I usually have FOMO when it pertains to Japanese imports: cars, video games, sushi, anime, toilets, and baseball pitchers. I just learned that there’s a concept called JOMO, which is the joy of missing out. L. O. L. Well, I get JOMO when it comes to Godzilla, radioactive fish, and baseball hitters from Japan. But, but, but….there are always exceptions to the rule. Hideki Matsui, coincidentally nicknamed Godzilla, was amazing and so was Ichiro, but the rest of the list is the aftermath of eating that five-eyed fish. So, where will new import, Shogo Akiyama, fit into the spectrum?

Akiyama is 31 years old, 6′ 0″, 190 pounds, and bats from the left side. He played nine years in the JPPL and put up some impressive numbers. In 2015, he had 216 hits in 143 games and, over the past five years, has always produced over 170 hits per season. Over the last three seasons, he’s clubbed over 20 homers, stolen at least 10 bases, had a batting average over .300, and OBP hovering close to .400. He has five-category skills, but it’s the JPPL, so that sort of production is unrealistic to expect his first season in MLB. So what can we expect?

Will Hoefer of Sports Info Solutions had this to say about Akiyama in September of 2019:

“His quick hands and good bat speed give him above-average game power and hit tools, albeit with some concerns about rigidity in his wrists and his occasional issues falling out of the batter’s box on contact. He’s an above-average runner in his early 30s…Akiyama’s combination of strong on base skills and solid power, in addition to solid center field defense should be plenty to stick in the everyday lineup for a first division team in 2020”

Looking at highlights, he can turn on the inside heat, but is more than willing to go to the opposite field. Plate coverage doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Looking at his stats from the JPPL, the plate discipline looks excellent. Going back to the last five years, he only exceeded 100 strikeouts (average of 673.6 plate appearances) twice and walked over 70 times in four of those seasons.

Let’s take a look at how the other Japanese-born hitters fared in their first MLB season. There are only 15 hitters on this list, but I’m going to omit those who spent time in the minors their first year stateside.

Ichiro Suzuki:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPPL 2000 459 153 54 36 12 21 .387 .460 .539
MLB 2001 738 242 30 53 8 56 .35 .381 .457

 

Tsuyoshi Shinjo:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPCL 2000 549 142 32 93 28 15 .278 .321 .491
MLB 2001 438 107 25 70 10 4 .268 .32 .405

 

Hideki Matsui:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPCL 2002 623 167 114 104 50 3 .334 .461 .692
MLB 2003 695 179 63 86 16 2 .287 .353 .435

 

Kazuo Matsui:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPPL 2003 655 179 55 124 33 13 .305 .365 .549
MLB 2004 509 125 40 97 7 14 .272 .331 .396

 

Tadahito Iguchi:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPPL 2004 574 170 47 90 24 18 .333 .394 .549
MLB 2005 581 142 47 114 15 15 .278 .342 .438

 

Kenji Johjima:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPPL 2005 462 127 33 32 24 3 .309 .381 .557
MLB 2006 542 147 20 46 18 3 .291 .332 .451

 

Akinori Iwamura:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPCL 2006 621 170 70 128 32 8 .311 .389 .544
MLB 2007 559 140 58 114 7 58 .285 .359 .411

 

Kosuke Fukudome:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPCL 2007 348 79 69 66 13 5 .294 .443 .520
MLB 2008 590 129 81 104 10 12 .257 .359 .738

 

Nori Aoki:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPCL 2011 643 170 51 55 4 8 .292 .358 .360
MLB 2012 588 150 43 55 10 30 .288 .355 .433

 

Munenori Kawasaki:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPPL 2011 655 161 36 84 1 31 .267 .31 .636
MLB 2012 115 20 8 18 0 2 .192 .257 .202

 

Shohei Ohtani:

LG YR PA HITS BB SO HR SB BA OBP SLG
JPPL 2017 231 67 24 63 8 0 .322 .416 .588
MLB 2018 366 93 37 102 22 10 .285 .361 .564

 

Shoutout to Nori! What a rookie season! I don’t think Akiyama has that kind of speed, but maybe the batting average and on-base percentage can translate the same. If that happens, that could be really juicy considering the lineup that the Reds will boast this season. With that said, looking at past history, we should expect a dip in numbers across the board.

Steamer has Akiyama projected for 6 HRs, 4 SBs, 27 R, and 27 RBI in 208 PAs. The walk rate is at 9.9% while the strikeout rate is at 19.1%. The slash is for .274/.351/.428. That ain’t bad, yo! And he’s slated to bat leadoff for what could be a very potent Reds lineup.

In NFBC drafts from 6/1 to 7/19, Akiyama is being selected on average as the 69th outfielder and 267th overall player. The floor looks to be relatively high, as most of the previous Japanese-born imports did well, and there’s upside considering draft cost, skill set, and environment.

VERDICT

 

 
  1. Richardo

    Richardo says:
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    I touched on Shogo in my H2H article coming out today to advising people to add him now. I love the potential. Leading off, with good plate skills, he’s definitely under owned at 20ish%.

    • Son says:
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      Nice! We are kindred spirits

  2. Grey

    Grey says:
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    Great post, Son! I am also a Fo Shogo

    • Son says:
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      You killed me and sent me to heaven?

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        I thought that was what you wanted? Did I misread the room?

        • Son says:
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          Lol. I meant to write “Who” but it works either way. A thousand thanks for doing the deed. Now, where all the virgins at?

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            Instacarting them over to you

            • Son says:
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              I just received the email that Heaven is outside the range of instacart delivery. NOOOOOOOOOI!!!!

              On a more serious note, virgins still exist?

  3. Laura Holt

    Laura Holt says:
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    Nice work Son! Sadly I had several shares of Shogo in my NFBC leagues that got wiped out when the 60 game season was announced & those leagues were canceled. I think he’s still being underdrafted and could end up being a great value…

    • Son says:
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      Damn, that brings tears to my eyes. It doesn’t surprise me you had many shares, though, because you are the Queen of the Deep Dive!

  4. ozone ranger says:
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    A reminder of how much of a freak Ichiro was. That 2001 Mariners team was filthy, filthy strong, yet somewhat forgotten because of their crapshoot playoffs crap out.

    • Son says:
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      For sure. Ichiro was amazing. Bret Boone with 37 homeruns!!! I always did like Olerud with the batting helmet while playing first base

  5. BadFantasyManager says:
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    Loved the write-up. Gives me more confidence since I picked him in my draft hoping for decent average and the potential for a good amount of runs if he is going to leadoff the reds lineup. I hope he delivers.

    • Son says:
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      Thanks! Although I’m a little woried now because you are BadFantasyManager

  6. Sagacious Sally says:
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    Great write up. I hadn’t heard anything about him. Probably because I play in a deep 10 team weekly H2H points mixed league. In case I miss out on L. Gurriel or Grisham I might put a few FAAB $$ on him. Would you take him over the two guys I mentioned? What about C. Dickerson?

    My league scoring is TB, R, RBI, SB-CS and AVG (a 350 avg nets me 14 pts)

    Thanks again.

    • Son says:
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      Thanks! It’s close between Gurriel and Akiyama. Gurriel has the safety in that he’s played in MLB before, but Akiyama will bat leadoff. I’d probably go Akiyama because there’s some unknown to what his ceiling actually is, while we know what Gurriel is.

  7. Trader says:
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    Son, what’s good?
    Had my hoops chip taken by Covid. Was cruisin’ to a b-2-b title too with your help. Oh well, on to hardball.

    League went to Roto but kept 10 hitting and 9 pitching categories. Pitching strategy is in place!

    But for hitters, would you simply stream the last few bench spots constantly to acquire stats? No maximums on hitters. The downside is that these slots I often use for holds but something has to give. Be safe amigo.

    • Son says:
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      Sup, Trader!

      So sad about hoops. Oh wells, onto the little white ball.

      Stream like a mad man. Your league has adopted the RCL format, so just accumulate as mnay couting stats as possible.

      Be safe as well homie

      • Trader says:
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        Draft in this league did not go as planned! But good action leading up to the Friends League draft tomorrow. Thoughts on this team….12 teamer. Holds and Saves separate cats.?
        C- Ramos
        CI- C Santana, Ramirez, Moose
        MI- Altuve, Polanco, Mondesi
        OF- Yelich, Brantley, JD Davis, Verdugo, Akiyama
        Util- DLM
        Bench: Riley, Madrigal,
        SP: Castillo, Paddack, Ryu, Stroman
        RP: Iglesias, Robles, Britton, Lugo, Melancon

        • Son says:
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          I hate separate saves and holds. Regardless, squad is solid all around.

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