Who is Yoshitomo Tsutsugo?

I decided that it would be fun to share my research in “real time” as I resercahed and dug through the Internet to learn about Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, the Japanese slugger who is available to all Major League clubs.

My first stop, because it is always the best place to start, was Baseball-Research. While there I found the following information:

  • Yoshitomo Tsutsugo will turn 28-years old this November. All things being equal, this is a player that will be entering his prime years.

  • A lefty slugger, he has averaged 34.75 homers over the last four years.

  • He seems versatile as he’s played a substantial of games at first base, third base, and in left field

Here are his overall stats:

It seems readily apparent that Tsutsugo can hit and hit for power. This fact was reported by MLB Trade Rumors as they reported:

“He has been among the most effective hitters in Japanese baseball since fully establishing himself at the nation’s highest level in 2014. Since that time, Tsutsugo has devoured NPB pitching. In over four thousand career plate appearances, he’s a .284/.382/.525 hitter with 205 long balls.”

I learned from the same site that defense is not his specialty:

“He’s not generally regarded as a quality fielder.”

I was able to then find an article from The Japan Times that provides a nice overview of Tsutsugo. Among the nuggets found in that article were the following:

Tsutsugo said his dream of playing in the majors was borne out of watching on television as Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui thrived in MLB. He’s held on to that throughout his high school and pro career. Watching the Astros and Yankees earlier this month only helped drive the point home.

The main concerns about Tsutsugo making the jump, though, have been about his defense. “Of course it’s baseball, so batting and defense and base running are all important,” he said. “I can’t assess myself, but I can say for sure I’ll do the best I can.

Playing in MLB wouldn’t be the first overseas experience for Tsutsugo. He had a 10-game stint with Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League in 2016. Tsutsugo also faced a number of current and former major league players during the World Baseball Classic in 2017.

CBS Sports reported the following:

He has military style plate discipline and is known for his towering home runs.

FanGraphs conducted a deep dive of a number of Japanese prospects in February 2018. In an article well worth examining in detail, they stated:

You can know next to nothing about Tsutsugo and realize he’s a power hitter by looking at his swing. He has a Bryce Harper-like timing mechanism — an open stance, a trigger to shift the weight back, the hands held high before launch, and then boom.

Overall the consensus seems to be the same across all of the sites. It is a given that Tsutsugo can hit for power. He also has good on-base skills, but there are questions as to how his skills will translate to the Major Leagues. It is also clear that while he has experience at multiple positions, his defense is not highly regarded and he might find himself more as a first baseman/designated hitter in the USA.

After this research, I am intrigued. I love big left handed sluggers. I would love to see the Yankees pursue Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.

Added bonus - Here is an overview video of Tsutsugo’s playing in Japan: