Saturday, July 25, 2015

Takeya Nakamura

I submitted a question to the Japan Baseball Weekly podcast a few weeks back regarding who was most likely to be the next player to reach 500 home runs in NPB.  I was pleased that John Gibson and Jim Allen pretty much agreed with me that Takeya Nakamura of the Lions was the most likely candidate, although John felt that Okawari-kun's health issues would likely keep him from reaching that milestone.  (Several other candidates were discussed - Tetsuto Yamada of the Swallows, Sho Nakata of the Fighters and Tomoya Mori of the Lions - but there were concerns that each of them might spend some number of years in MLB.)

Nakamura had a big game this past Friday night.  In the fourth inning, he hit a solo home run off Shohei Ohtani of the Fighters for his 1000th career hit and his 300th career home run.  The next inning, facing Ohtani again with the bases loaded this time, he hit his 15th career grand slam, tying him with Sadaharu Oh for the most in NPB history.

I thought I'd do a little retrospective of Nakamura on his getting 60% of the way to 500 home runs.  Nakamura was drafted by the Lions in the second round of the fall 2001 draft out of Osaka Toin high school.  He debuted with the ichi-gun Lions in 2003 and became a regular in 2005.  He's lead the PL in home runs five times in his career and appears to have been one of the only players unaffected by the "dead ball" of 2011-12.  He has (as John Gibson alluded to) had issues staying healthy - he missed about half of the 2010 and most of the 2013 seasons with injuries.  He also doesn't hit for a high average - his career average is .254 - which may make it difficult for him to maintain playing time as he gets older and his skills inevitably decline.  I figure he'll need six or seven more seasons to reach 500 home runs (although it wouldn't stun me if he did it in five) so we'll see how it goes.

His rookie card was #268 from the 2002 BBM 1st Version set.  He doesn't have appear in another BBM "flagship" set until the 2005 2nd Version set.  His first Calbee card appears to be from 2005 as well.

2002 BBM 1st Version #268

2005 BBM 2nd Version #695

2006 Konami Baseball Heroes "Black" #B06B055

2007 Calbee #018

2008 BBM Nippon Series #S23

2009 BBM 1st Version #439

2010 BBM Lions 60th Anniversary #58

2011 BBM All Stars #A28

2012 Lions "Winning Game Card"

2013 BBM Lions #L87

2014 Front Runner Lions Rookies & Young Stars #04

2015 BBM 1st Version #126

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