Three players were inducted into Japan’s baseball hall of fame. One player who didn’t make it:
Chunichi manager Hiromitsu Ochiai, a three-time batting Triple Crown winner, missed by one vote for the second year in a row.
In addition to winning the triple crown thrice, Ochiai won two additional batting titles in non-Triple Crown years, two additional home run titles in non-Triple Crown years, was a two-time MVP, hit 510 home runs and had an OPS of .987 in a 20 year career that seems to have followed the usual sort of arc for a superstar. He also won a Japan Series as a manager.
I’ll confess that I know nothing about the intricacies of Japanese Hall of Fame elections, but until told otherwise I’m going to assume that he either (a) was tied to some sort of scandal; or (b) that esteemed Japanese baseball writer Jay-san Mariottizuka mailed in a blank ballot.
(thanks to Bob T. — who reports that, among the media, Ochiai had a bad reputation for being cocky, which probably explains all of this — for the heads up)
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.