Star center fielder for the Chunichi Dragons, Kosuke Fukudome, has announced he will play in the majors in ’08. Likely teams at this point are the Padres, Cubs and White Sox, according to ESPN.
Last year, Fukudome had an injury-plagued year, hurting his right elbow, and only played in 81 games, missing almost sixty games and the Japan Series (their World Series, guess our World doesn’t include them). Reports are that he’s fully recovered, but even fully recovered what can we expect from Fukudome in ’08? Well, let’s look at his stats for his final year in Japan.
84/32/77/.285/8 are very worthwhile numbers, they are, however, not Fukudome’s stats in his final year. Huh? You thought this was about Fukudome? Well, it is. Those stats were Iwamura’s stats his final year in Japan. The year before in Japan, Iwamura hit 30 homers; in ’04, he hit 44 homers. Last year, Iwamura, still only at the coveted age of 27, hit 7 homers for the Rays.
Fukudome’s last season he played a full slate in Japan was 2006 when he had excellent numbers: 117/31/104/.351/11. But as we saw from Iwamura, Japanese players’ stats get lost in translation. Not to mention, Fukudome is three years older than Iwamura. His power isn’t peaking. If anything, it’s declining. If he ends up on the Padres, with their cavernous ballpark and coming off an injury-plagued year, Fukudome is liable to put up 80/15/80/.300/10 numbers. Not bad for a fifth outfielder, but you’re going to have to take him in second outfielder draft range because of the unknown quality he’ll have going for him. He’s got a great eye, and that’s not going to change, but he’s just not worth the gamble. My advice: steer clear of Fukudome.