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  • Posts Tagged ‘morino’

    Japan v Cuba impressions and Olympic baseball

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 14日 Thursday

    Olympic baseball has started. Canada trounced hosts China 10-0 (Canada has both Tim Burton and Stubby Clapp on its roster, how awesome is that!?… namewise), Taiwan breezed by the Netherlands 5-0, and Korea came from behind in the bottom of the 9th and scored 2 runs to win dramatically against the US 8-7 after allowing 3 runs in the top of the frame (EWC’s take on the game). That must’ve been one dramatic game. (Game results and rosters for all games.)

    Japan lost to Cuba 2-4 (boxscore, many photos of Darvish looking displeased with himself here). Some impressions:

    • Cuban batters’ control of the strike zone was impeccable, they were exactly the same as Puerto Rican umpire’s zone, coincidentally or not. The batters hardly swung at balls out of the zone, except for one batter trying to hit a sacrifice fly against Naruse. They made the Japanese pitchers throw A LOT of pitches. We’ll see if they’ll take the same approach to other teams (well, I won’t really be able to see them again until the medal rounds, probably).
    • Darvish was far from his sharp self. He had good stuff at times, but his command was often off, leaving pitches hanging down the middle of the plate and the Cubans didn’t miss many of these, or completely missing the zone, seemed to be having a little problem with the game ball that other pitchers in the game seemed to be ok with. Reminded me of this season’s Matsuzaka, getting out of jam after jam, though he was charged with 4 runs in 4 innings and credited with the loss.
    • Darvish was mercifully replaced in the 5th after he had thrown more than 100 pitches. Since he’s likely to pitch on 4 days rest against Canada on 18 Aug, and he was struggling, this was probably the right move.
    • Naruse promptly let in the 2 runners he inherited from Darvish, but then managed to hold his own.
    • Tanaka “Ma-kun” was pretty impressive, able to get strike outs when needed as he struck out the side in the 7th.
    • Japanese bullpen ace Kyuji Fujikawa put down the Cubans in order in his inning of work, but the balls were hard hit and he was lucky to escape unscathed, not dominant at all like he is in NPB.
    • Young OF Alexei Bell was impressive with a couple of extra base hits.
    • Strike zone seemed both narrow and thin, with some inconsistent calls. Guess we’ll see how the rest of the umpires are.
    • Long time closer 99 Lazo’s alive and well (35 year old is in his 4th Olympics). He doesn’t have dominating stuff anymore, but his pitches seem to have late movement, as there were lots of pop ups and fly outs by Japanese hitters against him in his 3 innings of work to save the game.
    • Injured SS Kawasaki had hits in all 3 of his plate appearances despite a visible limp. Perhaps it ironically helped him by changing his weight shift during his swing(?) He should be rested, as Japan’s full of shortstops anyways, and having an player with range limiting injury in the most important defensive position is not advisable. He was replaced by the Lions Nakajima as a pinch runner in the 7th after his third hit. Though Nakajima’s got rather poor range to be the starting shortstop. Morino at second and Nishioka at short might be ideal under current conditions. (Or Araki at second for a defensive configuration, but he’ll be a blackhole in the lineup.)
    • Guess red hot Lions and late additions to the roster OF G.G. Sato and SS/3B Nakajima are going to be platooned against left handed pitchers, otherwise why were they brough along to Beijing.. only to be used when some “trusted” players are in an obvious slump? I say, replace DH Abe with one of these guys, at least. But Hoshino is loyal, this trait better not be too costly.
    • Japan was unable to get an extra base hit when in need, and grounded into lots of double plays into the hands of slick Cuban middle infielders.
    • Veteran Cubans were very wily, often disrupting the rhythm of the game with unnecessarily stepping out of the box, taking extra long between pitches, and taking their time putting on body armour, and generally delaying the game (this is nothing new for them). This seemed to have distracted the younger Japanese team who are coddled mainly with domestic competition.
    • Manager Senichi Hoshino almost got ejected from the game for disputing a Satozaki check swing (didn’t look like the bat went around). But he has to realize that only in NPB can managers really get in the face of umps and pressure them psychologically. (Japanese umps don’t have the same authority that American (and international?) umps seem to have.)
    • Cuba looks like a lock for the playoffs, so Japan, Korea, USA, Taiwan, and Canada should be battling out for the other 3 playoff positions, with Taiwan and Canada being underdogs, but they can upset any of the top teams on any given day.
    • Tomorrow (14 Aug, Day 2), Americans will breeze breeze by the Dutch, Korea will pummel China, Taiwan has a legitimate chance against Japan but they are looking to avenge today’s loss, and Cuba looks too strong for Canada.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, information, NPB, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

    NPB Power Rankings 08.05.19

    Posted by japanstats 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »