I have a soft spot for players like Corey Koskie — guys that are above-average players, but don’t get the recognition they deserve because they don’t do even one thing at All-Star level. Koskie’s highest finish on a league top 10 list was sixth in sacrifice flies in 2003 and he finished 25th in the league in MVP voting in 2001. His lack of a significant weakness has resulted in consistently above-average production. He’s been above average in runs created per game (RC/G) every season since his 11 at-bats in 1998.
While Koskie‘s overall performance has been consistent, the profile of his play has taken on a few different personalities. He cranked 25 homeruns in 2001 and 2004, he walked in 14% of his plate appearances in 2000 and 2003, and he’s hit anywhere from .250 to .310. Combine the best individual numbers from across all his seasons and he’s an All-Star, albeit a poor one.
Let’s take a look at what Koskie did in 2001; his best season. He hit 26 homeruns and broke the century mark in both runs and RBI, coming to the plate 649 times, 75 more than in any other year. The power can be explained by his profile as a fly ball hitter in 2001, which was similar to his 2004 season where he hit 25 home runs. In both those seasons his batting average was below his career norms. Fly balls are turned into outs more often than groundballs, and Koskie’s fly balls (blue) also came with a price of fewer line drives (red), which explains the lower average.
Koskie‘s worst season (2005) saw his fly ball rate fall by 10%, causing his home run total to decrease to 11. He’s had other successful seasons without much power, but in those seasons he saw both a higher line-drive percentage and walk rate. In 2005 he hit a lot of groundballs and both his power and average dipped because of it.
So what kind of player has Koskie been so far in 2006? His on-base percentage (OBP) lies at a career norm of .365, but he’s slugging a career-best .515 thanks to a .286 average and 14 doubles. Looking underneath those numbers though, his 2006 looks a lot like 2005. His batted ball profile is unfortunately very similar to last year, yet his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is up to .341; the highest it’s been since 2003. One of those two figures will change as the season goes on, likely the latter. Most disappointingly, his walk rate (BB%) is at a career low 9%.
An up and coming team like the Brewers should be concentrating on letting their young guys develop, but they also need to fill a few positions with veterans. Acquiring an underrated third baseman like Koskie at a salary below value is a great move. Most teams in Milwaukee’s situation tend to overspend on players such as Tony Batista and Carl Everett. But while Koskie seems to have bumped up his performance from last year, his profile hasn’t changed much except for a decrease in walks.
I expect his walk-rate to become more in line with his career performance, but the batting average and doubles power will likely come down from their current levels. I’ll still be rooting for Koskie, but it seems like his days as an above-average player may be over.
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