Foreign Player Hits & Misses: Pacific League

» 21 November 2010 » In npb »

Since we’ve already looked at the Central League side, it’s time to examine the successful and not-so-successful new foreign players in the Pacific League:

Hits

Tae-Kyun Kim, infielder, Chiba Lotte Marines

In the first season of his three year contract, the stocky Korean first baseman paid dividends for the eventual champions.  Kim appeared in all but three of his team’s games, hitting .268/.357/.429 with 21 home runs and 92 RBI. While his lack of speed (0 SB, 24 GIDP) and high strikeout total (140) brought down his value, Kim showed some patience at the plate with 74 walks. The World Baseball Classic star hit .345 during that tournament in 2009; he posted an identical batting average in the 2010 Japan Series en route to the championship.

Bill Murphy, pitcher, Chiba Lotte Marines

The left-handed Californian had a pleasantly surprising season in Chiba prefecture. Appearing in 38 games, Murphy was able to win 12 games (coupled with 6 losses) with an ERA of 3.75 while limiting his opponents to a .244 batting average. He whiffed 125 batters in 144 innings of work (7.81 K/9IP ratio).  Murphy did struggle with his command, though, as he led the Pacific League in walks issued (84) and wild pitches (11).

Bobby Keppel, pitcher, Nippon Ham Fighters

Keppel was a reliable starter for a team that just barely missed making the Pacific League’s postseason. He won 12 games and lost 8 with a 3.35 ERA this past season.  In the United States, Keppel had never been a strikeout pitcher and he stayed true to form in Japan. In 158 2/3 innings he K’ed only 85 men, but was able to throw two complete games, including one shutout.

Misses

J.D. Durbin, pitcher, Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

Durbin’s 2010 season in Japan was split between the Hawks’ ichi-gun and ni-gun teams. After passing a May tryout he was signed, but was ineffective at the top level soon thereafter. He worked 16 innings and gave up 12 runs, posting an unsightly 6.75 ERA and an equally unpleasant 1.62 WHIP. At ni-gun he was better, slimming his ERA to 3.68 while going 5-0 over 49 innings. Unfortunately for Durbin, Hawks management was unwilling to give him a second chance in 2011, and he was cut loose by the organization in September.

Beom-Ho Lee, infielder, Fukouka Softbank Hawks

Lee was signed out of Korea as a third-baseman with a nifty glove and a slugging bat. I was reluctant to include him on this list because I’m not really sure he had a full chance to prove his talents. In 48 games he came to the plate 139 times, hitting .226/.294/.355. The .649 OPS is weak, however he made only 1 error in the field. He might get more playing time in 2011 as Softbank modifies their roster this offseason. Keep in mind that he will still be behind Nobuhiro Matsuda on the Hawks’ depth chart, which could scuttle that plan.

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