Hi everybody, I’m going to be filling in for Tim later this month, and we wanted me to have a chance to get my feet wet on the site before he left.
First off, thanks to Tim for inviting me to post. Some of you may know me from my Brewers blog, Brew Crew Ball, and others may recognize my name from my columns at The Hardball Times. I also designed and run the site MinorLeagueSplits.com which, as you can probably figure out, has split and situational stats for every 2006 minor leaguer. (I’ve also got Hawaii and Arizona winter league stats, too.)
This morning I published an article at The Hardball Times about Akinori Iwamura. He’s been posted by the Yakult Swallows, and while the Phillies have said they’re not interested (can’t cut in to Abraham Nunez’s playing time, oh no!) that still leaves a variety of possible destinations: Red Sox, Padres, Indians, and potentially anybody who wanted in on Aramis Ramirez but doesn’t think they’ll get him.
The big question about Iwamura is his power. Will he be like Hideki Matsui and turn into a .300-hitting doubles machine? Will he look like a Triple-A masher who can’t quite cut it in the bigs? You’ll have to follow the link for all my projections (it’d be way too much to post here), but through a variety of methods I came up with a range of possible performances for Iwamura.
On the optimistic side, Iwamura could be 2006 Ryan Zimmerman: 825 OPS, 20 HRs, a bunch of doubles. Median, say 2006 Chad Tracy: ~795 OPS, BA down around 275-280. Worst case? David Bell. The Bell comparison came through seeing what would happen to Iwamura’s stats if he had the same first-year experience that Matsui did: decent average, but massive power outage. It’s not pretty, and it may have been the sort of thought process that made Pat Gillick think twice about the Japanese slugger.
After running a whole bunch of projections, I have to admit that I don’t know much better than anybody else what Iwamura will do in MLB. There have been so few power hitters who have played in both MLB and Japan, so Matsui is really about all we have to go on. If I had to guess, I’d say Iwamura will post a BA-heavy 780 OPS in 2007, and have more success, say 810-820 with more power in ’08 and beyond.
Posted by Jeff Sackmann