Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Who is Tsuyoshi Nishioka?

Oh man, I can just imagine Gordo and Gladden trying to pronounce this guy's name...or Blyleven. Anyway, I saw this little tidbit this morning and thought to myself, "what? who is this guy?" So I did a little digging:


I wouldn't have the slightest clue how success in the Japanese professional baseball league translates to the U.S. Major Leagues, so it's difficult to draw conclusions from this stat sheet, but I suppose there are a couple of things we can note. 

a) He's speedy. It's concerning that since swiping 41 bags as a 20-year-old, he hasn't really come close since, but in 144 games last season he stole 22 bases which is decent.
b) He gets on base. They don't give his strikeout and walk numbers here, but a .364 OBP is pretty good and last season, his best year in professional baseball, he put up Mauer type numbers with a .423 OBP. He'd likely made a decent lead-off hitter in the Majors. I did find some more numbers here and it looks like Nishioka has a good eye, drawing walks at a good rate compared to strikeouts.
c) He's injury-prone. He's never missed a majority of a season -- he's managed to at least play 115 games in every season since becoming a full-time player -- but he's missed time in almost every season of his career for various things (wrist, knee, head, hammy, etc).

Christensen admittedly labeled the Twins chances of landing Nishioka as "slim," and Nishioka himself has said that he prefers the West Coast. I have to wonder why the Twins are even bothering. For one, they have to pay just to negotiate with Nishioka, and if you add the negotiating fee to the cost of signing him, I don't really see how you're getting that much more value than just bringing Hardy back on via arbitration. Nishioka gives you a bit more middle-infield speed, but I can't imagine he is much better than Hardy fielding-wise and it's yet to be seen how much better he would be at the plate since there's no guarantee he would be able to duplicate his Japanese success in the Majors.

I've noticed that between Iwakuma and now Nishioka, the Twins seem to have developed a sudden fascination with Japanese players. I'm not sure what the reason for this is, most of the players that have come over from Japan have not done very well (notable exceptions include Ichiro, Hideo Nomo for a few years, Matsuzaka perhaps, and a small handful of others). I guess we'll see what happens, should know by next week.

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