Thursday, December 02, 2004

Pirates Interested in Nishi

The Pirates are reportedly interested in infielder Toshihisa Nishi, and Nishi is interested in coming to the majors.

I don't understand this. Nishi is 33, and he plays second base. The Pirates already have not one, not two, but five players (Jose Castillo, Freddy Sanchez, Rob Mackowiak, Bobby Hill and Ty Wigginton) who are younger than Nishi and can at least kind of play second base. At the very least, they've got two players who can really play the position, which is plenty.

Would Nishi help on offense?

2002 .244/.285/.371 8 HR
2003 .246/.291/.356 8 HR
2004 .289/.329/.475 28 HR

I have no idea why he had the power spike in 2004, but it doesn't really matter. In two of the last three seasons, his numbers would have been unacceptable at the major league level. And these numbers came from Japan, where the competition is typically just a tick better than Class AAA in the USA. Nishi's power is really his only skill on offense - he doesn't draw walks or really hit for average, and he no longer steals many bases. Many players to come from Japan recently, such as Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui, have seen their power decline severely after coming to the majors.

I don't know enough about baseball in Japan to know whether this is just a coincidence or whether it's related to differences between the majors and Japanese baseball. Some have speculated that the decline in Matsui's power might have something to do with the fact that Japanese pitchers rarely throw sinkers.

In either case, though, it seems safe to say that Nishi wouldn't hit for much power in the majors. He's old and likely to decline, he'd be coming from a league in which the level of competition is lower, and since he didn't hit for power in 2003 or 2002, it's doubtful that he has much power left anyway. And if he doesn't hit for power, he's not going to help the Pirates at all. The Pirates have plenty of guys to play second, including two (Castillo and Sanchez) with real potential. They don't need another.

Thanks to Honest Wagner.


Blogger bkopec said...

Don't know much 'bout Japanese baseball either. But I've read that the park dimensions are Polo Groundish.

It's nice to think the Pirates are catching up to the 10 year old trend, even if it means they are looking at the second coming of Denny Gonzalez. However, I doubt we'll be seeing Nishi or anybody else from Asia in a Pirates uniform anytime soon.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Charlie said...

Yeah, I don't think so either. I guess it's good that they're looking in that market, but I think it's unlikely they'll sign anyone soon, and if they do this should not be the guy they get.

Do you know of anywhere I could find something about Japanese park dimensions? I feel like I've heard that too, but couldn't find anything about it after a couple of Google searches.

4:09 PM  
Blogger bkopec said...

here's everything you are looking for. the dimensions are small, but not ridiculous.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Charlie said...



2:43 PM  

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