Silly things people say on TV
Masayuki Kuwahara had three singles a walk and a sacrifice in the leadoff spot for the BayStars in their 7-3 win over the Dragons on Tuesday. “Former manager Ramirez didn’t use him very much but he’s a good player, but a new manager gives him a new attitude.”
— Yasushi Tao
Kuwahara did fall out of favor with Ramirez, who used him as his No. 1 center fielder from his age 22 season in 2016 to 2018. During those three seasons alone, Ramirez played Kuwahara in 403 games and gave him 1,607 plate appearances. Kuwahara is an adequate player, but to say Ramirez didn’t use him very much is kind of silly. Kuwahara was adequate as a starter but has not played well as a reserve.
I don’t think it was a dig on Ramirez as much as it was an explanation of why Kuwahara is playing decently. The answer is probably that he responds to being an everyday player, and that Ramirez felt he had better options.
The prisoner of No. 2, chapter 2
Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura was installed as the No. 2 hitter after Norichika Aoki was deactivated due to coronavirus concerns on March 31. In his first game in the spot generally reserved for light-hitting middle infielders, he transformed into a No. 2 hitter, sacrificing twice and striking out twice.
From then until Tuesday, April 7, when his qualifications to bat second were raised, he went 6-for-20 with a walk, two doubles, three runs, a sac fly, three RBIs and no sac bunts.
Mitsuru Manaka, his former Swallows manager started by following the script for batters hitting well in the No. 2 hole, “Nakamura in the No. 2 spot is doing a great job of advancing runners,” before he caught himself.
“Actually, he’s doing a great job of getting on base and creating scoring opportunities,” Manaka said, correcting himself and amending his statement to add that reaching base was an acceptable part of the No. 2 hitter’s job.
Kenichi Yazawa: “When I saw him batting second I did a double-take. I think maybe he’ll find his good batting form and (when he’s good enough) he can bat fifth.”
The exchange tells you that what’s important to Japan’s old school, even though Yazawa is a bit of an iconoclast.
To most talking heads, it’s less important what the No. 2 batter actually does, but whether he matches the proper image. If he’s successful, the knee jerk analysis – such as Manaka’s — is to say he’s doing his part in a small-ball offense by sacrificing. The other giveaway is Yazawa’s impression that a hitter good enough to bat fifth is wasted in the No. 2 hole.