Posts Tagged ‘nippon-ham’
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 29日 Friday
Deanna has another great interview, this time an insightful and long interview with the veteran (of NPB and other leagues) Fernando Seguinol. The Fighters in Sapporo Dome, Shinjo, playing in various countries, his travelling season so far, playing for Katsuya Nomura, different approaches at the plate playing for different organizations in different countries, learning the language, etc. all very interesting stuff.
Update from the Seibu Prince Rabbits equipment manager about their Bavaria training camp. The team lost again, this time to a team in the second tier German league, but apparently the goalie Kikuchi is playing well and even received applause from the local fans. The defence must’ve been really porous giving up lots of shots. Anyways, there’s a funny anecdote (with pictures) about how him and another player went swimming in the cold lake after the team cycled up to the castle at Hussen. Most players are not strong swimmers because most Japanese hockey players are from Hokkaido where they don’t have swimming during phys ed. I’ll do a wrap on their Bavarian trip after their last game on the 31st. Japan NT and Seibu player Ryuichi Kawai has some pictures up from their Ingolstadt game, the atmosphere does look amazing, his brother Takuma is the first Japanese major junior player and is on Gatineau.
One time LA King, and current ECHL Bakersfield Condors goalie, Yutaka Fukufuji visited Oji Eagle Kei Tonosaki in Tomakomai. They both entered Kokudo (which merged with Seibu) at age 18 and are now 26 year olds, how time flies. Fukufuji blanked a visiting Team Canada (Allan Cup winner, best amateur team in the country) in a warm up game in Tokyo before a Nagano Cup some years back, I guess that would be around 2000, when he was still a high schooler.
Kazuma Takahashi explains his current situation, having to train alone because he’s not on any team yet, and how team building works differently between Japan/Europe and North America. In Japan and Europe the team is set during the off season, but in North America only the core of the team is set during the offseason, and the rest are based on tryouts during training camp, that’s how he ended up on the ECHL Utah Grizzlies (which was a step or two up from the previous season he spent in the SPHL.
Good luck on the upcoming season to all the players!
And, back to baseball, former Hanshin Tigers ace Kei Igawa has proven himself a true ace in America as well… in AAA. His numbers so far are 13-5, 3.55ERA, 6.92K/9, 2.64K/BB, 1.19WHIP. But got whipped around in his brief MLB stint again with 13.50ERA in 4IP in 2 appearances. Note to Japanese pitchers trying to break into the majors, you need something more than a decent fastball, mediocre location, and a good changeup.
Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, baseball, culture, ECHL, hockey, information, MLB, NPB, opinion | Tagged: bakersfield, bavaria, condors, eagles, fernando, fighters, Fukufuji, Gatineau, germany, grizzlies, hokkaido, igawa, kazuma, nippon-ham, NY, Oji, prince rabbits, QMJHL, rakuten, seguinol, seibu, takahashi, takuma, tohoku, tonosaki, utah, yankees | 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 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: aoki, baystars, buffaloes, carp, chunichi, dragons, eagles, fighters, hanshin, Hiroshima, hoashi, hokkaido, hoshino, inaba, interleague, iwakuma, kawakami, komatsu, lewis, lions, nippon-ham, orix, rakuten, sato, seibu, swallows, tanaka, tigers, tohoku, uchikawa, watanabe, yakult, yokohama, yoshimi | 1 Comment »
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 April 22日 Tuesday
I’m rather busy at the moment, so I’ll try to keep this short. Previous week’s ranking in brackets.
1. Hanshin Tigers(1) 15-4 .789
Continues to roll right along with yet another 4-1 week. 4 of the top 7 in CL OBP with Akahoshi (.451), Arai (.415), Kanemoto (.413), and Toritani (.395) explain their position up top.
2. Chunichi Dragons(2) 12-6-1 .667
Can stake a claim for the top spot in the Hanshin series starting tonight.
3. Saitama Seibu Lions(3) 14-9-1 .609
Went undefeated in 3 games (2-0-1) in a short 4 game week that got reduced to 3 games by rain. Outslugging the rest of the league with its 26 homeruns, 7 ahead of the nearest competitor.
4. Tokyo Yakult Swallows(4) 9-9 .500
Continues to slip with a 2-3 week. Saw the 2-1 win on Tuesday against Yokohama, but that’s not much to write home about. Lim continues to look fantastic, not allowing a run in 7 appearances while only allowing 5 baserunners. He may return to the setup role when/if Igarashi returns from injury, in which case the duo could become the Betancourt-Borowski of Japan, at the very least.
5. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters(6) 13-11 .542
Another smallballrific week with game scores being 3-3, 2-4, 3-1, 4-2, and 2-4. I saw that last game on Sunday up in Hokkaido, great crowd and a funky dome in the great white north of Japan. Winning record but currently being outscored 69-77. Could they repeat Hanshin’s success last year as a playoff team with a negative run differential? Maybe.
6. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks(5) 13-13 .500
Dropped 2 out of 3 against perennial playoff rivals Fighters for a 2-3 week.
7. Chiba Lotte Marines(8 ) 13-13 .500
Went 3-2 against the Eagles and the Buffaloes to bring the record up to .500.
8. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles(7) 11-13 .458
A 1-3 week against the Marines and Lions. Iwakuma is in top form as he battles Darvish for the ERA lead with miniscule 0.46.
9. Hiroshima Toyo Carp(10) 7-10-1 .412
Won 2 of 3 against the ever slumping Giants as the teams swap spots.
10. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants(9) 7-12-1 .368
Lost both series against the Dragons and the Carp, losing both of Uehara’s starts as the ace gave up 10 runs in 9 innings over two starts.
11. Orix Buffaloes(11) 10-15 .400
Hitting bombs (19 HR is 2nd in PL) but unable to get hits with any regularity (.219 BA is only 1 point better than league worst Fighters, and probably the worst once adjusted for park factors), and league worst pitching staff sporting 4.10 ERA means the team’s at the bottom of PL.
12. Yokohama BayStars(12) 4-13 .235
Going 1-3 this past week actually raised the team’s winning percentage, can’t get much lower than that.
Aaron Guiel Watch
Still batting over .300, expect that to come down to his more typical 260-280 range though. A relatively quiet week with 1HR and 4RBI as he gave up his CL lead in the latter category, but earned his first HBP of the season in the game I saw at Jingu last Tuesday.
18GP 74PA 13R 7HR 19RBI .313/.392/.734 8BB 1HBP 12K
Koji Uehara (Giants) – 2 painful starts giving up 10 total runs
4GS 25IP 19/8 K/BB 5HR 17RA 6.12ERA
Kenshin Kawakami (Dragons) – back with the big club yesterday after a short spell in the minors for an unspecified ailment, not scheduled to start in the Tigers series though
2GS 15.2IP 13/1 K/BB 4HR 8RA 4.60ERA
Masahiro “Ma-kun” Tanaka (Eagles)
5GS 41IP 38/15 K/BB 2HR 12RA 2.20ERA
Shota Ohba (Hawks) – the rookie continues to serve up the long ball
5GS 30.2IP 35/4 K/BB 8HR 10RA 3.44ERA
Yu Darvish (Fighters) – yet another CG victory
5GS 43IP 42/5 K/BB 0HR 3RA 0.46ERA 3CG
Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics | Tagged: baystars, buffaloes, carp, chunichi, darvish, dragons, eagles, fighters, Fukuoka, giants, guiel, hanshin, hawks, Hiroshima, hokkaido, kawakami, lions, lotte, marines, nippon-ham, ohba, orix, rakuten, seibu, softbank, swallows, tanaka, tigers, tokyo, uehara, yakult, yokohama, yomiuri | Leave a Comment »