There have been many Japanese players that have made the transition across the Pacific. There have been great players and there have been busts. That is the risk that teams take when they invest in foreign talent. Some of the skills that players have in Japan can get lost in translation in the shift to the major leagues.
The Twins have decided to take the risk with Tsuyoshi Nishioka. At only 26 years old one of his upsides is his young age. Here is a look at the middle infielders that have made the shift to MLB.
There are many similarities that can be seen between all of the above listed players. Over their careers they have batted in the high .260's, they hit in the mid-teens for homeruns, they steal double digits in bases, and they have an OPS of a little over .700.
I feel that these would be similar numbers to what Nishioka will put up in his major league career. Since he is younger than all of the Japanese infielders there is room to develop him over the next couple of seasons.
Ideally I would like a double play combination of Nishioka at 2B and JJ Hardy at SS. I think that offensively and defensively this is the best hitting and fielding line-up that the Twins can get on the field. The intriguing option might be to trade Hardy for a piece that can be an immediate help to the team. Ron Gardenhire has stressed that he would like to add speed to the line-up next season. That plan might include Nishioka and Alexi Casilla.
The next few weeks could be very interesting for shaping the 2011 Twins lineup.
What is your ideal double-play combination for next season? Leave a comment below.