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  • Posts Tagged ‘buffaloes’

    WBC uniform watch

    Posted by simon c 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 »

    2008 PL season review and playoff preview

    Posted by simon c on 2008 October 9日 Thursday

    The Central League still has a few rain out games to remake that will determine first place, and the huge one game advantage and home field advantage (all games at home), so I’ll leave the CL until next week.

    The Pacific League has completed its regular season schedule and the first round of the playoffs (best of 3) begins this Saturday.

    So, here’s the season review and Climax Series playoff preview.

    1. Saitama Seibu Lions

    76-64-4 (.543)

    RS-RA: 715-626

    The powerful team that ran with the PL lead all season backed into clinching the PL crown while losing 7 straight because 2nd place Orix was also in a losing skid. The team will be without GG Sato (105GP 432PA 30 2B 21HR 302/368/546) in the playoffs. GG was invaluable in the first half of the season until his Olympic blunder (though, he was playing out of position) and subsequent injury. Luckily for the Lions, they have a capable replacement in Taketoshi Goto who blossomed in GG’s absence with 49GP 184PA 14 2B 12HR 301/370/602. The big time slugging team just fell shy of 200 homeruns with 198 (in a 144 game season!), significant contributions coming from Takeya Nakamura’s breakout 46 homers, Hiram Bocachica’s 20HR in just 78 games, shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima who had an MVP season with 124GP 556PA 32 2B 21HR 331/410/527, and Craig Brazell’s 27 homers (though with a blackhole 294 OBP). The team struggled in September with a 9-15 record, but has a couple of weeks to prepare for their playoff appearance on October 17th and hopefully will be back in form by then, and the one game and home field advantages should help. But if the shutdown pitching of Fighters win the first round of the playoffs, the Lions will have a tough task at their hands, as pitching and defense are paramount in the playoffs, and slugging not so much.

    2. Orix Buffaloes

    75-68-1 (.524)

    RS-RA: 637-605

    The surprise team of the season, as most people had written them off far out of the playoff picture in their preseason predictions. American manager Terry Collins resigned in May with a 21-28 record, since then interim manager Daijiro Oishi directed the team to a great 54-40-1 (.574) record. The team definitely has more momentum than the Lions at the moment finishing off the season by sweeping the Lions in a 2 game series and capping it off with a win against the lowly Hawks. The Buffs rely on the power bats of NPB veterans Alex Cabrera (37yo 36HR 315/394/593) and Tuffy Rhodes (40yo 40HR 277/394/583). Word in the clubhouse is that Oishi had much better relationships with the sluggers than Collins, and they performed much better with the new manager after season opening slumps. Pitching on this team isn’t shabby either with the unheralded four Satoshi Komatsu (172.1IP 2.51ERA 15-3 3holds), Chihiro Kaneko (165IP 3.98ERA 10-9), Shogo Yamamoto (154.2IP 3.38ERA 10-6 2holds) and Kazuki Kondo (149IP 3.44ERA 10-7) anchoring the rotation. The Buffs will be a formidable opponent at home in the first round of the playoffs against the Fighters, as the only difference is in Darvish (though that’s a big difference) but the Fighters have absolutly no power and Rhodes and Cabrera can win the series for them in the non-Darvish games.

    3. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 

    73-69-2 (.514)

    RS-RA: 533-541

    This low scoring team is built for its cavernous home, the Sapporo Dome, and rightly so as the team’s recent playoff success topped by being the Japan Series and Asia Series champions in 2006. The Fighters are, of course, led by the best pitcher in Japan in Yu Darvish (200.2IP despite going to the Olympics! 10CG 208K 1.88ERA 16-4). But one man can’t win a best of 3 series, and the rest of their pitching staff is not spectacular with Ryan Glynn (3.64ERA), Brian Sweeney (3.48ERA), Masaru Takeda (2.96ERA), and Shugo Fujii (3.25ERA) for getting to pitch half their games in a pitcher’s paradise. The Fighters hit a league low 82 homers during the season, but time and again over the years they’ve shown that they can win closely fought games, so as long as the team can hold a lead to its shutdown closer Micheal Nakamura (2.14ERA 46.1IP 28SV) the team will be able to win in the playoffs (reliable setup man Takeda Hisashi with ERAs in the 2s the last two seasons has been rather hittable this season with 4.40ERA). The power will be supplied by Kensuke Tanaka (297/379/451 32 2B), Atsunori Inaba (301/380/513 25 2B 20HR), and Terrmel Sledge (289/361/473). Hmm.. looking at this, I think the Fighters can take the first round of the playoffs against the Buffaloes. All they have to do is win one of the non-Darvish games and both teams equally rely on just a few power bats that can mightily swing the series.

    4. Chiba Lotte Marines

    73-70-1 (.510)

    RS-RA: 662-648

    Bobby Valentine’s team finished just half a game out of the playoffs in the fierce battle that lasted until the end of the season. The gaping hole in relief left open by the departures of Yabuta (Kansas City), Fujita (Yomiuri), and Kobayashi (Cleveland) were nicely filled in with Yusuke Kawasaki (3.00ERA 29holds), Brian Sikorski (2.23ERA 13holds), and the emergence of Tadahiro Ogino (2.45ERA 30SV) as the team’s closer. The team wasn’t short on power either with Shoitsu Ohmatsu (499SLG), Toshiaki Imae (509SLG), Jose Ortiz (454SLG from 2B), and Tasuku Hashimoto (404OBP and 536SLG as a catcher!). The team just fell short. Better luck next year, Bobby.

    5. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles

    65-76-3 (.461)

    RS-RA: 627-607

    This mystery team posted a positive run differential all season but struggled to put together a winning season and was removed from the playoff race early in the summer. I’m sure losing their closer Fukumori (Texas) didn’t help, but the team needs more help in relief so that it can win close games, even though Tsuyoshi Kawagishi (1.94ERA 55.2IP) and Kanehisa Arime (2.05ERA 44IP) both put up impressive numbers in relief. As long as 40 year old slugger Takeshi Yamasaki’s performance (276/372/471) doesn’t fall off a cliff, the team should be able to expect better things next season. Hisashi Iwakuma had an incredible season (1.87ERA 5CG 201.2IP 21-4, a definite Sawamura (Japanese Cy Young) frontrunner along with Darvish) considering how incompetent his teammates were.

    6. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

    64-77-3 (.454)

    RS-RA: 556-641

    The living legend Sadaharu Oh’s team was in playoff contention until late summer, then had a disastrous Sept-Oct (6-21!) and ended up finishing at the bottom of the standings, even losing the final game for Oh in a “sayonara” walk-off fashion to nearly futile Eagles. 35 year old Nobuhiko Matsunaka’s slip in performance over the last several years (2004-1.179OPS, 2005-1.075, 2006-.981, 2007-.798, 2008-.871) is a concern as he’s not getting any younger. Fellow slugger Hiroki Kokubo is even older at 37, Hitoshi Tamura is always battling injuries, so the only bright hope is the up and coming third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda (279/322/468), his lack of ability to draw walks is concerning but he’s still 25. On the pitching side, Toshiya Sugiuchi had a great season (2.66ERA 196IP) and Ohtonari had a solid season (3.12ERA 155.2IP) but highly touted rookie Shota Ohba had a disastrous campaign (5.42ERA 78IP 14HR), he’ll have to cut down on the number of homers given up to improve his performance.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, MLB, NPB, opinion, statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

    John Koronka to Orix?

    Posted by simon c on 2008 June 27日 Friday

    Yeah, well, I didn’t know about the guy either, but Orix conitinue to scrape the bottom of the barrell with their attempts to sign some import pitchers (some tryouts earlier in the season didn’t work out, if I remember correctly). Koronka’s career minor league stats are 4.36 ERA, 6.75 K/9, and 3.94 BB/9. His cumulative MLB record from 2005-07 (mostly accumulated in 2006 when he was part of the Texas Rangers rotation for part of the season) is an avert your eyes 6.02 ERA, 4.35 K/9, and 3.58 BB/9 (though with a small sample size warning of 151 IP). If he manages to earn some playing time with the big club I expect his numbers to fall somewhere between his minor league and MLB numbers, as generally NPB is regarded to be about AAAA level.

    The Buffaloes continue to grasp at straws after their Jeremy Powell fiasco (JP officially signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks while Orix management were twiddling their thumbs with an informal offer), but then again what can you expect from talent that’s available midseason, and also the Orix bumbling management. But, there is a chance that Japanese waters suit Koronka so well that he succeeds (or at least be useful) in NPB. So, if he’s a cheap signing (likely will be) then I guess it’s a low risk scenario (though I have about 95% doubt that it’ll pan out).

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

    NPB Power Rankings 08.6.26

    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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    2008.6.10 NPB Pitching and Batting Leaders

    Posted by simon c on 2008 June 11日 Wednesday

    We’re 2/3 of the way through interleague play with 16 games played, and the Eagles are on top of the interleague standings tied with the Tigers with 11-5 records. The eagles had strong numbers in runs scored and runs allowed heading into interleague, so this is no fluke, expect the strong performance of the Eagles to continue past the interleague period.

    Also, Hoshino, manager and GM for Team Japan at Beijing Olympics, has added 4 players to the list candidates for the Olympic team and they are G.G. Sato and Hoashi (both Lions), Yoshimi (Dragons), and Watanabe (Tigers). Sato and Watanabe have both shown that their great performances last season weren’t by chance, and among the 70+ players already named as candidates, many are off to slow starts or injured which prompted this announcement. The final team will be announced in July… but the first game that counts is on 13 August. I expect some changes made between the team is announced to the opening game against Cuba.

    Anyways, just a partial update, only the batting and pitching leaders this week.

    Batting leaders (2008.6.10)

    Familiar faces up top, and we see a new name in the table in the league leading batter Uchikawa(!) of Yokohama who sports a handsome .395 batting average at the moment after getting enough playing time to qualify. Perhaps a Sato, Aoki (missed time with injury, returned to lineup recently), and Inaba outfield in Beijing?

    Pitching leaders (2008.6.10)

    Lewis is doing an incredible job for the Carp who are 1.5 games behind the Giants for 3rd place and the last playoff spot. Komatsu is pitching pretty well for the Buffaloes too even if he’s not getting the run or defensive support. Hoashi has a sparkling 1.55 ERA but his FIP is 3.20 suggesting he’s gotten benefits of both good luck and defense, still wouldn’t be a bad choice for the Olympics (though, he’ll probably hurt Seibu more than benefit Japan). Tanaka is pitching in the shadows of resurgent Iwakuma this year, but he’s contributing nearly as much as his teammate to the Eagles’ success when you look beyond the won-loss record and the ERA. Kawakami has returned, he’s pitched 8, 7, and 7 innings in his last 3 starts allowing 1, 3, and 1 run each time out.

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

    NPB Power Rankings 08.6.3

    Posted by simon c on 2008 June 3日 Tuesday

    Another busy week, so a short poster here. This interleague week’s day off was Monday. We have completed the first 2 weeks of interleague play now.

    1. Hanshin Tigers(1) 34-17-1 .667

    6-4 against PL teams, most importantly winning both games against PL leading Lions at home in Koshien. It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll fare in the return trip, but this definitely cemented the Tigers place at the top of this ranking.

    2. Saitama Seibu Lions(3) 34-21-1 .618

    Lost both games to the Tigers (though took the other cats to extra innings in the second game), but split the pair of games against the Dragons at home. 76 homeruns in 56 games is still far outpacing the next best homerest NPB team Dragons with 50 in 53 games and Buffaloes with 46 in 57 games. Bocachica with his amazing .997 OPS is still hitting 9th in the order, because the team’s still winning and pro athletes tend to be superstitious (they started him off hitting 9th when he first came back from the minors, understandably). 5-5 in interleague so far. Brazell continues to suck hard in the middle of the order with a .263 OBP and .416 SLG (and he started off the year scorching hot too!), there’s absolutely no justification for continuing to let him hit in the 4 spot… other than superstition.

    3. Chunichi Dragons(2) 28-22-3 .560

    4-6 in interleague competition so far, slowly but steadily falling behind the Tigers in the CL standings and in this ranking as well. Split its games against the Lions, but lost both games to the Fighters, it’s never a good sign when you give up 11 runs to the weakest hitting club in the nation.

    4. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles(4) 29-26 .527

    7-3 in interleague, the team is starting to play up to its Pythagorean expectations (248 – 195 RS – RA), this team is for real. Surprisingly, they’re getting all this run scoring (2nd in PL) done while hitting by far the least homeruns in the league at 26.

    5. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters(5) 32-25-1 .561

    Team continues to defy Mr. Pythagoras (197 – 192 RS – RA). With the team having played 40% of its game, this is probably real too (again), a repeat of last season. The ability to win low scoring games favours the team in the postseason as well, so I suppose I could/should rank them higher… oh, another 7-3 team in interleague here.

    6. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks(7) 30-28 .517

    7-3 in interleague. Trailing the Eagles by only half a game, the battle for the final playoff berth in the PL is interesting too. Though this team’s propensity of giving up runs (242 RA is by far the worst among the top 4 PL teams) means they should be further back.

    7. Hiroshima Toyo Carp(10) 23-25-2 .479

    6-4 against PL teams. The team’s winning again, doing a good job of keeping the Giants at bay.

    8. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants(7) 25-28-1 .472

    5-5 interleague record so far. Sunk below the poor Carp in the CL standings though. The team of high rollers continue to sputter along, making it a 3 horse race for 3rd place. 

    9. Tokyo Yakult Swallows(6) 22-28 .440

    Struggling, with a 3-7 record against PL teams. Guiel’s posting a pedestrian .734 OPS, but his BA of .216 is by far the lowest amongst all qualifying CL batters and is acting as a black hole in the lineup. He struck out twice in key plate appearances late in the game that I went to see. He needs to start hitting, and with Aoki back in the lineup, the team has better potential to get back into the playoff race.

    11. Chiba Lotte Marines(9) 24-34 .414

    Woes continue with 3-7 record in interleague which brought them all the way to the bottom of the PL standings. Can’t decide if Bobby’s Marines are worse than the Buffaloes, but they’ve definitely have sunken to the bottom of the heap.

    11. Orix Buffaloes(11) 25-32 .439

    Hey, 5-5 against the CL, not bad, not bad at all. And managed to climb above the slumping Marines in the PL standings to boot.

    12. Yokohama BayStars(12) 15-35-1 .300

    Exactly .300! 2-8 against PL teams, so far so bad, as expected.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    2008.5.27 NPB Update

    Posted by simon c on 2008 May 27日 Tuesday

    We’re a week into interleague play now, and that changes the day off to Tuesday, so that gives us an opportunity to look at some overlooked numbers in baseball, especially NPB.

    Def Eff
    守備効率

    F%
    守備率

    FIP

    ERA
    防御率

    W%
    勝率

    CL
    セリーグ

               

    0.685

    0.989

    4.13

    4.49

    0.304

    BayStars
    横  浜

    0.689

    0.988

    4.00

    3.56

    0.477

    Carp
    広  島

    0.688

    0.990

    3.18

    2.87

    0.587

    Dragons
    中  日

    0.669

    0.988

    3.51

    4.19

    0.49

    Giants
    巨  人

    0.713

    0.989

    4.24

    3.55

    0.457

    Swallows
    ヤクルト

    0.693

    0.991

    3.15

    2.73

    0.681

    Tigers
    阪  神

     In CL we see that defensive competency is actually keeping the Giants and Swallows closer in the standings than they really should be, as the Giants have better pitching but worse ERA due to having the worst defenders in the league (no big surprise here for a team that is always assembled full of sluggers).

    DER
    守備効率

    F%
    守備率

    FIP

    ERA
    防御率

    W%
    勝率

    PL
    パリーグ

               

    0.678

    0.988

    4.19

    4.49

    0.415

    Buffaloes
    オリックス

    0.697

    0.987

    3.36

    3.28

    0.529

    Eagles
    楽  天

    0.709

    0.984

    3.79

    2.94

    0.547

    Fighters
    日本ハム

    0.682

    0.985

    3.61

    3.90

    0.481

    Hawks
    ソフトバンク

    0.699

    0.984

    3.63

    3.22

    0.627

    Lions
    西  武

    0.679

    0.985

    3.82

    4.26

    0.407

    Marines
    ロッテ

    In the PL, Fighters have great pitchers, but it’s their defense that makes them a winning team (with league leading ERA) despite their pathetic offense (team OBP of .300 is by far the worst in the league). Eagles are for real, with their solid pitching, defense, and league leading .350 OBP and run scoring prowess, they should actually be winning more games than they currently are. Look for them to solidify their playoff position in the coming weeks.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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

    NPB Power Rankings 08.05.19

    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.

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    Nomo probably returning to Japan

    Posted by simon c on 2008 May 12日 Monday

    MLB and NPB insiders say that Nomo is ready to return to Japan. This is surprising considering he’s always stated that he had no interest in playing in NPB again, and his single-minded insistence and commitment to playing in the majors. But maybe this time he finally saw the writing on the wall shortly after making a return to a major league  mount after a 1000 day absence, only to have his now below average stuff hammered away to the tune of 3 homers and 9 runs in only 4.1 innings in 3 appearances as a reliever (18.69 ERA).

    Former major leaguers returning to Japan after being deemed dispensable in the States presents a mixed bag. But Nomo wasn’t just below average dispensable, he has been downright awful since 2004, and this last surgery and rehabilitation didn’t give him back his super-arm (not surprisingly).

    The only pitcher who had been comparably terrible in the majors before moving back to Japan was Mac Suzuki, who had in fact started his pro career stateside. He followed up his meltdown seasons in 2001-02 (5-12 with 5.86 ERA, followed by 9.00 ERA in 21 IP) with equally forgettable seasons in Japan (7.06 ERA in 108.1 IP, then 8.57 ERA in 48.1 IP), before attempting a return to the majors with the Cubs (pedestrian 4.11 ERA in 15 IP in AAA). 

    It’s interesting that some former major leaguers returned to Japan after a below average MLB season and had one successful season before finally meeting their demise in their second season back in Japan (Kaz Sasaki, Shingo Takatsu, and Hideki Irabu). 

    This offer probably also means that he was got no interest from any teams outside of NPB, and that’s too bad because it would’ve been fun to see how he did in, say, Korea or Taiwan, but it’s more than a few years too late as his last effective season as a major leaguer was in 2003! (Wow, I feel old  😛  )

    Anyways, there were previous rumours linking Nomo with the Yokohama BayStars, but it seemed to be some creative works of sports writers who had no story to file that day. But this time around, his links with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles seem more assured, with various insiders chipping in information like Nomo and the club’s intents, and even specifics like a possibility of an announcement this week before the start of interleague games, and confirming with a quote from Orix Buffaloes (who hold rights to Nomo after his retirement from NPB and the Kintetsu Buffaloes before the club was merged with Orix BlueWave) representative Nakamura saying that Orix have no interest in Nomo (the club and the Mr.Tornado were unable to reach a contract agreement back in 2006) and will not block any other teams from trying to acquire him, meaning that Orix will should be releasing their rights to Nomo soon. While I expect the probability of a successful return to Japan for the pioneering former major leaguer to be very low, the pitching thin team’s partly interested in his services partly to coach the young staff, and any good pitching under Nomura, who is famous for reviving many careers under his watch, would probably be seen as a bonus.

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