Forecasting Japanese imports provides particular challenges, which teams will try to adjust for this offseason.
In November of 2010, the Twins bid $5 million for the privilege of negotiating with Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who had been posted by his NPB team, the Chiba Lotte Marines. The 26-year-old was coming off a season in which he’d hit .346/.423/.482, leading Japan’s Pacific League in batting average, hits, runs, and total bases. Nishioka had won three Japanese Gold Gloves, and the Twins, whose astute scouting had led them to six division titles in the previous 10 seasons, envisioned him as their starting shortstop. After winning the bidding, they spent an additional $9 million to lock up Nishioka for the next three seasons.
Last December, the Brewers submitted a winning bid of $2.5 million—half of what the Twins had bid for Nishioka—to negotiate with Yakult Swallows outfielder Norichika Aoki. It took $2.5 million more to secure his services for the next two seasons. The 29-year-old Aoki had posted a much more modest .292/.358/.360 line with just four home runs in his final Japanese season.
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Earlier this year, Derek wrote about what to expect from the most-hyped foreign players. Did the players comply?
Prior to the season, I spoke with a number of scouts and talent evaluators to try to get a read on the various international imports fantasy players would have to make decisions on in their drafts. Today, I wanted to take a look back and see how well we were able to predict their performance here in the United States.
Yu Darvish | Texas Rangers | SP
Darvish was the most hyped international product to make the jump to Major League Baseball in years, and for the most part, I advised optimism in regard to his chances for success, and I even wound up drafting him on one team. As I summarized when I did my midseason check-in, my preseason Darvish sentiment boiled down to three main points: “1) He has ridiculous stuff and upside, 2) He has just average command, and 3) He has terrific makeup, which should help with the multi-faceted, often-difficult transition to MLB.”
For one pitch in Friday's Mets-Brewers game, neither batter nor pitcher knew what the other was up to.
Okay, here’s one for the comedy department. On Friday night, for reasons that remain unclear, I found myself watching a bit of the Mets’ 7-3 win over the Brewers. I was flipping back and forth, only half paying attention. Then, in the bottom of the second, with one out and men at first and third, Norichika Aoki and Jon Niese revealed they were paying about as much attention as I was:
Norichika Aoki has been everything the Brewers perhaps never expected. What's next?
The Brewers had one of the league’s best-hitting outfields last season. Any group led by National League MVP Ryan Braun ought to rank well, and the Brewers did—only the Cardinals had a higher aggregate OPS. However, advertising Milwaukee’s outfield as a one-man show is being untruthful. Right fielder Corey Hart improved on his breakout 2010 season, and center fielders Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan provided speed and, in Morgan’s case, on-base percentage.
Whenever multiple players achieve banner years in a single season, it’s typically safe to bet on the under in the subsequent season. Milwaukee’s outfield is proving no different. They entered the weekend ranked seventh in outfield OPS. Despite Braun’s best efforts to outdo his MVP-winning season, both Hart and Morgan have taken a step back—and in Hart’s case, many steps away. Prince Fielder’s departure and Mat Gamel’s ACL injury left the Brewers in need of a first baseman. Hart, initially reluctant but ultimately cooperative, has become the answer at the cold corner. It helps that Milwaukee is receiving good production in the outfield from an offseason addition.
The tater trots for April 20: two inside-the-park home runs, plus an invalid trot from David Ortiz!
What do you do when two different players each hit an inside-the-park home run on the same night? Normally, one is good enough for Home Run of the Day, but how do you choose? And what if they both come on a once-in-a-century day where two storied teams are wearing fantastic uniforms from generations past while celebrating the birthday of a park like Fenway? Especially when there are six different home runs in that game? And let's not forget a pair of home runs from last year's sad sack story Adam Dunn, or home run number 631(good enough for fifth all-time) from Alex Rodriguez?