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Takeya Nakamura

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Takeya Nakamura (中村 剛也)
(Okawari-kun)

[edit] Biographical Information

Takeya Nakamura was the second hefty third baseman named Nakamura to lead the Pacific League in home runs in a ten-year period, following Norihiro Nakamura. Takeya Nakamura has been known for an up-and-down career through 2008. His nickname, "Okawari-kun", means "another helping" and refers to his appetite.

Nakamura hit 83 homers in high school, 3 shy of Hiroyuki Oshima's Japanese high school record, tying Ken Suzuki for second place all-time. He was a second-round draft pick of the Seibu Lions. He spent 2002 in the minors. In 2003, he led the Eastern League in both homers (22) and strikeouts (97). Nakamura was 2 for 12 for the Seibu Lions in ichi-gun that year.

Nakamura hit .273/.351/.485 in 37 plate appearances and 28 games for Seibu in 2004 while Jose Fernandez held down the third base job for the Lions. Nakamura did not play in the 2004 Japan Series. In 2005, the 21-year-old took over the third base role from Fernandez and hit .262/.320/.603 with 22 homers in 237 AB. Had he qualified, he would have been 4th in the Pacific League in slugging behind Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Julio Zuleta and Alex Cabrera. Rookie of the Year honors went to Yasutomo Kubo instead.

Following Fernandez's departure via free agency, hopes were high for the young slugger but he fell flat in 2006, batting .276/.359/.428 with 78 strikeouts in 283 AB and he only popped 9 homers. In 2007, his career fell further as he hit .230/.316/.394 with 71 strikeouts in 226 at-bats.

Nakamura rebounded - and then some - in 2008. He hit .244/.320/.569. He led the Pacific League in runs (90), homers (46, 6 ahead of runner-up Tuffy Rhodes) and strikeouts (162). He was second in total bases (298, one behind Alex Cabrera), third in RBI (101, trailing Rhodes and Cabrera) and third in slugging (behind Cabrera and Rhodes). He led PL third basemen in errors (22). He finished third in MVP voting behind Hisashi Iwakuma and teammate Hiroyuki Nakajima.

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