I hope our Canadian readers enjoyed my look into The Great North's top fantasy baseball players. Since baseball is such a global game, I figured...why stop there?
The top 10 Japanese-born fantasy baseball players heading into 2008.
Akinori Otsuka RP- TEX
No more saves gives Otsuka next-to-no fantasy value. Add the fact he is getting up in age and coming off elbow surgery means you could pretty much put a chop stick in him. He's done.
Kei Igawa SP- NY (AL)
Oarai, Ibaraki, Japan
As of now, Igawa is known as a disappointment in New York. He is no lock to begin the season as a member of the Yankees starting rotation, so his fantasy value is minimal at this juncture. Give him a bit of consideration on the waiver wire if looming trade winds blow.
Tadahito Iguchi 2B- S.D
Playing for his third team in as many years, Iguchi brings his decent pop in his bat to the pitcher's heaven known as PETCO Park. Keeping this in mind, Iguchi is nothing more than a very late reserve pick in deep leagues. He could be a worthy road start at UTL or MI against poor pitching, but even that is a reach. Stay away like you would 3-day old sushi.
Kazuo Matsui 2B- HOU
A new season, and another new team for Kaz. Not the greatest of options in fantasy leagues, although his 30+ steals potential makes a case for a late selection. Yet, nagging injuries, and lack of any other significant fantasy category make him a low level MI option. Maybe a healthy, full season can bump him up this list next season.
Hideki Okajima, RP- BOS
I love drafting middle relievers late in drafts. OK, let me rephrase, I love drafting quality middle relievers late in drafts. Okajima will get you a few saves here and there, and is more than worth a later draft selection. With rumors here and there over the last few seasons about Jonathan Papelbon potentially moving to the rotation, Okajima is a nice stash-able selection to throw on your bench...just in case. Yet, with his phenomenal ERA and WHIP, and almost getting a K an inning, he can even see good time on fantasy rosters. Monitor the situation this spring.
Dave Roberts OF- S.F.
I know what you're thinking..."Did I just land on a Stolen Base article?" Well, no need for the double take. Roberts, straight out of Okinawa, is indeed a product of Japan. He has long been a consistent "cheap steals" guy, but that about does it with his fantasy value. If you must, and are desperate for steals while the likes of Michael Bourn, Jerry Owens, Corey Patterson and Willy Taveras are long gone...sure, why not?
Takashi Saito RP- L.A.
I tend to select "save guys" no earlier than the 10th round. If that is your mentality as well, Saito can be a nice selection at the start of Act II in most drafts. A selection of Saito in any league should follow with the insurance pick of Jonathan Broxton 10 rounds later. At 38, I doubt Saito finishes the year as the "save guy" for Joe Torre and the Dodgers.
Daisuke Matsuzaka SP- BOS
Heading into his sophomore season in the Big Leagues, the jury is still out on the overall value of Dice-K. You can pretty much bank on over 200 strikeouts, and if you have a low ERA and WHIP as your No. 1, then Matsuzaka can be a solid selection. But, if you are relying on Dice-K as your "ace," then you are in trouble. Don't over value him this season.
Ichiro Suzuki OF- SEA
Kasugai, Aichi, Japan
He hits for average, he scores runs and he steals. As long as you have a few power hitters to make up the difference, Ichiro is one of the best in the fantasy game. Seven seasons in the Majors, and he has over 1,500 hits. Wow.
Hideki Matsui OF- N.Y. (AL)
A lot of people may be saying to themselves that the bottom two should be reversed. It is a fair argument, but for my fantasy buck, I like a guy who can get me 100+ RBI and runs, belt 25+ homers and hit near .290. I will take overall power and average over speed any draft of the week.
Until next time, I say Adios. Wait, I apologize. I must have already started to think about next week's look at the best fantasy players from Mexico. My mistake.