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Player Review: AKI AKI

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Akinori Iwamura's most beneficial move to the team this year was learning to play 2B. By doing that, the Rays were able to use Longoria at third and keep Aki's contribution. Last year, the Rays 2B were BJ Upton (48 games), Brendan Harris (45), Ty Wigginton (39), Josh Wilson (21), Jorge Velandia (11), Jorge Cantu (1), and Aki (1). This 2B platoon provided a good bat (.296/.350/.485/.835), but a horrible glove (-15 runs). Aki, on the other hand, was about average defensively (.1 runs) and about average defensively (wOBA of .338 and wOBA+ of 101). In other words, Aki was pretty much a hair better than average.

Aki's slash-line of .274/.349/.380 may not be near as good as the 2B platoon the Rays had last year, but it is in line with what the average AL 2B produced at the plate this year (.282 /339/.410). This kind of production coupled with his glovework made him the Rays fifth most valuable position player this year (TV of 27 R).

Another aspect of Aki's game that added value was his ability to see a lot of pitches.He ranked first on the team and ninth in the AL in pitches seen per plate appearance. Like Upton, Aki rarely goes out of the zone (18.2%, 7th in the AL).

All in all, AKi had a good year. He was solid at 2B, playing in all but 10 games, and at the plate. He saw a lot of pitches out of the leadoff spot, which supposedly helps his teammates in letting them get a look at the pitcher. Aki is looking like a tremendous steal at about $4 million per year (with the posting and club option). That kind of money for an average up-the-middle player is very nice. Throw in the fact that he increases the team's international appeal and the liklihood that his 2B skills improve, and he is a great bargain.