Kosuke Fukudome was brought to Cleveland to be the savior of the Indians’ pathetic offense. Since he has very little power, for him to deliver salvation, he needs to get on base on a brisk clip, and he certainly has not been doing that. Not only is he only batting just .241, but as the astute commentor James Powell noted, he has only drawn once in a Tribe uniform. The question is why has a guy who was drawing walks at a 13.3% rate with the Cubs would drop to a 1.3% with the Indians.
While we have a very small sample size (61 plate appearances), examination of the data presents a solid supposition as to why Fukudome’s walk totals have plummeted as an Indian. First off, he is swinging at more pitches — his Percentage of Pitches Swung At is 46%, up from the 36% with the Cubs and the 39% for his career. Over his time with the Tribe, that is about 24 more pitches he has taken a cut at. He is swinging at more first pitches as an Indian (39%) than a Cub this year (19%) — that is about 10 more first pitch swings over 61 plate appearances. Perhaps as a result of this, he isn’t getting to many very good hitters counts — he has only had one 3-0 count as an Indian, only six 2-0 counts, and only three 3-1 counts, all much lower than as a Cub. Chances are he just isn’t seeing as many balls outside the zone as AL pitchers are pounding the zone because they just do not fear Antonetti’s Savior.
The other thing that really leaps out is that in 31 of Fukudome’s 61 plate appearances, runners have been on base, 19 in scoring position. I would bet that Fukudome is expanding his zone, trying to make things happen. He feels the asshats behind him are incapable of driving in runs, so he has to do it himself. In other words, he is not using his skill sets wisely. It doesn’t help that resident genius Manny Acta is batting him in the six hole, basically repeating the same mistake he made with Orlando Cabrera (except Fukudome has the ability to get on base while The Out Maker didn’t). Chisenhall and LaPorta have much higher slugging percentages and would be better suited to drive in the runners on base. If they don’t, they Tribe would at least have a high OBP guy starting the next inning. Fukudome would be much better suited batting eighth where he could use his sill sets to get on base more and set the table for the front of the lineup. At the least, he’d be stretching the lineup more in the eighth spot.