The Yankees' first acquisition from Japan, Hideki Irabu, did not perform as well as the Yankees had expected.
He was signed to a four-year, $12.8 million contract and was later called a "fat, pus*y toad" by Steinbrenner for not covering first base in a spring training game. He finished his Yankees career with a 29-20 record to go along with a 4.80 ERA.
In 2003, the Yankees signed their second Japanese player. This time they got it right!
Hideki Matsui, the Japanese version of Babe Ruth, came over in 2003 with more fanfare than any international player had before. Yes, even more than Ichiro.
A parade was held before Matsui headed to the U.S., and in his initial season in pinstripes, Matsui had a line of .287/.353/.435/.788 (16 HRs, 106 RBI, 82 runs).
Just like Reggie Jackson, Godzilla saved his best for the postseason.
In 12 games, Matsui put together an unbelievable line of .389/.463/.750/1.213 (four HRs, 12 RBI, four runs).
In his final act, one of the classiest Yankees to ever put on the pinstripes had a Game Six for the ages. Matsui was the best hitter on either team during last year's World Series. His average was .615, and his on-base percentage was .643.
Nope, you didn't misread that. Those two statistics are his average and on-base percentage. His final line for the series was .615/.643/1.385/2.027 in 13 at-bats.
On Nov. 4, 2010, Matsui added to his Yankee legacy with one of the greatest performances in a playoff game. With his impending free agency on the horizon, Matsui was the easy choice for World Series MVP after he crushed a homer and amassed six RBI in Game Six.
Once the night was over and the Yankees had won their 27th World Series, I was satisfied with Matsui leaving in free agency. He had thrilled Yankees fans one last time and ended his time in pinstripes with a bang.
The Yankees didn't get it right the first time with Irabu, but more than made up for it with the 2009 World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui.
*Best Yankees Season (2004): .298/.390/.522/.912 (21 HR, 108 RBI, 109 runs).
*Yankees Career Numbers: .292/.370/.482/.852 (916 games, 140 HR, 597 RBI, 536 runs).
*Career Numbers: .289/.367/.476/.843 (1,001 games, 150 HR, 644 RBI, 560 runs).
*World Series Champion
*2009 World Series MVP