On this day in 1975 Mark Kotsay was born in Whittier, California. He went to Cal State Fullerton before the Marlins drafted him with the #9 overall pick in 1996. He made his major league debut as a September callup the next year.
In his prime Kotsay was a very good defensive outfielder and productive major league hitter, but he had already appeared in 1624 games as a member of six teams over 14 major league seasons and his best days had largely passed him by when the Brewers signed him as a free agent before the 2011 season.
Once he joined the Brewers Kotsay became something of a lightning rod. He hit just .239/.311/.284 through his first 54 games for Milwaukee, a stretch that ran all the way into July. Ron Roenicke also did him no favors by putting him into the following situations:
- Allowing him to start a combined 22 games batting second, third or fifth.
- Playing him in center field over both Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez despite the fact that he had played just five games at the position over the previous two years combined.
Unfortunately, many Brewer fans' lasting memory of Kotsay is one of the latter moments, when Roenicke penciled him into the lineup in center in Game 3 of the 2011 NLCS. Kotsay did homer in that game, but also was unable to reach several balls hit to center field and was picked off second with one of the worst slides you'll ever see.
Kotsay is widely praised as being a good guy to have in the clubhouse, which is probably part of the reason the Padres recently re-signed him despite the fact that he's mostly limited to corner outfield/first base work and has hit just .257/.315/.372 over the last six seasons.
Today is also the ninth anniversary of pitcher Victor Santos signing with the Brewers as a free agent. We covered that event in this space last year.