Or not. Fukudome batted .257 in 2008 and .259 last season. That Opening Day display of power and production was misleading: Fukudome has a total of 21 home runs and 102 RBI in his two seasons in the majors. (By the way, the similarity between Fukudome's 2008 and 2009 numbers is freaky: 150 games, 146 games; 501 AB, 499 AB; 79 runs, 79 runs; 129 hits, 129 hits. Weird.)
I have two pieces of very good news, however:
1) His OBP in 2008 was .359, and it improved to .375 last year (ahead of Theriot, Johnson, Soto and Soriano, among others). Last year, when batting first or second in the lineup, his OBP was .379.
2) He is expected to bat near the top of the order this season. He'll start in the two-hole, though that could change.
My point is, Fukudome has something to bring to the table, and it's his ability to get on base. That ability should be better-exploited this season with him expected to bat first or second rather than being expected to be a run-producer near the middle of the order.
Still, Fukudome's performance has been rather disappointing given that he batted .351 and .294 in his last two seasons in Japan. While he was credited (wrongly, one would think) with the Cubs' dramatic shift in philosophy in 2008 (taking pitches, drawing walks), it'd be great to see him put up his own solid numbers this season, rather than simply being credited with those of his teammates. After two seasons of watching him struggle to catch up with above average fastballs, I have a hard time believing that will happen.
Prediction: .264 avg, 9 HR, 51 RBI, .380 OBP, 13 stolen bases
But what do you think?