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.