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  • Posts Tagged ‘2009’

    Aniki 17 BayStars 5

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 April 10日 Friday

    Fun with early season statistics. 6 games into the Nippon Professional Baseball’s season, Hanshin Tigers’ Tomoaki “Aniki” Kanemoto has driven in 17 runs (4 HR, 29 TB, with a ridiculous slash line of .583/.593/1.208), and the 41 year old clean up hitter has topped it all off when he hit homeruns on 3 consecutive plate appearances to start off the game Wednesday in a 4 hit game against the Hiroshima Carp and drove in 7 of the team’s runs in the 8-2 win.

    In the mean time, the entire lineup of the Yokohama BayStars have managed to score paltry 5 runs in their first 6 games against the Chunichi Dragons and the Yomiuri Giants. The team is collectively batting a pathetic .176 and the woeful pitching has a 7.24 ERA. No other team in the 12 team NPB has scored less than 25 runs in their first 5~6 games of the season. So, what’s the over/under on Yokohama’s first win of the season? How about a game where they score 5 or more runs? All hail the Aniki the Astonishing!

    kanemoto

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

    2008-09 AL Season Review

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 April 9日 Thursday

    I’m currently lacking both the brain cells and the time to do this properly, so the 2008-09 Asia League Ice Hockey season will be reviewed in bullet point style.

    • Nippon Paper Cranes reign supreme again! Asia League power house returns to the top after fighting through 3 rounds of playoffs, and going the full 7 in both the semi and finals. The Cranes last won the trophy 2 seasons ago, so it was a short absence from the top.
    • Seibu Prince Rabbits fold. The tin foil hat says that this is part of Seibu Group’s attempt to rid of Tsutsumi colours (including the baseball team’s uniform colour, literally). There’s hope of the team being resurrected as an independent pro club team as seen in an earlier post on this blog.
    • Anyang Halla is back, but High1 falls back. Anyang Halla added quality imports, got its sniper Song Dong-Hwan back from 2 years of military service (he didn’t miss a beat, being 4th in league scoring 3 seasons ago as well as this past season), and rookies who immediately contributed by finishing top 10 in scoring (Kim Ki-Sung and Park Woo-Sang who were just from universities drafted in the offseason). High1 was 2nd in the 2007-08 regular season, but fell down to 5th place and immediately got swept in the first round play in against the Cranes. 1st to 4th this year was a complete toss up, but then there was a big gap to High1 in 4th. High1 will be looking to climb back up to the top half of the table next season, and especially not to finish the season below their Korean rivals Halla.
    • The bottom of the table was occupied by the usual suspects, the Nikko Ice Bucks and the Chinese entry, the China Sharks. But things were upside down this past season with the Sharks crawling out of the basement thanks in large part to Wade Flaherty’s Herculian efforts (he won the Best Goalie Award) and kicked the troubled Bucks down into the basement. 
    • Since there were no double digit blowouts like in previous seasons when teams could run up the score on Chinese teams, finally for the first time, stats in the Asia League is actually quite credible (no need to sift through strength of schedule, opponents, and run a query). So let’s take a look at the scoring board:
    • 0809_al_scoring
    • High powered offence of Halla has 5  players ranked in the top 11, including a rookie in Kim Ki-Sung, and sniper Song Dong-Hwan who returned to the league after missing the last 2 seasons due to mandatory military service for all Korean adult males (except big time celebrities and sports figures it seems, if they can win exemptions or wiggle their way out). There are many of the usual suspects on the list including Suzuki and Prpic of Seibu, but who knows what their future holds for now. And Chris Yule showed his former team that he was still an offensive force. 
    • Additionally, defenceman Jon Awe (AHL 12+17=29) finished on top of scoring for defencemen ahead of Asia League and national team vet Aaron Keller (OJI 5+19=24) and AL sophomore Richard Rochefort (SPR 7+17=24), and Halla’s other import Brad Fast (7+27 = 34) ranked high in league scoring, prompting an unprecedented move by an AL team when Anyang Halla re-signed all their imports to multi-year deals with scoring leader Brock Radunski signing a 3-year contract and the others to 2-years.
    • This was in part prompted by Halla’s awesome offence as they became the first non-Japanese team to win the regular season (and were one win away from becoming the first non-Japanese team in the playoff finals). The awesome Halla offence racked up 150 goals in 36 games for a very impressive 4.17 G/G with and converted astonishing 38% of their power play chances for 54 goals. I’m sure Halla is glad to have their offence intact for next season, as they were only a win away from reaching the finals.
    • While all other teams allowed 95 goals or more, the finally nicknamed Oji Eagles impressively only let in 77 goals, and were also 2nd in the league in both the power play and the penalty kill.
    • Finally, since Deanna brought her big camera with her to game 7 of the finals, we have some good pictures of the final game for the Seibu Prince Rabbits.

    (Photos courtesy of Deanna)

    Cranes celebrate first goal of the game by Darcy Mitani.

    186-goalscored

    Seibu Prince Rabbits and Japan national team captain Takahito Suzuki who almost singlehandedly won the championship for Seibu, scoring the game winner with 45 seconds left in game 6, then both of Seibu’s goals in game 7.

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    Cranes goalie Hisashi Ishikawa, the playoff MVP, who unbelievably stopped 54 of 56 shots for the game 7 victory.

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    Cranes with the Asia League trophy, congratulations!! (and let’s hope there are at least 7 teams in the league again next season..)

    460-trophy

    more photos after this break:

    Read the rest of this entry »

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

    WBC uniform watch

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 April 3日 Friday

    I’m sure many people noticed this, but some WBC uniforms are alarmingly similar to MLB uniforms. Guess that’s template at work (and lack of creative colour schemes due to flag colours, though not every nation adheres to their flag stripes). Anyways, without further ado, here they are:

    Australia

    wbc_australia_h

    South Africa

    wbc_sa_h

    It was difficult to tell them apart on quick glance, especially since they played in the same pool in Mexico City.

    wbc_sa_v

    Oakland Athletics

    mlb_oak_h

    mlb_oak_v2

    Different font, obviously, but pretty similar otherwise.

    Canada (home)

    wbc_canada_h1

    LAnaheim Angels

    mlb_laa_h

    Canada has the faux vest thing going.

    Canada (away)

    wbc_canada_v

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    Cardinals Diamondbacks Baseball

    Reverse the font colouring, and you’re basically there.

    Dominican Republic

    wbc_dr_h

    wbc_dr_v

    Future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez pitching for his homeland, earning a job with the Mets in the process.

    Texas Rangers

    mlb_tx_h3

    mlb_tx_v

    There’s that annoying underarm panel in many WBC jerseys, and the helmet bill’s different colour, but otherwise…

    Italy

    wbc_italy_v2

    LA Dodgers

    mlb_dodg_v3

    (Immortal Manny at work)

    Obviously. Was this done because of the Piazza-Lasorda connection from the first WBC?

    Netherlands (the Cinderella!)

    wbc_ned_h

    Baltimore Orioles

    mlb_bal_h

    Cap colours need to be reversed, and MLB teams seem to be fond of cursive fonts while WBC unis tend to use block fonts.

    Now for the more far fetched connections after this jump

    Read the rest of this entry »

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

    Leon Boyd, the Dutch-Canuck Blue Jay

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 29日 Sunday

    A couple of interesting posts from the Canadutch blog of Leon Boyd, the Dutch-Canadian pitcher who was the closer for the both Dutch wins over the Dominican Republic in the 2009 WBC. One about the daily routine in the Toronto Blue Jays camp in Dunedin, Florida, and another with a collection of links and photos to interesting articles about his Dutch exploits.

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

    Cranes Win! Seibu goes into history

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 26日 Thursday

    Monday 23 March 2009, Higashifushimi, Tokyo.

    sp3230048

    Game 7 of the 2009 Asia League Ice Hockey Finals. The full house witnessed history.

    sp3230052

    This was going to be the final game for the Seibu Prince Rabbits (formerly Kokudo and Seibu Railway hockey teams) no matter the team won or lost against the Nippon Paper Cranes. The two teams have been waging an epic battle for the championship with Seibu coming back from being down 1-3 in the series to force the deciding game.

    In fact, the Cranes themselves came back from being down 2-3 in their semifinals against Anyang Halla of Korea to reach the finals, and before that they dispatched the other Korean team in the league, High1, in the play-in round of the playoffs with a 2 game sweep (best of 3). Meanwhile, Seibu swept the semifinals against the Oji Eagles, but all games were decided by a 1 goal margin (excluding the empty netters).

    Game 7 started off quickly, like Game 6, on a Cranes goal as Darcy Mitani opened the game in the 4th minute with a power play tally. But unlike Game 6, the first period did not turn into a wild goalfest, and both teams played solidly, though not without chances.

    Crane (and former Seibu/Kokudo) Chris Yule sitting alone in the Cranes bench after the first period.

    sp3230056

    sp3230057

    The Cranes added 2 more goals in the 2nd period and seemingly already wrote the end of the history for the Seibu hockey club. But captain Takahito Suzuki came out huge for Seibu as he scored with 4 seconds left in the period assisted by retiring Kiyoshi Fujita (thanks Ryan! you were the best player in the league for a long time, Theo Fleury of Japan in the best sense, and lots of fun to watch, you’ll be missed) and Daisuke Obara. This was a huge goal as going into the second intermission being 2 goals or 3 goals down makes a massive difference to team morale. 

    sp3230060

    In the third period, Seibu continued to pressure and kept on peppering the Cranes net with shots but Cranes goalie Hisashi Ishikawa totally stood on his head as he saved 54 of 56 shots (!) on net to earn the victory and championship for the Cranes.

    sp3230065

    sp3230084

    Congratulations, the 2009 champion Cranes! And thank you Seibu for all the memories! (and hopefully the team will survive in one form or another and elite level hockey will be played in Tokyo next season.)

    Playoff MVP Hisashi Ishikawa who backstopped the Cranes to the championship capped off by his herculean efforts in Game 7. Ishikawa played 14 of the Cranes 16 playoff games, and was a well deserving recepient of the award.

    sp3230088 

    Joel Dyck Oshiro holding up the AL Championship trophy properly (that is, sideways)

    sp3230102

    More random photos and videos from the game follows this break:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, ECHL, hockey, information, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    あと一球!… Japan Wins!!

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 25日 Wednesday

    So, Japan repeated as WBC champions despite manager Hara’s bumbling lineup and in-game decisions. What was double play machine Johjima doing hitting cleanup? Korea ended up avoiding Norichika Aoki (the best hitter in Japan) to pitch against Joh in several occasions. And what was jetlagged Kurihara doing in DH? Thankfully he was pulled as soon as Bong left the game. Hara also played the game like it was a high school baseball game, automatically trying to bunt over any runner on base with no outs, even if the bunter rarely, if ever, bunts, like Nakajima, Inaba, and Johjima (well, the latter may be forgiven because of the GIDP possibilities  😛 ) and they are more of power hitters usually. 

    Then Hara left superb starter (and should have been tournament MVP, though Dice-K got that probably for marketing reasons) Hisashi Iwakuma in one inning too long even though Japan was loaded with bullpen options with fresh arms. Iwakuma got out of the 7th inning by giving getting 3 big fly outs to the outfield. Iwakuma is a groundball pitcher, so obviously by this point in the game his pitches were hanging high and he had barely any juice left in the tank, and it showed when he came back onto the mound in the 8th. Hara also could have gone with Sugiuchi in the 9th as he had also been super during the tournament, not allowing runs in any of his appearances, and Darvish can be shaky when he first gets into the game (like Matsuzaka) like during the loss to Korea in Round 2. But Darvish is often electric so he can’t be faulted on this.

    So, Japan could’ve dominated (and it showed with all the runners LOB, Japan self-destructed time and again), but barely squeaked out the win. Maybe it was just all a ploy for Ichiro’s heroic game winning hit that drove in 2 runs? Ever the showman, everything was set up for Ichiro in the end  😛 (though the decision not to walk him with the 1st base open with 2 outs was puzzling, Ichiro kept on fouling off every pitch, even obvious balls, in typical Ichiro fashion until he got a pitch he liked, in the finals, he was zoned in. He wasn’t gonna be semi-intentionally walked.)

    Anyways, I watched the game with friends including Deanna at a sports bar in the bustling Shinjuku district. The bar was absolutely full, some people were wearing suits obviously skipping work (though, probably the whole country was at a standstill, especially in the late innings) and some fans also had old school Daiei and Kintetsu (Nori Nakamura!) unis on, which was awesome. Here’s the video from the game winning moment when Darvish struck out the last Korean hitter.

    PS This turned out to be a fantastic heart wrenching rubber match of a 5 game Japan-Korea series.. but if the organizers would just remove the meaningless seeding games at the end of rounds 1 and 2, this would’ve only have been the 3rd meeting between the teams, which would’ve been acceptable. Instead Japan played Korea 5 times, Cuba twice, and China and the US once in this World Baseball Classic. I’d like to see each team play a wider variety of opponents.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, MLB, NPB, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    2009 AL Finals Game 6

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 23日 Monday

    The Seibu Prince Rabbits, in their final season of existance, were down 1-3 in the Asia League Ice Hockey Finals against rivals Nippon Paper Cranes. Facing elimination and in front of the Cranes fans of Kushiro, Hokkaido, the team pulled through with a 7-4 win to bring the series back to Tokyo. Seibu eradicated their scoring draught which only saw them score 4 goals in the 3 straight losses in the previous 3 games.

    Then yesterday was another do or die game for Seibu, as the Cranes were ready to clinch the AL championship in Tokyo.

    The game started off chippy with 10 penalties being called in the 1st period, and it was a wild beginning too with 5 goals being scored as Seibu took a 3-2 lead heading into the first intermission. Seibu’s first goal was a nifty wraparound/bounce off goalie’s leg goal by Obara. And Prpic and Rochefort’s power play goals were perfectly executed with the players set up in the slot with passes from the goal line.

    We were expecting a high scoring and a rough game based on the first period (much like the first game of the series), however things calmed down in the second and the game became a tight affair. Chris Yule, of long time Kokudo/Seibu fame, tied the game in the middle of the second with a power play goal. And the game became deadlocked even though speedy Seibu forwards created many scoring opportunities by blowing past (or trying to) Cranes defencemen. They also managed to hit the post with a shot on one play.

    But, as things were increasingly looking like they were heading to the NHL style endless overtime (20 minute periods, sudden death), Chris Yule took a fatal tripping penalty with less than 2 minutes remaining in regulation. This gave Seibu a crucial power play at the end of regulation, and with less than 1 minute to go, captain Takahito Suzuki took the puck from the neutral zone, flew past a Cranes defenceman, neatly tucked the puck in to avoid goalie Ishikawa’s poke check and deked him out at the same time and put the puck in the net for what proved to be the game winner. Seibu 4 – 3 Cranes!

    The Seibu Prince Rabbits club survived to see one more day, and today is the deciding Game 7 of the Asia League Ice Hockey 2009 Finals at Higashifushimi, Tokyo. Seibu has the chance to finish their history with an exclamation mark tonight at 7pm.

    Some photos and videos from the game.

    Seibu wins!

    Cranes fans also brought their big flag, this one saying 最強 (saikyou = strongest) which looks way more badass than the Rabbit logo adorned Seibu flag.

    sp3220036

    Read the rest of this entry »

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

    WBC attendance analysis

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 23日 Monday

    An interesting analysis of WBC attendance on Baseball Analyst. Pretty much predictable, but demographic split in bracketing still seems necessary to avoid mostly empty seat stadiums, so a soccer World Cup style one country hosting all games is probably still too early for the WBC. Good to see healthy crowds at Dodger Stadium for the semis and finals (probably) though.

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

    Darvish, Matsuzaka, and Iwakuma

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 21日 Saturday

    WBC 2009, Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox) will start in the semifinals at Dodger Stadium against Roy Oswalt (Houston Astros) of the USA. Hisashi Iwakuma (Tohoku Rakuten Eagles), the groundball machine, who pitched 6 shutout innings against Cuba in Round 2 will start the finals if Japan makes it there. The most sought after Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish (Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters), who pitched 1 poor inning and 4 great ones against Korea in Round 2, will be used out of the bullpen for the semifinals and/or finals.

    http://sportsnavi.yahoo.co.jp/baseball/jpn/headlines/20090321-00000017-kyodo_sp-spo.html

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, MLB, NPB | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    WBC Pitch f/x

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 March 21日 Saturday

    Some interesting WBC Pitch f/x articles for Japanese, Korean, and Cuban pitchers for their games pitched in MLB parks, these are normally data that are not seen or available, either in these pitchers home countries or in the US. The websites BeyondTheBoxscore and FanGraphs are doing a great job gathering and breaking down the data, so I’m just gonna link to them here (also for posterity since these articles are already getting buried under the usual barrage of MLB articles). All articles are interesting.

    Yu Darvish (Japan) – FanGraphs, BeyondTheBoxscore (satisfying all observers with his stuff)

    Hisashi Iwakuma (Japan) – FanGraphs (getting rave reviews for his pitch selection)

    Ryu Hyun-Jin (Korea) – FanGraphs

    Yoon Suk-Min (Korea) – BeyondTheBoxscore

    Felix (Venezuela), LaMura and Cody Cirillo (Italy, the latter with his 67mph “changeup”) – BeyondTheBoxscore 

    Cuban pitchers who pitched in their first game against Japan (from wild Chapman to Maya to Vladimir Garcia) – BeyondTheBoxscore

    Wily Cuban veterans Vera and Lazo (and his 57mph somthing) in their elimination game against Japan – BeyondTheBoxscore

    HardballTimes also has analyzed Pitch f/x data from Round 1 and Round 2 featuring pitchers in the Toronto Round (Yoel Hernandez, DiFelice, Mestri, Cillo), and the 2nd Round in Florida (Leon Boyd, who pitched himself into the Toronto Blue Jays organization, congrats!) and San Diego (Chapman, Vladimir Garcia, Oliver Perez).

    Added: Hisashi Iwakuma and Kyuji Fujikawa (Japan), and Bong Jung-Keun and Ryu Hyun-Jin (Korea) – Hardball Times

    WBC pitch speeds, they were generally slower than during the regular season showing that pitchers are not ready in March, not a big surprise. The pitcher with the most decline in velocity was Matsuzaka, which is kinda surprising considering he was training from January – BeyondTheBoxscore

    The Dutch-Canadian pitcher and recent Toronto Blue Jays signee Leon Boyd – one, two

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