Some notable numbers from Japan: Pacific League stats

3 Comments

Now a look through the Pacific League stats. It’s all about the pitching there right now: in a six-team league, there are 12 starters with sub-2.00 ERAs.

Here was the Central League rundown, if you missed it.

First the bats:

Aarom Baldiris: .231/.329/.331, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 1 SB in 121 AB
Dee Brown: .161/.188/.194, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB in 31 AB
Alex Cabrera: .184/.247/.320, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 0 SB in 147 AB
Jose Fernandez: .239/.274/.394, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 0 SB in 155 AB
Mike Hessman: .210/.264/.395, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB in 81 AB
Micah Hoffpauir: .240/.306/.463, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 0 SB in 121 AB
Tadahito Iguchi: .351/.465/.520, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 0 SB in 148 AB
Akinori Iwamura: .165/.226/.195, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB in 77 AB
Kaz Matsui: .238/.286/.348, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 SB in 164 AB
Jose Ortiz: .234/.308/.447, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB in 47 AB
Randy Ruiz: .155/.183/.293, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB in 58 AB
So Taguchi: .364/.462/.439, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB in 66 AB

– Cabrera, Japan’s top power hitter over the last 10 years, appears to be fading at age 39.  The current Pacific League home run leader is Takeya Nakamura with 13.

– Former Royals prospect Dee Brown put together a respectable first year in Japan in 2010, hitting .241/.319/.436 with 21 homers and 76 RBI.  However, he’s going to need to bounce back in a big way if he expects the Seibu Lions to bring him back in 2012.

– Taguchi is having an exceptional year as a part-timer even though he’s less than four weeks away from turning 42.

Pitching:

Yu Darvish: 8-1, 1.42 ERA, 83/10 K/BB in 76 IP
Alfredo Figaro: 5-2, 1.73 ERA, 40/16 K/BB in 52 IP
Alex Graman: 1-0, 1 Sv, 3.65 ERA, 6/9 K/BB in 12.1 IP
D.J. Houlton: 6-2, 2.10 ERA, 41/7 K/BB in 55.2 IP
Kazuhisa Ishii: 2-2, 4.32 ERA, 25/5 K/BB in 25 IP
Hisashi Iwakuma: 3-2, 1.72 ERA, 418 K/BB in 47 IP
Bob Keppel: 5-1, 2.47 ERA, 17/17 K/BB in 51 IP
Bill Murphy: 2-1, 3.31 ERA, 12/12 K/BB in 32.2 IP
Chan Ho Park: 1-5, 4.29 ERA, 21/12 K/BB in 42 IP
Hayden Penn: 1-0, 1.11 ERA, 3/2 K/BB in 8 IP
Darrell Rasner: 2-2, 3.57 ERA, 17/12 K/BB in 22.2 IP
Carlos Rosa: 0-3, 2.66 ERA, 17/3 K/BB in 23 2/3 IP
Romulo Sanchez: 0-2, 4.73 ERA, 18/7 K/BB in 13.1 IP
Ryan Speier: 1-1, 6 Sv, 2.40 ERA, 17/2 K/BB in 15 IP
Brian Wolfe: 6-1, 2.44 ERA, 26/12 K/BB in 48 IP

– Darvish is third in the league with his 1.42 ERA.  His last three starts have all been shutouts, tying a record in Japan.  There hasn’t been much chatter of late about him coming over to the U.S. in 2012, but that may pick up again as the year goes on. Still years away from free agency, he’d have to be posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters.

– Iwakuma was won by the A’s through the posting system last winter, then returned to Japan after failing to work out a contract.  He’ll be a free agent this winter, allowing him to negotiate with every team, and expectations are that he will make the jump to MLB.

– As Aaron mentioned last week, Park was recently sent to the minors by the Buffaloes.

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
15 Comments

On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.