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    Archive for May 19th, 2008

    NPB Power Rankings 08.05.19

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 19日 Monday

    Yeah, I keep on changing the title format as well, shoot me  😛

    1. Hanshin Tigers(1) 28-13-1 .683

    Very strong hold on 1st place in CL. With setup man Jeff Williams back from injury, the invincible JFK relief trio (with Kubota, and closer and fireballer Fujikawa) is back together for the first time since opening day. This means that starters really only need to pitch 6 solid innings to give the team a chance to win. Combined this with Akahoshi, Arai, Toritani, and Kanemoto being 1, 2, 4, and 5 in the CL OBP rankings means that this team deserves its record and ranking.

    2. Chunichi Dragons(2) 24-16-3 .600

    Similar formula as the Tigers with solid pitching (2.79 team ERA good for 2nd after Hanshin’s 2.69) and hitters who get on base (Dragons have 5-10th place locked up in CL OBP rankings with Ibata, Woods, Morino, Wada, and Nakamura, respectively). The team’s Pythagorean expectations are similar to the Tigers, and its bullpen just as effective. So it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Dragons manage to narrow the 3.5 game gap with the Tigers during the upcoming 24 game (2 games each, home and away) interleague period.

    3. Saitama Seibu Lions(3) 29-16-1 .644

    This team can sure hit. It’s sluggers have launched 63 homers in 46 games, far outpacing the 2nd place teams which are the Dragons and Giants both with 45. The PL SLG leaderboard features G.G. Sato on top with .615, and Nakajima and Nakmura in 3rd and 9th. Hiram Bocachica’s been playing amazing since his short reconditioning stint down in 2-gun, he now sports 10 HR and 1.086 OPS in only 26 games. He really should replace Craig Brazell in the middle of the lineup, as this man has no plate discipline, walking only 7 times in 198 PA for a miserable .278 OBP. I reckon the league’s already figured out that you don’t have to throw strikes to him. Since he never displayed any plate discipline in Minor League Baseball, the chances of him suddenly developing this skill here is virtually unlikely, and it’ll likely be his downfall. (Bocachica’s still hitting 9th(!) and that’s a travesty.)

    4. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles(4) 22-23 .489

    This team can score runs too, with its 203 runs only trailing explosive Seibu’s 229. With 166 RA, the team should have a winning record, as amazingly as that sounds for this recent expansion franchise.

    5. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters(7) 25-22 .532

    Smoke and mirrors or a continuation of last year’s successful small ball? A 152 – 164 RS – RA has been helped by some offensive outbursts this month (finally).

    6. Tokyo Yakult Swallows(6) 19-21 .475

    Continues to play its near .500 ball, now with the crosstown rival Giants hot on their heels. Aaron Guiel’s continued troubles (his OPS is now down to .755) is worrisome as he’s the team’s lone pure power source. On the other hand, relievers Oshimoto (0 ER in 20 IP!), Matsuoka (0.56 ERA in 17.2 IP), and closer Lim (0.56 ERA and 12 saves in 16 IP) have been shutdown dominant. And starters led by Ishikawa (2.63 ERA in 61.2 IP) have been holding their own.

    7. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants(10) 20-23-1 .465

    As expected, the Evil Empire have finally started hitting, and winning a little more accordingly. The team’s ugly BA in the .230s have been brought up to .250 in the last few weeks, but it’s team OBP is still a CL worst .299. Expect the fight for 3rd and final playoff spot against the Swallows to continue, as this team’s not in same class with the Tigers and Dragons. Especially with regulars like Lee and Uehara missing.

    7. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks(8 ) 23-25 .479

    Continuing to plod along like this (similar to the Giants) with 191 – 210 RS – RA, the Hawks are currently fundamentally weaker than the Eagles.

    9. Chiba Lotte Marines(5) 21-27 .438

    The Marines are in a free fall, as Bobby V’s team has gone 4-13 since we last checked in. Probably not what the manager had in mind as he was featured in a student made documentary about him on ESPN.

    10. Hiroshima Toyo Carp(9) 17-21-1 .447

    Better pitching (3.35 ERA is 3rd in CL) than the Giants, but .364 SLG is worst in CL and the Carp play in an extreme hitter’s park! 

    11. Orix Buffaloes(11) 20-27 .426

    The always injured greybeard slugger Kiyohara hit a homerun… in the minors. Nothing new here, move along.

    12. Yokohama BayStars(12) 13-27-1 .325

    Yay, the BayStars brought their winning percentage above .300!

    I plan on alternating power rankings and a more sabermetric individual performance reviews every other week, unless work or real life puts up too much interference.

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    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics, statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    May Sumo Tournament Update

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 19日 Monday

    Though mired in various sad, terrible, and stupid scandals recently, this Ozumo (pro sumo) May tournament has provided some excitement (though I’ve never seen the Kokugikan arena that empty when I took visitors from Canada there on day 3 on Tuesday).

    Ama, one of the smallest sekitori (top division sumo wrestler) at 1.85 m (6’1″) and 126 kg (280 lb), just had an incredible bout yesterday where he did an amazing reversal “ucchari” against the younger, bigger, and stronger Wakanoho from Russia.

    Though Ama, with his 5-3 record, is not in the thick of the championship (sekitori with the best record after 15 days wins), we are finally seeing a resurgence of Kotooshu, the tall and lanky Bulgarian. He looks very confident, steady, and is finally playing to his strengths of using his long reach again, like when he made his way up to Ozeki (a rank just below Yokozuna, the grand champions). He is looking good so far, going undefeated through 8 days of this tournament so far.

    The other contenders for the tournament title are, reassuringly, the two Yokozunas, Asashoryu and Hakuho. It’s funny how things turned out, with Asashoryu basically taking on the role of the heel and Hakuho being a babyface. Sumo isn’t scripted but different personalities brought us this Mongolian Yokozuna era. Asashoryu is 7-1 and Hakuho is 8-0, as the sekitori are preparing for their 9th day’s bouts as I write. Lone Japanese sekitori in the hunt is Toyonoshima, but he’ll start facing tougher opposition as the tournament enters its second week and I don’t think he’ll be able to remain at just 1 loss.

    Interestingly, about 40% of the sekitori are foreign imports, that’s about the same ratio as the NHL and MLB. And sumo has an import restriction, so the top division would be even more dominated by foreigners without this import limit (1 per training stable, some with multiple imports have been grandfathered in). Since becoming a professional sumo wrestler usually requires joining a training stable after graduating from junior high, and the chances of success are very low (as in most pro sports careers), the profession just isn’t attracting young Japanese talent anymore. Instead, we are seeing an influx of Mongolians (from Mongolian wrestling backgrounds) and Eastern Europeans (from amateur wrestling backgrounds). They certainly add interesting flavours to sumo, both in fighting styles and in general. 

    Posted in 02_English, culture, information, MLB, NHL, opinion, sumo, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    ロシア優勝!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 19日 Monday

    2008年世界選手権はケベック・シティーでの決勝でロシアがカナダを延長戦で5-4で破り、見事15年ぶりに優勝。大会中ずっと全く噛み合わずノーゴールだったIlya Kovalchuk がなんと試合終盤の同点ゴールと延長の決勝ゴールを両方決める大活躍。カナダは4-2と2点リードした時点で守りに入ってしまい、爆発力の凄いロシア相手には2点リードを守りきる事が出来ませんでした。

    カナダがこのIIHF 100周年大会を始めて開催しましたが、見事ホスト国が優勝できないジンクスは86年にソ連が優勝した時以来、ずっと続いていて、今回もそれは変わりませんでした。カナダが負けたのは悔しいけれど、15年ぶりに優勝したロシア選手の喜びようは感動ものです。特にSergei Fedorov のソ連時代の90年以来の優勝、そしてキャプテンMorozov と立役者Kovalchuk の喜びよう、そしてもちろん一番感情を顕わにしてプレーして喜ぶロシア人スターのOvechkin、皆おめでとう!

    来年の大会はスイスのベルンとチューリッヒで開催されます。なんと今年の大会でスロバキアがあわや降格かという不振な成績を残したので、世界ランキングでは見事スイスが7位に浮上。もうビッグ7(カナダ、ロシア、スウェーデン、フィンランド、アメリカ、チェコ、スロバキア)時代は終わったのか、ビッグ6になっちゃったのか、はたまたビッグ8と呼べるのか、国際ホッケー界も確実に進化してきています。

    Posted in 01_日本語, hockey, information, International, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Shinjo throws out a 90 mph ceremonial first pitch!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 May 19日 Monday

    Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 3 – 4 Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters

    18 May 2008 Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome

    Former Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighter Tsuyoshi Shinjo showed off his strong arm in an off the charts ceremonial first “pitch”. In this event to promote Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the 36 year old Shinjo made his first appearance on a baseball field since his retirement in 2006. He pitched a no holds barred ceremonial “at bat” against his former understudy, and Fighters leadoff man, Hichori Morimoto. After going to a 2-2 count, Shinjo got Morimoto to ground out to the shortstop. Of the 4 pitches that were measured by a speed gun, the first pitch clocked in at 145 km/h (90 mph). “I thought I threw a little harder” remarked Shinjo playfully, as the crowd was wowed. Wearing the full uniform of his hometown Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, and in an incredible show of fan service, he threw in the actual gold glove that he won for his 2006 Golden Glove award into the crowd after completing this big task. He was exhilarated, saying “moriagattabai!” (“that got the crowd going!”) in the local Hakata dialect.

    (Shinjo’s done it again! He never ceases to surprise fans and casual observers alike, even well into his retirement. I’m not sure if a former player has ever donned the full uniform of a team he had never played for, including cleats, and threw an entire at bat as a ceremonial “first pitch”. Probably a world first by the man who loves to surprise.) Here’s the video:

    Original article (Japanese):

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, 03_Translations (英訳ポートフォリオ), baseball, culture, information, NPB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »