Last winter, multiple teams in the KBO League paid attention to Willian Astudillo (32), a hitter from Venezuela. Attention was focused on his future as he turned his eyes to the Asian league, but the final contract was signed with the prestigious Softbank Hawks of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). It is known that Softbank offered him a high annual salary of 180 million yen (1.6 billion won).
One of the secrets of Astudillo’s popularity was its ‘extreme’ strikeout rate. Having played 12 years in the minor leagues, he recorded 103 strikeouts in 2972 plate appearances. 3.5% of all at-bats. The walks were 108, 5 more than this. In Triple A under the Minnesota Twins in 2019, he boasted a high batting average of 0.423 with only two strikeouts (two walks) in 18 games (83 at bats). With a career batting average of 0.309 in the minor leagues and even fewer strikeouts, several clubs had no choice but to salivate. This is why major Asian league clubs sent love calls to him, who did not have much experience in the big leagues (188 games in total).메이저놀이터
The US local media called Astu Dyo, who boasts a solid physique (height 1m75cm, weight 102kg), “He looks like Bartolo Colon, but he hits like Ty Cobb.” Colón is a great pitcher with 247 wins in his big league career, but his profile puts him at 130kg. On the other hand, Cobb is a legendary hitter inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame and is a “batting machine” with a career batting average of 0.366.
Astudillo, who had a major career in the minor leagues, showed confidence at the Softbank initiation ceremony, saying, “I know that NPB is a high-level and challenging league. I am ready to play there.” For Softbank, which has been thirsty to win the Japan Series since 2020, it was important how Astudiyo, which had invested a large amount from his first season, showed.
In conclusion, he is close to a failed investment. Astudillo’s season performance remains at a batting average of 0.133 (4 hits in 30 at-bats) in 13 games. Due to his sluggishness, the time he went down to the 2nd team was long, and his performance in the 1st team was minimal. The number of strikeouts that attracted his attention is only one, but his batting average, on-base percentage (0.235) and slugging percentage (0.167) both fall below expectations.
A foreign scout from Team A said, “Astudillo is a player with a high probability of (success).” “Hitters get impatient if they don’t get the results they expect at the beginning of the season. It is difficult to deal with it because it is so good at controlling the breaking ball, including the ball. To hit a long hit, you need to catch the timing a little earlier, but for a foreign hitter, that is a vicious cycle.”
A batting average in the 10% range feels unfamiliar to those who know Astudillo’s contact ability. A team B scout said, “Astudillo is not the type to be damned. That’s why the level of Japanese baseball is so high.” “If you look at foreign hitters active in NPB, there are almost no good players (recruited) except for players who have already adapted to play. no,” he said. It means that Japanese pitchers are so good that newly recruited hitters can make good results right away.
Raul Alcantara (Doosan Bears) is the strongest pitcher in the KBO League this season. In his first 16 appearances, he had a 1.97 earned run average. He had 9.03 strikeouts per 9 innings. Most of the detailed indicators are at the top of the league. Alcantara achieved 20 wins (2 losses) in 2020 while playing for Doosan, becoming the pro baseball king of most wins and the king of odds. He challenged NPB using his high-level performance as leverage, but chose ‘Korea Return’ without much success for two seasons. And it rebounded again. An official from Team C’s management team said, “If you look at Alcantara’s performance this year, you can clearly feel the difference in level between the KBO League and NPB. That’s the current situation.”