The reason for the steep decline in performance and the harsh reality of next season” by NIHAM’s Kiyomiya
Of all the Pacific League hitters who have reached the minimum number of at-bats, there is only one player whose batting average is about to drop into the 10% range. It is Kotaro Kiyomiya (23) of the Nippon Ham baseball team (results as of September 11).
His batting average is .202, ranking him 21st, more than a minute behind Seibu’s Shuta Tonozaki (.219), who ranks 20th. His batting average had been in the mid .200 range until mid-July, but it has plummeted since August. What was the cause?
In the first game of the All-Star Game on July 26, he hit a homerun off Hiroshima ace Nobuhito Morishita. Kiyomiya is the type of player who grew up and easily gets on a roll. After hitting a final-ball homer on a big stage, he may have become somewhat proud of himself, even if he was not aware of it. In fact, since August, her batting average has been in the low 10% range, which is not good at all.
On the other hand, once he falls into a slump, it is difficult for him to find a chance to rise to the top. He has a calm personality, and although he says, “I am desperate,” I feel that he has little sense of crisis. Director Tsuyoshi Shinjo must also feel a sense of inadequacy. He often complains, ‘He’s not the same,’ or ‘He needs to be more aggressive.
Diet orders and a plan to make him more macho: ……
Manager Shinjo must be feeling a bit of a headache. In the early spring, he used Kiyomiya in the cleanup lineup. In the summer, he has been playing him at No. 1 and No. 2, and recently he has been playing him at No. 6, but there are no signs of a breakthrough.
He was a star at Koshien, hitting a total of 111 homers, the most in school history, when he was at Waseda Jitsugyo. The team will be moving to a new stadium next season, and they want him to be the face of the team. They want him to play in as many games as possible.
Manager Shinjo is well aware of this. He has ordered him to lose weight and has proposed a plan to make him more macho. He has been paying close attention to Kiyomiya, giving him diet orders and proposing a plan to make him more muscular. However, the results have been slow to come. I am sure that he is under a lot of stress.
It is believed that Nichi-Ham plans to ask Shinjo, who is under a one-year contract, to continue pitching next season. However, after the game against Rakuten on September 4, Shinjo said, “Even if the team says, ‘Please come back next year,’ I don’t know if (the players) will be able to grow during the remaining games,” he told the press.
I think it’s an appeal to the team. I am responsible for this, but the players are not growing. I want them to reinforce the team in the off-season. I think he said this with young players in mind, including the sluggish Kiyomiya, in mind.
Kiyomiya’s situation seems to be more difficult than one might imagine.
He hit double-digit homers for the first time in his career by July, leading people to expect that he would have a good season, but his sudden decline after the summer was a big downside. However, his sudden decline since the summer has been a major negative factor. There are only about 20 games left, so there will be no chance to make up for it this season.
I am sure that Shinjo, who has been watching the players all year, will make a serious evaluation. Unless he makes a big appeal in the fall camp, it will be difficult for Kiyomiya to even make the first team for the start of next season. It would not be surprising if he is out of the lineup and becomes a factor in a trade.
Next season will mark Kiyomiya’s sixth year as a professional player. The time for his reputation as a player to be determined has already arrived.
Photo: Kyodo News： Kyodo News