Welcome Back Muni!
Munenori Kawasaki has signed a minor league deal with the Jays with an invite to Spring Training. Kawasaki was a fan favourite last year with his off field interviews and on-field heroics. Obviously the heroics were just a product of luck (1.18 Clutch), but Munenori had a productive season with the Jays posting 0.8 WAR in 289 PA. Over 600 PA that would equate to 1.6 WAR. It’s good to have him back! If you live under a rock and missed his famous interview, here it is.
Other than his clubhouse presence and entertainment he creates, Muni also provides value on the field. Given our lack of in house options, Kawasaki should be the starting 2B in 2014.
Ryan Goins posted 0.4 WAR in 121 PA for the Jays in 2013, mostly on the back of his stellar defense. Goins is projected by Steamer to post just 0.1 WAR over around 400 PA. Steamer may be a little conservative on his defence, however. If you want to give him some more defensive credit, then Oliver projects him for 1.1 WAR over 600 PA. Goins is the leading candidate for the starting job in 2014, but he really shouldn’t be.
Kawasaki posted 0.8 WAR over 289 PA last year. This put Goins and Kawasaki around the same level of performance in 2013, but we can expect Muni to be better in 2014. Kawasaki is projected by Steamer to produce 0.3 WAR in just 128 PA. In 600 PA that is 1.4 WAR and in 400 PA, it is 0.9 WAR. Either way, he is projected to be more valuable than Goins. Kawasaki should be somewhere in the range of a 0.3-1.3 win upgrade.
Obviously both options are not ideal, and the Jays should be looking for someone to permanently fill the hole (Nick Franklin), but all things considered, a 1.4 WAR 2B is not that bad. If the Jays do not acquire a 2B, then hopefully we can hear the Rogers Centre boom “KA-WA-SA-KI” again.
Welcome back Muni!