Profile: Ryosuke Kikuchi

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Ryosuke Kikuchi

Current status: Being posted. The Hiroshima Carp announced on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, that they would post Kikuchi.

His posting application was filed Dec. 2.

Team: Hiroshima Carp

Pos: 2B Age: 29, he’ll be 30 on March 11, 2020. Bats: R

NPB page

Honors: Best Nine (1), Golden Glove (7)

League leader: Hits (1). According to his player page, Kikuchi has twice led the CL in bunt hits.

A few scouts have told me that Kikuchi has been on their radar, and there is a good chance that from 2014 to 2016 he was the best defensive second baseman in the world.

There have been three NPB seasons in which a second baseman had 500+ assists, all belong to Kikuchi when he recorded 528, 535 and 525, in 2013, 2014 and 2016, respectively. The next highest figure since the two-league system began in 1950 is Masahiro Araki‘s 496 with the 2005 Chunichi Dragons.

Two years ago, having been told by at least one scout that his team would have loved to sign Kikuchi, I told him before an interleague game. Kikuchi said he was keen to go and had been spending part of his offseason in the States in order to build himself up.

He’s nothing special as a hitter but is a serious player and an engaging character, yet another plus makeup guy who will be a positive in the clubhouse.

On Friday it was learned Kikuchi intends to return to the Carp if a deal is not forthcoming. This is no surprise really. A number of players have done this after receiving no guaranteed contract. Former Hanshin Tigers shortstop Takashi Toritani tried going to the States with the condition that he receive a contract by Jan. 15 so that Hanshin would be able to prepare better for the season.

Toritani could have played in the majors, but for a relatively unknown quantity given his age at the time, it meant no camp invite and a guaranteed return to the Tigers.

Kikuchi could win a job in camp or in Triple-A, not because of what he’s done in NPB the last four years, but because, in my opinion, the change will flip a switch in this dynamic player. I may be biased because I like him so much, but Kikuchi is a smart player, and he may be like former Cardinals outfielder So Taguchi, a guy who is a better player in MLB than in NPB. There’s no guarantee. There’s no evidence. But I like the possibility.

Ryosuke Kikuchi career win shares

YearRaw WSBatting WSDef WSWARUZR
WAR and UZR ratings are from analytic site Delta Graphs:

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writing & research on Japanese baseball