Tag Archives: Masayuki Kakefu

HOF 2021 Day 3

The Experts’ Division

The voters for the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame’s Experts’ division failed to reach a consensus on who belongs in the Hall of Fame. The division is the territory of those whose pro playing careers have been over for 21 years and who have not coached or managed in the past six months.

The Experts’ Division panel of voters is made up of journalists who have covered baseball for 30 years, the journalists who manage but don’t vote in the Players’ division election, and living Hall of Famers. The candidates are still considered competitors by the Hall’s definition.

The outspoken Experts’ Division voter is Hall of Famer Tatsturo Hirooka. The former Giants shortstop and hard-ass manager last year said that virtually no one on either of the competitors division was worthy of induction. He said that while saying it was ridiculous that Atsushi Nagaike, who is still languishing in the Experts’ division ballot, was not already enshrined, an opinion I agree with.

Here’s a quick look at this year’s results. Despite being older than a lot of the guys who vote in the Experts’ division, I don’t get a vote there, so I have a little less vitriol for them.

2021 results

Randy Bass1B70.965.9
Masayuki Kakefu3B54.545.9
Masayoshi OsawaOF36.636.3
Atsushi NagaikeOF30.627.4
Isao ShibataOF23.929.6
Masayuki DobashiP23.120.0
Boomer Wells1B22.4
Yasunori OshimaOF21.6
Kenichi Yazawa1B19.4
Michiyo Arito3B17.9
Hideji Kato1B14.920.7
Masataka NashidaC13.412.6
Shigeru TakadaOF11.912.6
Kiyoshi Nakahata1B9.711.1
Yoshinori SatoP8.210.4
Mitsuo TatsukawaC6.78.1
Hiromu MatsuokaP4.58.9
Taira FujitaSS3.7

Because a player will be removed permanently from his division’s ballot if he fails to get 3 percent of the voters to name him on a ballot, some worthy candidates are sometimes held off the ballot if organizers think news unrelated to their candidacies, such as scandal or legal trouble, would prevent them from receiving the necessary 3 percent.

Evaluating the current candidates

The Experts’ division is harder to evaluate because some of the guys on the ballot are there because they bolstered their profile by contributing as coaches, managers and executives.

Chief among those guys on the current ballot is Keiji Osawa, a fringe player, who three times took struggling teams and made them competitive. This guy is now the dean of the media analysts and will end up in the Hall sooner or later, either through this division or as a Special Committee selection.

An explanation of the numbers in the tables below can be found in HOF 2021 Day 2, so I won’t rehash it here. If I got four votes in this division, they would go to Masayuki Kakefu, Randy Bass, Taira Fujita, and then Nagaike. Fujita was back on the ballot this year, and people must really dislike him. Otherwise, I can’t account for his poor record in the voting.

Position players

NamePos20212020Bat EyeCareer5 Peak3 Best
Randy Bass1B70.965.931132.52630.3
Masayuki Kakefu3B54.545.945302.83038.1
Masayoshi OsawaOF36.636.3038.36.88.7
Atsushi NagaikeOF30.627.465215.825.328.8
Isao ShibataOF23.929.640261.417.620.7
Boomer Wells1B22.439195.623.328.1
Yasunori OshimaOF21.69275.818.623.5
Kenichi Yazawa1B19.434269.921.825.6
Michiyo Arito3B17.961301.621.725.1
Hideji Kato1B14.920.750285.622.926.7
Masataka NashidaC13.412.622102.812.114.8
Shigeru TakadaOF11.912.629166.916.817.7
Kiyoshi Nakahata1B9.711.1614816.418.1
Mitsuo TatsukawaC6.78.120109.511.614.8
Taira FujitaSS3.746301.924.428.5


Name20212020P EyeCareer5 Peak3 Best
Masayuki Dobashi23.1205155.121.727.1
Mitsuhiro Adachi13.415.614203.916.120.9
Yoshinori Sato8.210.412174.614.818.2
Hiromu Matsuoka4.58.99232.621.422.8

NPB goes viral: Kakefu argues for small ball

The website of Fukuoka broadcaster TV Nishinihon, which has been covering the debate over NPB expanding to 16 teams, published part of an interview with former Hanshin Tigers great Masayuki Kakefu, who would prefer 10 teams in NPB with a kind of minor league development system that is not run by the teams. You can find the article HERE.

“When I was manager of Hanshin’s farm team, I asked the front office why we don’t have a third team like the SoftBank Hawks and Yomiuri Giants do,” Kakefu told the interviewer, retired former Hawks and Tigers pitcher Chikafusa Ikeda. “They said, ‘The outlay for infrastructure and expenses add up to quite a lot over the course of the year, but are not worth it when you consider the low chances of any of those players contributing on the first team.”

By that logic, the Tigers wouldn’t have a farm team if they weren’t required by NPB rules to have one. And since the Tigers are historically bad at developing talent, it would make sense for them to believe that a third team would just mean more expenses for more players who would never have careers with them.

Kakefu doesn’t really give a reason why he thinks 10 teams are better than 12, other than asking whether fans want “more baseball or better baseball.”

In my opinion, like some other former Giants and Tigers players, he’s just being nostalgic for the days before the NPB draft when the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants could afford to pay full value for amateur talent and other teams could not.

An independent alternative

The easy way to handle expansion is to simply do away with the active-roster limit of four imported players. Kakefu’s idea that a level of minor league development not be owned by the team but somehow contracted out is an interesting one but probably makes no sense for anyone.

A dream alternative would be for NPB to have its clubs to reduce their rosters to about 30 players while allowing for player loans and for purchases at market value from fully professional independent minor leagues. Currently, there are over 1,000 players under contract with NPB teams. If four teams were added and needed only 30 players, there still would be plenty of players available to seed two or four smaller regional leagues. These clubs would compete for their own championships, sign their own players, develop their own markets and players, and sell surplus talent to other teams and other leagues.

This would mean a huge increase in the amount of affordable professional baseball in Japan and, I believe, in the quality of talent.

That’s my two yen on the subject for the time being at least.

Uehara: “MLB club flew me to U.S. as an amateur”

One of the stories of NPB’s 1998 amateur draft was Koji Uehara’s decision to turn down a reported $5 million offer from the Angels to stay in Japan and sign with the Yomiuri Giants, who–IF they abided by an NPB’s gentleman’s agreement–could only offer amateurs a total of 150 million yen in signing bonuses and 1st-year incentives.

Fifteen years ago, I asked Uehara about this and he said he did get an offer from an MLB team but they would only guarantee that he would start now lower than Double-A. He also said he was not confident living in an English-speaking environment and for those two reasons chose nine years of indentured servitude with the Giants.

The most likely answer to the riddle of why Uehara turned down more money in exchange for a guaranteed roster spot with the Giants was that he didn’t. The Giants, most believe simply offered him a lot more money. And as long as he paid his taxes on it or the Giants successfully hid it, then there would be no questions asked.

Anyway, to get back to Uehara’s “confession” published by Sports Nippon Annex HERE, he told Fuji Television that during his senior year in his 1998 summer vacation, an MLB club paid for his trip to the States.

“I thought it was great,” he said. “They paid for everything. I got to throw a little in the bullpen. They took me to a night game and I was really enthused. I was leaning toward signing with them.”

He didn’t, he said, because the team’s Asia scout told him, “Only come if you are 100 percent certain. If you’re not, you won’t make it.” Uehara said he had been 100 percent certain but the more he went over the idea with his parents that confidence eroded.

Water under the table

That doesn’t mean the Giants didn’t offer him more money. Clubs aren’t bound to the NPB bonus and incentive limits for amateurs, and in legal filings, have called them “just guidelines.” In 1993, the Giants successfully lobbied for a change to the draft rules that allowed players the right to turn down draft selections under certain circumstances. That started a huge market in under-the-table signing bonuses.

Some people said there was never any evidence for that, but it has come out in various ways. An accountant who was an acquaintance of a Dragons coach convinced a string of players that they could hide their unreported bonuses and avoid paying taxes on them.

Those players, including former national team manager Hiroki Kokubo, were arrested, convicted and suspended. Tsuneo Watanabe, the windbag president of the Yomiuri Shimbun and then “owner” of the Giants, lambasted the Dragons and Hawks for signing “tax cheats.” This was rich coming from Watanabe who is infamous for being a tax cheat.

When I was at the Daily Yomiuri, the company handed us all bank accounts at Fuji Bank, currently Mizuho, into which all our work expenses would be paid. But several of my Japanese coworkers received more than one account but were told never to touch the other one or worry about the sums of money going in and out of it. A likely explanation for those accounts was that they were used by the company to hide taxes by reporting non-existent business expenses.