It’s fair for Cubs fans to expect a better performance from Kosuke Fukudome this year.
He has a full season under his belt plus a better understanding of the new culture he’s living and playing in.
But don’t expect the guy to reach the power numbers he once did playing overseas either.
Just as with any foreign currency, the transition isn’t 1-to-1 with baseball statistics, especially power numbers.
The biggest reasons being a longer regular season, more travel and bigger ballparks…all of which appeared to take its toll on Fukudome’s spin-o-rama last year.
And for any Japanese slugger new to the States there’s also the introduction to the American style 2-seam fastball: a pitch not thrown in Japan.
When Hideki Matsui joined the Yankees he said he’d never seen a 2-seamer before, even asking Joe Torre “what is that pitch?”
In Japan, however, Matsui smashed HR so regularly the fans nicknamed him Godzilla: his awesome power producing HR totals in the upper thirties per season.
Yet, Matsui has slugged more than 30 HR just once with New York (31).
However, through six seasons in the bigs Matsui’s average has only dropped slightly and his RBI totals are nearly identical to his Japanese days, thus proving, there’s still hope for a Fukudome turn-around in ’09.
Know that Kosuke was never the HR threat in Japan that Matsui was, but should Kosuke follow in his Yankee footsteps there’s no reason to believe the Cubs’ center fielder can’t post a .300 average, drive in 85 runs and reach double digit home runs too.
And understanding this means we can and should expect better from Kosuke this year.