3000 hits due to reduced defensive burden…Giants’ Sakamoto “on the other hand of resurgence by converting third base” Name of players who may be affected. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

3000 hits due to reduced defensive burden…Giants’ Sakamoto “on the other hand of resurgence by converting third base” Name of players who may be affected.

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Sakamoto can defend third base with ease (PHOTO: Kyodo News)

The Giants’ Hayato Sakamoto (34) is doing well.

In the four games since converting to third base on September 7 against Yakult, he has hit .429 with two home runs and three runs batted in. He has switched defensive positions from shortstop, a position he was accustomed to until his 17th year as a pro, and seems to have completely emerged from a period of rock bottom.

He was in a slump right after the season opener, going hitless in 22 at-bats, and manager Tatsunori Hara was worried that he would have to get over this slump by himself. I think the change from shortstop to third base, where he has a wider defensive range, has reduced his workload, which has been a positive factor.

Sakamoto was demoted to second base three times last season due to left side pain and back pain. In 83 games, his fewest appearances since he became a regular in 2008, he batted .286 with five home runs and 33 runs batted in. His streak of reaching the batting order was also interrupted after 14 consecutive years. I think it was a courageous decision to convert from shortstop, which he had been committed to, but now that he is in his mid-30s and thinking about the future, it was probably a good choice to reduce the load on his body and focus more on his hitting.

Sakamoto has a big goal in mind. Sakamoto has a major goal in mind: to reach 3,000 hits, a feat only Isao Harimoto has accomplished in the history of professional baseball. He had 2,205 hits through last season. To achieve this feat, he must have prioritized hitting over his commitment to being a shortstop.

In a positional ball game: ……

The conversion was a good thing for Sakamoto personally, but for the team, it was a delicate decision.

Sakamoto’s move to third base would have affected a number of positions. First of all, Makoto Kadowaki (No. 4 in the draft), a fast-growing rookie, has been assigned to shortstop in place of Sakamoto. Kazuma Okamoto, the main gun who had been playing third base, will be moved to first base. The one who is likely to suffer the most is Masato Akihiro, who used to guard first base.

Sho Nakata, who also specializes in first base and had been playing second base due to poor conditions, has been promoted to first base. The competition for the regular first base position became fierce, and Akihiro might lose his position. Akihiro can also play outfield, but the Giants’ outfield is saturated. In addition to veterans such as Yoshihiro Maru, Takayuki Kajitani, and Hisayoshi Nagano, youngsters such as Masaya Hagio, Yuki Okada, and Shogo Asano are making it difficult to break in.

Akihiro inherited Hideki Matsui’s number “55” and is expected to be a future No. 4. Until last season, he had played only one game for the first team, but this season he broke out with a batting average in the high .200 range and double-digit home runs. However, with Sakamoto’s conversion, his opportunities to play may decrease drastically.

It would be a waste ……. Even if Akihiro is in a bit of bad shape, he should continue to be used even if it takes a lot of patience to let him grow into the No. 4 position. If he gets fewer opportunities to play, the speed of his growth will slow down.

This is the difference between the Hanshin, who won the championship, and the Giants, who are competing in the B class this season. The Hanshin kept their regular lineup mostly fixed and continued to use youngsters with talent. The Giants seem to be changing their starters from game to game, giving priority to veterans with proven track records. I can’t shake off the impression that they are lacking in patience and are just taking things by the seat of their pants.

As a fan, I am happy to see Sakamoto’s resurgence, but …… The team’s positive and negative aspects of the conversion were clearly evident.

  • PHOTO Kyodo News

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