So I realized that my husband has been chatting about baseball again this week. This is not unusual; a lot of his conversations revolve around fantasy baseball, with friends all around the world. He has one friend who has lived in Japan for a number of years, and closely follows baseball in the country. I asked if he would be so kind as to provide us with a little unofficial scouting, and he obliged.
From Michael in Japan:
Take all projections on Japanese players with a grain of salt, as if there's one thing I've learned about players from here going over there it's that figuring out how they'll do in the Majors is nearly impossible to predict (with a lot of them breaking my heart), in part because the cultural adjustment is just so huge.
That being said, Nakajima is a gap hitter with some speed and some power, who had a decent glove in Japan. One potential problem is that he's played most of his career on artificial turf, and other Japanese shortstops who have made the transition to MLB have had trouble making the long throws on grass, since in Japan they are trained to bounce throws. So whether Nakajima has the arm strength to make the throws from deep in the hole will most likely determine whether he stays at shortstop or eventually moves over to second base, ala Kazuo Matsui, among others. Offensively, Nakajima's upside potential is somewhat similar to Drew's, meaning .270/10, or something along those lines (with fewer walks than Drew would get). The downside, though, is to lose his job in half a season, as we've already seen from many Japanese infielders, with Tsuyoshi Nishioka being just the latest.
He also mentioned that what Nakajima might have going for him is that he is clearly outwardly confident, and more extroverted than some other players entering MLB for the first time, so this may translate positively to his MLB career.
What I remind myself is that Nakajima is not replacing a key cog in the A's wheel offensively. He's not trying to be Yoenis Cespedes or Josh Reddick, or even Josh Donaldson. He's replacing Cliff Pennington, and/or a shell of Stephen Drew; neither of whom had even average offensive numbers last season. I'm much more concerned about the defense, actually.
Basically, I would like it to be March already, so we can start to see the team take shape, and know what we're working with.
Hope everyone has an amazing holiday week! Be safe in all of your holiday cheer, and let your loved ones know you love them. Thank you to all of my A's family for being the very best people you can be, and I wish you all a lovely holiday season.