36-Year-Old Pitcher – Free Agent
2017 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
There was no outlook written for Kyuji Fujikawa in 2017. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
Kyuji Fujikawa Contract Information:
Signed a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Rangers in December of 2014.
Fujikawa signed with an independent league team in his hometown in Kochi, Japan on Monday, Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
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Kyuji Fujikawa Split Stats (View Full Split Stats)
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Kyuji Fujikawa: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Kyuji Fujikawa.
Though much was expected of Fujikawa when he came to America two years ago, injuries limited him to just 25 big-league innings before the Cubs declined his option last October. He was extremely unlucky in his brief time in the bigs - check out his .449 BABIP last year - and his 31:8 K:BB in his time with the Cubs is intriguing, but he's also already 34, and he's struggled to stay healthy. Signed by the Rangers in December, Fujikawa might be one of the first options called upon to close out games if Neftali Feliz ends up on the shelf again.
This time last year, the smart move was to buy stock in Fujikawa, who would surely close once the inevitable Carlos Marmol implosion occurred. He did get the chance, but the rookie, who had spent several years as a star reliever in Japan, only lasted 12 innings before his elbow gave out. After having Tommy John surgery in June, Fujikawa will begin the 2014 season on the disabled list. Assuming a midseason return, he may get another chance to close. Fujikawa's outstanding strikeout and walk rates in Japan suggest that he'd be successful as a big-league closer if given the chance.
Fujikawa has been Japan's most dominant reliever over the last eight seasons, and perhaps the preeminent reliever in NPB history. Fujikawa's dominance has been reflected in his strikeout rates, as he's averaged 12.9 K/9 over the past eight seasons. The best Japanese pitchers, particularly relievers, have proven capable of maintaining their strikeout numbers after crossing the Pacific, so there is reason for optimism in his ability to miss bats. Fujikawa is essentially a two-pitch pitcher: he features a 91-96 mph four-seam fastball with unusual rising movement, and an 82-86 mph splitter with hard downward movement. He will occasionally mix in a slider, a cutter, and a curveball, but does not rely on them. Fujikawa's command is not particularly refined; he gets by more on velocity and movement than pinpoint location. Given his dominant resume and the reasonably strong track record of Japanese relievers in the US, Kyuji is a good bet to enjoy MLB success, but he will need both of his main pitches to work to realize his upside. He became an international free agent after last season and decided to move to MLB, signing with the Cubs. He will enter spring training in a setup role to Carlos Marmol, but it may not be long before he takes over the closer role.
Fujikawa is one of Japan's top closers and had 41 saves with a 1.24 ERA and 80:13 K:BB ratio in 51 innings last season. He's eligible for international free agency after next season, but he's expressed interest to stay in Japan. He could be an impact player in MLB in 2013 if he changes his mind.
Fujikawa is Japan's best relief pitcher. He had a dominant, but not historically dominant season in 2010. Fujikawa's ERA climbed to 2.01 and his WHIP to 1.069 in 2010, enough to rank among the top closers in Japan, but somewhat off his established norms. For comparison, his highest WHIP the previous five seasons was 0.857, and he had sub-1.00 ERA season in 2006 and 2008. Fujikawa is projected to qualify for free agency during the 2012 season, and Hanshin seems committed to keeping him until then.
Fujikawa is Japan's best relief pitcher. Since becoming a full-time reliever in 2005, Fujikawa has never posted an ERA worse than 1.63, a WHIP higher than 0.83, or struck out fewer than 86 batters (in 57.2 innings, in 2009). The Hanshin Tigers are unlikely to post their star closer before he reaches free agency after the 2012 season.
You can find Fujikawa's career stats from Japan here at japanesebaseball.com.