Posted by simon c on 2008 June 26日 Thursday
Interleague games officially ended on Monday but the title was clinched by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Sunday, even though they tied with the Hanshin Tigers with 15-9 records. The silly tiebreaker rule doesn’t take head to head record into account, if that were the case the Tigers would’ve won the (still) rather meaningless Interleague crown because they took 3 of 4 from the Hawks (also won 3 against the PL leading Saitama Seibu Lions). Anyways, after a few days off (scheduled as reserve dates for rainouts), regular intraleague play resumes tomorrow with a full slate of 6 games.
Anyways, here are how things shook out following the conclusion of the Interleague period.
1. Hanshin Tigers(1) 43-22-1 .662
Tied for best record in Interleague without having the advantage of playing against the sorry Yokohama BayStars, and beat up on the PL leading Lions and Interleague Champs Hawks. Most balanced team in the league with an on base juggernaut offense (top 3 CL OBP leaders, and only hitters to have OBP over .400 in CL are Kanemoto, Akahoshi, and Arai, and Toritani checks in at 8th with .362) So the Tigers lead the league in runs scored (273) despite homering the least (35), and their shutdown bullpen helps prevent runs big time and they lead the league in this category too (218). The complete package.
2. Chunichi Dragons(3) 36-28-3 .563
Regains the penultimate position in this ranking largely thanks to the Lions tailspin at the end of Interleague, as the Dragons only had a .500 record against PL teams, but managed to take 3 of 4 against Seibu.
3. Saitama Seibu Lions(2) 39-30-1 .565
Ended Interleague campaign on a horrible note, losing 6 straight and 9 of the last 12. Even losing both games to the lowly BayStars. This is still a strong team and PL race has just gotten really interesting with the slumping Lions and soaring Hawks as the top 4 teams are now bunched together within 4 games of eachother. Lions are probably thankful that what turned out to be a dreaded Interleague season is finally over.
4. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters(5) 39-32-1 .549
Was in the hunt for the Interleague title going into the final weekend, the team continues to win close games as the Fighters have only outscored their opponents by 4 runs for the season.
5. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles(4) 35-34 .507
A team with very good fundamentals (310 – 256, RS – RA) sits in 4th place in the PL standings but definitely has the capability to be in a playoff position and should be there sooner rather than later. Had first ever winning Interleague season in its history with 13-11 record.
6. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks(6) 38-34 .528
Interleague champions nudged their way up to claim the 3rd and final playoff position in the PL. The team seems to have woken up, it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep this up in their own league.
7. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants(8 ) 34-33-1 .507
Solid Interleague campaign of 14-10 has the team back in black. Good pitchers Takahashi and Uehara are returned to the big club after rehabbing from injury. The former should go into the rotation and the latter in the bullpen where he was a successful closer last season. Beneficiary of the new Free Agency rules agreed upon between NPB and the Senshukai (Players’ Association) reducing the number of years of service until domestic FA to 8, a quirk in the rule allows FA eligible imports to not count as imports, meaning that slugger Alex Ramirez will not count against the import quota starting next season.
8. Hiroshima Toyo Carp(7) 30-32-2 .484
A decent 13-11 record in Interleague. The dog days of summer may be very helpful to the Carp this year as all of NPB’s best will be at Beijing while the Carp will likely not lose anyone to the Olympics. They’ll just have to hang on until then, as a 3rd place finish and a seat in the playoffs is needed for Marty Brown to extend his contract as the manager of this feisty club that lost its cleanup hitter (Arai) and ace (Kuroda) to FA after last season. (Though Colby Lewis is doing a fine job filling in for Kuroda with 10-5, 2.28 ERA on a mediocre team playing in a hitters park.)
9. Tokyo Yakult Swallows(9) 30-34 .469
Norichika Aoki is back and has been his awesome self with a slash line of .331/.391/.506. NPB hitters may be getting wise to the ways of the Lim though, as the closer has given up 5 runs (4 earned) over his last 5 appearances. Aaron Guiel’s rehab seems to be going well, as he’s played 2 games in the minors recently (going 0-3 with a walk), hopefully he’ll be fully recovered soon and back with the big club. An Aoki – Hatakeyama – Guiel cleanup could be pretty awesome.
10. Chiba Lotte Marines(10) 31-41 .431
10. Orix Buffaloes(11) 31-40 .437
Both teams had uninspiring Interleague season (10-14 and 11-13). Still no end in sight to their woes, but neither of them are even close to the patheticness of…
12. Yokohama BayStars(12) 19-45-1 .297
Only team to win less than 10 games (.417) in Interleague, the sad BayStars went 6-18 (.250), their saving grace was the sweep of the slumping Lions at the end of Interleague. U-G-L-Y.
Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, statistics | Tagged: akahoshi, alex ramirez, aoki, arai, baystars, beijing, buffaloes, carp, chiba, chunichi, colby lewis, dragons, eagles, fa, fighters, free agency, giants, guiel, hanshin, hatakeyama, hawks, Hiroshima, hokkaido, interleague, kanemoto, kuroda, lewis, lions, lotte, marines, nippon-ham, olympics, orix, rakuten, ramirez, rankings, seibu, softbank, swallows, tigers, toritani, yakult, yokohama, yomiuri | 1 Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2008 June 17日 Tuesday
Yeah, I know this is a couple of days late, but these numbers are only missing the Eagles-Giants game yesterday.
Let’s look at the Central League first:
Hanshin remain strong, both in the real life standings and in Pythagorean win expectations based on runs scored and runs against. But I’m starting to think that maybe the Tigers record is inflated due to the unusually weak CL this year. With interleague play almost finished CL teams have gone 53-67 against their PL counterparts so far, but then again maybe this is mostly the fault of the pathetic Yokohama BayStars who are 3-17 in interleague and sport a 16-44-1 (.267) record overall. The utter incompetence of the BayStars are probably helping other CL teams look more respectable, and tipping the balance in favour of the PL. With the slumping and injured Giants, the race for 3rd and last playoff spot in the CL is a three horse race between Yomiuri, Carp, and Swallows. (The Swallows getting it done on defence is a bit of a surprise as that’s not typically talked about.) The Dragons are doing about as well as expected, no better no less, but they are much stronger now with Kawakami back in full force.
Now onto the Pacific League:
The Lions continue their dominance, but the reliance on the long ball didn’t work against the Tigers as the king of the jungle lost 3 out of 4, getting outplayed by a much better balanced Les Tigres team full of on base monsters (Arai, Akahoshi, and Kanemoto lead the CL, with all three OBPing over .400 and Toritani is no slouch either at .370) and killer relievers in JFK+Watanabe which makes their games 5-6 inning games. So, the Lions fortunes come October may not be so bright as they play Yankee style big ball susceptible to opposition pitching in the playoffs which usually only consist of aces.
I’m beginning to think that the ultra-low scoring Fighters getting it done almost entirely on pitching, defence, and the cavernous Sapporo Dome last year was not a fluke, as they continue to outperform their Pythag expectations (with the staggering .718 Defensive Efficiency, far and away the best in the PL and NPB), winning one close game after another (they’re like the winning version of the Padres in this regard).
The Eagles are for real, they’re getting it done both with hitting, pitching, and defence (they, in fact, have the highest Pythag win% in NPB!), I expect them to pull ahead of the Hawks to secure themselves a playoff position and battle the Fighters for 2nd place.
Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics, statistics, tokyo | Tagged: akahoshi, arai, baystars, carp, central league, chunichi, cl, dragons, eagles, fighters, giants, hanshin, hawks, Hiroshima, jfk, kanemoto, kawakami, lions, nippon-ham, OBP, pacific league, pl, rakuten, seibu, softbank, swallows, tigers, toritani, watanabe, yakult, yokohama, yomiuri | 2 Comments »
Posted by simon c 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.
Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics, statistics | Tagged: akahoshi, arai, bobby valentine, bocachica, brazell, buffaloes, carp, central league, chiba, cl, eagles, ESPN, Evil Empire, fighters, Fukuoka, giants, golden, guiel, hanshin, hawks, Hiroshima, hokkaido, ibata, jeff williams, jfk, kanemoto, kiyohara, lions, lotte, marines, morino, nippon-ham, OBP, OPS, orix, pacific league, pl, power rankings, rakuten, saitama, seibu, SLG, softbank, swallows, tigers, tohoku, yakult, yokohama baystars, yomiuri | Leave a Comment »