|What'cha gonna do, brother, when Fukudomania runs wild on you, brother?|
Kosuke Fukudome has a career OPS of 1.004 in the month of April. This excellent track record of starting the season on fire has earned him the nickname "April Kosuke." Unfortunately, that's not a compliment. While his April accomplishments are praiseworthy, the moniker is more of an ironic mockery of his alter ego: MayJuneJulyAugustOrSeptember Kosuke. Unlike Rex Grossman, whose Good-Rex/Bad-Rex routine was far more erratic, Kosuke has been fairly good at limiting the offensive explosions to April, hence the name. Or has he?
I've heard Kosuke called a bust, a platoon player at best, a disappointment, and just another of Jim Hendry's typical failed free agent signings. Kosuke praise has been sparse. I get the impression, and it's a pretty well informed one, that Cubs fans and baseball fans in general view Kosuke as a guy who just can't hit once the calendar turns to May. This year, according to what I hear, has been no exception.
One problem: that's a load of crap. Here are Fukudome's offensive splits by month in 2010 (obviously not including his three-hit, two-double performance to kick-off September):
April was great for Fukudome, as usual. May was about average, a little lower perhaps. June was abysmal, but he also only started 12 times that month, due more to Tyler Colvin catching fire than to Kosuke cooling off. The lack of playing time carried over into July, a month that saw Kosuke at the plate fewer than 50 times. That said, he still managed a respectable OBP for the month (.340).
Kosuke's August was outstanding, even better than his April. He ended August with an .835 OPS, good for 12th among NL outfielders and the best in the Cubs outfield (minimum 350 PA). His wOBA is .362, 11th among NL outfielders and, again, best on the Cubs. Kosuke has not hit the metaphorical wall we've grown accustomed to seeing him hit. He's just hitting the unmetaphorical ball consistently . . . when he plays.
This isn't a complaint that Kosuke should have been playing more. All four Cubs outfielders have been pretty bunched together statistically. Not one of them represents a drastic improvement over the others (again, this is more a positive than a negative, as they've all had better than average seasons on the whole). I just think people should take notice: Kosuke has had a good season, and he's still going strong.
And as to the platoon argument: it's hard to make one. For his career, he's only had 252 career plate appearances against lefty pitching with below average, but not terrible, results (a .695 OPS). This year he's actually been better against lefties than righties, though in only 34 PAs.
Kosuke should be pretty easy to trade at this point, although his salary is sizable. Any GM who isn't at least a little bit interested in having Fukudome on his team (including Jim Hendry) just isn't paying that much attention to what Kosuke has done this year.