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  • Archive for July, 2008

    2008.7.31 プロ野球の守備・投手チーム成績

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 31日 Thursday

    プロ野球もいよいよ球宴に突入しました。例年よりは遅めに、甲子園予選と大会の間、そして五輪代表召集直前にしたのは意図的なのかな?私はオールスターそのものにはあまり興味が無いので、ここで日程の約2/3を終了したセ・パ両リーグの守備と投手の、7月31日時点でのチーム成績を振り返ってみましょう。

    セリーグ (DER と FIP については左のリンクを参照して下さい):

    首位を独走している阪神ですが、特に守備効率が良い訳ではないので、圧倒的な投手力が大きな要因と言えるでしょう(あとリーグ出塁率トップ5のうち3人が赤星、金本、新井、そして10位に鳥谷がいるという、繋がる打線も大きいですね)。ここ一ヶ月好調を維持していて、中日を抜き2位に躍り出た巨人ですが、守備効率はいくらか改善されたものの相変わらずリーグ最下位、でもFIP は中日と共にリーグ2位タイ、そしてもちろん打線には爆発力があるので、本領発揮してきたのでしょう。先月と比べてもFIP は大して変わらないのに、防御率が大分下がったので、守備と運が良くなったみたいですね。

    パリーグ:

    日ハムが相変わらずダントツの守備効率を見せていて(7割超は12球団中ファイターズだけ)、そのお陰でFIP はリーグワーストなのに、リーグ1位の防御率を誇っています。西武は守備効率もFIP もリーグ平均程度なので、やはり首位をキープできているのは打線と足のお陰ですね。ここでイマイチ分からないのが最下位の楽天、リーグ1位のFIP、そして守備効率も悪くない上よく打てる打線なのに最下位。まあ、大勝はできるけど、僅差のリードを守れず接戦を競い負ける事が多いって事なのでしょう。ブルペンさえ良くなれば、上も狙えるチームだと思いますが。

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    Posted in 01_日本語, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics, statistics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    2008.7.31 NPB Defensive Team Stats

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 31日 Thursday

    NPB is heading into a 4 day All Star break, and with my lack on interest in All Star games in general (this year’s MLB edition not withstanding), let’s look at team pitching and defense numbers for NPB clubs at this 2/3 point in the season. The All Star games are late this season, immediately precedes the start of the training camp for the Japanese Olympic team, so maybe this was planned specially for this year’s schedule.

    Here’s the Central League numbers (mainly focusing on DER and FIP):

    Hanshin Tigers defensive numbers are about league average in terms of DER, but they have excellent pitching leading the league in both FIP and ERA, a well deserved 1st place in the CL. Now 2nd place Giants have come on strong lately behind their continued solid pitching (and their defense seems to have improved with the gap between FIP and ERA closing and DER improving, even if they’re still last in the league). The Dragons tailspin doesn’t seem to be caused by their pitching or defense which is about the same as the last time we looked at these stats last month, but the rising ERA indicates they’ve been unluckier over the last month.

    And now the Pacific League numbers:

    Nippon Ham Fighters continue to punch above their weight with excellent pitching and defense with their DER at an astounding .716, far beyond any other team in NPB. The Seibu Lions have about league average pitching and defense, so you know that their 1st place standings is attributed to their slugging and running games. The Eagles are an enigma, as they have decent pitching and defense (best FIP, average ERA and DER) and can pound the ball, but is last place in the league.

    My mind’t not fully functional at the moment, so this is it for today.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, olympics, opinion, Sabermetrics, statistics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

    バイエルン・ミュンヘンの新ユニフォーム発表会

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 30日 Wednesday

    ありえへん!こんなの見たことな~い。なジャンルから、ドイツの名門サッカーチームFC バイエルン・ミュンヘンの新ユニフォーム発表会からの一シーン

    常にマッチョな北米スポーツファン達からすると、唖然、絶句らしいけど、日本に住んでる自分から見ると日本のチームもどっかやりかねないなぁ、て感じ。あと、モデルはまだいいとしてあの超ドイツなカクカクダンスをなんとかすれば、意外といけるかも?w でも、これをTechno Dance と呼んじゃってるとこも北米らしいなぁww

    Posted in 01_日本語, culture, football, information, music, opinion, soccer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Rare Kuwata and Kiyohara Photos

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 29日 Tuesday

    Living legend and recently retired Masumi Kuwata (173-141, 3.55 ERA in NPB) threw 38 batting practice pitches today to almost-retired-but-still-rehabbing slugger Kazuhiro Kiyohara (.272/.389/.521, 525 HR, 1527 RBI) at Kobe’s Skymark Stadium. The interesting twist? Kuwata was in his Pittsburgh Pirates uniform which he wore briefly in 2007-08 while Kiyohara wore his Orix Buffaloes uniform. The two formed the core of the mighty PL Gakuen high school baseball team in the mid-80s (made it into all 5 possible Koshien tournaments, Spring and Summer, during their 3 years from the extremely competitive Osaka prefecture, won their way to 4 finals and won the whole thing twice), and were reunited on the Yomiuri Giants from 1997-2005. The image of Kiyohara tears before the final pitch of the 1987 Japan Series as his  Seibu Lions clinched the series over the Kuwata’s Yomiuri Giants is legendary. Will Kiyohara make a full come back and add to his magnificient career homerun total (5th all time and 11 behind 4th place Carp Koji Yamamoto), we can never predict with his now shattered body.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, high school, information, MLB, NPB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Koshien and Japanese High School Baseball

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 28日 Monday

    Some random notes:

    • This year’s Summer Koshien tournament (basic information like this can be found around the net, so I’ll try to provide additional info) will begin on 2 August (Japanese). This is earlier than usual because of the Beijing Olympics, with the latter 10 days of the tournament still overlaps with the Olympics. All the prefectural qualifying tournaments concluded yesterday on 27 July, giving players at least 5 days rest, minimum, between their prefectural finals and their first Koshien game.
    • There are 55 teams participating in this year’s 90th anniversary tournament. In a normal year, there would be 49 participating teams. 1 each from each prefecture, and 2 each from Tokyo (east and west) and Hokkaido (north and south). They have the largest number of schools out of all the prefectures at well over 200, the former because of its sheer population, and the latter because of its vastness.
    • This year, the additional spots in the tournament has been given to Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Aichi, Osaka, and Hyogo prefectures. As these prefectures rank between 2nd and 8th in prefectural population, they have accordingly large number of schools participating in the qualifiers which makes them usually very tough prefectures to qualify for Koshien from.
    • This year, most qualifying tournaments have about 100 schools or less participating in them. There are many smaller prefectures with around 30-40 schools in their qualifiers, with Tottori’s 25 being the least. While in normal years, the populous prefectures that have 2 teams each this year have about 150-200 teams in their qualifiers, making them very difficult tournaments to win. The prefectural tournament with the largest number of teams in it is East Tokyo with 144 teams (West has 119, meanwhile North and South Hokkaido have 119 and 128 schools). So, this year’s tournament probably has the fairest qualification and representation considering the size of each prefecture.
    • Because of the difficulty of reaching Koshien from prefectures such as Osaka (185 schools), many kids move from populous prefectures to less populous ones to attend powerhouse baseball schools to increase their odds of making it to Koshien. Middle school players are scouted in senior/boys leagues and agents hook them up with baseball schools. Some schools are notorious for doing anything to attract talent, there’s a saying “show up just with your toothbrush and underwear, we’ll take care of everything else for you” for the top talents. Meanwhile marginal schools and players’ parents often get duped into paying fees to these agents/scouts even if the kids and schools chances of reaching Koshien hasn’t really improved. This topic deserves a separate post, and I’m reading a book on it right now, so it’ll be on the todo list (if I ever get around to it 😛 ).
    • So, a total of over 4000 teams from across the country take part in their respective prefectural qualifier tournaments. Some schools have trouble fielding 9 players necessary for a team, so they pull students from other sports teams just to participate in their qualifier, true Olympic spirit at work here. But this can produce some really ugly results with massively lopsided games with the weak team being shutout by another team by dozens of runs. The worst blowout in Koshien qualifier history is 122-0 in the 1998 Aomori prefecture tournament (Japanese). This was caused partly because the losing team didn’t concede after 5 innings like they can as part of tournament rules, instead they completed 7 innings to have the mercy rule automatically kick in. It was some sort of character building thing, apparently, though I only see it as needlessly running up the score and hurting the pitchers arm (39 runs were scored in the 1st inning alone!) The team that scored almost gross runs? Well, they lost by the mery rule themselves a little later in the tournament, and this is in Aomori, a prefecture that has never produced a Koshien champion, so you can see the vast chasm in playing ability from top to bottom of high school ball.
    • Due to the large number of games played (often 4 per day in the early rounds of qualifiers and Koshien itself), umpires are notorious for calling letter high and very wide strikes to speed up the game. I’ve also seen strikes being called on quarter-swings, not even close to a checked half-swing. This is less obvious but close calls at the bases seem to get called outs more often than not as well.
    • Until the finals of qualifiers and later rounds of Koshien, the crowd usually mostly consists of each schools’ cheering squads, complete with a brass band, teammates who couldn’t make it onto the bench, sometimes cheerleaders, fellow students, and alumni. The fight songs are much more old school than NPB, though I’ve heard some modern NPB style cheer songs used by some schools.
    • Game balls are used longer (new balls are brought out much more rarely than in the pros), and looks like they’re reused as staff collect foul balls (NPB used to do this until a few years ago as well though).
    • Players numbers are their positions, usually. 1 being the starting pitcher, 2 the catcher, 3 being the first baseman, etc.
    • Though this is anecdotal, even compared to 10 years ago when Daisuke Matsuzaka had his legendary (and his rubber arm proving) performance, teams these days seem to carry more starters and some even have specialist relievers, as the value of a fresh arm and not blowing out prospects arms seems to be slowly gaining foothold in the old boys world of high school baseball:
      • In the quarterfinal of that year’s Summer Koshien, Matsuzaka threw 250 pitches in 17 innings in a win over powerhouse PL Gakuen.[3] (The previous day he had thrown a 148-pitch complete game shutout.) The next day though trailing 6-0 in the top of the eighth inning, the team miraculously won the game by scoring 7 runs in the last two innings (four in the eighth and three in the ninth). In that game he started in left field, but came in as a reliever in the ninth inning to record the win in 15 pitches. In the final, he threw a no-hitter[4], the second ever in a final. This performance garnered him the attention of many scouts.
    • As the tournaments progress, quarters, semis, and finals tend to be held on consecutive games, which makes having multiple competent starters necessary, even if you have a Dice-K on your team. Because all games from the quarterfinals on in both Tokyo tournaments are held at Jingu Stadium, the East and West tournaments alternate using the stadium, giving extra days rest for the players, which is especially a good thing for the usually overworked pitchers. I thought this may have been a trend, but it seems to be a unique thing for Tokyo, for now.
    • Relievers often start warming up from the 1st inning, but this is no different from other levels of baseball in Japan.
    • The best athlete on the team used to be the pitcher, so having the pitcher hitting cleanup was not unusual until some years ago, but I haven’t looked this up so this is just anecdotal. These days, pitchers often hit in the bottom third of the lineup, as they’re more specialized.
    • After each game, the winning school’s anthem is played. Yes, every Japanese school from elementary to university have their own school anthem.
    • Some players share the same aluminium bat, I’m not sure why. But I saw players passing their bats to the next hitter, or the one after. And this wasn’t uncommon. Superior bat or lucky bat?

    That’s it for now, hopefully someone finds this information interesting or useful.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, high school, information, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

    SEIBU Prince Rabbits August Germany Trip

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 27日 Sunday

    SEIBU Prince Rabbits of Asia League Ice Hockey is planning a late August training camp in Bavaria in southern Germany. They have scheduled 2 games against DEL (top German league, and one of the best in Europe) teams so this should be very interesting in gauging the strength of the team and the league, as Seibu are perenially one of the best teams in the league. All other opponents are in the Bundesliga, one level below the DEL.

    8/21 vs EHC Munchen
    8/22 vs EV Fussen
    8/24 vs ERC Ingolstadt (DEL)
    8/26 vs EV Ravensburg
    8/29 vs Ausburger Panther (DEL)
    8/31 vs ESV Kaufbeuren

    Also, the official 2008-09 AL schedule has been announced.

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, International, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    SEIBU プリンスラビッツのドイツ遠征

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 26日 Saturday

    アイスホッケー・アジアリーグのSEIBU プリンスラビッツが、8月下旬をドイツ南部のバイエルンで過ごし、結構過密な日程で練習試合を組んでいる事が分かりました。しかも11日間6試合中2試合の相手が欧州有数のリーグDEL(ドイツのトップリーグ)のチームです。SEIBU、日本、そしてアジアホッケーのレベルチェックができそうですね(試合結果が分かれば)。

    8/21 vs EHC Munchen
    8/22 vs EV Fussen
    8/24 vs ERC Ingolstadt (DEL)
    8/26 vs EV Ravensburg
    8/29 vs Ausburger Panther (DEL)
    8/31 vs ESV Kaufbeuren

    あと、以前ここでも書いたアジアリーグから日程の正式発表がありましたね。全チーム6試合総当りはフェアなので、とても良い方式だと思います。 私の情報源が結構正確で安心しましたw

    Posted in 01_日本語, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, International, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    2008.7.25 HS Baseball East Tokyo Semifinals

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 26日 Saturday

    Following my day at Jingu Stadium on Wednesday when I saw 2 quarterfinal games, I went back there to witness both semifinal games for the East Tokyo qualifier tournament to the prestigious Koshien Summer tournament to decide on the national high school baseball champion.

    Turned out that Jingu is also used for the West Tokyo tournament from the quarterfinals as well, so I missed out on some good action there (a couple of 8-7 games between the quarters and semis), and that is why these Tokyo tournaments feature days off between the quarters, semis, and finals instead of having the games on consecutive days like most other regional tournaments and Koshien itself.

    Anyways, here’s how the day went on 25 July 2008 at Jingu.

    Game 1: Nishogakusha 2 – 7 Kanto Daiichi

    As you can tell by the final score, Kanto was on form and dominant throughout the game. Kanto’s pitcher was Matsumoto and he pitched a complete game. Since they used two lefties, Ohki and Shirai, in the previous game, it’s easy to tell that Kanto is loaded with talent, and takes good care of its pitchers arms instead of the typical arm abuse that team aces experience when they’re their team’s only reliable arm. Kanto built up a 4 run lead through persistent and well executed small ball.

    Nishogakusha managed a 2 run double in the 7th inning, but was promptly returned the favour by Matsumoto himself he launched a homer into the left field stands in the bottom of the inning. Matsumoto, batting 8th, also successfully executed a squeeze in the 2nd inning after the catcher hitting before him, Nakamura, hit a triple into the right field gap. Then Matsumoto had his second squeeze attempt thwarted in the 4th with speedy Izumizawa on third when the battery caught wind of it and pitched wide, the runner managed to stay alive on third though. Otherwise, this was a dominant performance by Kanto and its ace(?) Matsumoto who you can see pitching here:

    Game 2: Kokushikan 4 – 5 Tokaidai-Takanawadai

    This was easily the most dramatic game of the 4 that I saw over these two days with Tokaidai coming back from being 4 runs down to win the game 5-4. The game was a matchup of two marquee pitchers in Kokushikan’s Maruyama and Tokaidai’s Takahashi, and they had both pitched complete games two days earlier in their respective semis.

    Maruyama was absolutly dominant through the first 5 innings as he hardly let any runners on base, while Takahashi struggled with his control, letting runners on base every inning (often loading the bases), and actually was lucky to be only down by 4 runs after the top of the 6th. On the flip side, this meant that Kokushikan was squandering chance after chance, but with Maruyama’s dominant form, it didn’t look like that would affect the outcome of the game.

    Tokaidai immediately returned the 2 runs they gave up on the 6th to keep things close at 4-2, but they still didn’t look capable of beating the powerful Kokushikan team. But then, Maruyama got tired and/or wild in the 8th and suddenly became unable to throw strikes. He managed to get 2 outs, but in the mean time had allowed a run to score and the bases to become loaded. This is when reliever Takayanagi was brought into the game in a super high leverage situation, his team clinging onto a 4-3 lead, 2 outs, with the bases loaded.

    The power righty managed to get the Tokaidai batter to hit a feeble ground ball, but it bounced high off the artificial turf into no man’s land behind the pitcher and the tying run scored. Takayanagi seemed to be visibly shaken by this unlucky bounce and his control became wild as well, even throwing a few pitches into the dirt to the following batter, promptly walking in the game winning run. In contrast Tokaidai’s Takahashi was strong in the latter innings and had no problems shutting down Kokushikan on the top of the 9th, not even allowing a single runner to reach base, and here is the game winning moment:

    The players are celebrating while quickly lining up for the post game ceremonial bow. The finals between Tokaidai-Takanawadai and Kanto Daiichi should be a dandy. Though, Kanto seems to have many reliable arms (I’ve already seen 3 of them work effectively between the quarters and semis) while Tokai seems to be completely reliant on Takahashi and he was shaky up to the 6th inning of the game. Based on this, I’ll take Kanto to win the East Tokyo Tournament to qualify for the 90th Summer Koshien in August.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, high school, information, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Israeli Baseball League’s troubles

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 25日 Friday

    Hopefully IBL can remain alive in some form that will be enough to generate some interest in the sport in the country. Though scaling back to 4 teams and the small number of homegrown players probably means that baseball in Israel will always be something like hockey in Japan, Korea, and China. Turning itself into a winter league sounds like an interesting and plausible idea, even though there seems to be a mess of ideas right now about which direction the league should go in. Having both a regular summer league and a winter league will more than likely be a larger financial burden for the organization.

    The shakeup was the latest twist in the league’s short but tumultuous history. Just last month, the league said it was coming back for a second season after its first season left it on the brink of collapse. At the time, it said four teams would compete, down from six last year, and the season would be cut in half to 20 games.

    But after further discussions, the league’s new management concluded a brief tournament pitting an Israeli all-star team against international players would be the best way to generate fan interest and showcase homegrown talent, said David Solomont, a Boston businessman and the IBL’s interim president.

    He said the best-of-seven series, which will include youth clinics, would begin on Aug. 14 to coincide with the Beijing Olympics.

    “The plan to host an Olympic style baseball festival is a fabulous way to promote the sport and give the Israeli athletes the attention they deserve as local baseball heroes,” he said.

    The international team will be comprised of all-star players from last year, the league said.

    The inaugural 2007 season delivered a respectable level of play — roughly on par with single-A minor league baseball in the U.S. — and more than a dozen players went on to sign professional contracts.

    Former Boston Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette, who oversaw player development last year, will now take on an expanded role as director of operations. Duquette and new board member Gary Woolf, a Boston businessman with years of sports-management experience, will oversee long-term development, including the launch of the winter league in southern Israel.

    “Now that the potential is established a more robust and sophisticated league, teams, management and vision can be engaged,” Woolf said. “The entire team believes this enterprise can become an explosive element not only in Israel but have international marketing and business appeal.”

    Solomont said the league hopes to begin winter play this year, though he said facilities have not yet been arranged. The long-term goal is to attract international players like the winter leagues in the Caribbean.

    “This is going to be the Dominican Republic of the Middle East,” he said.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, information, random | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

    2008.7.23 HS Baseball East Tokyo Quarterfinals

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 July 23日 Wednesday

    Went to see two games of high school baseball at Jingu Stadium today. They were quarterfinal games in the East Tokyo tournament (which started with 144 teams) to qualify for the Koshien summer tournament in August which crowns the national champion.

    Game 1 (9am): Kanto Daiichi 3 – 1 Nittai Ebara

    9am start time is actually necessary this time of the year (as you’ll see in the game 2 summary). Kanto wasn’t seeded in this tournament, but is one of the powerhouses nonetheless as it knocked off No.1 seed Teikyo in an earlier round (18 July). Ebara was simply overmatched, even though their submarine pitcher Ozawa valiantly kept them in the game, the lineup was no match against the two lefties thrown at them by Kanto, Ohki and Shirai as they almost evenly split the workload bringing in Shirai in the 5th inning and he simply overpowered the Ebara hitters. Thankfully, Chris of Box Office Japan showed up during the 9th inning of this game with some brew to beat the heat.

    Here’s the Ebara submariner:

    And one of Kanto’s cheering songs which for some reason is “Tequila!”  😛

    Game 2 (11:30am): Kokushikan 12 – 4 Tokyo Adachi Nitta

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, information, music, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »