Five Fun Facts About Shane Costa

Back one night in June, as the Royals prepared to take on the hated White Sox in a key matchup for 4th place, I pondered the career of Shane Costa. I'm still not really sure what my angle was, but then again, that was somehow caused by the topic itself, namely that Costa's already mapped out a curious little big-league career.

It must be a strange existence for Costa, who some nights is treated like a 4th OF/pinch-runner, and others is slotted into the cleanup slot and is DHing. In his three-year Royal career, Costa has played 322 innings as a RF, 287 in left, and 159 in center, while DHing seven times. He's started a game in every single lineup slot save the #3 hole at least once, and in 2007 Bell's managed to spread his 12 starts around to six different lineup positions.

Somehow the flexibility, mediocrity and playing time measured out in fits and starts makes for a very random career. While some guys end up being lionized for being capable of being imagined as just about anything, for Costa only his irrelevance seems to be underscored. Granted, there is a difference between an outfield tweener and a infield utility man, but perhaps not as large a asset gap as you might assume. Despite actually seeing quite a bit of him, in three years its quite possible that most of us will go months without ever thinking of Costa, possibly longer. I guess this is why I'm a blogger and not something better, since I don't really know how to tie this up, but the whole Shane Costa vortex just seems weird to me, placing him somewhere between a scrub, an everyman and a cipher. Even Joe McEwing and Joey Gathright types have their supporters, but not so much the Costas.

Well, from here on out, you can count me as a Shane Costa supporter!

Well as fate would have it -- I'm sorry, fate is a pagan concept, and we all know the Royals aren't pagans anymore -- I mean, as providence would have it, that very night Buddisimo threw Costa into the cleanup spot, where he promptly went 2-4 and paced the Royals to a 8-1 victory. For good measure, the night before Bell had batted him leadoff.

For whatever reason, somewhat against my June thesis, my thoughts turned to Costa tonight as a perfectly good candidate for another Fun Facts profile. So lets jump right in:

  1. To my knowledge, Costa has never really been injured. Since being drafted in 2003 out of Fullerton, Costa's been a dependable soldier from A-ball to the K. Not being injured sounds fun to me!
  2. Although Costa struggled in very limited AAA action in 2005, in the last two seasons he's  certainly had no problems in Omaha. In 2006 he hit .342/.398/.593 against the PCL, followed by a .326/.402/.502 campaign in 2007. Still, you'll immediately notice that downtick in power, Costa only popped 5 HRs with the O-Royals in 2007.  
  3. Costa's most active big league season is still 2006, when he earned 243 PAs with the Royals, appearing in 72 games. In 2007, most of his action was in May and June, before he was sent down again in early July. Costa wouldn't return until the end of August. In that second major chunk, Costa appeared in 22 games, but only got 42 PAs, as Bell  viewed him as more as a late inning tool than anything else. Still, Shane managed to hit .289/.357/.421 over that stretch, although that number is a bit misleading, since Costa hit .400/.429/.600 in a 21 PA stretch from August 26th through September 2nd. From that point on, he hot only .176/.300/.235, in 20 PAs. So I guess the fun fact here is: Costa did OK in a somewhat large mini-sample of PAs, even better than you would expect due to the circumstances, but, when you dig even deeper into that mini-sample, it actually turns out that he actually struggled when the assumed  tough circumstances actually came to fruition. See, this is why I am such a good teacher, I make learning fun!
  4. Despite accumulating some surprisingly hefty career totals as a Royal, because his career thus far has been so herky-jerky over the last three seasons, Costa's actually not faced many pitchers more than once. Moreover, because of the timing of his sundry callups, he's actually got a distinct AL West flavor to his matchup log. Overall, his most common combatant on the mound has been Carlos Silva. In 13 career battles with Silva, Costa is .500/.538/1.000, with three doubles, a home run and a hit by pitch. So when theres a Silva-Costa brawl in 2012, we'll know why. Who else does Costa own? How about  Tanyon Sturtze: he's 1-1 with a HR. Costa killers? Shane's 0-5 against Francisco Rodriguez, with three strikeouts, and 0-6 against Jered Weaver and Scott Baker.
  5. Speaking of the Weaver family, Costa's first career home run was off Jeff Weaver, in the 5th inning of a 2-2 tie at the K.  While some would consider that a clutch home run, I cannot. Why? of Costa's five career big league HRs, three have come with no outs and the other two with 1 out. Moreover, four of his five homers have been solo shots, with the other a measly two-run HR. Clearly, Costa doesn't care about winning, he just cares about his stats. If Tom Brady ever looked at him, he would immediately burst into flame.
  6. In June I touched on how the Bell/Costa combination produced all kinds of batting order madness. For the record, Costa has batted in all nine positions, although he has never actually started a game as the #3 hitter, though he has two career PAs there. At the major-league level, Costa's most common slot has been 6th, with 108 PAs. Here's the full breakdown:

He Gets Around: Costa's PAs by   Batting Order Position
  1. 6th- 108 PAs
  2. 7th- 77 PAs
  3. 1st- 76 PAs
  4. 5th- 75 PAs
  5. 8th- 52 PAs
  6. 9th- 31 PAs
  7. 4th- 16 PAs
  8. 2nd- 12 PAs
  9. 3rd- 2 PAs

Seriously, while we spent much time last season discussing Bell's lineup machinations, I must state again: I really had no problem with it. However, viewed from above, with guys like Costa, I think this does reflect something of the organization's general feeling of uncertainty about him. And its not only the general spread, but the distribution here: its not like he's all leadoff and #9, or all 3-5 or something like that. No, at various times, he's been theoretically just about everything, from a middle-back of the lineup run-producer (think Joe Randa types) or maybe a table-setter of import, or maybe just end of the lineup garbage.

Bonus Fun Facts! Costa is currently 119th in team history in at bats (421), and will tie Joe Nunnally with his next Royal appearance.  Sadly, Costa has already been easily passed by organizational Johnny-Come-Lately Joey Gathright (457). Costa is currently tied with Jeff Conine for 117th in team history in hits, with 107, and is tied with Ruben Gotay for 118th in total bases, with 154. Ruben Gotay made it into 130 games? Who knew!?!                        

According to the official team bio, Costa was hit by pitches 57 times as a college player... Costa participated in the 2006 Royals Caravan, and props for doing that (although no word if he was part of the crew that watched the Office)... At least one person out there hopes Costa is single, and thinks he's hot... Costa's signing bonus was $775K, and he's accumulated 1.108 years of MLB service time... This may or may not be Costa's myspace page... Costa was discussed on Royals Authority this time a season ago.

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