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Hisanori Takahashi From 30,000 Feet

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Hisanori Takahashi From 30,000 Feet

by Patrick Newman (Nov 22, 2009)

Despite the fact that we've known for some time that Hisanori Takahashi would a candidate to jump to MLB this offseason, the Yomiuri lefty hasn't gotten much virtual ink on this site. I've actually had a draft profile on him sitting un-started since June, but time has been an issue this year and I've prioritized other content.

Instead of an in-depth profile, I'll give a quick bird's eye view of Takahashi and his MLB credentials:

  • Turns 35 on April 2, 2010
  • Is coming off a solid 2009 campaign: 10-6, 2.94 ERA, 121/36 K/BB in 144 IP
  • Made 135m yen ($1.3m) in 2009
  • Started pro career in 2000 at age 26, after playing both college and industrial league ball
  • Isn't going to overwhelm anyone with an 85-90 mph fastball
  • Has an excellent screwball, which he induces grounders and misses bats with; should be a plus pitch at the MLB level as well
  • Also has a two-seam fastball, slider and curve; the two-seamer is a pretty good pitch
  • No shortage of velocity info on him at our data site (note: screwball shows up as a "sinker" on in our data; two-seam as  "shuuto")
  • Has never been a huge innings eater in Japan: career high is 186.2 IP (2007), has twice thrown 163 (2002, 2005), next highest total is 144 (2009)
  • Was not a lefty killer in 2009: lefties hit .300 against him (48/160), while holding righties to .250 (99/396)
  • Did keep lefties in the park in 2009: only three of his 16 home runs allowed came against lefties
  • Is represented by Peter Greenberg, who got another Takahashi (Ken) a deal with the Blue Jays and later the Mets last year, and recently lost Hideki Okajima. Had he kept Okajima, Greenberg could have really cornered the market on Japanese lefties

Takahashi has said he wants to continue in a starting role after he crosses the Pacific, but putting everything together he seems better suited for the bullpen. That said, assuming his screwball doesn't get lost in translation, I don't see why he can't be an effective reliever in the Okajima mold.

So far the Giants and Rangers have been noted in the Japanese media as interested, though I suspect the Rangers will come up for everyone because of Jim Colborn's presence. Takahashi himself has said that he would like to wind up on the same team as former Yomiuri teammate Hideki Matsui, but the NL West would likely be the most amenable destination for him.

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