Hot Stove Preview, Part Two: 2012 Posting Candidates

» 26 July 2011 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb »

As promised in part one, here are my guesses at what will happen with the posting market this offseason. Remember, unlike free agency, posting is not a scheduled event. Players must request to be posted, and their teams must consent for the posting process to actually take place. As such

Posting Candidates

Hiroyuki Nakajima (SS, Seibu Lions) — Nakaji made multiple requests to be posted last offseason, all of which were denied by Seibu’s management, citing a desire to compete this season. It hasn’t really worked out, as the Lions are currently in last place in the Pacific League (despite my preseason optimism). Like most of NPB, Nakajima’s numbers have been suppressed by the new ball, but he still sports a .279/.339/.431 line. Sadly that .430 slugging percentage is good for sixth in the Pacific League. I don’t really see Nakaji as an MLB shortstop, but if he can come close his current .770 OPS at the MLB level, he’d be a useful second baseman. (Hiroyuki Nakajima tag archive)

Norichika Aoki (OF, Yakult Swallows) — Posting rumors involving Aoki were once common but have really died down over the last few years. There was some reporting that he was going to ask to be posted last offseason, but nothing came of it. It seems pretty clear that Yakult wants to hang on to him, so my take is that it’s highly unlikely that Aoki will be posted this offseason. If he was, his MLB value would be questionable. In this year’s depressed offensive environment, Aoki has largely held on to his on-base skills, but seen his power decline significantly. After regularly slugging around .500 over the last several years, Aoki has just 12 extra base hits (no home runs) in 292 at bats this season, for a .363 rate. (Norichika Aoki tag archive)

Yu Darvish (SP, Nippon Ham Fighters) — I need to be careful what I write about Darvish, because it tends to get repeated, frequently without much context. Darvish is not a free agent until after the 2014 season. There’s also no concrete evidence that Darvish is going to be posted this offseason, and I have my doubts about the journalistic integrity of those who claim otherwise. It is heavily rumored that this is the year, but that’s been the case since before I started this blog in 2008, and here we are. The only on-the-record quote I’ve seen recently from anyone who’s involved are these, from Nippon Ham GM Masao Yamada, last month in Sponichi: “posting is done at the request of the individual, and he hasn’t said anything to us, so we can’t ask ‘what shall we do’ from our side” and “when the time comes, we’ll take the circumstances of the team and the player’s performance into consideration”.

Having said all that, Darvish has done nothing to discourage the rumors with his performance. After a rough opening day start, Darvish has been flat-out dominant this season. I would go as far as to say this is the best work I’ve ever seen from him. Part of that is because of the new, offensive-choking ball, but Darvish has done his part, leading Japan in wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts. I don’t have any doubt that he could perform well against better competition. (Yu Darvish tag archive)

My best guess is what of the three players profiled above, only Nakajima is posted. We may see a player I haven’t discussed posted as well; last year I didn’t think Hisashi Iwakuma or Tsuyoshi Nishioka would be posted, and they both were.

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  1. Patrick
    26/07/2011 at 9:28 am Permalink

    Besides what’s obvious to any casual observer has there been any concrete research done on the this new dead ball? Just curious. I haven’t found much.

  2. Patrick
    26/07/2011 at 9:50 am Permalink

    Here’s one:

    It’s in Japanese (and probably worth directly translating), but it basically shows that offense is dramatically down this year.

  3. Patrick
    Dan Koch
    26/07/2011 at 10:27 am Permalink

    Speaking of posting and MLB, I wonder how the new ball would affect the translation of NPB statistics into MLB performance? Given the performance of most transitioning NPB position players, it appears that their power is greatly diminished, but their on-base skills are only slightly affected insomuch as their home runs are no longer hits. We’ve seen this trend with Ichiro, both Matsuis, Fukudome, Ichiro, Johjima, and Iwamura. Shinjo is the only exception that comes to mind — in classic charismatic spaceman fashion, he actually seemed to hit better in the US than Japan. Could the new power-supressing ball mean that NPB hitting statistics are now much closer to what you can expect in MLB?

    I mention this especially in the case of Aoki. He always struck me as a guy who would continue to hit for average if he came to the US, but his power would evaporate. A Juan Pierre / Castillo-type .300/.380/.360 type of hitter. Valuable if it comes with an above-average centerfield, which it likely would if he were to make the leap before his knees go. It appears that the new ball has turned him into that kind of hitter in Jingu already.

  4. Patrick
    26/07/2011 at 6:29 pm Permalink

    Thanks, Patrick.

  5. Patrick
    27/07/2011 at 3:18 am Permalink

    I know he is not a posting candidate due to free agency, but what MLB interest will there be in Wei-Ying Chen? It seems to me his stock is falling.

  6. Patrick
    Michael Westbay
    27/07/2011 at 7:39 am Permalink

    Listen to a few of the latest episodes of the Japan Baseball Weekly podcasts. John and Jim talk a bit about it.

  7. Patrick
    Scott Kaneko
    28/07/2011 at 8:49 pm Permalink

    The whole “posting” process in my mind is a waste of time and money for the MLB teams. Based on recent experiences, why would a MLB team pay the posting fee and end up with a Matsuzaka or Nishioka? The performance of starting pitchers from Japan is rather disappointing. It would be interesting to see how Darvish would do in the MLB but by the time he gets there, his arm will most likely have pitched too many innings. Also, when these infielder from Japan come to the US, doesn’t anyone explain to them that they have to get out of the way when turning a double play? It seems that every Japanese infielder that comes to the US, has poor fundamentals, a weak arm (many end of playing second base) and get hurt trying to turn the double play.

  8. Patrick
    01/08/2011 at 3:09 pm Permalink

    No Kyuji Fujikawa?