Reds: Shogo Akiyama is on-pace to make 170,000 dollars per game

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 24: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds lines out in the eighth inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 24: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds lines out in the eighth inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

No one should blame Shogo Akiyama for his lack of playing time, but the Cincinnati Reds are paying a hefty price to watch their outfielder sit on the bench. Akiyama has started just nine games this season. If that trend continues, Shogo is on-pace to take home about $170,000 per game in which he’s in the starting lineup.

Akiyama has started just two games this month; once on June 20th in San Diego and his latest start came just last week against the Minnesota Twins. I understand that it’s hard to find a spot in the starting lineup when two of your three outfielders are having All-Star seasons, but the Reds have to find a way to get Shogo Akiyama in the lineup on a more consistent basis.

Reds outfielder Shogo Akiyama is on-pace to collect $170K per start.

Shogo Akiyama has appeared in 36 games for the Cincinnati Reds this season. To be fair, Akiyama was injured to begin the season and saw his first bit of action on May 7th. However, Akiyama has garnered just nine starts in those 36 games, meaning he’s only starting once every four days or 41 games in a 162-game season.

Akiyama signed a three-year/$21M contract prior to the 2020 season which paid him $6M last year, $7M this season, and he’s slated to take home $8M in 2022. With only nine appearances in the starting lineup this season, Akiyama is making $170,731 every time David Bell writes his name on the lineup card.

To put it in perspective, Nick Castellanos, who signed a four-year/$64M contract last winter is making $14M this season. Were it not for his bogus suspension earlier this season, it’s likely that Castellanos would start every game for the Reds this season, meaning he’d be taking home roughly $87,500 per game.

All these statistics are of course hypothetical and based on a 162-game season, but the point is, the Cincinnati Reds are paying Shogo Akiyama a lot of money to just ride the pine. This is an egregious misuse of Akiyama’s talents and the team needs to figure out some way to get Shogo into the lineup on a consistent basis.

Given that Nick Senzel is out until late-July with a knee injury, the lack of playing time for Akiyama is even more inexcusable. Yes, Tyler Naquin is having a breakout year, but the 30-year-old was signed to a minor-league deal prior to the 2021 season. His inclusion in the lineup is warranted, but not at the expense of Akiyama on a regular basis.

If nothing else, Bell needs to platoon the two left-handed hitters. I know that goes against conventional wisdom, but if Akiyama has proven anything in his short time in the major leagues, it’s that he needs consistent at-bats.

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During the month of May, Akiyama hit just .194/.275/.222 with a double and three RBIs. During the month of June, however, Shogo has hit .267/.290/.333 in limited action. Something’s got to give, and the Reds need to find more ways to get Shogo Akiyama into the Cincinnati starting lineup.