Acquisition of overseas FA rights but batting average of 0% makes a transfer difficult…Seiji Kobayashi of the Giants: “Former regular catcher’s usage drastically reduced” Special circumstances
The Giants’ Seiji Kobayashi (33) obtained his overseas FA rights on May 10. He made a comment through the team, “I would like to thank everyone for their support,” but the situation is difficult.
My opportunities to play have been decreasing year by year. He used to be a regular catcher for the Giants and won the Golden Glove Award in 2005. He had one of the league’s top stolen-base blocking rates of around 40%, but last season it dropped to the low 20% range. His decline is noticeable. Even more than his defense, his hitting has become a bottleneck. In some years, his batting average is in the .030 range. As of May 15, he had no hits in seven at-bats this season.
Even if he exercises his FA rights, it is doubtful that any team will come forward to acquire him. Since Kobayashi was selected as a B-rank player, it is possible that the Giants will release an unprotected player to the Giants as human compensation. Even with only monetary compensation, the Giants would have to pay 60% of Kobayashi’s estimated annual salary of 100 million yen. It is not clear whether any team would be willing to take that much risk to acquire Kobayashi, whose performance has been on a downward trend.
Why is it so difficult for the leadership to deal with him?
The Giants’ regular catcher is now Takuzo Oshiro, who was also selected for the WBC Samurai Japan team. Kobayashi has started only two games at catcher this season.
Manager Tatsunori Hara likes a catcher who can hit. Oshiro is hitting at a high rate of around 30% and is starting to hit a lot of home runs. His defense has been an issue, but he seems to have matured a lot this season, perhaps due to the influence of seeing Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani pitch up close at the WBC. It is true that Kobayashi, with his weak hitting ability, has a much worse chance than Oshiro.
Kobayashi is also a “catcher who speaks his mind.”
Tomoyuki Sugano, the ace catcher, praises him highly, so he must be confident in his lead. He does not listen to his coaches and sometimes rebels against them. I think he is a difficult person for the leadership to deal with.
Kobayashi is also a troublemaker. He had two car accidents, one in January 2007 and the other in August 2008. The first time, he collided with a stopped car in Osaka Prefecture. The second time, he was making a left turn in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, when he collided with a bicycle. The team will have no choice but to impose a penalty.
On the other hand, the Giants have the advantage of having Kobayashi.
Kobayashi, with his handsome face, has many female fans, and his popularity last season was second only to Hayato Sakamoto in terms of sales of player-specific merchandise. Kobayashi’s contribution in terms of sales is significant. Also, as mentioned above, he is highly regarded by ace pitcher Kanno. Even though it would be difficult for her to take over the regular catcher’s position, she can be expected to make pinpoint appearances when Sugano is on the mound.
It is difficult for him to transfer to the Giants, and it is unlikely that he will have more opportunities to play for the Giants. Kobayashi’s predicament continues.
PHOTO： Kyodo News