Tokyo's Imports: Aaron Guiel

Guiel beckons the believers.

Mr. Guiel is the senior non-Japanese player on Team Tokyo, and he’s had one hell of a first half. Teaming up with first baseman Jamie D’Antona in the middle of the Swallows lineup, he has provided sorely-needed stability and power to a team chock full of slap-hitters and base-swipers.

But Guiel’s success this season was never a sure thing. Many on this site openly wondered whether or not he would be invited back at all.

Guiel, alongside the three Imports mentioned over the past few days, is a big part of Tokyo’s resurgence this season. He is hugely popular with the fans, has a smile on his face 24 hours a day, is more reliable in the clutch than he was in the past, and plays hard on a daily basis.

Tokyo manager, Takada, has experimented with benching him against left-handed pitchers, and most would expect an imported slugger to get all uppity about such a slight to his abilities with a bat in his hand. But not Guiel. He takes it all in stride (including his tiny paycheck after an injury-riddled 2008).

And his rejuvenation this season is partly due to his ability to stay healthy (knock on wood). His HBP count is down so far this season which implies that he’s trying to protect his big right elbow a little more than he used to. And that is a good thing because a healthy Guiel is a very productive Guiel.

Despite his affinity for pulling the ball (it appears that he only hits to the opposite field on accident), he can put the ball in play and he’s an aggressive and deceptively quick base-runner.

Here are his stats from the first half  of 2009:

Tokyo 74 252 34 68 19 1 15 55 23 7 61 2 .270 .341 .532

Stats-wise, Guiel had a first half that is nearly identical to that of D’Antona, andGuiel gives some love back to the fans in right. the two North American amigos are creating a pair of very welcome conundrums for Takada: a) how are the up-and-comers (Hatakeyama, Takeuchi, Iihara, et. al.) going to be fit into the lineup, and b) how long can Ricky Barrett handle being stashed on the farm team before he goes postal (only four non-Japanese players are allowed on the first team in Japan).

For his part, Guiel leads the team in doubles and the league in sac. flies (5). His name is also currently listed in the top ten in the league for both home runs and rbi’s. His third season with the team is quickly shaping up to be his best thus far.

Thanks for coming back for another year, Aaron, and for proving everyone wrong. We’re looking forward to watching you clear the bases during the second half of 2009 as well!

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini