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Who Is Hiroyuki Nakajima?

By Mike Silva ~ December 7th, 2011. Filed under: Japanese Baseball, New York Yankees.

Surprisingly, the Yankees won the bidding right to Seibu Lions shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. Their bid was for a very reasonable $2 million dollars. The Yankees view Nakajima as a utility man to backup Alex RodriguezDerek Jeter, and Robinson Cano throughout the season. He’s basically replacing Eduardo Nunez, who could be part of a package to possibly bring back some pitching. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports believes the low salary that Nakajima will receive makes it unlikely that he will sign with the Yankees. There are also reports he prefers playing on the West Coast.

So who is Hiroyuki Nakajima? Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker joined me on tonight’s radio show and gave us some of his thoughts.

- He was surprised it was the Yankees and how low the posting bid, but gets the sense that teams are taking a conservative approach to NPB talent.

- There is some upside and it’s a pretty good risk for the Yankees to take.

- He speculates that he will command between $3 -$3.5 million dollar salary on a short term deal (2-years).

- Doesn’t like comparisons to Twins shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Nishioka is a switch hitter, he’s a skinnier speed guy and has more range in the field. Nakajima has been more consistent than Nishioka ever was throughout his NPB career.

- He believes filling in on a part-time basis will help him acclimate to the culture and the increased competition. This should give him a better shot of being successful.

- He’s mostly played SS, but he likes him better as a 3B than 2B.

- He doesn’t believe he will hit for the same power in MLB. The new baseball introduced by NPB last season was heavier and more similar to the MLB ball decreased power throughout the league. Nakajima struggled early with this transition, and his power took a bit of a dip.

- He figures he could produce about a .400 slugging and .320 to .33o OBP in the States.

- He has a lot of front-leg movement that might need to be toned down.

- Mets fans will find this interesting… Nakajima was Kaz Matsui’s replacement in Seibu.

You can click here to download the replay and fast forward to the 33 minute mark when Newman comes on.

You can check out Nakajima’s NPB stats below.

2007 24 Seibu 143 533 68 160 28 5 12 74 9 41 134 .300 .361 .439 .801
2008 25 Seibu 124 486 75 161 32 0 21 81 25 55 96 .331 .410 .527 .937
2009 26 Seibu 144 560 100 173 31 3 22 92 20 75 113 .309 .398 .493 .891
2010 27 Seibu 130 503 80 158 33 3 20 93 15 52 97 .314 .385 .511 .896
4 Seasons 541 2082 323 652 124 11 75 340 69 223 440 .313 .389 .491 .880
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/7/2011.

FYI - in 2011 he hit .297 with 16 HRs and 21 stolen bases

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1 Response to Who Is Hiroyuki Nakajima?

  1. Joseph DelGrippo

    Who is Nakajima? Someone not as good as Eduardo Nunez.

    Stay away from Japanese and Cuban players. The talent is very often not nearly as good as the hype.

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