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Articles Tagged Japanese Players 

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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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September 20, 2011 10:41 pm

The Asian Equation: The Future of the NPB Import Market

13

Michael Street

Michael ends his look at Japanese imports with some conclusions and a look at the future of the transpacific player market.

In the Asian Equation series, I’ve traced the history of the current posting system that imports players from NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball, the Japanese major leagues) and how the success of Ichiro Suzuki has affected it, from the position players who arrived in his wake to the pricey disappointments among starting pitchers and the marginally successful relievers. In this final column, I’ll take a look back to draw conclusions from this history and see what we can expect from the NPB market in the future. As with my previous columns, Patrick Newman’s advice and ideas were very helpful, as is his website, NPB Tracker.

The simplest, broadest conclusion concerns the players themselves, where we must draw an important distinction between talent and skills. As Craig Brown wrote in the comments section of his article on Tsuyoshi Nishioka, “. . . comparing two middle infielders just because they come from Japan is like comparing two middle infielders just because they come from Delaware.” Just because they’re from Japan doesn’t mean we can draw specific conclusions about individual ballplayers, their talents, or their ability to succeed in Major League Baseball. This goes double for Ichiro, whose skills are idiosyncratic on either side of the Pacific. Throwing money at Japanese players expecting them to be slap hitters with weird batting stances and an uncanny ability to find defensive holes is as foolish as thinking every Venezuelan shortstop will field (and endure) like Omar Vizquel. We can’t expect specific players to have certain inherent talents just because they were born in Japan.

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May 11, 2011 9:00 am

The Asian Equation

28

Michael Street

At the dawn of the posting system, the arrival of the unique Ichiro Suzuki would forever change the player market between the U.S. and Japan.

Last month, I traced the early history of Japanese-American player traffic, from the Pirates’ sly attempt to sign Eiji Sawamura in the 1930s to the loophole-leaping of players like Hideo Nomo and Alfonso Soriano in the 1990s. To close that voluntary-retirement loophole and to prevent trading players like Hideki Irabu without their permission, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) agreed on the current posting system in 1998. The system was designed to allow MLB teams to sign NPB stars without turning the NPB into another minor league, by forcing MLB teams to pay twice for NPB players, with about half of the total fee typically going to that player’s club.

During the leagues’ offseason, NPB teams can choose to post players who want to test the MLB waters. Once a player is posted, any MLB team has four days to submit a bid to the MLB commissioner for the right to negotiate with him. The highest bidding team then has thirty days to sign a contract. If they succeed, the team pays the posting fee to the player’s NPB club, but if they can’t come to an agreement, no fee is paid. The winning club thus pays for a player twice, with a portion going to the team as a non-negotiable sealed bid. This kind of blind bidding can easily lead to overpaying, benefitting the NPB club, but not the player.

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April 13, 2011 9:00 am

The Asian Equation

11

Michael Street

Where did today's Japanese-American player market come from?

This article is the first in a series tracing the roots of today’s transpacific baseball economy between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Japanese professional baseball league.

Today’s fans might think that importing players began with Ichiro Suzuki, or maybe Hideo Nomo, but the practice began much earlier, ultimately affecting the game on both sides of the Pacific.

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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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April 10, 2007 12:00 am

Impact Talent in Japan

0

Mike Plugh

A review of who might come to the States as free agents, through the posting system, and names you just want to know.

Why the sudden interest in who's next? It wasn't all that many years ago that people scoffed at the idea of a Japanese player making an impact in the major leagues. There were a lot of reasons given for the lack of interest, but I believe the lack of high-profile Asian athletes on the American sports scene perpetuated some old ideas about the size, strength, and durability of East Asian players. Misconceptions remain until someone gives us a reason to change our minds.

In the year 2000 I was living and working in New York. That was when the name "Ichiro" began to make the rounds, as the Orix Blue Wave was getting ready to send the outfielder to the Mariners. Many people I spoke with at the time rolled their eyes at the move. The big money the M's were spending on a little slap hitter from Japan was widely questioned. I vividly recall my shock at the rationale behind these journalists' opinions. "Japanese players are too small, lack power, and won't stand up to the grueling Major League routine. Major Leaguers are much bigger, stronger, and likely to dominate the average Japanese position player. They don't throw as hard as we do. The parks are smaller. How can we expect to believe in the quality of Japanese baseball when minor league wash outs go over there and succeed?"

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February 21, 2002 12:00 am

Japanese Baseball, Pt. 2

0

Clay Davenport

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