This guy, signed by the Cubs in the offseason, was not the "mega-star" in Japan that some previous Japanese imports were, like Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, or Dice-K. However, he is being given credit for almost single-handedly lifting the Cubs into first place so far this year. As is always the case with the Japanese stars, his fundamentals are flawless, and the aspect of his game most often pointed to is his patience at the plate. He has seen more pitches per at bat than any other player so far this year, and this has rubbed off on the entire Cubs team. What used to be a free-swinging club has overnight turned into a team which is at or near the top in the important categories of walks and on-base percentage.
What stands out for me is that all this is done solely by example. The guy doesn't even speak the language, so obviously he cannot be the "rah-rah" type of guy usually pointed to as a team leader. To me this illustrates the importance for all of us of just going about our business in the right way, regadless of fanfare or ostentatiousness. People will notice and in the end those who do take care to work hard and do things the right way will be rewarded. Despite plenty of examples to the contrary, it is not always the loud-mouth who wins out in the end.