Hiroyuki Nakajima Will Still Be the Oakland A's Opening Day SS

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIMarch 20, 2013

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 22: Hiroyuki Nakajima #3 of the Oakland Athletics poses during a portrait session on February 22, 2013 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Robert Binder/MLBPA via Getty Images)
Robert Binder/Getty Images

In 2012, Yoenis Cespedes was the most important acquisition of the Oakland A's offseason as the Cuban-born outfielder signed a four-year contract.

In 2013, Hiroyuki Nakajima is the A's most important offseason acquisition.  Nakajima may not have the track record of players like Chris Young and Jed Lowrie, but Nakajima will get more playing time than both of them.

Nakajima, like Cespedes last year, is penciled into the A's opening day lineup as a starter at his natural position.

It is unrealistic to expect Cespedes-like production out of Nakajima, but the comparisons between the two have some common ground.  

Nakajima is hitting just .194 in the Cactus League.  Cespedes also struggled in his first major league spring training, much like how he is currently struggling in this year's spring hitting just .182 in 33 at-bats.

Despite Cespedes' struggles in spring training last year, he was still given the vote of confidence to be the opening day starter in center field.  Cespedes went on to be the second-best rookie in the American League in 2012 behind Mike Trout after that spring slump.

Despite Nakajima's spring slump, he still looks like he will be the A's opening day shortstop.  Stats in spring training are deceiving and Nakajima is a much better hitter than spring training has indicated.

The only threat to Nakajima's job is Jed Lowrie, but Lowrie was acquired to be the A's utility infielder. That role will be for Lowrie to be able to backup any infielder for a rest day or in case of injury.

Expect to see Nakajima as the A's shortstop on April 1.