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Hiroyuki Nakajima's MLB projections aren't pretty—but the Oakland Athletics would be satisfied

Hiroyuki Nakajima's huge NPB numbers don't translate well to Major League Baseball, but they'd still make him an average shortstop.


The Oakland Athletics were the first team to get the 2013 ZiPS treatment over at FanGraphs, which means they were timed perfectly for the tail end of my masochistic coverage of Hiroyuki Nakajima. (Previously--he's a perfect fit for the Cardinals; he's not Tsuyoshi Nishioka.) The end results? Surprisingly muted—but given the muted state of offense around baseball, pretty adequate, especially for Ty Wigginton dollars.

The projection gives him a line of .271/.316/.366, with just eight home runs and 25 doubles across 626 plate appearances. That's a huge drop from his .311/.382/.451 line in 2012, which put him fourth in the Pacific League in OPS, but ZiPS-master Dan Szymborski mentions in the accompanying BTF thread the huge numbers recent imports like Wladimir Balentien and Lastings Milledge have put up in Japan.

Whether Nakajima falls short of even that projection, like Nishioka, or beats it, like Norichika Aoki, though, the relatively disappointing numbers released this week suggest he's already a bargain. His wOBA of .298 is identical to Stephen Drew's—basically league-average for the position—and he'll be making two-thirds the money over twice as many games.

I think the ZiPS release marks the final time this offseason in which I can be depressed and fatalistic about the Cardinals not signing Nakajima. But I could be wrong, and I apologize for that.