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Power Suketto

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Power Suketto
With the coming of Tony Batista, a power hitting Major Leaguer with 214 MLB home runs, 32 home runs the year before, there is a great deal of pressure on him to put up big home run numbers here in Japan. However, of the 12 "Over 200 Club" who have come to Japan, very few lived up to their expectations.

MLB Japan
Player Age HR G HR Avg Year(s) Team
Frank Howard 38 382 1 0 .000 1974 TCL
Reggie Smith 38 314 186 45 .271 1983-4 YG
Larry Parrish 36 256 235 70 .260 1989 YS, 1990 HT
Lawrence Doby 38 253 72 10 .255 1962 CD
Jesse Barfield 34 241 104 26 .215 1993 YG
Douglas DeCinces 38 237 84 19 .244 1988 YS
Benjamin Oglivie 38 235 224 46 .306 1987-8 KB
Richard Stewart 35 227 208 49 .257 1967-8 TW
Robert Deer 34 226 70 8 .151 1994 HT
Kevin Mitchell 33 220 37 8 .300 1995 FDH
Joseph Pepitone 33 219 14 1 .163 1973 YS
Bob Horner 30 215 93 31 .327 1987 YS

CD: Chunichi Dragons
CLM: Chiba Lotte Marines
FDH: Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
HT: Hanshin Tigers
KB: Kintetsu Buffaloes
TCL: Taiheiyo Crown Lighters
TW: Taiyo Whales
YG: Yomiuri Giants
YS: Yakult Swallows

Players who hit 20 or more home runs the year before coming to Japan:

Previous Year in ML First Year in Japan
Player (Team) Year G HR RBI Avg Year Team G HR RBI Avg
Horner (Braves) 1986 141 27 87 .273 1987 YS 93 31 73 .327
Deer (Tigers, RSox) 1993 128 21 55 .210 1994 HT 70 8 21 .151
J.Franco (WSox) 1994 112 20 98 .319 1995 CLM 127 10 58 .306
Mitchell (Reds) 1994 95 30 77 .326 1995 FDH 37 8 28 .300
Dingo (Brewers) 1999 115 21 62 .309 2000 CD 18 1 8 .180

Horner, the youngest of the big sluggers to have come over, did very well despite hating it here. Parrish did his job of hitting home runs, and Oglivie played full time for Kintetsu hitting for both power and average.

When the 33 year old Kevin Mitchell was signed by Daiei in 1995, there was a great deal of fanfare about how he was going to challenge his manager's (Oh) home run record. And when he hit a grand slam his first at bat on opening day at Fukuoka Dome, Hawk fans felt that they had a "real Major Leaguer." Unfortinately, Mitchell hurt his leg and claimed that it hurt too much to even show his face at the ball park in support of his team. But it wasn't hurt enough to not be seen drinking at local Fukuoka bars with some sailor friends while his team was across town at Fukuoka Dome. After 37 games and a lot of heat in the press, he packed up without telling anyone, left the windows open and front door to his house unlocked, grabbed a cab, and flew back to the States. (A typhoon came through two days later, but his interpreter took care of closing up after discovering Mitchell missing.) What I read on ESPNet (the predicessor of the current ESPN site) was that the Daiei staff abused Mitchell and wouldn't take his injury seriously. The huge gap between the ESPNet story and thet Japanese press is what drove me to start writing about Japanese baseball on the Internet back in 1995. Needless to say, Keven had all the potential, but not the back bone to make it in Japan.

The year before Mitchell, Rob Deer got a lot of hype as a "real Major Leaguer" from the Hanshin crowd. Unfortunately for him, it didn't take long for Japanese pitchers to find his weak spot. Teams would walk the bases loaded to face Deer. The only Tiger suketto to surpass Deer in disappointment value would probably be Mike Greenwell in 1997.

So, some former big name Major Leaguers have done fairly well in Japan, but about half don't even make it half a season. It's career minor leaguers like Tuffy Rhodes or Alex Cabrera who do well.

Batista is young, and I haven't heard of attitude problems like Mitchell. It would be interesting to see if this marks the start of quality MLB players moving to Japan.

Comments
Re: Power Suketto
[ Author: Guest: John Brooks | Posted: Jan 8, 2005 1:29 PM ]

- Batista is young, and I haven't heard of attitude problems like Mitchell.

From watching Batista from his time with the Orioles, Batista was a great team player in the Orioles' clubhouse. Batista is also a player with a lot of talent. Though, Batista has one of the most unique batting stances for any professional baseball player, with his wide open batting stance, when Batista is on, everything is right for Batista, though also when Batista is off, he tends to go into slumps.
Re: Power Suketto
[ Author: 20X6!! | Posted: Feb 7, 2005 1:43 PM | FSH Fan ]

Batista also has shown up for the February Camp, which most American players don't show up for until March, the time they're used to. That may be a good sign in terms of attitude. Kevin Mitchell showed up about one week before the 1995 regular season.
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