvin to me is too similar to Soriano, and the two of them in the same lineup could have detrimental effects. Fukudome could be the lead-off guy the Cubs have been looking for what seems like an eternity.
Salary. Fukudome is set to make 13.5 million dollars this year. If we can let him play and showcase him off and trade him, we can save some of that money and use it this next off-season. Colvin is going to be here next year. Fukudome is not, we should try to move him and save some money, and once you do then bring in Colvin and barely miss a beat. If you can’t find anyone to take Kosuke, then consider splitting their time in RF or even. Plus we all know that…
Fukudome starts off hot. Fukudome’s wRC+ for the months of March/April is a 158, and it drops off quite a bit after that. Yes he seems to play well in August, and if he is here and we are in a race that will definitely help, but if we can unload him after a strong start that’s whats best for this team, and if we can use him to propel us to the top of the central after a month, that’s even better for this team. When it gets warmer and he starts to struggle definitely be quick with the hook and have him split time with Colvin, but don’t waste a hot bat.
So those are the reasons I think Quade should give the starting role to Fukudome. It’s not to say I think Colvin sucks, I just think Fukudome gives us the best opportunity to maximize this teams potential, especially early on.