The Yomiuri Giants sent 25-year-old left-handed pitcher Kazuto Taguchi to the Central League rival Yakult Swallows on Monday in exchange for power-hitting 23-year-old infielder Taishi Hirooka in what is looking like a pattern for the Giants.
Taguchi, who has been primarily a fastball, slider pitcher, had big seasons for the Giants in 2016 and 2017. His fastball (average velocity 135.7 kph according to Delta Graphs) was the slowest among ERA-title qualified pitchers in 2016 and second slowest in 2017. In relief the past two seasons, he’s ratcheted that up to 140 kph or so. He began using a split two years ago.
Hirooka strikes out and hasn’t hit for average but does have power, which makes this a kind of bookend to the trade that sent Hirokazu Sawamura to Lotte for slugging infielder Kazuya Katsuki.
That trade sent a right-handed pitcher making $1.5 million for a young left-handed hitting slugging minor league infielder making close to the NPB minimum $60,000. This one sent a left-hander making about $670,000 and brought in a young right-handed slugging infielder making about a quarter of that.
Both of those moves came after we heard the Giants front office justify dumping outfielder Alex Guerrero “to save money,” a phrase the Giants are not well known for using.
As I noted somewhere, Kazuya Katsuki did extremely well for the Giants in the Eastern League after the Sawamura trade. This happens a lot, but if it continues, chalk one up for the Giants’ analytics and pro scouting staff for seeing a player whose ability was under-represented by his performance data.
Steve Martin’s staff
Does anyone remember the Steve Martin line from when he was doing comedy about not getting high but “getting small?” With the addition of the 1.71-meter Taguchi, the Swallows now have three of the 10 first-team pitchers from last season who were under 1.72 meters tall.
The median weighted height of all 12 pitching staffs last season was 181.35 meters. The figures in the table below are based on those published on NPB’s website.
|Team||Avg height weighted by IP|