Crowdsourcing Japan’s 2011 Foreign Players

Last year, I took a shot at predicting which players would sign contracts to play in Japan. I got five right, including Matt Murton, whose inclusion was inspired by Dave Cameron’s 2009 article espousing his virtues.

This autumn, I have again come up with list of players I think could play in Japan next year. But before I reveal it, I’d like to ask for your suggestions. Every die-hard baseball fan has a favorite hardworking minor league veteran who has nothing left to prove in 3A, but for some reason can’t seem to stick at the MLB level. Japan is a good option for these types of players, as a first-year foreign player typically makes $400k-$1m, and it’s a chance to play in a competitive league in front of large crowds. I want to hear who you think should get a shot. The only rule for suggestions is that you don’t submit your favorite over-priced, under-performing MLB players.

Every year, Japanese teams employ 65-75 foreign players. For a number of reasons, there is a lot of turnover from year to year, which means there are always at least a few opportunities available. Here’s a look at what’s on the collective NPB shopping list for this season, based on my analysis:

* 6-7 starting pitchers

* 7-8 relief pitchers

* 2-3 1B/LF/DH types

* 2 third basemen

* an outfielder or two

* a utility guy

* and possibly a 2B/3B type for Yomiuri

This is my ballpark estimate; we could see some fluctuation and we will probably see a few surprises.

And with that, I’d like to turn over the floor to you.

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Patrick Newman is a veteran enthusiast of Japanese baseball who happens to write about it at, and on Twitter @npbtracker.

30 Responses to “Crowdsourcing Japan’s 2011 Foreign Players”

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  1. Dan Pitrowiski says:

    Daniel Nava

    Man can he hit. And given a shot in Japan I think we’d all be suprised with his results.

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  2. gdc says:

    Dan Johnson, Jeff Larish, Travis Buck

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  3. Michael says:

    Micah Hoffpauir. He’s frustrated in his time as a big-leaguer and spent most of last year in AAA Iowa. I think he could put on a power show in Japan.

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  4. Matt says:

    Mitch Jones, can play left, right and 1b and can flat out mash, but has few big league opportunities.

    Wes Timmons speedy 2b/3b type who is sort of a poor mans Chone Figgins.
    Could be a guy Yomuri would look at.

    Mike Hessman, big time power at 1b and 3b but has never really put it together in the Bigs.

    Dana Eveland, has good control and some good stuff, but has been erratic in the MLB.

    Elijah Dukes, has all the tools, maybe he could finally harness them in Japan. Getting away from some bad influences could do wonders.

    Ryan Langerhans, has great defense that will probably keep him in the MLB but could realize his power potential with the right environment.

    Andrew Miller, big lefty could be very good if he could put things together consistently.

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    • Hessman is a perennial ‘should go to Japan’ guy for me.

      Japan is, unfortunately, not the right place for a guy like Dukes to work on his issues. I hope he turns it around because he’s a supreme talent, but more importantly, he has a family to think about.

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  5. Greg schaum says:

    Mike Jacobs and Scot Thorman

    Both would be solid power guys over there and both seem to have no chance at big league jobs

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  6. James says:

    Brent Lillibridge

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  7. Greg schaum says:

    Bad influences? Elijah Dukes, really?

    He is the BAD influence…can’t escape himself

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  8. Carts13 says:

    Andrew Miller, Chad Gaudin, Daniel Nava, Bubba Bell, Jeff Suppan. And how about Dontrelle Willis? Maybe a chance to rebuild confidence somewhere where it’s ok to go to a full count on every batter

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  9. Joe NP says:

    Daniel Nava? He’s going to be the 4th OF for the Sox and guaranteed plenty of playing time with the always injured Drew. Why would he leave?

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  10. GoGiants says:

    May seem a little premature but John Bowker?

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    • Josh Shepardson says:

      He’s the first guy that came to mind for me too. I wondered if someone would beat me to the punch.

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  11. N00bious says:

    Mike McCoy

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  12. The Nicker says:

    Kenny Powers

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  13. Josh Shepardson says:

    John Bowker (already mentioned above), Ryan Shealy, Joey Gathright, Todd Wellemeyer, and Rich Hill. Patrick, could you see any circumstances where any of the previously uber talented but super fragile arms of Rich Harden, Ben Sheets and/or Mark Prior would pitch in Japan? I realize Prior finished the year relieving in Triple-A for Texas, but Harden was DFA’d at season’s end, and Sheets finised the season on the DL once again himself. I’d be curious if, with the focus on the succesful re-ivention of Colby Lewis, more pithers don’t opt for that route then toiling in affiliated ball.

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    • Rich Hill was on my list last year and will be again this year.

      NPB teams stay away from guys with significant injury histories, which rules out Harden, Sheets and Prior.

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  14. harry mamis says:

    melky cabrera and manny delcarmen

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  15. BX says:

    Matt Watson
    Matt Carson
    Dana Eveland
    Chad Gaudin
    Andy Marte
    Brent Lillibridge
    Jack Hannahan

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  16. Gmen says:

    Coming from a Giants fan, what could Jesus Guzman gain? He’s put up decent hitting numbers in AAA, but for a variety of reasons (defense, depth at 1B, etc) he really has no shot getting to the bigs with the Giants.

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  17. Table says:

    Michael Restovich played there in 07, any chance he returns?

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  18. Table says:

    Dallas Mcpherson?

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  19. Trev says:

    Do NPB teams usuallly not employ foreign up the middle players (C, 2B/SS, CF)?

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    • There is definitely more emphasis on the corners. Foreign catchers are extremely rare in Japan. There seem to be more foreigners at 2B than SS (Edgar Gonzales and Jose Castillo last year, for example), but it’s still less common than 1B, for example. It’s actually not that uncommon to see a foreigner playing CF (Matt Murton played CF quite a bit for Hanshin last year), but they are usually the type that can handle other OF positions as well.

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  20. Adam says:

    1B/DH – Barbaro Canizarez

    Guy hit .341/.403/.504 this year in AAA and has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues.

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  21. enemyoftheworld says:

    LHP Glen Perkins, Minn.
    RHP Mike MacDougal, StL.
    RHP Billy Buckner, Det.
    RHP Jeff Weaver, LAD.
    3B Josh Fields, KC.
    1B/LF/DH Shelley Duncan, Cle.
    OF Jeremy Reed, ChW.
    OF Cory Sullivan, Hou.

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  22. Bikini (Ed hardy,polo) $25
    =========== ===========

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  23. twac00 says:

    Shelley Duncan?

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  24. Andy Stallings says:

    I’ve always thought Mike Wilson would be a good bet over there, but maybe he’ll get a shot in the majors instead.

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  25. chris says:

    Justin Christian

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