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As Dragons fans were reminded tonight, Nobumasa Fukuda is a pretty decent hitter. The 26-year-old right-handed-hitting first baseman hit his fourth homer of the season for Chunichi tonight and the question is not when he became good? but rather, at what point did we forget that he was good?
Fukuda’s been playing regularly in the Western League since 2009, and he MUST have appeared somewhere in annual scans of minor league hitters with outstanding results, but somehow he fell off the radar — his results have been consistently good although his OBP had been pedestrian until last year when he drew 34 walks in 334 plate appearances. He had a bad year in 2013 and that might have made it easier to overlook him. He’s not really young any more and he’s a first baseman.
But that being said, the Western League is a tough league to post gaudy batting numbers in and he’s been overshadowed by a barrel full of young Hawks guys who can hammer it, but Fukuda can play.
An injury to Masahiko Morino, one of Chunichi’s better players, and the Dragons are an improved team. Funny how things turn out.