Former major leaguers in Japan – Hitters

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I’ll go over the pitchers tomorrow, but for now, here’s a look at how
former major and minor leaguers are currently performing in Japan.

Tuffy Rhodes – .327/.413/.655, 11 HR in 110 AB

Rhodes earlier this year became the 12th player in history and first
American to hit 450 homers in Japan. He’d be leading the Pacific League
in slugging if he had enough at-bats to qualify.

Dan Johnson – .197/.302/.415, 9 HR in 169 AB
Kevin Mench – .148/.179/.204, 0 HR in 54 AB

The two highest-profile players to cross the Pacific this winter have
both been big-time disappointments, even if Johnson is doing everything
except hitting for average. Mench has found himself banished to the
minors, where he’s hit .362/.434/.553 in 47 at-bats.

Tony Blanco – .288/.341/.575, 19 HR in 233 AB

Blanco leads the Central League in homers in his first year in
Japan. His only major league action came with the Nationals in 2005,
but he’s still just 27 years old and he appears to be well set up for a
nice run as one of Japan’s top power hitters. I don’t think he was ever
going to make it in the U.S.

Gary Burnham Jr. – .247/.333/.398, 1 HR in 81 AB
Chase Lambin – .221/.256/.430, 4 HR in 86 AB

The Chiba Lotte Marines went obscure with a couple of their newest
imports, and it hasn’t really worked out so far. Burnham spent seven of
his 11 minor league seasons in the Philly farm system before playing in
Taiwan last year. Lambin, 29, hit .300/.378/.518 with the Marlins’
Triple-A club last season.

Jose Ortiz – .301/.340/.615, 9 HR in 156 AB

Ortiz, a one-time top prospect for the A’s, attempted a major league
comeback this year, only to return to Japan after failing to make the
Rockies during spring training. I’ve always thought he could hit in the
majors, but that he’s no longer much of an option at second could
prevent him from getting another shot.

Jason Botts – .143/.250/.571, 1 HR in 7 AB

I’m assuming that there have been some injury issues here. The former Ranger has hit .300/.375/.700 in 50 minor league at-bats.

Tadahito Iguchi – .330/.439/.554, 10 HR in 197 AB

Iguchi opted to return home when it didn’t look like he’d be offered
a starting job in the U.S. Obviously, he had some baseball left in him
after all. He’s performing even better now than he did in his final
year before leaving for MLB (.333/.394/.549 in 2004).


Benny Agbayani – .285/.388/.431, 3 HR in 130 AB
Chris Aguila – .095/.208/.095, 0 HR in 42 AB
Hiram Bocachica – .243/.371/.564, 12 HR in 170 AB
Alex Cabrera – .250/.290/.453, 4 HR in 69 AB
Jamie D’Antona – .237/.284/.432, 8 HR in 169 AB
Jose Fernandez – .234/.308/.389, 6 HR in 175 AB
Aaron Guiel – .301/.374/.566, 9 HR in 166 AB
Luis Jimenez – .231/.268/.397, 5 HR in 127 AB
Greg LaRocca – .303/.374/.524, 9 HR in 185 AB
Scott McClain – .235/.322/.382, 3 HR in 102 AB
Alex Ramirez – .299/.324/.488, 10 HR in 244 AB
Scott Seabol – .216/.281/.352, 4 HR in 125 AB
Fernando Seguignol – .165/.248/.320, 4 HR in 97 AB
Rick Short – .230/.279/.294, 1 HR in 126 AB
Terrmel Sledge – .259/.356/.532, 9 HR in 139 AB

Billy Williams, Bill Murray and . . . Fall Out Boy!

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 08:  Former players Ferguson Jenkins (L) and Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs throw out ceremonial first pitches before the Opening Day game against the Milwaukee Brewers during the Opening Day game at Wrigley Field on April 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Major League Baseball has announced the on-field ceremonial stuff for tonight’s Game 3 of the World Series. There are a couple of good things here! And one bit of evidence that, at some point when he was still commissioner, Bud Selig sold his mortal soul to a pop punk band and now the league can’t do a thing about it.

The ceremonial first pitch choice is fantastic: it’s Billy Williams, the Hall of Famer and six-time All-Star who starred for the Cubs from 1959 through 1974. Glad to see Williams here. I know he’s beloved in Chicago, but he has always seemed to be one of the more overlooked Hall of Famers of the 1960s-70s. I’m guessing not being in the World Series all that time has a lot to do with that, so it’s all the more appropriate that he’s getting the spotlight tonight. Here’s hoping Fox makes a big deal out of it and replays it after the game starts.

“Take me out to the ballgame” will be sung by the guy who, I assume, holds the title of Cubs First Fan, Bill Murray. It’ll be wacky, I’m sure.

The National Anthem will be sung by Chicago native Patrick Stump. Who, many of you may know, is the lead singer for Fall Out Boy. This continues Major League Baseball’s strangely strong association with Fall Out Boy over the years. They, or some subset of them, seem to perform at every MLB jewel event. They have featured in MLB’s Opening Day musical montages. They played at the All-Star Game this summer. Twice. And, of course, they are the creative minds behind “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” (a/k/a “light ’em MUPMUPMUPMUP“) which Major League Baseball and Fox used as incessant playoff bumper music several years ago. I don’t ask for much in life, but one thing I do want is someone to love me as much as Major League Baseball loves Fall Out Boy. We all do, really.

Wayne Messmer, the former public address announcer for the Cubs and a regular performer of the National Anthem at Wrigley Field will sing “God Bless America.”

Between that and Bill Murray, I think we’ve found out the Cubs strategy for dealing with Andrew Miller: icing him if he tries to straddle the 6th and 7th innings.

Imagining a daytime World Series game at Wrigley Field

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 27:  A overall shot of the scoreboard showing the postponement of the game in Baltimore because of riots before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 27, 2015 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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Night baseball first came to the World Series in 1971, when the Pirates played the Orioles in Game 4. The last World Series game played under natural light came in 1984, when the Tigers played the Padres in Detroit in Game 5 of that year’s Fall Classic. The last World Series game played during daytime hours was Game 6 of the 1987 World Series, but that came in Minneapolis, in the Metrodome, so it was still played under artificial light. All games since then have been played in the evening hours.

Ever since, there have been periodic calls for the World Series to include day games. These appeals are often grounded in tradition and nostalgia for bright sunshine making way for long shadows. For memories of sneaking transistor radios into classrooms. For the symbolism of the sun setting on both the day at hand and the baseball season as a whole.

It’s an appealing idea. Baseball in the daytime is a wonderful, wonderful thing. And while day baseball may be occasionally miserable for fans and players in the heat of August, October afternoons are often the loveliest weather there is. There is nothing better than fall sunshine. A baseball game in that fall sunshine seems like the closest one can get to heaven on Earth.

Unfortunately, it’s a wholly unrealistic idea in this day and age. Far fewer people would actually get to watch the World Series if it were played during the day. We complain about late games lasting into the wee hours, preventing kids from watching, but how many kids are going to be able to watch a World Series game when they’re in school? Or at after school extracurricular activities? And how many people can ditch work to watch a baseball game? Some say to put one of the day games on the weekend, but that clashes with other activities and, of course, with football, which is going to win the battle for the remote in more households than baseball would.

Yes, the networks and Major League Baseball are in it for the money and the TV ratings, but the fact is that the money and the ratings are a function of more people watching baseball games in the evening, kids and grownups alike. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. More people watching baseball is better for the people and for baseball, full stop, aesthetics and commercial motivations notwithstanding. For this reason the World Series will almost certainly be played at night for the foreseeable future. And it should be.

Still . . . it’s Wrigley Field, the last bastion of day-only baseball for decades. A place where, even if they now play most games at night, still features more day baseball than anyplace else. And it’s a sunny Friday afternoon on which the temperatures will creep into the 60s. I know it would never happen and certainly won’t happen today, but the idea of an afternoon World Series game in Wrigley Field makes even a hard-headed, bottom-line-appreciating anti-nostalgist like me sorta wish today was a day game. If I close my eyes I can imagine it. I can feel the warm breeze and smell the fall afternoon air. I’m sure many of you can too.

And even if you can’t, can we agree that maybe today should be a day game simply for public health purposes? I mean, get a load of this:

These people will have been drinking for at least 11 hours come game time. Many of them for much longer. You’re probably looking at some dead men walking, here. For the sake of their livers and personal safety, this game should start at 1pm, dang it. If even that is early enough to save them.