NPB Bullet Points: Iwakuma Confirms Plans

» 30 October 2011 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb »

A few notes on the meja chosen (メジャー挑戦, “challenging the majors”) situations for some of NPB’s top players.

  • Hisashi Iwakuma has confirmed his widely-anticipated plans to move to the Majors. He was quoted in Sponichi as saying, “For several years, I’ve been thinking that I want to play in the Majors. In order to realize that dream, I’m going to exercise international free agency after the conclusion of the Japan Series.” Iwakuma will spend two weeks in November training in Arizona.
  • Norichika Aoki’s name as re-emerged in the posting rumor mill, courtesy of Nikkan Sports. I had kind of written him off as an MLB prospect, partly because Yakult has seemed so unwilling to post him, but mostly because his numbers fell off so badly this year (.292/.358/.360 this year, after .358/.435/.509 last season). Aoki refused to comment on the situation for Sponichi, saying “the season isn’t over year, I’m only focusing on the games.” Yakult team president Tsuyoshi Kinugasa, on the other hand, has been chatty about: “If he asks for some time, we’ll give him time, but we haven’t had that talk yet. The general idea is to support talented players who what to challenge the world, but as the president my first mission is a Yakult championship. I can’t support the general perception.”
  • Yu Darvish’s season ended with Nippon Ham’s first round playoff loss, but that hasn’t changed anything. Darvish reiterated his position on the Majors in the Sankei Shimbun: “I wrote this on my blog, but I haven’t decided on a direction so I don’t have any comment.” Read my notes on Darvish’s last appearance of 2011 here.


Tags: , ,

Trackback URL

  1. Patrick
    Dan Koch
    30/10/2011 at 12:50 pm Permalink

    Given his outstanding season, is there any chance that Okawari-kun tests the MLB market this year? 3B is barren in the US right now, and his overcoming of the ‘no-fly’ ball suggests he could have power that will play in the US. Is his glove considered too lousy to stick at that position, or is that a false perception caused by his more… zaftig… figure?

  2. Patrick
    30/10/2011 at 1:21 pm Permalink

    Basically almost all the hitters fared worse this year with the new ball.
    Just another thing to mess up MLB scouts ;).

  3. Patrick
    30/10/2011 at 1:53 pm Permalink

    Okawari is about the same height as Pedroia, and may be able to run just as well. But they would never take seriously a HR hitter with that height from anywhere.

  4. Patrick
    Dan Koch
    30/10/2011 at 3:22 pm Permalink

    Didn’t realize he was that short. They’ve got him listed at 5′ 9″, but I see that may be more of a ‘Gentleman’s 5’ 9″‘ than a real listing. It’s a shame — his upside could be somewhere in the Dan Uggla neighborhood, provided he could get around on the MLB fastball consistently.

  5. Patrick
    30/10/2011 at 6:57 pm Permalink

    Okawari-kun’s power is real, and even though batting average is overrated, if his average experiences the typical NPB to MLB adjustment, he’d be in the Rob Deer range and that’ll make him a borderline case at best. Besides, he should still be a few years away from FA.

  6. Patrick
    30/10/2011 at 6:58 pm Permalink

    Aoki lost all his power with the new ball which is supposed to behave much like the MLB ball. If any MLB team is still interested in him, that shows glaring lack of research.

  7. Patrick
    31/10/2011 at 1:13 am Permalink

    The Rob Deer range translates to the .151/.279/.297 slash line in the NPB.

  8. Patrick
    31/10/2011 at 1:37 am Permalink

    Haha, I forgot that he was one of the failed Hanshin sukettos.

  9. Patrick
    31/10/2011 at 11:38 am Permalink

    Not confirmed yet, but Milledge to Yakult and Ramirez out of Yomiuri.

  10. Patrick
    Dan Koch
    31/10/2011 at 3:15 pm Permalink

    The amusing thing is — .292/.358/.360 would’ve been my guess at Aoki’s line had he played in the US this year. The no-fly ball has almost certainly reduced the adjustment needed between NPB and MLB hitting stats, but that’s not a line I think anyone would bet on.

  11. Patrick
    31/10/2011 at 10:37 pm Permalink

    So, now we have the reverse situation where NPB pitchers, instead of hitters, have inflated numbers starting this year. It’s a whole new translation from 2011 (or until whenever the new ball lasts, Nabetsune’s against it.)

  12. Patrick
    Dan Koch
    31/10/2011 at 11:13 pm Permalink

    Milledge to Yakult — that’s going to be interesting, considering that he was dogged by perceived attitude issues in the majors (fairly or unfairly). It’s definitely a high-risk, high-reward signing — he may not last the year, but he’s only 27 and I could just as easily see him regain the spark that made him a hot prospect and have a great NPB career. Tough to say.

  13. Patrick
    31/10/2011 at 11:50 pm Permalink

    Passerby’s comment might be Sponichi’s source on this one:

  14. Patrick
    02/11/2011 at 1:23 am Permalink

    As a Yakult fan, Aoki’s drastic drop in numbers and Lim’s shaky performance (not only post season but regular season as well) was genuine shock indeed.

  15. Patrick
    02/11/2011 at 8:36 am Permalink

    Aoki looked totally off balance at the plate early in the season. Maybe he’s always been like that and I just haven’t noticed because it worked.

  16. Patrick
    04/11/2011 at 7:15 am Permalink


  17. Patrick
    04/11/2011 at 8:16 am Permalink


  18. Patrick
    06/11/2011 at 11:21 am Permalink

    >Sponichi’s source
    Nah, they have their own source. Here’s Sports Hochi.

  19. Patrick
    06/11/2011 at 4:49 pm Permalink

    Also, belated to RIP to the former NPBer Matty Alou, who, as far as I know, is the first Dominican to ever have played in the NPB.

    I am leaving this comment because I just looked up the number of hits a former NPBer amassed in in the MLB.

    1. Julio Franco 2,586
    1. Willie Davis 2,561
    2. Ichiro 2,428 (counting)
    3. Tony Fernández 2,276
    4. Reggie Smith 2,020
    5. Bill Madlock 2,008
    6. Roy White 1,803
    7. Larry Parrish 1,789
    8. Matty Alou 1,777
    9. Frank aHoward 1,7774
    10. Félix Millán 1,617