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    Posts Tagged ‘regular season’

    2008 CL season review and playoff preview

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 October 16日 Thursday

    The Central League concluded their 2008 regular season recently and is gearing up for its Climax Series playoffs which will start this Saturday the 18th as Hanshin hosts Chunichi for the best of 3 series at their home away from home, the Kyocera Dome Osaka, because their venerable Koshien Stadium is undergoing renovations that could not have been rescheduled. What, did the Koshien brass think that the Tigers were not going to host any postseason games this year?

    Anyways, the Pacific League has completed the first round of its playoffs with the 3rd place Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters earning a clean 2 game sweep over the 2008 miracle team, the Orix Buffaloes, in the very same Osaka Dome. The pitching and defence minded Fighters are built for the postseason where run scoring is at a premium. The Fighters won game 1 behind a strong 1 run (unearned) 14K complete game performance in the 4-1 win by their dominant ace, Yu Darvish. The Buffs managed 9 hits in the game, but 5 of them were of the infield variety. Game 2 featured a strong performance by starter Shugo Fujii and the bats came alive for an easy 7-2 win. Through the quirk of scheduling (probably to maximize weekend dates) the Fighters get to throw Darvish out there in one of the first two games of the PL final against the Saitama Seibu Lions which starts tomorrow, Friday the 17th, and possibly have him pitch the deciding game 6 on the 23rd if necessary. That’ll be a tough hurdle for the Lions to clear, despite starting the best of 7 series off with a 1-0 advantage and playing all games at home.

    Back to the CL for the regular season recap and playoff preview.

    1. Yomiuri Giants

    84-57-3 (.596)

    RS-RA: 631-532

    The all star team that was supposed to win the CL pennant did manage to achieve the feat in the waning days of the season, through a combination of a dominating second half of the season and the monumental Hanshin collapse (more on that later). Signing highly prized free agents Alex Ramirez (144GP 600PA 319/373/617 with 45 HR 125RBI), Seth Greisinger (31GS 206IP 3.06ERA 17-9), and Marc Kroon (61G 61IP 2.21ERA 41SV) from their poorer CL cousins turned out to be an absolute bonanza as Kroon had no injury problems and Rami-chan’s 2007 revival wasn’t a fluke. Well, these were gambles that the richest NPB club could afford to take. The Giants have an import conundrum as Lee Seung-Yeop came on hot coming back from the Olympic where he played hero with 7HR and 18RBI in September (including homering in 3 straight at bats against the lowly BayStars). But their pitcher from downunder Adrian Burnside had a decent season as well when given the opportunity as he had 3.48ERA in 75IP. Teams are allowed to carry 4 imports on the active roster, and the Giants will host the winner of the Hanshin-Chunichi series starting on the 22nd.

    After it was all said and done, Michihiro Ogasawara (310/381/573 with 36HR) and catcher Shinnosuke Abe (271/350/502) had their usual productive seasons, and while Tetsuya Utsumi (184.1IP 2.73ERA) had yet another strong season and MLB bound Koji Uehara had a strong second half to make his record a respectable 3.81ERA in 89.2IP after a disasterous start to the season, Hisanori Takahashi returned to his pre-2007 form with 4.13ERA in 122IP and Hiroshi Kisanuki had similar numbers with 4.14ERA in 74IP. The Giants should prove to be a formidable opponent for either winner of the first round, as the team will be right at home in the homer-happy Tokyo Dome.

    2. Hanshin Tigers

    82-59-3 (.582)

    RS-RA: 578 – 521

    The Tigers held the Central League until the 141st game of the 144 game regular season, at one point holding a 13 game lead over the Giants in the summer, but allowed Yomiuri to win the league in the 143rd game of the year completing the greatest choke of Central League history (previous record was the 1996 Giants overcoming a 11.5 game deficit to take the league crown). The Hanshin batters Kanemoto, Akahoshi, and Arai held the top 3 spots in CL OBP rankings with Toritani in 8th at the beginning of summer. But at the end of the season only Akahoshi and Kanemoto kept their spots in the top 10 with 3rd and 6th respectively, Arai and Toritani had just fallen out of the top 10, but Kentaro Sekimoto at .364 in 14th just below the former two means that this team should still know how to get on base and not make outs.

    The team is driven by a trio of 40 year olds in Tomoaki “Aniki” Kanemoto (307/392/527, 62XBH 108RBI), Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi (2.99ERA 162.1IP 11-6, most IP on the team), and catcher Akihiro Yano. The Tigers seemed to lose steam midway through the season when key cogs Yano, Arai, and Fujikawa were lost to the Olympic team in Beijing. But not being able to revive the team when these players returned after the Games was just sad. The vaunted reliever trio of JFK was less effective this season, perhaps showing the effects of their age and work over the past several seasons, with Jeff Williams (3.09ERA 55.1IP) and Tomoyuki Kubota (3.16ERA 85.1IP) more hittable than usual and only Kyuji Fujikawa (0.67ERA 67.2IP 38SV) posting his usual numbers. The emergence of Ryo Watanabe (2.67ERA 67.1IP) should take some of the load off the trio and the bullpen will be a key component in the playoffs as Tigers starters don’t go deep into games (as seen by Shimoyanagi’s 162.1IP being the team leader). The team will have to return to an earlier form of getting on base and shutdown bullpen to pull off some success in the postseason against defending Japan Series champs Chunichi and the red hot Giants.

    3. Chunichi Dragons

    71-68-5 (.511)

    RS-RA: 535 – 556

    The defending Japan Series champions had to fight the upstart Hiroshima Carp hard at the end of the season to squeak into the playoffs. The Dragons were battling for the CL pennant until they quickly lost steam with the Olympics where the team lost NPB-high 4 players to Beijing in Araki, Morino, Kawakami, and Iwase, the latter blowing up badly as he was left in or brought into games he shouldn’t have been on the way to Japan’s 4th place finish. The Dragons have a great ace in Kenshin Kawakami (2.30ERA 117.1IP) and Masa Yamamoto had a revival season with 3.16ERA over team high 133.2IP. Closer Hitoki Iwase (2.94ERA 49IP 36SV) has become more hittable over the past two seasons and this may be a key difference with Hanshin.

    4. Hiroshima Carp

    69-70-5 (.496)

    RS-RA: 537 – 569

    Marty Brown’s little team that could almost snatched a playoff spot away from Chunichi but just fell short by 2 games in their final season at the Hiroshima Municipal Stadium. The new Hiroshima stadium that will open next spring looks to be a beauty of a ballpark in the NPB filled with characterless multipurpose domes. The Carp were carried on the back of new import Colby Lewis (2.68ERA 178IP 15-8, 2nd in CL ERA and wins despite being on a losing team) and Kenta Kurihara continues to grow as an offensive force (2008 – 904OPS, 2007 – 873, 2006 – 837) but the team is in serious need other offensive parts to fill out the lineup. Yeah, it’s nice that Higashide hit 310, but he can’t draw walks or hit for power (678 OPS).

    5. Tokyo Yakult Swallows

    66-74-4 (.471)

    RS-RA: 583 – 569

    The birds underperformed their Pythagorean expectations (based on RS-RA) despite having a capable bullpen stocked with Lim Chang-Yong (3.00ERA 51IP 33SV though it seems the league figured out how to hit the funky submariner as the season went along because he was unhittable early in the season), setup men Kenichi Matsuoka (1.39ERA 71.1IP), Takehiko Oshimoto (3.34ERA 72.2IP), and oft-injured Ryota Igarashi (2.47ERA 43.2IP). The emergence of Masanori Ishikawa (2.68ERA 195IP 12-10, after 3 seasons of 4+ ERA) as the staff ace was a bright spot of the pitching staff. On the hitting side, Norichika Aoki replicated his 2007 season with 347/413/529 further cementing his position as one of the best Japanese hitters. The emergence of Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (279/364/406) and Kazuki Fukuchi (320/366/449) as dependable bats is promising. And there is talk that Aaron Guiel will return to the Swallows next year after a miserable injury-riddled season (200/306/396), his age (36) is a worrying factor though for a three true outcomes (strikeout, homerun, walk) type player like him.

    6. Yokohama BayStars

    48-94-2 (.338)

    RS-RA: 552 – 706

    The miserable season for Yokohama came to a thankful end, but not before the BayStars managed to become the only team to surrender over 700 runs this season. The only bright spots on the team were hitters Shuichi Murata who won the CL homerun title with 46 roundtrippers (though 29 were hit in his bandbox of a home park Yokohama Stadium), and the breakout season by Seiichi Uchikawa (378/416/540) who became only the 10th player in NPB history to finish the season with a batting average north of .370, can he be the second coming of Norichika Aoki?

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

    2007-08 Asia League Ice Hockey Regular Season Review and Playoff Preview

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 February 16日 Saturday

    The 2007-08 season of AL was competed with 7 teams (the league makeup changes every year, hopefully we’ll get some new teams entering the league in the near future). The top 6 teams make the playoffs (haha), the top 2 teams get a bye in the first round where 3rd plays 6th and 4th plays 5th.

    I was going to write a more thorough season review and playoff preview, but work and the recycle paper scandal (and the McLennan story that was too good to pass up) took up too much of my time, and the playoffs begin today, so here’s a quick summary. (EDIT: Or so I thought, this turned out to be, by far, the longest article I’ve written so far for my young blog. And it seriously needs editing and is full of grammatical and other errors… but I’ve got a real job and this is just a hobby so please bear with my late night stream of consciousness, thanks.)

    Final Standings

    RK

    Team

    G

    W

    OTW

    T

    OTL

    L

    GF – GA

    Points

    1

    Seibu Prince Rabbits

    30

    20

    0

    1

    0

    9

    138 – 73

    61

    2

    High1 Ice Hockey Team

    30

    17

    2

    1

    2

    8

    118 – 89

    58

    3

    Oji Ice Hockey Team

    30

    17

    1

    2

    2

    8

    112 – 74

    57

    4

    Nippon Paper Cranes

    30

    15

    1

    2

    1

    11

    97 – 85

    50

    5

    Anyang Halla Ice Hockey Club

    30

    13

    1

    2

    1

    13

    93 – 92

    44

    6

    HC Nikko IceBucks

    30

    8

    2

    2

    0

    18

    60 – 109

    30

    7

    China Sharks

    30

    3

    0

    0

    1

    26

    63 – 159

    10

    http://www.alhockey.com/popup/9/standings.html

    Scoring Leaders

    RK

    Player Name

    No

    Team

    GP

    G

    A

    P

    1

    KIM, Alex

    79

    HG1

    30

    23

    28

    51

    2

    PRPIC, Joel

    33

    SPR

    27

    17

    30

    47

    3

    SMITH, Tim

    21

    HG1

    30

    23

    23

    46

    4

    MARTINEC, Patrik

    43

    AHL

    29

    7

    29

    36

    5

    ENDICOTT, Shane

    12

    OJI

    30

    13

    22

    35

    5

    MITANI, Darcy Takeshi

    20

    NPC

    28

    13

    22

    35

    5

    SMITH, Bud

    58

    HG1

    30

    9

    26

    35

    5

    SUZUKI, Takahito

    18

    SPR

    30

    13

    22

    35

    5

    YULE, Chris

    75

    SPR

    30

    10

    25

    35

    10

    FUJITA, Kiyoshi

    40

    SPR

    28

    16

    18

    34

    10

    SAITO, Takeshi

    19

    OJI

    30

    11

    23

    34

    http://www.alhockey.com/popup/9/point_rank.html

    Goalie Stats (sorted by Save %, goalies who faced over 100 SOG in bold)

    RK

    Player Name

    Team

    No

    GP

    SOG

    GA

    Saves

    Sv%

    GAA

    1

    KATAYAMA, Kazuhito

    SPR

    20

    4

    79

    5

    74

    93.67

    1.88

    2

    McLENNAN, Jamie

    NPC

    29

    14

    415

    33

    382

    92.05

    2.5

    3

    KIKUCHI, Naoya

    SPR

    39

    29

    801

    64

    737

    92.01

    2.37

    4

    HARUNA, Masahito

    OJI

    61

    20

    513

    43

    470

    91.62

    2.22

    5

    KIM, Sun-Ki

    AHL

    32

    1

    23

    2

    21

    91.3

    2

    6

    EUM, Hyun-Seung

    HG1

    31

    29

    854

    78

    776

    90.87

    2.81

    7

    ISHIKAWA, Hisashi

    NPC

    61

    18

    538

    50

    488

    90.71

    2.97

    8

    KANAMARU, Hisashi

    HG1

    39

    4

    83

    8

    75

    90.36

    3.47

    9

    HASHIMOTO, Michio

    NIB

    1

    30

    1031

    100

    931

    90.3

    3.39

    10

    OGINO, Junji

    OJI

    30

    10

    228

    23

    205

    89.91

    2.5

    11

    GUARD, Kelly

    CSH

    1

    2

    59

    6

    53

    89.83

    3

    12

    SON, Ho-Seong

    AHL

    33

    27

    698

    77

    621

    88.97

    2.98

    13

    PARK, Jun-Soo

    AHL

    30

    5

    89

    12

    77

    86.52

    3.6

    14

    KIYOKAWA, Kazuhiko

    OJI

    45

    2

    41

    6

    35

    85.37

    4.2

    15

    KAWAGUCHI, Rei

    NIB

    30

    2

    22

    4

    18

    81.82

    6.95

    16

    YU Yang

    CSH

    30

    18

    428

    78

    350

    81.78

    6

    17

    XIE Ming

    CSH

    33

    8

    170

    33

    137

    80.59

    7.35

    18

    MATSUMOTO, Shiro

    SPR

    31

    1

    7

    2

    5

    71.43

    6

    19

    TADA, Kyohei

    OJI

    55

    1

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    http://www.alhockey.com/popup/9/gksp.html

    1.seibu Seibu Prince Rabbits (20-1-9, 61 pts) – First round bye

    Another solid season by the bunnies. Like in previous years, the team started training hard early in the summer with a regimented program under the guidance of their conditioning trainer. This worked as the team started off the season 7-1-1 (Sept-Oct) and solidly in first place. But this team can get sloppy and streaky during the regular season, and only the luck of their schedule allowed Seibu to claim top of the table. The Rabbits finished the season with 3 straight games against the lowly Bucks, easy 9 points (8-0, 4-1, and 8-2 wins) to overtake High1 for 1st place. But the bunnies went only 4-6 leading up to the Bucks games at the end of the season.

    Seibu did beat Oji and the Cranes to capture the All Japan Championship on 10 Feb, and the bunnies are deadly clinical on the power play leading the league with incredible 34% conversion rate. Seibu is definitely the favourite in the upcoming playoffs, especially with the unstable Cranes this year, and the unknown factor of High1 in the post season. Seibu features the highest scoring Asian trained player in the league in the veteran Takahito Suzuki, as well as Prpic, Fujita, and Yule who all cracked the top 10 in scoring. Then again, they did run up the score 15-3 against the Sharks one game, so the AL scoring leader board and goal differentials figures are still not very reliable. And all these players are on the wrong side of 30, so they have the skills and experience, but a youthful team may outskate and out-grit them.

    Okubo_Fujita

    Okubo (High1) and Fujita (Seibu)

     

    2. High1High1 (19-1-10, 58 pts) – First round bye

    21-1-12 for 62 points last season as Kangwon Land (34 game schedule in 2006-07). On a per game basis High1 earned 1.93 pts, with a GF of 3.93 and GA of 2.97. Whereas Kangwon last season was 1.82 pts, 4.5 GF, and 3.24 GA. Upon first glance it seems like the team did better last season, but there were two Chinese minnows last year, where as they combined to form the somewhat more competitive China Sharks this year. So, it’s difficult to compare with just those raw numbers.

    But one aspect of the team that definitely improved was the power play unit. It went from league average 24% (5th out of 8 teams) to an impressive 31%, good enough for 2nd in the league. Not taking stupid penalties, and containing the High1 power play will be the key for the team that meets them in the semifinal (Oji or Nikko). Korean teams did have an easier schedule than the Japanese teams though, as they got to beat up on the Sharks 3 extra times when compared to their Japanese counterparts. So this may really have been a 3rd place team had the schedule not been unbalanced with the extra regional games.

    The incredible aspect of the High1 season was that the team lost its starting goalie Ho-Seong Son (34GP, 89 Sv%, 3.14GAA), top scorer Kyu-Hyun Kim (26+38=64pts), and young national team player Kwon-Jae Lee (1+5=6pts) all to its archrival Anyang Halla. So, High1 was reasonably expected to struggle this season. But in their place Hyun-Seung Eum (29GP, 91 Sv%, 2.81GAA) and Korean-American import Alex Kim (23+28=51pts, good enough for the league scoring title) more than filled in. Japanese defenseman Tomohito Okubo continues to be crucial to the team’s success with 28 assists (2 shy of league leader Prpic’s 30) and 33 points to lead all defensemen, and he’s the only foreign based player, besides NHL experienced goalie Yutaka Fukufuji, to be invited to the national team selection camp. Together with D Byoung-Wook Hwang (8+12=20pts) and the Smith brother (Tim 23+23=46pts, Bud 9+26=35pts) the High1 fivesome is truly a force to be reckoned with.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, Japan, opinion, statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »