I am so very pleased that Fukudome has landed in the NLC. I can’t wait to hear George Grande–the guy who won’t say the “Damn” in “Best Damn Sports Show”–try to pronounce his name.
P.S. – I understand the deal was 4 years, $48 million, though the press release never says.
CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs today announced the club has agreed to terms with outfielder Kosuke Fukudome on a four-year contract through the 2011 season pending the passing of a physical, expected to take place next week in Chicago. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“On behalf of the entire Cubs organization, we’re honored Kosuke Fukudome has chosen to become a member of the Chicago Cubs and very excited to introduce him to our great fans,” said Cubs Vice President/General Manager Jim Hendry. “We are looking forward to welcoming him to Chicago next week and helping make Wrigley Field his home.”
A native of Kagoshima, Japan, Kosuke Fukudome (pronounced “KOH-skay foo-koo-DOUGH-may”) has spent his entire nine-year pro career with the Chunichi Dragons, where he batted .305 with a .397 on-base percentage and a .543 slugging percentage in 1,074 career games. Fukudome was a two-time Central League batting champion, led the league in on-base percentage three times and four times won a Gold Glove for defensive excellence in the outfield.
Fukudome has posted an on-base percentage of .430 or better in each of the last three seasons and hit 23 or more home runs for four seasons in a row from 2003-06, including a career-best 34 home runs in 2003. He has topped 30 home runs twice, eclipsed 100 runs scored three times, reached 30 or more doubles four times and surpassed 70 extra-base hits three times, including a career-high 83 extra-base hits in 2006 (47 doubles, five triples, 31 home runs).
The 30-year-old Fukudome won Central League Most Valuable Player honors in 2006 when he batted .351 with 31 home runs and a career-high 104 RBI. Fukudome won the batting title, 28 points ahead of his closest competitor, while his .438 on-base percentage led the league and was 36 points ahead of his next closest competitor. He also led the league with a career-high 117 runs scored, a career-high 47 doubles and a career-high 1.091 OPS thanks to a .653 slugging percentage and .438 on-base percentage.
Fukudome, who bats lefthanded and throws righthanded, was limited to 81 games in 2007 due to a right elbow injury and underwent surgery to remove bone fragments on Aug. 20. Despite the injury, Fukudome batted .294 with 22 doubles, 13 home runs, a .520 slugging percentage and had a .443 on-base percentage that led the Central League at the time his season ended. Fukudome walked (69) more times than he struck out (66) in 2007.
A first round draft pick by Chunichi in 1999, Fukudome made his professional debut that season and batted .284 with 25 doubles, 16 homers, a .359 on-base percentage and a .451 slugging percentage in his rookie season as the club’s starting shortstop. Fukudome was converted to a third baseman and outfielder in 2001 and became the club’s starting right fielder in 2002, when he notched his first batting title with a .343 mark while leading the league with 42 doubles.
The six-foot, 187-pound Fukudome reached double digits in every extra-base hit category in 2003 as part of a campaign that saw him bat .313 with a league-leading .401 on-base percentage. He boasted a 1.004 OPS thanks in part to his 30 doubles, 11 triples and 34 home runs. Fukudome also led the league in triples and runs scored (107).
After an injury-shortened 2004 (92 games), Fukudome returned with a strong 2005, leading the league with a .430 on-base percentage, finishing second with a .328 batting average and recording 103 RBI. His MVP season of 2006 followed.
Fukudome has excelled as a member of Team Japan in international play, most recently winning the gold medal at the World Baseball Classic in 2006. He was also a member of the Japanese Olympic Baseball teams that won silver medals in 1996 and bronze medals in 2004, when he tied for the Olympic lead with three home runs to go along with a .316 batting average.