POTD Kawasaki - translating NPB-MLB performance

 ..........

Q.  Can NPB stats be translated?

A.  They can't, no.  There haven't been enough players come over.  

Translations can't be done in the same way that major league equivalencies (MLE's) have, anyway.  Would we post MLE's if only ten minor leaguers had ever come up?

We remember that Clay Davenport once overhauled BP's translations based on one player -- after Godzilla came over, he ratcheted the estimates way up.  And said so.

With Dr. D's typical great modesty, he announces that this next table will equip YOU to translate NPB-infielder stats about as well as anybody else can do it.

;- )

Here are the four infielders who have come over, plus Ichiro, who is shortstop-sized.  The slash lines represent Dr. D's summaries of how good the guy batted, after he had matured as a hitter.

K. Matsui NPB 320 / 375 / 550
 ... in MLB 290 / 350 / 400
Iguchi NPB 330 / 420 / 550
 ... in MLB 270 / 340 / 400
Iwamura 300 / 380 / 550
... in MLB 270 / 340 / 380
Ichiro 350 / 410 / 535
... in MLB 330 / 380 / 430 (Safeco)
Nishioka 300 / 380 / 450
... in MLB terrible (in first 68 games)

Five previously-played chess positions would be interesting to a master if they were as consistent as these are.  Each one of those first three infielders had exactly the same transition.  They were Nomar Garciaparras in Japan, and exactly MLB-average hitters over here.  Average-solid hitters.

What's fascinating is that these were not only average hitters, but they were average hitters, if you know what I mean.

They hit average-to-good for AVG, they were average for OBP, and mediocre for SLG.  I'm not saying that Matsui, Iguchi, and Iwamura were 100-type hitters.  I'm saying they all represented the MLB slash line, in each category individually.  That's weird.

........

That indeed gives us a baseline, rule-of-thumb to go on:  your WBC superstar, hitting 300+ / 380 / .550 over there, is going to run you a prototype MLB median slash line.

In fact our mini-database of 10 Japanese hitters kicked back a slash line of .288 / .349 / .412.  About league average, except more contact and less power.  Moderately.  And no, Ichiro and Godzilla weren't all that atypical.  All the NPB stars can hit .270 with decent gap power (or better, in the case of the big two).

Johjima-san was also in this mold, by the way.  His slash line didn't veer far from the MLB slash, in any category.  It's weird, I tell ya.

........

Two notes:  Kazuo Matsui came to New York City, flopped horribly, and is remembered for that.  But if you check it, the very instant that he left New York, he became a good offensive player.  So suddenly that it reminds you of Miguel Olivo's three hits (IIRC) the game after leaving Seattle on a 132-strikeout streak.

Secondly:  Nishioka-san was nowhere near the NPB hitter that the other guys were.  You might as well compare Nick Swisher to Steve Braun, as to compare Nishioka to these other guys.

.

Q.  Leaving Kawasaki where?

A.  Well, he hits .300 / .350 / .400 in Japan.  So let's say -- pending further info -- that the translations work like this.  We're talking about players with infielder body types:

All-Star hitter in Japan 270 / 340 / 420 in America
Good hitter there (Nishioka) 80 OPS+ guy here
Mediocre there (Kawasaki) You better brace yourself

You'd guess that the scouts are right.  Figure on maybe a .250 with some doubles and some speed.

Comments

1
Taro's picture

Another thing you have to consider is that most times you're getting these guys in their 30s. In most cases, they are in their decline phases and you're not getting that 1.000 OPS NPB guy.
When guys like Iguchi and Johjima went back to the NPB, they started OPSing in the mid-800s.
Also, the level of hitting in general seems to have signficantly declined in recent years in the NPB. There are a few tremendous pitchers, but there is not a single guy I'd be confident in as a plus hitter in the MLB. The late 90s, early 2000s seem to be the peak for NPB hitting talent.
Not only are there no more Ichiro, H.Matsuis, and Ogasawara monster type hitters, but there are no Johjima, Iguchi, Iwamura type hitters anymore either.

2

And have also had the impression that 1995-2000 was a sort of golden era over there.
..........
The age thing is one reason that Prince Fielder looks attractive to me, by the way.  Saw an Albert Pujols discussion on TV and not only will somebody have to pay 8/$225 to get his age 32-40 seasons, but ... they also have to fret about whether Pujols' age is actually 32 in the first place.

3
Taro's picture

Yes, and with HGH testing now.. Pujols is a pretty big gamble with HGH regulation and the questions regarding his age. Would definetly stay away now.
Prince seems naturally big to me (who knows though). It really comes down to the terms.

4
Taro's picture

As for acquiring Kawasaki.. I would offer him a minor league deal. He says he'll take one to play for the Mariners. If hes valuable, you'll control him for a while.
Hes more athletic than Nishioka with a stronger arm, so its possible he could adjust defensively. You could give him some regular time at AAA initially for a feeling out processs.
Offensively, I'm skeptical but there is So Taguchi. Taguchi was basically the OF version of Kawasaki and ended up hitting better in MLB (in his decline phase no less) than he did in the NPB.
If Kawasaki could hit like Taguchi (his upside), he'd be quite valuable. No reason not to at least offer him a minor league deal to see if he can pull it off.

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Chat: 8/30/15 9:20am
Interests: International Baseball (214407)
Experience, by moethedog

Mather has mentioned that he wants someone with GM experience. That's all fine and good, but for me I'd prefer if they had experience in a winning organization. Someone who came up through the ranks, or spent significant time in a winning culture. Not someone who worked for the Rockies...Show more.

Experience, by moethedog

Mather has mentioned that he wants someone with GM experience. That's all fine and good, but for me I'd prefer if they had experience in a winning organization. Someone who came up through the ranks, or spent significant time in a winning culture. Not someone who worked for the Rockies / Padres / Diamondbacks for years. How would they know what it takes to win?

...Show less
    Shouts update every 10 seconds.       
2015-09-01 20:15

With you on Kivlehan

2015-09-01 17:54

How odd is it that Choi came back from his suspension and all of a sudden, he's a switch hitter? I mean, I don't think I've ever heard of someone that started switch hitting at 24, let alone at the AAA level.

2015-09-01 17:35

I'd like to see Choi get called up. Boy could we have used an Olerud-lite bat this year. Get Kivlehan up here too... he seems to need some time to learn/adapt to a new level (though he learns fast). Might as well have him start the process this year.

2015-09-01 17:21

Zych has a gun... but I fear it is pretty close to straight arrow.

2015-09-01 16:42

I like Zych, actually...great AAA numbers based on an interesting pitch mix...possible sleeper?

2015-09-01 13:46

Thanks Griz. I highly approve of Romero and O'Malley getting shots. I love the versatility of O'Malley: Plays everywhere and brings a vL bat that is .330-.387-.450 this year and .340-.398-.489 last year. He can play on my team any day. A Bloomquist (versatility) with a decent bat.

2015-09-01 12:55

I still get excited for Elias starts.. am I alone? Really love his repetoire of pitches. When he is on he is on. Hopefully a better game in store from that last one. Think it was good for him overall coming back from Tacoma getting his feet wet. Hope he has a good game/ and can contribute in future

Reply - mickiholley - 9/1/15 1:19pm
Elias is fun to watch...when he is on his game. I think he will be steady.
2015-09-01 12:29

@shannondrayer: First wave of callups are here. Romero, O'Malley, Jose Ramirez and Tony Zych all in #Houston.

2015-09-01 10:46

Blash and yesterday's huge opposite field dinger: http://www.milb.com/...

Kivlehan is quick and simple to the ball: http://www.milb.com/...

Reply - Browns8625 - 9/1/15 12:39pm
Love that opposite field power
2015-09-01 10:35

That's where I am, Matt. He is significantly improved this year in terms of BA. He's hit a heck of a lot of homers in not very many AB's. He K's like Gorman Thomas in the majors, but Thomas only K'ed on 20% of his AAA AB's....not 33%! Thomas was .225-.324-.448 over his MLB years. OPS+ of 114. He hit .241 at AA but .291 in AAA (#Sacramento). Hit below .200 his 1st two significant years in the bigs. Then Thomas figured it out a bit. He was 27 before he was very successful. And that was after another full year stint in the PCL (after two years in the bigs). Blash doesn't have that kind of MiLB pedigree....but this year indicates some sort of plateau leap. Well, maybe. He's a bit of a long shot, But if he can hit .240 he's will be a finie player. Thomas has 4 seasons above .240 (.246, .244, .259, .245) in those seasons his OPS+ was 142, 138, 146 & 137. Thomas didn't really walk more in the minors that Blash has. At .240 Blash is a player, regardless of the K's. But .240 will be tough for him to hit, based on his large AAA K rate which is still above 30% even in this "plateau" year. He may not make contact often enough. Kingman was a productive player when he was north of .235, even early in his career. He was above .260 4 times and in those seasons he was a tremendous hitter. But he Ked in only about 25% of his AAA AB's. The TTO guy can be productive. Trumbo never has walked enough to be a true TTO (55 pts in AA/AAA & 50 pts in MLB) but he is a "similar" guy. When he's in the .240 range he's decently productive. However he only K'ed in about 24% of his AAA AB's. Blash is over the line, K-wise, but way over the line, in a good way, BB-wise. As such, he's a guy that will get a chance.

2015-09-01 09:05

K rate dooms almost everyone when north of 25% in the minors. I said ALMOST everyone. Decent walk rate says something a bit different...he merits a real look.

Reply - Browns8625 - 9/1/15 12:56pm
K rates food teams more than given credit for
2015-09-01 07:05

That's PA's....not (A's

2015-09-01 07:02

BTW (again): Down on the farm, Zunino is 7-12 in 3 games w/3 HR's. He likes AAA pitching! Blash has hit 32 HR's in 403 AA/AAA AB's this year. He's also walked 61 times (100 pts worth!!). But he's struck out 122 times in those 403 AB's. 22 of those HR's have come in his 194 AAA AB's. Wow!! He's a TTO guy. In 225 AAA (A's this year, he's HR-BB-K'ed 112 times....50%) He'll get a #Seattle look-see this year. The whiff rate will be scary (33% over his AAA career = what in the bigs?) but he can certainly ride the ball. Were he a .240-.320 guy with 30+ HR's he would be quite interesting. But, oh my, the K's!

2015-09-01 06:46

Endy Chavez's career vL OPS is .638. He hasn't been a MLB starter in decades, it seems. If you had a ++ bat at SS, like Tulo or classic Jeter (especially if they were a RHB), you could run Miller out there vL. But without some Miller improvement in that category it is unlikely that you use him without a platoon partner. We were using him with a partner at SS, remember. BTW: Marte is 1-17 over the last 4 games. Has anybody noticed if he is being pitched to differently? Has the league adjusted? No BB's in 3 of those games.

2015-09-01 06:25

More depth for LA to make a push. Rugg can play anywhere in outfield. I know Puig has been battling hammy issues.

2015-09-01 05:22

Mariners sell off Ruggiano for cash...

2015-08-31 20:08

agreed...no reason to change managers at this point...we're not contending...why have an interim situation now? Only reason would be if you were going to hire your long-term replacement...no one good is presently available for that job. Might as well just play out the string.

2015-08-31 20:05

I agree with Grizz, Lloyd will be around till the end of the season...Jewett would be no help at all.

2015-08-31 19:47

Grizz...SS hits considerably worse than CF historically.

2015-08-31 17:41

I'm curious why that split would be acceptable at SS but not CF. They are both defense-first positions.

2015-08-31 17:20

In 311 MLB vL PA's, Miller is a .216-.261-.293 with 2 HR's. He better be a GG-type CF glove if he's getting all the vL CF starts. You can support that type of split at SS (because he hits RHP) but it is much harder to do it in CF. He'll likely get some platoon-ish help out there. Could be Taylor with Marte moving to CF, could be Kivlehan. I'm not betting on Landry or us using Jones much. Miller's throwing error the other night may have impacted #Kingston, who I would bet had a conversation with Lloyd.

2015-08-31 16:22

Definately no upside at this point..this is true perhaps..just surprised it didn't happen already I guess. When you got a team picked by some to go all the way, and you are 10 under most all the year, its hard to stick around. Un-inspiring #Baseball, errors o plenty, keeping around a clearly ineffective Rodney, and getting 0 at the plate. Surely not all his fault, but some things are starting to unravel up top. Wonder how involved he has been in all these moves recently.

2015-08-31 15:33

Lloyd is going to last until the end of the year. What is the alternative at this point in the season? Jewett? No upgrade there.

2015-08-31 15:26

Things really really heating up since the Rodney move.. I am beginning to think Lloyd is not getting to the end of the year.

2015-08-31 15:20

#Jackson to the Cubs for PTBNL, their last #International slot, and $211k

2015-08-31 15:16

That will be interesting. Maybe he has an #Austin #Jackson trade worked out.

2015-08-31 15:16

@GregJohnsMLB: #Austin #Jackson traded to Cubs for player to be named and possible #International slot.

2015-08-31 15:14

#Kingston isn't wasting time putting his stamp on things. @RyanDivish: #Kingston said that Miller will play CF for much of the rest of the season. Believes it's his best fit for the organization

2015-08-31 13:25

of the guys with GM experience who are currently unemployed, I like Cherington the best given what he was able to do in building up the Red Sox' farm system. But...even that is still not the best option

Reply - mojician - 8/31/15 1:39pm
What do you think about fried chicken gate and other Red Sox scandals during the Cherington regime? If they fired Z for "lack of leadership" whatever that means. Cherington might have the same rep.
Reply - Browns8625 - 8/31/15 3:23pm
I think they are more interested in who is going to make current roster work out plus additions. Farm certainly needs help, but window for Felix cano etc is shutting.
2015-08-31 13:23

Yeah, there is a glimmer of hope for a Girsch, a Forst, a Coppolella or a McLeod...but only a glimmer. I'm not sure that those organizations will grant permission to interview before the end of the season and Mather seems to want the hire to be made ASAP. We can hope.

Reply - Browns8625 - 8/31/15 3:24pm
Yes, I think Mather said he wanted whomever in office by oct
2015-08-31 13:01

Really enjoying the increase of seahawks coverage

Reply - crackerjack - 8/31/15 1:15pm
I love jemanji's style of commentary.
2015-08-31 12:34

Heck, I'd take an intern from the Cards over Ken Williams... Kidding. Mostly.

Reply - crackerjack - 8/31/15 1:15pm
Who said that? haha
2015-08-31 10:48

agreed...if I thought we'd have a shot at him...I'd be all for it...he would be able to tell the Mariners what they're doing wrong in player development

2015-08-31 10:45

I'll say this for the Cards (and anybody significant in that system), they are likely the best run sports franchise in America. I know notheng in particular about Girsch, but I'm not opposed to some of that Cardinal stuff rubbing off here.

Reply - jemanji - 8/31/15 3:10pm
As you say that, now we know why other NFL teams help themselves to the Seahawks' staff with both hands :- )
2015-08-31 09:46

Hm...perhaps not quite as cut and dried as the requotes I've seen...gives me a glimmer of hope...but just a glimmer...I'm 99% sure it's going to be someone like Ben Cherrington, Ken Williams, DiPoto...

alas.

2015-08-31 09:22

Mather's exact quote:

“I would lean toward an experienced general manager or an assistant general manager that’s had a heavy hand in the operation,” he said. “I don’t want to hire someone that’s going to learn on the job for the next two or three years. That is a candidate that I’m not interested.”

2015-08-31 09:22

Wow, never heard of Girsch before. I'm sold! One thing I'd like to see the Mariners talk about - they are located in the best tech market outside of Silicon Valley. It'd be great to hire someone who could pitch the city's software engineers on creating a world class statical analysis department.

2015-08-31 09:09

Zero chance for Girsch...they point-blank said they want a guy with GM experience.

2015-08-31 08:57

This is why I am hoping for Girsch. http://www.fangraphs...

2015-08-31 08:45

Wanting a GM in place before the end of the regular season certainly takes some guys off the table. The hot assistant GM's will need club permission to interview in-season. If the only guys Mather can get are those currently unemployed, I'm not enthused.

2015-08-31 07:11

Yeah can't imagine McCleod leaves Chi-town before the Cubs make the playoffs...

2015-08-31 05:07

I'd love to get McLeod...the question, though, is whether he's available immediately. The Mariners have said they want to hire someone before the post-season.

2015-08-31 03:37

There's a lot of confusing things about the layout and general design of this site.

2015-08-30 19:57

Why does the snippet above say "Experience, by GLS"? I didn't write that.

2015-08-30 19:04

From what I've read, Jason McLeod seems like the best choice. But what do I know?

2015-08-30 17:22

Doesn't DiPoto have a reputation for being good at identifying and developing pitchers but poor at identifying and developing hitters?

Reply - Browns8625 - 8/31/15 4:27pm
That's why we got The Edgar for.. :)
2015-08-30 16:41

I'm in favor of Jerry DiPoto as the new GM. He switches his teams up until it works. He does not let rookies flounder for months while they figure it out. Also, he has been micromanaged worse than they do in #Seattle.

2015-08-30 15:15

Hamstring, Moe.

2015-08-30 15:14

23 games lost on the opposition's last at bat. Craziness.

2015-08-30 13:46

What is the Marte injury report?

2015-08-30 11:13

@shannondrayer: #Montgomery down, Guaipe up. #Montgomery close to innings limit and M's need another RHR today. Wilhelmsen & Kensing most likely not available

Reply - Browns8625 - 8/31/15 4:26pm
Starting to give the edge to pitching in the overall worst luck this season. Hitting has been awful, but between injuries and awful pen..
2015-08-30 10:46

I'm a little confused. Why would we start a conversation, pushing the previous conversation off the main page, if we had nothing ot substance to post other than saying we're starting a (new) conversation?

This is not really aimed at you, okdan. I've noticed the admins do this as well. I'm just curious about the perceived purpose in doing it.

Reply - anonymous - 8/30/15 12:06pm
Hey DaddyO - I'm not sure what happened here. I thought I was just posting a couple of regular shouts. The normal interface was gone, and I just typed into the box that popped up... I was hoping the weirdness that I saw was just for me, but it appears that's not the case! Didn't mean to push everything out. No idea what happened...
Reply - DaddyO - 8/30/15 5:43pm
Ah, got it. Thanks for the explanation. Like I said, my comments were directed not so much to you as to the phenomenon. At least now we know it happens sometimes when the poster does not intend it.
Reply - mickiholley - 9/1/15 2:45pm
the interface seems to be a little touchy lately...don't know if it is just my computer or what but I keep getting script errors and then screen full of code and I have to back out of the wall and then come back in.
2015-08-30 09:20

Starting a conversation...

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