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From denim jerseys to Wily Mo Pena Beards, the very best products from NPB’s online shops.

Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers, and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Michael Clair writes Old Time Family Baseball and contributes to the Platoon Advantage. Follow him on Twitter @clairbearattack.



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April 8, 2013 5:35 am

The Asian Equation: What's at Stake?

3

Michael Street

A look at what five Asian imports have to prove this season.

Even though Japanese players first came to the major leagues almost 50 years ago (and attempts to sign them to an MLB team date back nearly 80 years), the Asian import market is still fairly new. Aside from Hideo Nomo’s dominant debut in 1995 and Ichiro Suzuki’s spectacular arrival in 2001, only a handful of Asian imports have consistently succeeded in MLB, mostly relievers, along with a few starting pitchers and position players.

That gives each new Eastern import something to prove, whether it’s the value of a different Asian league, a new way to reach MLB, or just that he’s the next Asian star. Today, I’ll look at what five prominent Asian imports have to prove—and whether they can prove it.

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March 19, 2013 5:00 am

Punk Hits: Not Just Another Night at the Yard

6

Ian Miller

On the ground at the WBC.

I’ve become slightly obsessed with the World Baseball Classic. When I learned the semifinals and finals of the 2013 Classic would be played at AT&T Park in San Francisco, I made sure to purchase our regular-season seats for all three games. I’m regretting that decision a little now that they’re flogging $5 bleacher seats for the second semifinal game, but the buyer’s remorse is minimal; after all, it’s not every day that an international baseball event is held in one’s own backyard.

The first semifinal game took place on Sunday night and pitted Japan, the two-time defending WBC champ, against a plucky Puerto Rico team that really had no business making it out of pool play. They faced elimination twice and beat Italy and the United States to guarantee a semifinal berth, ultimately losing to the Dominican Republic in what amounted to a seeding game. Had they won, they would have had an additional day off in which to travel to San Francisco from Miami, and they’d face the Netherlands. But they lost to the D.R., meaning they had to fly west immediately after their Saturday game in order to face Japan on Sunday on a short turnaround and as a heavy underdog.

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Ben and Sam discuss the Mariners' decision to bring in (and lower) Safeco Field's fences, then talk about what the seasons of Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Norichika Aoki say about the difficulty of projecting the performance of Japanese imports.

Ben and Sam discuss the Mariners' decision to bring in (and lower) Safeco Field's fences, then talk about what the seasons of Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Norichika Aoki say about the difficulty of projecting the performance of Japanese imports.

Episode 55: "Shrinking Safeco/The Unpredictability of Japanese Players"

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The AL West added a couple of the premier international players over the offseason, and both are already contributing to their new teams.

Two high-profile international free agents came to the American League West this year. The two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers won negotiating rights (with a $51.7 million bid) to Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish in December 2011 and signed him to a six-year, $56 million deal the following month. Meanwhile, the small-market Oakland A's surprised everyone in February by landing Cuban center fielder/Internet sensation Yoenis Cespedes at four years, $36 million.

Darvish was the better-known quantity, having generated buzz well in advance of his U.S. debut, and was expected to contribute right away. Cespedes came with more questions attached, and it wasn't certain that he would break camp with the big club. But he did, and he made an immediate impact, launching a home run in his big-league debut (amusingly enough, played in Japan).

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July 17, 2007 12:00 am

Nippon Prospectus

0

Mike Plugh

A highly-heralded Japanese import could come to America for 2008. What kind of player is he?

Perhaps the most anticipated free agent of the 2007 class is Chunichi Dragons outfielder Kosuke Fukudome (Koh-skay * foo-koo-DOH-may). What's his background? What kind of player is he? What has he accomplished in his Japanese career?

My enduring image of Kosuke Fukudome comes from a pivotal moment in the inaugural World Baseball Classic--a moment perhaps more responsible for Japan's championship than any other in the course of the tournament. Having lost to rival Korea by one run in each of its two previous encounters in the tournament, Japan found itself in another low-scoring pitcher's duel. Koji Uehara and Jae Seo had put zeroes on the board late into the contest, when Japan managed to put a runner on to lead off the 7th against reliever Byung Doo Jun. Byung-Hyun Kim was brought into the game to face Fukudome, who was pinch-hitting. The Chunichi center fielder had struggled in the WBC, and was on the bench for this semi-final contest with Korea. Showing a flair for the big moment, and adding to the embarrassing career lowlight reel of Kim, Fukudome launched a two-run homer into the right field stands to break the scoreless tie and open the floodgates for Japan; they would score a total of five runs in that inning, and go on to win the game 6-0.

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May 13, 2007 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Alex Ochoa

0

David Laurila

After four years in Japan, the former major leaguer is back in American baseball.

David talked to Ochoa about acclimating to a new baseball culture, Japanese managers, and the gyroball.

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April 19, 2007 12:00 am

The Foreigners

0

Mike Plugh

Which foreign-born ballplayers in the Japanese leagues should you know something about?

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February 21, 2002 12:00 am

Japanese Baseball, Pt. 2

0

Clay Davenport

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January 29, 2002 12:00 am

Japanese Baseball

0

Clay Davenport

More serious a problem is the small number of players moving between Japan and the United States. The Translations system depends on being able to set a difficulty level for each league. To do that, I need to have a sizable group of players who have played in both the leagues I am testing and in leagues whose difficulty level I already know. Every player who played in both leagues needs to be compared to the league average; if, as a group, one set is league average, and the second set is 10% above average, you can assume that the second league is 10% worse that the first league.

With the Japanese leagues, there really haven't been enough comparisons to get a firm grip on the appropriate difficulty level, especially since almost all the comparisons were of players who went from the U.S. to Japan, and not from Japan to the U.S..

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