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Welcome Back, Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Tsuyoshi Nishioka returns to Major League Baseball.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka returns to Major League Baseball.

With Danny Valencia moving (or rather, staying) in Boston with the Red Sox, the Twins are calling Tsuyoshi Nishioka back to the Majors. I still haven't forgotten how to spell his name, so that's a plus. We'll look at Nishioka's 2012 season at Triple-A Rochester after the jump.

When the sun set on the disaster that was the 2011 season, the Twins had too many mistakes left in their wake. Nishioka was one of them, in terms of the money they owed to him, the faith they put in him, and the resulting fallout to other infielders because of said faith. He finished the season with 240 plate appearances in 68 games, hitting .226/.278/.249, and recording UZR/150s of -14.2 in more than 500 innings at short and -37.9 in nearly 50 innings at second. He was the definition of a below replacement level player.

This season with the Red Wings he's played a lot of second base, and in 84 games hit .245/.309/.301 with just 14 extra-base hits, but with walk (8.1%) and strikeout (12.0%) rates that are certainly just fine. Here are some splits that can put as much of a positive spin on Nishioka's performance as possible:

Ahead In Count: .326 average, .487 on-base percentage
Runners On Base: .276 average, .343 on-base percentage
Scoring Position: .284 average, .357 on-base percentage
July: .298 average, .336 on-base percentage

There are a few things which we've learned about Nishioka's skills which have turned out to not be the positives we hoped they would be.

  1. He's not the base stealer we thought he would be. He's just 6-for-12 in stolen bases in Triple-A this year.
  2. His defense is nowhere near where we thought it would be. Whether his mechanics have improved in Rochester, I can't say. But I think it's fair to say that we were expecting him to be at least better than average.
  3. His swing generates no power and makes it difficult to make solid contact, reducing his offensive upside. His OPS+ in Triple-A is 70, and his wOBA+ is just 88.
It's hard to be excited about Nishioka's promotion, but considering his contract we probably should have expected it at some point. If it wasn't now, it would have been in September.

Welcome back, Tsuyoshi. And good luck.