Current status: Eligible to file for free agency at the conclusion of the Japan Series. The team said he would receive a generous multiyear offer to stay in Japan, which he turned down. On Tuesday, Oct. 29, Akiyama revealed he told the team he was leaving.
Team: Seibu Lions
Pos: CF Age: 31, he’ll be 32 on April 16, 2020. Bats: L
Honors: Best Nine (3), Golden Glove (6)
League leader: Hits (3) — NPB record 216 in 2015, Batting Avg. (1).
Akiyama turned down a lucrative contract extension last autumn and the Lions had been pressing another one on him. He suffered a fracture of the fourth toe on his right foot in a Premier 12 warm-up game against Canada on Oct. 31 and has been rehabbing at the Lions’ complex outside Tokyo.
He can hit for average and has deceptive power. Akiyama has always been among Delta Graphs’ leaders in “hard contact percentage,” but tends to hit the ball on the ground a lot. Once a dynamite base runner he is no longer a serious base-stealing threat. Akiyama is not slow, but now he’s just better than average.
Once a terrific defensive center fielder with an above-average arm and very good range, Akiyama’s defensive results as tracked by Delta Graphs and Win Shares show a steady decline.
At the start of this season, he seemed to be having trouble tracking balls and some who follow the Lions agreed he had unusual trouble with a number of routine catches. That issue appears to have cleared up, however.
Although he is a team captain, he’s more of a quiet leader rather than someone like Tsutsugo who will seek out his teammates to encourage them and keep them loose.
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