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Nakamura and K. Matsui

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Nakamura and K. Matsui
Are 3B Norihiro Nakamura and SS Kazuo Matsui both free agents after this year? Are they rumored to be going to U.S. Teams?

Can anyone provide a quick scouting report (offensive & defensive) regarding these two players?

Are there any other highly talented players, excluding H.Matsui, who qualify for free agency after this year?

Any information would be appreciated.
Comments
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: 1908 | Posted: Jul 9, 2002 12:36 PM | HT Fan ]

Nakamura will be a free agent, Little Matsui will not.

For a quick scouting report and info on other players who might make the switch, check out Gary Garland's excellent article: Note to MLB: There Is No Next Ichiro.
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: Guest: Mike | Posted: Jul 10, 2002 2:26 AM ]

While Nakamura has big time power, i've read that he's only a AA caliber player and on top of that is a poor fielder
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: 1908 | Posted: Jul 10, 2002 1:12 PM | HT Fan ]

i've read that he's only a AA caliber player and on top of that is a poor fielder

Norihiro's been a monster at the plate the past couple of seasons: 24 HR in 64 games, a .300-plus average and a 1000-plus OPS this year -- 46 HR, .320 average and 1064 OPS last year. Assuming the level of play in NPB is somewhere between AAA and MLB (leaning toward the latter), Nori's hitting skills are well above AA caliber. Granted, he isn't a defensive wiz, but a team could always move him across the diamond to first -- or even DH -- to get his bat in the lineup.
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Jul 10, 2002 10:47 PM | YBS Fan ]

While not the best filder in the world, he's certainly not that bad. I've seen him make some spectacular plays on hard to get balls ripped up the line, and I've seen him boot simple grounders. I'm sure the same can be said of any third baseman.

In 2001, Nakamura played 127 games at third base, 9 at shortstop (probably just part of games, but I don't have any more detailed info than that).

Top First Basemen
PlayerGamesAssistsPut
Outs
ErrorsDouble
Plays
Fielding
Percentage
Kokubo (FDH)11978196414.986
Arias (OBW)10979204816.973
Nakamura (OKB)1271042861220.970
Kataoka (NHF)1351292371226.968
Hatsushiba (CLM)10972153817.966
Fernandez (SL)7767121910.954

[* Note: It was pointed out in the following post that I have "assists" and "put outs" backward in this table.]

As you can see, Nakamura holds his own at the hot corner.

I find it interesting how so many people are quick to conclude that a lot of the Japanese players are poor fielders, while at the same time, the Japanese are praised for their fundamentals. An Ozzie Smith is rare anywhere, in the Majors and Japan. Is the fact that Japanese players' fundamentals are so stressed the reason that so many think that they don't live up to be super-men like the Oz?

The biggest difference I notice in fielders here is that very few have that snap throw that fires the ball across the diamond like a bullet. Japanese fielders tend to use their whole arm to throw. Does this make them unacceptable in the Majors? With they not be able to adjust? Will the full arm technique not translate to Major infields?

It's always seemed to me that the Majors focussed more on hitting than fielding. There have been very few imports to Japan that were outstanding fielders. So why the sudden stress in fielding?

[Edited by: westbaystars on Jul 11, 2002 8:54 AM JST]

Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: Guest: Mike | Posted: Jul 11, 2002 1:42 AM ]

Thanks for the info regarding Nakamura's fielding. .970 is a good percentage. This guy sounds like a huge prospect for mlb based on his stats, I look forward to seeing him in MLB in 2003.
Assists vs. Put Outs
[ Author: 1908 | Posted: Jul 11, 2002 4:15 AM | HT Fan ]


PlayerTeamGamesAssistsPut
Outs
ErrorsDouble
Plays
Fielding
Percentage
KokuboFDH119 78196 4140.986
PolancoSTL104199 60 4160.985
CirilloCOL137309 77 7250.982
LowellFLA144260108 9350.976
RolenPHI15132510412220.973
AriasOBW109 79204 8160.973
ChavezOAK14932110012270.972
NakamuraOKB12710428612200.970
KataokaNHF13512923712260.968
RandaKC13725511113310.966
HatsushibaCLM109 72153 8170.966


I was curious to see how your list compared with MLB players so I took the info you provided, added players and stats from the 2001 MLB season, sorted according to fielding percentage and cut if off at 10th best. As you can see, something's not quite right. There's a huge difference in the number of assists and put outs between PL players and MLB players. Are assists and put outs awarded differently in NPB compared to MLB? In the Majors, a fielder is given an assist for throwing the ball to another fielder for an out and a put out is given to the man who records the out. For instance, a third baseman fields a ground ball and throws the runner out at first. The 3rd baseman would recieve an assist on the play and the 1st baseman (or whomever was covering first at the time) would get credit for a put out. Is that how it works in NBP? If not, is it the opposite? That's what the numbers seems to suggest. Or did you, by chance, mix up the two colums? Many believe Scott Rolen is the best defensive third baseman in the Majors, but there's no way should he have three times as many assists as Nakamura did in 2001. Rolen played in only 24 more games. 286 assists sounds more likely for Nori.

Also, if you have the total number of innings each PL 3rd baseman played last year, I can determine each player's range factor, which is another helpful measure of defensive prowess.

This is fun.
Re: Assists vs. Put Outs
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Jul 11, 2002 8:53 AM | YBS Fan ]

First of all, thanks for "completing" the table. That makes things easier to compare.

- As you can see, something's not quite right. There's a huge difference in the number of assists and put outs between PL players and MLB players.

Hmmm. Perhaps my translations were wrong. It looks to me like I reversed the two. Let me find my good dictionary...

Where I have "assists" the Kanji is shisatsu which means "put out."

Where I have "put outs" the Kanji is hosatsu which means "assist (in baseball)."

So, there you have it. I have the two columns labelled backwords. Sorry. Here is the revised table with everything in its place:


PlayerTeamGamesAssistsPut
Outs
ErrorsDouble
Plays
Fielding
Percentage
KokuboFDH119196 78 4140.986
PolancoSTL104199 60 4160.985
CirilloCOL137309 77 7250.982
LowellFLA144260108 9350.976
RolenPHI15132510412220.973
AriasOBW109204 79 8160.973
ChavezOAK14932110012270.972
NakamuraOKB12728610412200.970
KataokaNHF13523712912260.968
RandaKC13725511113310.966
HatsushibaCLM109153 72 8170.966

Thanks again for pointing that out. I really appriciate getting errors corrected.

Now, back on topic. There are a couple of other things I wanted to point out.

1. There tend to be more infield hit awarded in Japan than in the Majors. At least, that was true before Ichiro crossed the Pacific. I'm curious if it still is.

2. Nakamura played 2001 for the team with with worst pitching of all 12 Japanese teams, which accouts for his 402 fielding chances (put outs + assists + errors), the highest in the Pacific League. (Arias was close with 391 fielding chances in fewer games.)

Re: Assists vs. Put Outs
[ Author: 1908 | Posted: Jul 11, 2002 9:11 PM | HT Fan ]

No problem. Like I said, this stuff is fun.
Re: Assists vs. Put Outs
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Jul 11, 2002 9:09 AM | YBS Fan ]

- Also, if you have the total number of innings each PL 3rd baseman played last year, I can determine each player's range factor, which is another helpful measure of defensive prowess.

I'm afraid not. The above is all the fielding stats that are published in the yearly Baseball Record Books by Baseball Magazine Sha. I haven't seen fielding stats published in anything else (or I'd have bought it).

I think the NPB BIS Encyclopedia comes out at the end of this year. Does anybody have one? Does it have more detailed fielding stats? I plan on buying the next publication regardless, but...

Even the daily box scores in the newspaper can't be used to determine the number of inning played at a position. They only list all of the positions played, but not the inning(s) of change. Also, unless a player is pinch hit for, one can't determine what inning he left a game in. There's so much information in those little boxes, yet there's still room for more. Ah, someday...
Re: Assists vs. Put Outs
[ Author: 1908 | Posted: Jul 11, 2002 9:32 PM | HT Fan ]

- Also, if you have the total number of innings each PL 3rd baseman played last year, I can determine each player's range factor, which is another helpful measure of defensive prowess.

I'm afraid not.


That's too bad. Fielding percentage is better than nothing but I'm not sure it's enough to clear Nakamura's name. Then again, I've never seen Nori play so I can only go on what others have written and the available statistics. Although the aforementioned article by Garland-san is very critical of Nakamura's defense and another article -- published in Baseball America last fall -- echoed those sentiments, an eyewitness and the stats, however limited, suggest the opposite. I, for one, would love to hear Gary's two cents on the matter. If Nakamura is such an abysmal defender, why don't the statistics spell that out?
Re: Assists vs. Put Outs
[ Author: CFiJ | Posted: Jul 12, 2002 8:09 AM ]

> That's too bad. Fielding percentage is better than
> nothing but I'm not sure it's enough to clear
> Nakamura's name. Then again, I've never seen Nori
> play so I can only go on what others have written and
> the available statistics. Although the aforementioned
> article by Garland-san is very critical of Nakamura's
> defense and another article -- published in Baseball
> America last fall -- echoed those sentiments, an
> eyewitness and the stats, however limited, suggest
> the opposite. I, for one, would love to hear Gary's
> two cents on the matter. If Nakamura is such an
> abysmal defender, why don't the statistics spell that
> out?

I'm guessing it's his size. He doesn't seem very quick or agile, so one may be tempted to think his range is not very good. Then every error stands out. If you had a thin, quick guy at third and he made twelve errors, one might think that he made those errors getting to balls others might not get to. With a guy Nakamura's size, 12 errors might be interpreted as having bad hands. I don't know, really. I've only seen Nakamura play a couple times. He seemed okay to me. Hell, he won a Gold Glove once, so his defense can't be that bad.
Nakamura in MLB
[ Author: Guest: Mike | Posted: Jul 12, 2002 10:30 PM ]

I'm interested in seeing how many home runs Nakamura will hit in the MLB. Based on what Ichiro and Shinjo have done in the MLB in terms of power, it is well below of what they did in NPB, so I figure if Nakamura can hit half of what he did in NPB (46). That would sound about right because Shinjo hasn't even homered half as much as he did in NPB. So my guess is that Nakamura probably is only a 20 hr a year slugger. Anyone have any thoughts on this matter?
Re: Nakamura in MLB
[ Author: Guest: Dusanh | Posted: Jul 18, 2002 8:19 AM ]

Well, there's no question that MLB pitchers are better. How much better is another question. My theory with Ichiro's drop in power production is that the higher competition level in MLB forces Ichiro to work harder to get his .350 average. I mean, depending on his approach, Ichiro can probably either hit .350 with 20 homers or .380 with 10 homers in NPB. Say those numbers become .350/10 and .320/20 in MLB, then it's perfectly reasonable for him to take the first approach as a lead-off man (plus it wins batting titles, .320/20 won't get you anything...).

It's harder to analyze Shinjo's case. But I believe his only big power number year is his last year in NPB. Now that could've been a either a break out year for him or a fluke year. I guess we'll never know.

But yeah, someone like H. Matsui or Nakamura's performance in MLB will probably provide a better answer to the question.
Re: Nakamura in MLB
[ Author: CFiJ | Posted: Jul 18, 2002 10:18 AM ]

> Well, there's no question that MLB pitchers are
> better. How much better is another question. My
> theory with Ichiro's drop in power production is that
> the higher competition level in MLB forces Ichiro to
> work harder to get his .350 average. I mean,
> depending on his approach, Ichiro can probably either
> hit .350 with 20 homers or .380 with 10 homers in
> NPB. Say those numbers become .350/10 and .320/20 in
> MLB, then it's perfectly reasonable for him to take
> the first approach as a lead-off man (plus it wins
> batting titles, .320/20 won't get you anything...).

I'm not so sure it's so much a matter of the MLB pitchers being better than it is that there's so many more of them. The more you see a pitcher, the easier it is to hit him. Familiarity plays a big part in it. When he was playing in NPB, Ichiro and Shinjo had to face the staffs of 5 other teams. If you figure 12 men to a staff, that's 60 pitchers. In MLB, Ichiro has to face 13 staffs and Shinjo 15. If you figure 11 guys to a staff, that's 143 pitchers Ichiro has to face, and 165 Shinjo will have to face. That's a huge difference, and it's not even considering interleague! To make matters worse, with the unbalanced schedule, they'll see teams within their division more often (and accordingly hit them well), and teams outside their division less. In one year, Ichiro would face all of the pitchers in the Pacific League at least once. At this point after a year and a half, there are still pitchers in the American league he's never gone up against.
Re: Nakamura in MLB
[ Author: 1908 | Posted: Oct 7, 2002 3:30 AM | HT Fan ]

Mike wrote: I'm interested in seeing how many home runs Nakamura will hit in the MLB. Based on what Ichiro and Shinjo have done in the MLB in terms of power, it is well below what they did in NPB, so I figure if Nakamura can hit half of what he did in NPB (46). That would sound about right because Shinjo hasn't even homered half as much as he did in NPB. So my guess is that Nakamura probably is only a 20 hr a year slugger. Anyone have any thoughts on this matter?

Actually, Shinjo's numbers haven't dropped off that much. He batted .254/.301/.419 over his last three NPB seasons compared to .253/.308/.388 so far in the Majors. Ichiro, on the other hand, hit .362/.428/.541 over his final three NPB seasons versus .336/.385/.441 so far with Seattle. So Shinjo's OPS has dropped 24 points (.720 in NPB to .696 in MLB), while Ichiro's has dropped 143 points(!) -- from .969 to .826.

I'm not sure how to explain this difference; Ichiro is clearly the better player. Perhaps mediocrity is easier to maintain than excellence?

Getting back to Nakamura, if Nori's numbers follow Shinjo's decrease, you're looking at a .284/.402/.504 hitter, an MLB All-Star. Ichrio's drop-off is far less promising -- .265/.353/.461 -- but an .814 OPS is still decent for an MLB 3rd basemen. Take it with a grain of salt, of course. There isn't nearly enough data for either prediction to be very accurate, but it's all we have to work with. It's fun, too.

Dusanh wrote: My theory with Ichiro's drop in power production is that the higher competition level in MLB forces Ichiro to work harder to get his .350 average. I mean, depending on his approach, Ichiro can probably either hit .350 with 20 homers or .380 with 10 homers in NPB. Say those numbers become .350/10 and .320/20 in MLB, then it's perfectly reasonable for him to take the first approach as a lead-off man (plus it wins batting titles, .320/20 won't get you anything...).

Interesting theory but Ichrio's average AND slugging both dropped this season.

CFiJ wrote: I'm not so sure it's so much a matter of the MLB pitchers being better than it is that there's so many more of them. The more you see a pitcher, the easier it is to hit him. Familiarity plays a big part in it.

Another interesting theory. If that's the case, why did Ichiro's average drop 29 points this season? Shouldn't it have increased as his familiarity with MLB pitching did?
Nakamura's glove
[ Author: 1908 | Posted: Jul 17, 2002 2:26 AM | HT Fan ]

I've only seen Nakamura play a couple times. He seemed okay to me. Hell, he won a Gold Glove once, so his defense can't be that bad.

Touch
Re: Nakamura's glove
[ Author: Guest: Suraj Rupani | Posted: Jul 17, 2002 4:15 PM ]

I don't know too much about Nakamura's fielding, but I hear that he can get to the balls, just doesn't have the strongest arm out there. Given the stats from Westbay-san and 1908, seems like he's an average to above average defender.

So let's assume he's average. Here are the offensive stats of 3B in MLB right now, ranked by OPS.

Let's assume minimum 200AB. The highest OPS is Eric Hinske of Toronto (.290-16-50-.914). Good numbers. However, that's the BEST 3Bman, offensively. Right now 3B in MLB is hot commodity, because of the lack of quality. I think if Nori even hits .280-20-80-.800, he'll be considered a good pick up given the lack of quality in this area in MLB. Of course it depends on his price. For USD5 mil a year, which he was offered in NPB, he's not worth it, but say 2Mil per...definite steal.

Hope one of the coaches in the MLB does something about that swing, though...scary stuff!!
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: 1908 | Posted: Nov 5, 2002 9:46 PM | HT Fan ]

From the AP: Nakamura could be next Japanese Star to head to US

Nothing we haven't heard before; the article mentions that Nori's a free agent and that several MLB teams -- including the D-Backs and Dodgers -- are reportedly interested. Has Nakamura been mentioned in the Japanese press recently?
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: torakichi | Posted: Nov 5, 2002 11:26 PM | HT Fan ]

> Has Nakamura been mentioned in
> the Japanese press recently?

Brilliant timing, 1908-san. I just saw him on the NHK and ABC news ("newses"? ) about an hour ago. He held a press conference today to announce his free agency.

NHK reported that the first team lined up to negotiate wih him on the 13th of november is none other than... the Kintetsu Buffaloes!
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: CFiJ | Posted: Nov 6, 2002 12:09 AM ]

> Has Nakamura been mentioned in
> the Japanese press recently?

Nikkan Sports reported on their website yesterday that the Giants are going to offer him a 4 year, 30-oku yen (roughly $30 million) offer. That would give Nori the highest yearly salary in Japanese baseball history at $7.5 million a year, if I'm not much mistaken.

(For you guys who don't speak much Japanese, an oku is 100,000,000. If you calculate 100 yen = $1, which is a bit rough, generally 1-oku yen equals 1 million dollars.)
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: 1908 | Posted: Nov 6, 2002 1:50 PM | HT Fan ]

4 years at $7.5 million per? No way Nakamura gets that from an MLB club. I wonder if the Tigers will make a counter-offer.
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: Guest: Matthew Mougalian | Posted: Nov 6, 2002 4:18 PM ]

Regarding Kazuo Matsui, I have read that after the Lions' loss in the Series, he is interested in remaining in Japan for one more season, and then coming to the MLB after he becomes a free agent. Given the considerable sums MLB organizations are willing to fork over to negotiate with the elite Japanese players, might the Seibu Lions be interested in posting Matsui this season so as to at least receive monetary compensation for him leaving, as opposed to losing him to free agency for the 2004 season?
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: Guest: Gary Garland | Posted: Nov 7, 2002 9:00 PM ]

What Nakamura was offered isn't that mindblowing (about $6.25 million a year at the current exchange rate). Petagine is being offered almost $2 million a year more by the Bay Stars and Dragons.

As for Kazuo Matsui, he is going to meet with Lions' owner Yoshiaki Tsutsumi after the NPB-MLB series. Tsutsumi is one of the world's richest men for a reason -- he's always thinking of how to turn a buck. That's why I think he was so accommodating about the possibility of Matsui asking to be posted. So it is indeed possible that Tsutumi, a powerful personality who is not nearly the kind of blowhard in public that Tsuneo Watanabe is, will cajole his shortstop into going, especialy if the Lions somehow get their hands on Nagata in the draft. Then they will have a replacement for Kazuo in 2-3 years.
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: Guest: Gary Garland | Posted: Nov 8, 2002 8:26 PM ]

Hanshin counteroffered with more years, but less per season (eight seasons at $4 million per). I would be surprised if someone with Nakamura's body type will be a top flight player for more than another five years before injuries will really start to eat up his possible playing time (see Kiyohara) and he becomes only a decent player rather than a star. Since he is an Osaka native and would be God there if it weren't Hoshino, I believe he ought to think the Tigers offer over seriously.
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: Guest: Peggy | Posted: Nov 9, 2002 7:57 AM ]

What is the deal with these two guys? The Mets seem very interested in both.
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: Guest: Matthew Mougalian | Posted: Nov 9, 2002 5:13 PM ]

Is there a "deadline" by which NPB players need to decide to be posted, or as free agents, put themselves into the MLB pool?
Re: Nakamura and K. Matsui
[ Author: Guest: Jim Albright | Posted: Nov 10, 2002 12:10 AM ]

I've posted an article on major league equivalents of the leading free agents and reasonably likely to be posted players here.

Jim Albright
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