Akira Nakamura

From BR Bullpen

Akira Nakamura (中村 晃)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 178 lb.

BR Japan page

Biographical Information[edit]

Akira Nakamura has been an outfielder-first baseman in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Nakamura was taken by the Softbank Hawks in the third round of the 2007 NPB high school draft after hitting 60 home runs in high school. The scout was Kazuhide Sakuyama. While playing in the Japanese minors, he was chosen to play for Japan in the 2010 Intercontinental Cup. He hit .333/.407/.417 as the regular left fielder for Japan, with his best games in their losses (3 hits, 2 RBI against Taiwan, 2 hits and the only Japanese run against South Korea). Only Takahiro Iwamoto had a better average for Japan. He then hit .240/.341/.400 for the Brisbane Bandits in the 2010-2011 Australian Baseball League; he was the team's primary left fielder.

He made his Nippon Pro Baseball debut in 2011 as a pinch-runner for Hiroki Kokubo; he stayed in at DH but did not bat. In his first at-bat, he grounded out against Bobby Keppel. His first hit came off Hayato Terahara. As a backup corner outfielder and first baseman for Softbank, he hit .167/.167/.188 in 52 plate appearances over 33 games. He batted .228/.262/.263 in 69 plate appearances (39 games) in 2012. In ni-gun, though, he did very well - .295/.399/.418. He led the Western League in average (.007 over Kenta Nakanishi), slugging (.010 over Tu-Hsuan Lee), OBP (.010 ahead of Nakanishi) and runs (51).

He became a regular for the Hawks in 2013 and showed very good contact and OBP abilities. He was Softbank's main leadoff man despite no set position - he nearly led the team in games played at two positions - 1B (69, 6 behind Bryan LaHair) and RF (61, the most). He hit .307/.392/.403 with 77 runs and 54 walks. His first NPB home run came off Brandon Duckworth. He was 7th in the Pacific League in average (between Seiichi Uchikawa and Sho Nakata) and 4th in OBP (between Yuya Hasegawa and Andruw Jones).

In 2014, he again alternated between 1B (split with Dae-ho Lee) and LF (split with Uchikawa), leading the team in games played at both positions (Lee and Uchikawa split DH when not in the field). He produced at a .308/.375/.382 clip with 75 runs and 59 walks. He made the PL leaders in average (4th, between teammates Yuki Yanagita and Uchikawa), OBP (9th, between Hasegawa and Motohiro Shima), runs (5th), hits (176, first, 6 more than Lee) and walks (tied for 10th with Wily Mo Pena). He also fielded .998. He was 3 for 20 in the 2014 Japan Series but one of his hits was huge - a three-run homer off Hanshin Tigers closer Seung-hwan Oh in the bottom of the 10th of game 4, after only four regular season homers. He nearly took Randy Messenger deep the next day as well, but Yamato Maeda caught it. Softbank won in five games. He was on the original NPB All-Star team for the 2014 Nichi-Bei Series but a shoulder injury sidelined him; Yoshitomo Tsutsugo replaced him on the roster. He finished 9th in voting for the 2014 Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award, with six second-place votes, despite not having a set position.

The Asaka native hit .300/.386/.350 with 66 walks in 2015, continuing to be a strong OBP option with little power (1 HR in 506 AB) and still splitting 1B (with Lee and Kenji Akashi) and RF (with Shuhei Fukuda). He was 5th in the Pacific League in average (between Ikuhiro Kiyota and Katsuya Kakunaka), 6th ib OBP (between Kiyota and Lee), tied Takuya Nakashima for 7th in walks and 5th in hits (between Nobuhiro Matsuda and Kensuke Tanaka). He had one third-place vote for the 2015 Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award. In the 2015 Japan Series, he again showed more pop in the Japan Series than the regular season, homering off Ryo Akiyoshi of the Yakult Swallows in a game 2 win. As in 2014, his average was lower in the Series (4 for 20, no BB), but the Hawks again won the Series in five.

Nakamura then was on Japan's squad for the 2015 Premier 12 and dazzled as a part-time right fielder (Ryosuke Hirata alternating between RF and LF), going 11 for 18 with 2 walks, 5 runs and 3 RBI. He had a game-ending single off Josue Castellano in the bottom of the 9th in a 6-5 win over Venezuela, scoring Shogo Akiyama, scored a run in the 4-3 semifinal loss to South Korea then went 3 for 4 with a double and a run in the 11-1 win over Mexico. He would have led the event in average had he qualified; Matt McBride and Randolph Oduber hit .500. He did not make the All-World team, as Oduber, McBride and Hyun-soo Kim were pickes as the outfielders.