Kotchman Defense Critical for T.B. Rays in 2011

Posted: January 30, 2011 in AL East, Defense

With the Casey Kotchman signing by the Tampa Bay Rays last week, there has not been an outpouring of support over the move. With Carlos Pena now with the Chicago Cubs, the Rays were slated to go into the season with Dan Johnson as their everyday first baseman. Dan Johnson played for the Durham Bulls last season, and for most part, he played positions other than 1B.

As much as I loved watching Dan Johnson crank out home runs for the Bulls last year at an epic pace, I am not sure he will be able  to do this at the major league level.   Moreover, with the bullpen in 2011 looking nothing like the impressive pen they had built up over the years, the defense will be even more critical .

That is why I am relieved that the Rays made the move for Casey Kotchman to play 1B. However, even the Rays organization is not sold on the move as they only signed him to a minor league deal.  With the Rays having to scratch and crawl to get those last few outs each game, the Rays can’t go with a defense that will cost them games.

As a matter of fact, nothing was more impressive as watching the Rays at the Trop put on an infield clinic on defense.

One statistic I would follow from year to year was David Pinto’s PMR  which uses play-by-play data to determine the probability of a ball in play being converted to an out.  Well, now a days people head over too Fangraphs to use the UZR which has proven to be up and down from year to year. Instead, I used RF/9  (Range factor per 9 innings) which gives an assessment on how well they can get to a ball by measuring the range of the fielders.

In doing so, I compared the Red Sox and the league average.

Casey Kotchman 9.50
Dan Johnson 6.54




Adrian Gonzalez 9.35


Sean Rodriguez 4.78




Dustan Pedroia 4.71


Evan Longoria 2.73




Kevin Youkilis (2009)

Adrian Beltre 2.75


Reid Brignac 4.33




Jed Lowrie 3.67
Marco Scutaro 3.83


Johnny Damon 1.99




Carl Crawford 2.24


B.J. Upton 2.77




Jacob Ellsbury (2009) -2.36


Ben Zobrist 2b 4.61
Ben Zobrist 2.26


2b 4.80
rf 2.10


JD Drew 1.92



In summary, there is no way the Rays can rely on Dan Johnson as a fielder at 1B. Despite his age, I think Damon is adequate, but the Rays are losing alot in LF. Thank god for B.J. Upton! The Red Sox defense is boosted by having Adrian Gonzalez. As, Youkilis is a decent 3B as well.

  1. phil says:

    kotchman definitely has glove skills, but will never replace Pena and his 210 average, but dropping bombs and keeping a strong glove going

  2. davidbloom says:

    Casey did have a questionable year with his bat
    7.66 BB%, .280 OBP, .616OPS

    However, .229 BABIP say he was rather unlucky with 86.23% contact rate

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