Chris Coste, C/IF (RHB)
2008: 274 AB / 28 R / 9 HR / 36 RBI / 16 BB / 51 SO / 0 SB / .263 AVG / .325 OBP / .423 SLG
Summary: You wouldn’t have known it, but Chris Coste had a better season in 2008 than in 2007. With about 50 fewer plate appearances than Ruiz, Coste improved on his counting statistics and most of his averages. It helped that Coste finally spent an entire season with the big club; still, he remained a platoon/backup. His contact percentages improved slightly, but not enough to show significant ownership of the strike zone. Coste remained a mostly fastball hitter, and one who can tear left-handed pitching (.296/.363/.519). Despite more than 100 fewer appearances against lefties, Coste matched his RBI total with his righty split (18). Coste remained tough to figure defensively; while critics say he’s worse than Ruiz, his metrics show he’s just as good, if not better. And pitchers were generally strong with Coste as backstop — he remains Brett Myers’ favorite target.
Career Level: Descent (Year 1)
Green Flags: With more time, Coste seems to remain a consistent hitter with climbing counting numbers. That’s the mark of a good player. … He has proven to be an above-average contact hitter with his .328 2006. … With 30 more at bats, Coste is an absolute possibility for double-digit home run power.
Red Flags: Though the great lefty numbers, Coste is still hard to swallow against righties. … His strikeout numbers ballooned, and he still doesn’t take nearly as much as he should. … His high average of balls in play shows luck is on his side a lot. That may change.
Prognostication: Now that Coste is locked in to the backup catcher role, he’ll likely be used against left-handed arms. That’s a role that can suit Coste well, as he rips left-handed pitching. He can also spell Ryan Howard a smidge of time at first base, if necessary. Now, Ruiz’s emergence defensively won’t help with his at bats, so expect a possible decrease in counting numbers, but close to normal averages.
2009 Projection: 227 AB / 19 R / 6 HR / 29 RBI / 10 BB / 43 SO / 0 SB / .277 AVG / .313 OBP / .411 SLG