Shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka Posted
A new name has surfaced out of left field in the conversation of potential middle infielders. Far left field. Dave talked earlier in the offseason about Hiroyuki Nakajima as a second base candidate, but it looks like Seibu won’t be posting him this year, and instead, the Japanese infielder hitting the market is Tsuyoshi Nishioka of the Chiba Lotte Marines.
Nishioka is another leadoff-type hitter, a switch-hitter who led the Pacific League last season with 206 hits, which is the most since Ichiro’s 210 back in 1994. He also topped the leaderboards in games played (144), batting average (.346), and runs (121), along with topping the league in stolen bases in the past due to his smart baserunning. On top of all that, he’s regarded as one of the top defensive infielders in the league and has played shortstop exclusively the past five years. Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker named him his Pacific League MVP for the 2010 season and posted a full article at Fangraphs earlier in the day as the story was going around. Nishioka is also just 26, compared to Nakajima, who is 28 already.
The knock on him? He’s injury prone for one thing, having an assortment of wrist, knee, neck, and hamstring injuries throughout his career. Since he won the full-time job, he’s never played fewer than 115 games, but the risk is there that either he’ll get hurt or be playing through something that hampers him in some way. The other thing is that this season represented a bit of a breakout for him, one that he’s likely to make a fair chunk of money for. We’d certainly be happy to take a straight translation of his .346/.423/.482 line this season, but his career numbers are .293/.364/.426, and he runs the risk of coming back to earth a bit next season.
As we’re competing with everyone else who’s in the market for a shortstop this season (and there are many out there), there’s no guarantee that we’ll get him through the posting process, but file the name away anyway.