It’s All-Star Break… no real baseball to watch and analyze, so let’s look at our crop of hitters and give a few brief comments about each of them. What’s your take? Whom do you like at the 8 fielding positions? The above “depth chart” is just my own observations, and isn’t necessarily the way the team sees things.
C – Ryutaro Umeno: Throwing out runners really well – surprising runners are still trying SBs! Attempts have diminished lately because of Umeno. Hitting still subpar, though showing signs of big bat that impressed in rookie year (2014). Bunts better than anyone on team. (BUT WHY BEFORE PITCHER???) Calling decent games for pitching staff but still prone to poor decisions at times.
1B – Fumihito Haraguchi: Not much of a defender but improving. Bat has shown need for polishing, but has been clutch at times. GIDPs stick out like sore thumb.
1B/OF – Masahiro Nakatani: Runs too hot and cold to play every day. But power has been indispensable in absence of real #4 hitter. Lots of holes in swing and selectivity. Much better fielder in OF than 1B.
2B – Hiroki Uemoto: On good days, scrappiest hitter in CL – fouls off pitch after pitch. Has shown decent pop for pint-sized guy. Runs bases well but not asked to steal much. Still blows some simple plays on field but also makes great plays, has solid range especially to his left.
3B – Takashi Toritani: Most consistent hitter on team this year. Not tons of XBH (especially HRs) but best OBP on team, few GIDPs. Good (but not spectacular) defense – non-errors glaring at times. Still tough, resilient, but should be ready for changing of guard soon.
SS – Kento Itohara: Atypical rookie – good eye, patience, sweet level swing, not flustered by pressure. Average low but OBP adequate. Defense solid but unspectacular. Base running slow for guy of his size.
2B/SS/OF – Yamato: Able to field nearly every position better than anyone else on team. Still don’t like switch hit thing. AVG from left much lower, no power at all in swing, no infield hits from left (which was the reason he started hitting from that side). Just a little better bat and he’s a full-time player, no questions.
OF – Kosuke Fukudome: Showing his age or maybe hiding injury. Little power in swing anymore (though lately a BIT better). Lots of GIDPs, lots of backward K’s. Needs more days off. Defense subpar in left since transition.
OF – Yoshio Itoi: Hot start has given way to expensive mediocrity. Little power, little speed, average fielding, even in RF. Having problems handling media/fan pressure on big market club?
OF – Shun Takayama: Wild swinger looks amazing some days, foolish on others. LOTS of K’s for someone with so few HRs. Decent base running but unwise decisions at times.
The Pine Riders & Farmers
C – Seishiro Sakamoto: Bright mind, bright future. Decent fundamentals. Needs more experience.
C – Taichi Okazaki: Those two magical days in June are career highlight. Solid game calling, defense, poor bat in general (including bunting).
1B/2B – Fumiya Araki: Solid defensive replacement and pinch runner, but won’t ever get starts with that bat.
1B/3B – Eric Campbell: Not given a proper shake, not able to capitalize on limited chances. Fielding mistakes shortened leash. Doesn’t look able to wrestle playing time away from long list of Japanese guys at 1B, 3B. Not to mention that Jason Rogers is getting ready to become the team’s “savior.”
1B/3B – Yusuke Ohyama: Big swinger hitting with authority, showing good patience at plate, too. Not enough baseball sense yet to stay in lineup long term – at least not this year.
SS – Fumiya Hojoh: Excellent spring but ran out of juice too early. Slow start and struggled to find what he had last season. Still not even 23, still time to grow.
OF – Shunsuke: Surprising power and solid plate appearances. Added muscle and fuller swing makes him much more valuable commodity. Legitimate PH option, can take field too!
OF – Hayata Itoh: Nah. Partly mental issues, I think. Not going to set foot in field any time soon. Prime farm material.