Posts Tagged ‘hawks’
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
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
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
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
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
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
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: bobby valentine, buffaloes, chiba, climax series, CS, darvish, eagles, fighters, Fukuoka, golden eagles, hawks, hokkaido, lions, lotte, marines, nippon-ham, orix, pacific league, pl, playoffs, rakuten, saitama, seibu, softbank, tohoku | 5 Comments »
Posted by simon c on 2008 August 25日 Monday
The day after Team Japan failed miserably out of Beijing Olympic baseball competition by losing to the US in the bronze medal game, NPB resumed action after a short 2 day Olympic finals break. But its been rainy lately in Japan, and many games were cancelled, including the first meetup with the Japanesebaseball.com guys we had planned for the Tigers-Swallows game at Jingu Stadium, and the Hawks-Eagles matchup up in Sendai.
Once the game was officially cancelled at Sendai, Sadaharu Oh went to pay a visit to Katsuya Nomura, both legendary players and managers in NPB history. With the press present, naturally, the talk quickly turned to why manager Senichi Hoshino‘s team failed to even medal, let alone gold.
Here’s a snippet of their conversation as reported by Sports Hochi.
Nomura: Olympics was a failure, wasn’t it?
Oh: Yes, it was disappointing. It’s difficult. One loss means it’s all over.
Nomura: It’s difficult to select players. The heart of the order, 3-4-5 hitters need to be solid.
Oh: It’s always difficult for batters when they face new pitchers for the first time. But ours (Tsuyoshi Wada and Toshiya Sugiuchi) got hit pretty hard. (Comment: Wada and Sugiuchi both pitched 2 games each, Wada 4.82 ERA in 9 1/3 IP and Sugiuchi 0.84 ERA in 10 2/3 IP, so it was only Wada who got hit moderately hard. Olympic stats here.)
Earlier before Oh’s visit Nomura had already criticized Hoshino Japan, that the team was “unable to make use of all its data. Totally wasted a good thing there. I thought things got off to a bad start when they chose a group of friends to manage the team (Hoshino is friends with coaches Tabuchi and Yamamoto). Managers who used to be pitchers don’t know what position players go through either.” (Comment: Hoshino pitched for the Dragons, peaking in the 70’s.) Oh also commented on the overall team strengths of Korea, Cuba, and USA.
Oh: They didn’t swing at any balls. Great plate discipline. Once again, we saw how important great batting eyes are. (Comment: says the man who has NPB leading 2390 career walks and an astounding .446 career OBP. At Beijing Japan only walked 24 times, other teams were Canada 15, Cuba 37, Korea 30, Taiwan 30, and USA 34.)
Nomura: The batters swing without taking big steps.
Oh: They wait for the ball, and still get distance on the balls they hit.
Nomura: Different muscles.
Oh: It’s difficult for starters to pitch relief. Though, I understand that it’s also difficult to select middle relievers on Team Japan… and on top of that the roster size is only 24 players. (Comment: MLB is 25, while NPB uses a 28 man roster with lots of leeway.)
Nomura: Kids these days are weak. They have the gall take 10 days off by fouling pitches off themselves. I didn’t want to lose my job, so I even played with broken bones.
Oh: Well, we are 1st and 2nd in all time games played so we were tough, but there are players who give in easily to pain.
Nomura: You are a man of integrity. I lack integrity. That there shows up in our difference of 200 homeruns. (Comment: 868 v 657 career homruns for the two living legends.)
The two talked for 40 minutes, but these were the quotes that made it onto Sports Hochi. World’s homerun king Oh, of course, has also led the champion Team Japan in WBC 2006. And Nomura, the greatest hitting catcher in NPB history, managed Cuban manager at Beijing, Antonio Pacheco, when he played at Shidax in the Japanese industrial leagues. Oh has been to the Japan Series 4 times as manager and won twice, Nomura 5 times and won three times. (Comment: Hoshino has been to the Japan Series 3 times as manager but has never won it.)
Note: This is not a word for word translation, but I’ll reprint the original article here before it disappears from the archives.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in 02_English, 03_Translations (英訳ポートフォリオ), baseball, information, olympics, opinion | Tagged: 2008, beijing, 翻訳, eagles, hawks, hoshino, Japan, katsuya, nomura, oh, rakuten, sadaharu, softbank, translation | 3 Comments »
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: buffaloes, Fukuoka, hawks, jeremy powell, koronka, orix, softbank | 1 Comment »
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 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: baystars, bobby valentine, bocachica, brazell, buffaloes, carp, central league, chiba, cl, eagles, Evil Empire, fighters, Fukuoka, giants, guiel, hanshin, hawks, Hiroshima, hokkaido, lions, lotte, marines, nippon-ham, norichika aoki, OBP, OPS, orix, pacific league, pl, power rankings, rakuten, saitama, seibu, SLG, softbank, swallows, tigers, tohoku, yakult, yokohama, yomiuri | 2 Comments »
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.
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).
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: AL, alex ramirez, baystars, buffaloes, carp, central league, chiba lotte, chunichi, cl, darvish, defensive efficiency, der, dragons, eagles, fighters, FIP, Fukuoka, g.g. sato, giants, golden, hanshin, hawks, Hiroshima, hokkaido, iwakuma, lions, marines, miura, nakajima, nippon-ham, OBP, orix, pacific league, rakuten, saitama, seibu, softbank, sugiuchi, swallows, tigers, tohoku, yakult, yamasaki, yokohama, yomiuri | 1 Comment »
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 »
Posted by simon c on 2008 May 19日 Monday
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 3 – 4 Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
18 May 2008 Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome
Former Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighter Tsuyoshi Shinjo showed off his strong arm in an off the charts ceremonial first “pitch”. In this event to promote Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the 36 year old Shinjo made his first appearance on a baseball field since his retirement in 2006. He pitched a no holds barred ceremonial “at bat” against his former understudy, and Fighters leadoff man, Hichori Morimoto. After going to a 2-2 count, Shinjo got Morimoto to ground out to the shortstop. Of the 4 pitches that were measured by a speed gun, the first pitch clocked in at 145 km/h (90 mph). “I thought I threw a little harder” remarked Shinjo playfully, as the crowd was wowed. Wearing the full uniform of his hometown Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, and in an incredible show of fan service, he threw in the actual gold glove that he won for his 2006 Golden Glove award into the crowd after completing this big task. He was exhilarated, saying “moriagattabai!” (“that got the crowd going!”) in the local Hakata dialect.
(Shinjo’s done it again! He never ceases to surprise fans and casual observers alike, even well into his retirement. I’m not sure if a former player has ever donned the full uniform of a team he had never played for, including cleats, and threw an entire at bat as a ceremonial “first pitch”. Probably a world first by the man who loves to surprise.) Here’s the video:
Original article (Japanese):
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in 02_English, 03_Translations (英訳ポートフォリオ), baseball, culture, information, NPB, opinion | Tagged: ceremonial, fighters, first pitch, Fukuoka, hawks, hichori, hokkaido, Japan, morimoto, nippon-ham, pacific league, pl, shinjo, softbank, uniform | 1 Comment »
Posted by simon c on 2008 May 6日 Tuesday
The living legend and current Fukuoka Softbank Hawks manager Sadaharu Oh gets featured in two prominent American publications.
SI is doing the best baseball players per number, and they chose Oh over the Wizard of Oz for No.1.
Oh, baby, was he good. In 22 seasons as the Yomiuri Giants’ first baseman, Oh hit 868 home runs, 106 more than Barry Bonds. He led the Japan League in home runs 15 times.
Runner-up: Ozzie Smith
And the New York Times also has an interview piece with Oh where he instinctively calculates/makes sabermetrically correct translation of his power numbers had he played in the majors, interesting.
“It’s not that we haven’t shown our power yet, we simply don’t have it yet,” Oh said. “When I watch the home run derby at the M.L.B. All-Star Game, I can’t believe the way they launch the ball out of the park like a tee shot in golf. Japanese don’t have the power to do that. Diet has a lot to do with it, but that’s changing.”
Although Oh hit more home runs than Barry Bonds, the major league career leader with 762, Oh said he did not do so with power.
“I had strong legs that would have made me a good sumo wrestler and I used that to my advantage, but my home runs were achieved by technique,” Oh said. “I competed well with the Americans in those good-will-type exhibition games they used to bring here with M.L.B. all-stars, and I always thought if I had a chance to go to America, I could probably hit close to 30 home runs in a season. But again, it would have been with technique.”
As a player, Oh could compute his batting average as he sprinted toward first base. He still uses his skill with an imaginary abacus on the bench.
“It keeps the mind sharp,” he said.
Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, MLB, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics | Tagged: Fukuoka, giants, hall of fame, hawks, homerun, no.1, oh, sadaharu, softbank, yomiuri | Leave a Comment »