Tokyo's Imports: Jamie D'Antona

D'Antona has become the full-time first baseman at Jingu Stadium.

Jamie D’Antona was on the verge of making an impact in MLB a little less than a year ago. Playing for the Diamondbacks, the hard-hitting corner infielder was slugging up a storm in triple-A Tuscon before finally getting a solid shot at the first team. He was routinely hailed as one of the snakes’ brightest prospects.

Thank fook he ended up with us.

The 27-year-old from Connecticut has recently begun to show signs that he is adjusting to the pitching in Japan, and he has very nearly locked down his claim on first base (he has not seen any time at third).

Here’s a look at D’Antona’s numbers through the first half of the 2009 Tokyo season:

Stats

GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB HBP K SB Avg. OBP Slg.
Tokyo 75 262 32 75 15 0 17 59 22 1 72 0 .286 .340 .538

After struggling a little bit in May, Jamie found a bit more plate discipline over the past month or so and has seen his contributions on offense steadily improve. His strikeouts to walks ratio leaves a bit to be desired, but he has established himself as a bit of a clutch hitter by hitting .337 with runners in scoring position.

His BABIP, at .330, is quite healthy, and his ability to roll with the punches while toiling in a new D'Antona crushes one.environment has been very encouraging.

Furthermore, he leads the team in several offense-related categories, including: home runs; total bases (141); rbi’s; batting average with runners in scoring position; and slugging. However, he also leads the team in strikeouts, so it is hoped that he can draw more walks during the second half of the season to help cool the sting on that front.

His glove has been pretty decent over at first, and we’ll wait until the end of the season to judge whether or not his four errors thus far were a fluke or part and parcel of the total package. His defense was always one of the biggest knocks on his ability that you read about before his eventual breakthrough into the majors in 2008. The jury is still out on this one, but he has made some decent diving grabs this summer, so in that way he fits in nicely with Tokyo’s very solid defensive front of Miyamoto (3B), Kawashima (SS), and Tanaka (2B).

D’Antona has been hitting cleanup for the last month or so, and he’s become a very popular addition to the roster hitting just in front of third-year right fielder, Aaron Guiel. The middle of Tokyo’s lineup is the most dangerous it’s been since Ramirez played for us back in 2007, and D’Antona’s bat is a major factor in the recent rise in standards.

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

  • One thing that I only hinted at in the report but warrants clarification is the fact that Jamie is an easy-going, friendly guy.

    I haven’t met him personally (we’d love to meet for a beer and a chat, Jamie!), but he is very well-liked on the team and is respected by the people in the stands.

    That in itself is a serious endorsement of a player’s value, talent, and potential as the fans here in Tokyo, and around Japan for that matter, are accustomed to seeing their imports arrive and then disappear rather quickly. In other words, if you’re still in the starting lineup at the end of July, you’re definitely doing something right.

    Nice work so far this season, Jamie!

  • Rob

    Not to plug another outlet (so I won’t include a link), but last week’s Metropolis had a nice feature on D’Antona and Guiel.
    (It also mentioned two other guys that looked familiar, but I couldn’t place them.)

  • Yeah, I liked the cover photo on that edition. I couldn’t help but think (and laugh) about the discrepancy in salaries.

    Yomiuri:
    Kroon — 30,000 man yen
    Greisinger — 25,000 man yen

    Tokyo:
    D’Antona — 4,750 man yen
    Guiel — 4,400 man yen

    Fair enough, we’re comparing pitching with position players, but the two Tokyo boys add up to less than 1/3 of what Kroon is making this year (not including bonuses/incentives).

    Does that work out, value for money-wise?

  • Mike Antonelli

    I’ve had a beer with Jamie. He is approachable, down to earth, easygoing and very friendly. Couldn’t be a nicer guy. Also a gentleman in the way he behaves!

    He grew up in Trumbull CT and I lived there for 20 years . My children went to the same High School as Jamie. although several years before him. Trumbull is a serious baseball town in CT and their team won the Little League World series in the late 80’s. Chris Drury pitched the winning game and Chris is now an experienced and relatively well known NHL player. The Little League, High School, Babe Ruth and Legion baseball teams in Trumbull are always pretty good and frequently win championships and honors.

    This guy is a wonderful addition to the Yakult team !!

    • Mike,
      We couldn’t agree more!

      Can’t wait to see what he does during the second half of the season which, incidentally, starts this evening at Jingu stadium versus the Hiroshima Carp.

  • Susan Warner

    Jamie is by far one of the coolest guys anyone could ever meet.

  • Ed (former N26)

    Jamie D’Antona has many good years left in Japan. Glad he has been able to adjust to the league.

  • Steven Keller

    I have had the pleasure of sharing more than a few beers with Jamie and am glad to say that he is one of the nicest guys you’ll find anywhere. Friendly, easy-going and highly approachable. I hope he has continued success in TOKYO.

    GO SWALLOWS!