Fukudome's First Was Fabulous, But He's No Kaz Matsui


Kosuke Fukudome's Cub debut
was so riveting Monday afternoon, it was almost enough to distract from Kerry Wood's ninth-inning failure and the larger disappointment of losing the opener to the Brewers.

But terrific as it was, Fukudome's plate performance didn't quite match up to what one of his countrymen, Kaz Matsui, did when he first took the field for the Mets four years ago. On that evening, Matsui slugged the first pitch in his Major League career 429 feet, well over the center field fence in Atlanta's Turner Field, and set his new team off on a 7-2 season-opening victory. In addition to the homer, Matsui ripped a pair of doubles and walked twice, so he reached base five times in five PA's.

Given the way Matsui eventually stunk up New York, it could be argued that his Met career went straight downhill following that first game.

In any case, here's a review of the most prominent Japanese hitters to cross the Pacific and how they fared in their first regular season games on American soil:

Ichiro, Mariners
MLB Debut: April 2, 2001 v. A's
Went: 2-for-5, including a strikeout and a run scored
Team result: Mariners won 5-4

Hideki Matsui, Yankees
MLB Debut: March 31, 2003 v. Toronto
Went: 1-for-4, with an RBI
Team result: Yankees won 8-4

Kaz Matsui, Mets
MLB Debut: April 6, 2004 v. Atlanta
Went: 3-for-3, including HR, 3 RBI, and a run scored, plus 2 walks
Team result: Mets won 7-2

Tad Iguchi, White Sox
MLB Debut: April 4, 2005 v. Indians
Went: 0-for-4, including a strikeout
Team result: White Sox won 1-0

Kenji Johjima, Mariners
MLB Debut: April 3, 2006 v. Angels
Went: 1-for-3, including HR and a run scored, plus a walk
Team result: Mariners lost 5-4

Akinori Iwamura, Rays
MLB Debut: April 2, 2007 v. Yankees
Went: 1-for-3 with a run scored, plus a walk
Team result: Rays lost 9-5

Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs
MLB Debut: March 31, 2008 v. Brewers
Went: 3-for-3 with a double, game-tying, ninth-inning HR, 3 RBI, and a walk
Team result: Cubs lost 4-3

Of all these players, Iwamura--who manned third base in Tampa last season, but is playing second this year--had the most productive first month in the U.S., hitting .472/.482/961 (OBP/SLG/OPS).

Ichiro went .358/.431/789 in his first month with Seattle; Hideki Matsui, who currently has a lifetime OPS of 856, put up a dismal .320/.364/684 line in his first April with the Yankees.

Comments

Here is footage of Fuku's HR from WGN -- check out the fan who caught it -- spilled his beer all over the guy in front of him

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjkNRWXyCI8

Speaking of "rick rolls"...check out this footage of a REALLY BAD canadian television show making fun of the elderly

http://youtube.com/watch?v=H3KmjHt1Kb0

Well played Crunch

Dude, that gag's tired.

hmmm, you might want to check this link again.

I got Richard Simmons...

NOT April Fools Day!

Stop wasting our time.

not funny.

Whoa boy.

Talk about a sandy vagina...

talk about a weak stab at humor.

Also, a tip of the hat to TCR reader CUBBY, who obviously speaks Japanese and noted in last night's Comments that bleacher fans were holding up Japanese language signs that translated to, "It's a fluke."

Paul Sullivan addressed this in the Tribune today...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/cs-080331-chicago-cubs-milwaukee-brewers,1,2710174.story

...and it's sounds like the signs might have been professionally printed by the "It's Gonna Happen" guy, who either hooked up with a crappy translator or just trusted Babelfish to write the Japanese for him.

why thanks cubnut. im just your average long-suffering fan with no special knowledge of metrics or anatomy, so im glad i was able to contribute (if you can call it that). im an interpreter living in japan btw. and yes, the chunichi fans I know are pissed he left and bitter over his stunning debut. HA!
(theyre loving the “it’s a fluke” thing though. assholes.)

Chunichi fans are to Kosuke as Illinois basketball fans are to Bill Self.

Thanks, CUBBY. Hope you keep reading and updating us

By the way, is there any way to capture the spirit of It's Gonna Happen in Japanese? If not, that guy's Asian t-shirt sales are going to take a big hit.

"Chunichi fans are to Kosuke as Illinois basketball fans are to Bill Self"

LMAO! HAHA!

Nicely done, CN

lol. I'd love to find out what Fukudome thought when he saw those things. maybe someone can post a youtube video of the signs?

Are you asking to be Rickrolled? Don't taunt Carlos! He's armed!

uhh...thats definitely NOT footage of k-fuks homer. not even close. yeesh.

While I expected it to happen at some point, I didn't expect it this early.

"Already coming off two injury-plagued seasons, Martinez limped away with a strained left hamstring in the fourth inning, after just 57 pitches.

"He said he felt kind of a pop," Mets manager Willie Randolph said."

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=280401128

Hope this isn't 3/44, but King Kaufman linked to a really good article on Brian Bannister:
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/royals/story/550237.html

No, you are not being Rickrolled...

Great article.

yeah, the classic underdog story.

One of these times you guys are gonna post a real link to K-Fuk's homer and E-Man's not gonna click on it. Then you're really gonna be sorry.

That's not funny.

Trans, when are you going to put up the game preview?

Anyone seen a lineup?

Lineup...

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/gameTrax?gameId=28040...

I think Cubnut has a preview coming up shortly...

According to Mike Murphy from WSCR, his "insiders" said that Wood drilled Hall for popping off about the Cubs in spring training.

Take this with a large spoon of salt.

I can believe it. I thought it might have been intentional.

It's a really stupid thing to do, obviously. We all know there's no reason to put the leadoff man on in a tie game, but Woody may have been a little too cocky that he could get out of it.

Someone in another thread called Mike North the village idiot of Chicago sports radio. He's second in line; Mike Murphy is first.

This hybrid lovechild explanation of K-Fuk is a pretty good.

http://blogs.e-rockford.com/cubs/2008/04/01/no-off...

finally found a non-profane Fukudome t-shirt that I can wear in front of my kids if anyone is interested. www.fukudomeismyhomie.com. I'm sure they'll still think I'm lame.

Ah, nothing like spam for breakfast.

at least it's on topic spam

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.

    Charlie 1 min 5 sec ago view
  • They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?

    QuietMan 1 hour 25 min ago view
  • Regarding Heyward--

    He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.

    What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.

    (All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 25 min ago view
  • Lester will probably be all right.

    I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.

    Seriously.

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 32 min ago view
  • I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.

    billybucks 1 hour 35 min ago view
  • Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 39 min ago view
  • He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.

    But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.

    billybucks 1 hour 48 min ago view
  • The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 50 min ago view
  • Yup. Thanks Q

    The E-Man 1 hour 55 min ago view
  • QuietMan 2 hours 3 min ago view
  • I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.

    Rob Richardson 2 hours 22 min ago view
  • O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.

    The E-Man 3 hours 1 min ago view
  • Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.

    Old and Blue 3 hours 45 min ago view
  • I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.

    Old and Blue 3 hours 56 min ago view
  • You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.

    To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.

    Old and Blue 3 hours 57 min ago view
  • So, playing .500 for the rest of the year puts them at 91 wins. You would think there is enough talent to do a little better than that, right?

    The E-Man 4 hours 16 min ago view