Peskiness and Posting Fees
Japanese infielder Takuya Nakashima drew an 18 pitch walk to lead off a Spring Training game recently. He fouled off 13 pitches in the at-bat.
Nakashima led the NPB in pitches per plate appearance last year. He must be both exceptionally good at fouling off pitches and have an exceptionally sharp eye, because he’s a career .249 hitter with a career .275 slugging percentage. In other words, he has absolutely no power, so there is little reason for pitchers not to just throw him one strike after another, since the best he’s likely to do with any pitch is hit a single.
Nevertheless Nakashima managed to draw 66 walks last year in fewer than 600 plate appearances, excluding the 34 times he intentionally sacrificed, something that is a much bigger part of the Japanese game, especially among light hitting middle infielders, than it is here. Nakashima is only 25 this year, and his bat control and plate discipline are such that I expect he’ll one day be at least a .290 hittter, if not a .300 hitter.
Meanwhile, MLB is trying to force South Korea’s KBO to accept an $8 million cap on posting fees for KBO players wanting to join MLB. The two league organizations are currently in negotiations.
MLB teams paid posting fees of $25 million-plus for Hyun-Jin Ryu and $12 million-plus for Byung-ho Park. MLB forced NPB to accept a $20 million posting fee cap for Japanese players after the 2013 season. A $10 million posting fee cap for KBO players makes more sense to me, if only because it’s a nice round number.