Toronto Blue Jays: Why the Legend of Kawasaki Grows
Kawasaki was the engineer of last night's come-from-behind win in Cleveland. In the ninth inning, with two outs Munenori Kawasaki delivered a sharp single up the middle to drive home the winning run (with a little help from Michael Bourn in centre field).
How can you not love this guy? He seems to always deliver the clutch hit and that is one of the main reasons his stardom continues to grow. Why isn't he in the Home Run Derby? He should be a part of the festivities somehow next weekend as the whole league has come to love him.
Now the question remains: Can the Blue Jays keep this cult hero on the team?
My answer is yes, and here is why: clutch hitting.
It's no coincidence that Kawasaki seems to continually cash in when it matters most. In fact, Kawasaki's current batting average with two outs and runners on base is a magnificent .344. As a comparison, Maicer Izturis is batting .192 in the same situation.
Moreover, Kawasaki always engineers something positive in that situation. With runners on base, Kawasaki's strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB) is an even 1.00, meaning he strikes out just as often as he walks.
Whenever you are trying to put together a slew of base runners, having someone with those statistics is very helpful. Conversely, Emilio Bonifacio's K/BB ratio on the season is 5.40, meaning he strikes out 5.4 times for every walk.
That being said, perhaps the most intense statistic in Kawasaki's favour is his batting average on a full count. With three balls and two strikes, Kawasaki is batting .273 with 15 walks and nine strikeouts. That is absolutely absurd.
To put it into perspective, here are the full-count averages and K/BB ratios of all the Blue Jays starters as per Yahoo! Sports:
Reyes: .286 0.33 K/BB (3 walks 1 strikeout)
Bautista: .146 0.79 K/BB
Encarnacion: .167 0.78 K/BB
Lind: .120 1.08 K/BB
Rasmus: .222 1.57 K/BB
Arencibia: .147 3.17 K/BB
Bonifacio: .111 1.00 K/BB
Izturis: .118 1.00 K/BB
Davis: .000 (0-6) 0.75 K/BB (4 walks 3 strikeouts)
Kawasaki: . 273 0.60 K/BB
So Reyes is the highest—which is to be expected—but no one else even comes close to Kawasaki in batting average. Moreover, Kawasaki's 0.60 K/BB is the second highest of anyone on the team. Although Reyes is better on the season, he has only had seven at-bats with a full count (small sample size) versus Kawasaki's 22.
These are the type of players that help build a championship team. Once again, it was on display last night.
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