Shogo Akiyama was many things during his rookie season with the Cincinnati Reds, which followed a nine-year career in Japan.
Akiyama was a Gold Glove-caliber defender in left field, the first time he’s regularly played that position in his career. He was named one of the three Gold Glove finalists, showing solid range while running efficient routes.
He turned into a solid leadoff hitter by the end of the season, producing a .456 on-base percentage across 23 games in September. During that month – his second full month in the big leagues – he had more walks (15) than strikeouts (12), and he provided some much-needed speed with five stolen bases in eight attempts.
But when the 32-year-old Akiyama looks toward next season, there is one thing that he wants to be: an everyday player.
“I think the biggest takeaway for next season is to be able to appeal as much as possible to play every day, whether that be defense or offense or the running,” Akiyama said through translator Luke Shinoda. “Even for this year, to be able to even get close to earning a title like the Gold Glove, I think it is an honor.”
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The Reds benched Akiyama, a lefty hitter, against left-handed pitchers. He started 739 consecutive games in Japan, and played every inning in those games, so it was a tough transition.…