What’s happened to Kosuke Fukudome? Generally you would think that an established player coming over from Japan would struggle during the first few months of his MLB career while he adjusted to the different styles and levels of play and then settle into a groove. Fukudome however, started off a star in Chicago’s north side as the Cubs raced out in the NL Central going 35-21 through May while Fukudome posted a .310/.412/.442 batting line while playing more than adequate right field defense.
Fukudome would start to decline in June, but still managed a fabulous OBP thanks to 17 walks against just 22 strikeouts, giving him a fantastic .123 isolated discipline. Kosuke even doubled his home run total to that point with three in June giving him a decent, but not spectacular .138 isolated power mark. So while his average dipped down to the .260s for that month, his more important slash stats remained viable and healthy.
Then something seemingly happened on June 29th as from that point forward Fukudome has regressed in every category. He’s only hit three home runs during that 66 game span and a total of 11 extra base hits giving him a lean .089 isolated power and while he still drew 26 walks during that time, he also struck out at a much higher rate, 49 times in 233 plate appearances, a 21% clip compared to just under 16% prior. And those 26 walks represented about a five point decline in walk rate over that prior period as well.
Overall, it’s been a .207/.293/.296 slash line for Fukudome since June 29th. One might wonder if pitchers have adjusted to his lack of power and are starting to throw him more strikes as they fear him less. Or maybe he was just really comfortable in the five spot of the batting order, where he started the season until the middle of June when he got moved up to leadoff and subsequently bounced around as he’s faltered.
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