Sooner or later, we’re going to see Yu Darvish in a Major League uniform. It might even be as soon as next season, though that decision has yet to be made.
Much has been written about the accomplishments that have led to the of hype and interest in Darvish’s eventual move to MLB, but not so much about the man himself. He’s an interesting guy, and we live in the information age, so let’s fix that.
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Question: what do these guys all have in common?
You all may know me as the Japanese baseball guy, but my interest in the sport developed as a kid growing up in the Chicago suburbs as a die-hard White Sox fan. Because of my Chicago roots, my favorite part of the FanGraphs gathering in Arizona during spring training was our chat with White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn, who mentioned something that I’ve known for years: trainer Herm Schneider is a great asset to the Sox organization.
Rick specifically mentioned Jermaine Dye as an example of the success the White Sox have had limiting injury risks, but I have many fond and bittersweet memories of rehab projects the ChiSox took on in the 1990s. Here are some of my favorites: Read the rest of this entry »
As is the case every season, a couple dozen new players made their way to Japan this year. Some guys swim, others sink. Let’s check in with a couple notable players and see how they’re doing in Japan so far.
* all stats prior to game action on May 17, 2011 JST.
We’re doing great!
Wladimir Balentien (OF, Yakult Swallows) — Unquestionably the biggest early success story, Balentien has feasted on Japanese pitching to the tune of .386/.485/.916. The first and last items of that slash line lead the Central League, while the middle one is .001 behind leader Jun Hirose. Balentien’s 13 home runs are five more than the #2 man, Alex Ramirez.
By the time I flipped on the Seibu-Lotte game last night (Pacific Time), Marines submariner Shunsuke Watanabe had sent the first nine Lions he faced down in order. I must have been bad luck, as he only got through two more before giving up a home run to Hiroyuki Nakajima. Nakaji’s homer was an obvious Watanabe mistake, a waist-high, 105 kmph (65 mph) hanging slider over the middle half of the plate. After the homer, Watanabe quickly re-established himself, and retired the next nine batters consecutively before surrendering a single to Takeya Nakamura in the 7th. Along the way Seibu only managed two more hard-hit balls, both of which were long fly ball outs, though one did require rightfielder Saburo to make a nice play at the way. And when Nakaji finally came up again in the 7th inning, Watanabe kept everything away.
About a year ago, shortly after joining Fangraphs, I did a post inviting questions on my area of expertise, Japanese baseball. It’s been a year, so I’d like to do the same again today. This time I’ll add a single rule: please adhere to a limit of one question per comment. I’ll make my best effort to respond to every (serious) question that is posted.
Last November, I asked you who should play in Japan this upcoming season. With NPB camps opening and offseason acquisitions basically complete. let’s take a look at who went over. Here’s the breakdown, using the categories I outlined in my original post: Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been a while, so let me refresh your memories: Hisashi Iwakuma and Oakland were unable to come to terms on a contract, and the righty will remain in Japan next season. Iwakuma earns the somewhat dubious distinction of being the first posted NPB player not to sign with the team that had won his rights.
This was originally written on November 9th. It has moved back to the front page as a reference for Twins fans who want to read about their newest potential acquisition.
On Monday, a story that had been circulating around the Japanese press re-emerged in the US, with Tim Kurkjian reporting that Chiba Lotte Marines shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka is due to be posted this week. The Japanese media heavily covered the story when it first broke, but died down during the Nippon Series, which the Marines won. Now that hot stove season has kicked into gear there’s more to talk about.
Two weeks ago, I asked you to suggest players who could do well in Japan, and you exceeded my expectations by coming up with 37 names. Here they are, with a few notes thrown in by me.