Looking at Fukudome

Perhaps the most interesting remaining free agent is Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome; an outfielder Fukudome is 30 years old - 31 in April - and has a career line of .305/.397/.543 in the Nippon Pro League. In fact here's a rundown of his past three seasons in Japan:

The Japanese player I'm most familiar with - outside of perhaps Ichiro - is the Tampa Bay Rays third baseman turned second baseman Akinori Iwamura. Below I've matched up Iwamura's average Japanese season to his 2007 season in America. Perhaps a bit surprisingly they're quite equal, the only obvious exception being in the power department since parks are considerably bigger in the MLB than the NPL.

The top row represents Iwamura's seasonal average in the NPL; his numbers might not show it, but from watching most of his games Iwamura is a very polished player who has a good eye at the plate and demonstrates the ability to adapt; assuming Fukudome also possesses some of these skills he could top Iwamura's VORP status - around 15 - even with a possible reduction in power numbers and batting average.

Fukudome might be the closest to a Hideki Matsui clone that we'll see arrive here in the near future as a line of .295/.371/.485 doesn't seem overly unreasonable considering he wants a 3/30 deal; for comparisons sake Matsui made about 21 million his first three seasons and Ichiro around 15 million. The teams considering him include the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, and the Texas Rangers.

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