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Hawks '09 Grades

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Hawks '09 Grades

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It's easy to say that this year was an improvement over last year. Going from last place to third place was encouraging, and it was even more encouraging to see new manager Koji Akiyama not be afraid to do what it took to win. The team in general seemed to have more fight in them this year, and they did not back down, making some great comebacks and near comebacks, and the team was fairly healthy for once this year. In a year with so much uncertainty, Akiyama-kantoku managed to motivate his team back into the playoffs.

Position Players (Minimum 100 Plate Appearances)
Yuichi Honda (.262, HR, 41RBI): C
Second baseman made more strides in terms of fielding, which is his weakest area. In the past, Honda tried to make plays he couldn't, which would get the team in trouble. Made some costly errors. Made things happen when he did get on base (.321 OBP, 42 SB). Traditional leadoff man, but if he hits at least .280, then that's a great average for his skill set. Started well (.280 in April) but fell off drastically.

Munenori Kawasaki (.256, 3HR, 32RBI): D
Had a career-worst year despite playing a career high in games. One has to wonder if he was truly healthy after his foot injury late last year; had 44 steals, including the 200th of his career. Might have played a bit tentative to avoid injury.

Hiroki Kokubo (.268, 18HR, 80RBI): B+
Kokubo-teichou was an able leader, giving the team a sense of leadership that they haven't had for the last few years. Strikeout-to-walk ratio about 2-to-1, needs to be a bit more selective (.346 OBP). Got clutch hits when needed and also flashed some of old power.

Nobuhiko Matsunaka (.279, 23HR, 80RBI): B+
After a nice renaissance in '08, stayed the course in '09. All three areas dropped, but not significantly, mostly because Matsunaka played 18 fewer games due to knee injuries. Is no longer a 40-HR guy, maybe not even a 30-HR guy. Mostly played DH, but also played 1st base and left field. Young power needed.

Hitoshi Tamura (.286, 17HR, 57RBI): B-
Hit very well in June and July, but tapered off in August and September. Batted only .228 in open-air stadiums and .255 away from Yahoo! Dome. Hit personal high in home runs with the Hawks (previous best was 11); provided nice protection for Ortiz and Matsunaka. Still has speed in field and makes good plays. Managed to avoid major injury although was out for first 2 months.

Yuya Hasegawa (.314, 7HR, 44RBI): A
Doesn't have power stroke, but hit for average and hit well. Truly a breakout season after getting hurt each of his first two seasons. Good fielding skills and a good arm. Best OBP of regulars (.388) and should set an example for other batters with his selectiveness.

Jose Ortiz (.279, 20HR, 73RBI): B+
Provided huge boost to team's lineup when he was signed in May. Power batter that has some great ability at the plate, but needs to take more walks with a more than 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Needs to be brought back for bat, but is still a defensive liability like he was with Lotte.

Hidenori Tanoue (.250, 25HR, 79RBI): B
Team leader in home runs but is tough to grade because of middling average. Also led team in strikeouts with 122 and only took 29 walks. Awful OBP at .298. Able catcher behind the plate, but not too good defensively.

Nobuhiro Matsuda (.281, 8HR, 24RBI): Incomplete
An asset to team offensively and defensively, but was marred by injuries after a breakout 2008. When healthy, was a force in the middle of the lineup, and is much more steady defensively than Ortiz.

Satoru Morimoto (.256, 0HR, 20RBI): C
Versatility has helped, especially with not having Matsuda most of the season. Will not light the world on fire with numbers, but is a solid defensive replacement. Is nothing more than that, though.

Hiroshi Shibahara (.206, 0HR, 7RBI): Incomplete
Injured most of the season after great 2008. Recurring back issues kept him off roster, and when he was healthy, he was ineffective. Not having him hurt outfield depth.

Kenji Akashi (.291, HR, 9RBI): C+
Could be a good player, but needs regular at-bats. When a regular player he batted well, especially for injured players. Also good defense.

Toshiya Sugiuchi (15-5, 2.36, 196IP, 204K): A
Sawamura candidate was stellar again, especially in May and June. Had a few bad starts, especially against the Eagles, but did very well otherwise. Easily the ace of the team and the most consistent starter on the team. Also didn't get hurt, which is a major plus.

Tsuyoshi Wada (4-5, 4.06, 84.1IP, 87K): Incomplete
Missed most of the season with left (throwing) elbow inflammation, but was stellar before injury. After injury, was largely ineffective.

DJ Houlton (11-8, 2.89, 171IP, 138K): B
Great first half of the season, but seemed to tire at the end of the season. Benefited greatly from having a defined role as a starter after bouncing between closer and starter last year. Should be invited back and was very consistent.

Justin Germano (5-4, 4.38, 76IP, 42K): B-
Steady swingman who suffered a heel injury in late August. Was not called up until mid-season but was great in Interleague. Gets ground-ball outs, is not spectacular, but gets the job done. Versatile, started and relieved. Should be invited back unless heel injury is serious.

Kazumi Saitoh: Missing in action
Former super-ace missed 2nd straight season after rotator cuff surgery. Is his career over? Did not pitch at ni-gun, spent most of the season in Arizona rehabilitating.

Yasushi Kamiuchi (2-3, 3.89, 34.2IP, 33K, 22BB): C
Lefty who hadn't pitched since 2007 was either very good or very bad. Was prone to walks, had more than one outing shortened thanks to them. Also would have benefited from set role: started and relieved, but did not settle into either role.

Yoshiaki Fujioka (5-8, 4.60, 101.2IP, 82K, 38BB): D+
Was good as a 6th starter for about a month, then became an enigma. Tied for 2nd on team in wild pitches (5), and also gave up his fair share of gopher balls (10HR). Did not get better when moved to bullpen late in season. Great ground-ball pitcher, but seemed to get tired .

Kenji Ohtonari (8-10, 4.59, 129.1IP, 107K, 41BB): C-
Still not completely healthy after elbow injury last year. Left-hander has plus stuff, but needs to hit his spots. If he walks people, he gets into trouble. Possible 12-to-15-game winner, but also has got to get healthy and stay heathy.

Shota Ohba (1-4, 4.26, 74IP, 77K): C-
A small improvement over last year. Still struggles to get out of the 5th inning, but showed some flashes of brilliance. Still wild, ejected for hitting batter in head during the season, but electric stuff is still there. Seemed to improve when going to bullpen.

Akio Mizuta (46G, 3-0, 3.19, 42.1IP, 22K, 8HLD): B
Veteran reliever finally healthy, made highest amount of appearances in career. Generally a one-inning man, and also mostly did mop-up, which explains small number of holds. Could be part of a potentially strong bullpen next year.

Yuki Kume (18G, 1-0, 2.37, 19IP, 18K): Incomplete
Suffered season-ending injury early on, would have been an integral cog in bullpen along with Settsu and Falkenborg. Great sinker, but must get healthy in time for start of '10 season.

Tadashi Settsu (70G, 5-2, 1.47, 34HLD, 79.2IP, 102K): A
Star rookie managed to avoid rookie wall in regular season. A stabilizing force in the bullpen and a great bridge to the closer Mahara. Will be counted on next season to do the same job, hopefully he won't log as many innings.

Brian Falkenborg (46G, 6-0, 1.74, 23HLD, 1SV, 51.2IP, 62K): A
Towering (6'7'') former Baltimore Oriole was amazing as well and teamed with Settsu on many an occasion to get to Mahara. Pitched well in clutch situations but got hurt late in season with an elbow strain, wasn't the same after injury. Should be brought back next season.

Takahiro Mahara (53G, 4-3, 2.16, 29SV, 4HLD, 58.1IP, 67K): A-
Franchise closer was shaky at times, but was still reliable. Probably best closer in Pacific League. Blew his fair share of saves, but main concern was health, and he was healthy.
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