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    Posts Tagged ‘tanaka’

    Go Tanaka to Germany

    Posted by japanstats on 2009 June 27日 Saturday

    Japanese national team and former Seibu Prince Rabbit forward Go Tanaka has signed a one year contract with ESV Kaufbeuren (his picture’s already on the team roster page), a team that apparently just got promoted to Bundesliga 2nd division. Since this is only one level removed from the DEL, an elite European league, Tanaka figures to be closer to elite level play than Yutaka Fukufuji who has just signed to play in the Netherlands. Look for both players to represent Japan in the IIHF World Championships next year though.

    tanaka

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    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, International, Japan, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Out of the Olympic Limelight (kinda)

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 21日 Thursday

    From 20 August.

    Japan’s Takayuki Matsumiya failed to qualify in his 5000m heat. That in itself is nothing special but take a look at this picture.

    Yup, missing left shoe. In the jostling for positions midrace he came in contact with another runner and his left shoe partially came off, so he just took it off entirely and decided to run with one barefoot, that must’ve been odd and probably painful, as he’s no Abebe Bikila, but he completed his heat.

    In other Olympic news, Paulie Walnuts of the Sopranos has been located in Beijing, and CCTV only paid about $9m for the broadcast rights for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, they should expect to pay more than 10 times as much for the upcoming Olympics with it going into triple ($100m) figures.

    In baseball action, Japan and the US faced eachother to determine who will have to play Cuba in the semifinals (the winner of the game gaining that unnecessary honour). US won 4-2 with the new extra innings rule, taking advantage of Hitoki Iwase’s 2nd inning of work. Darvish started the game and pitched 2 innings, followed by Tanaka for 5 innings. Expect this to be the end of 19 year old Tanka’s 2008 Olympic experience (and he probably gained some valuable experience for WBC 2009), and also expect to see Darvish in the semifinal game against rivals Korea, as he looked good striking out 3 Americans on the way to completing 2 perfect innings (and Hoshino will most likely dare not bring Darvish back out against Cuba if they meet in the medal game). This sets up the semifinals nicely with two regional rivalries in Korea v Japan (10:30) and Cuba v USA (18:00) on the 22nd Friday.

    Oh yeah, Usain Bolt became a double world record gold medallist in premier sprinting events of 100m and 200m, the latter with the 19.30 time besting another sprinter with a distinctive, and very different upright, form in Michael Johnson who was a 200m and 400m specialist.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, culture, information, olympics, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    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 »

    2008 Koshien Round of 16 and Olympic Baseball

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 13日 Wednesday

    Round of 16 for the 90th Summer Koshien tournament began today.

    Oh, and Olympic baseball also begins today with Darvish going up against the powerful Cuban lineup, that’s a definite can’t miss event. Darvish didn’t look good in his pre-Olympic warmup when he gave up 2 runs over 3 innings against a PL selects team. Team Japan was handed the 6-4 win to them in that game because the PL team threw in an inexperienced pitcher in there to get mauled. The following day Japan’s other ace Kenshin Kawakami absolutely collapsed following second baseman Nishioka’s error and gave up 7 runs without recording an out, Masahiro “Ma-kun” Tanaka then proceeded to give up 2 more runs before mercifully bringing the inning to an end in what ended up to be a 2-11 loss against the CL selects team.

    Then again, I’m not worried about Darvish since he always cranks it up a notch or two for big games, but the Japanese team itself is a source of worry as many players entered midseason funks immediately before the Olympics, and many pitchers haven’t been pitching particularly well this season. Then again, conditions in Beijing on an outdoor grass field facing international competition will be very different from the warmup games against fellow Japanese players in the friendly confines of Tokyo Dome, so Team Japan itself could be kind of an enigma.

    Anyways, at Koshien, 21st century power Seiko-Gakuin (Fukushima) just won the first game of this round 5-2 over Gifu-Sho (Gifu) in the battle of middle powers.

    Game 2 today features Kurashiki-Sho (Okayama), Team Japan Senichi Hoshino’s alma mater and an old baseball school, against recent powers Tokoha-Kikugawa (Shizuoka). I didn’t remember Shizuoka schools getting this far in Koshien, but this school won last year’s Spring Invitational (Senbatsu) Koshien tournament through an almost no-bunting offense. I’m liking the sounds of this, go Tokoha! (UPDATE: Tokoha came back from 6 runs down by scoring 7 runs in the 5th, and is currently leading 11-7 in the 9th. Oh, and here’s Tokoha looking very Yankees. Kurashiki made things close scoring 2 runs in the top of the 9th, but the game ended 11-9 with a win for Tokoha.)

    Game 3 pits Komadai-Iwamizawa (North Hokkaido) vs long time powerhouse baseball school Chiben-Wakayama (Wakayama). I’ll be pulling for the boys from up north to pull off an upset here.

    And the final game today is Hotoku-Gakuen (East Hyogo) who battled their way through tough Hyogo prefecture to get here, against Kagoshima-Jitsugyo (Kagoshima) who seem to be always representing their prefecture. Again, it’ll be good to see a new face reach the quarterfinals.

    Game 1 on Day 13 tomorrow features Kanto-Daiichi (East Tokyo) vs Urasoe-Sho (Okinawa). Despite the fact that I saw Kanto-Daiichi play in their qualifiers, I’ll cheering the team from the far south. Both teams feature solid pitching and hitting, so this should be a good match.

    Game 2 is an interesting matchup that pits recent powers from a small prefecture Aomori-Yamada (Aomori) against an old power in Keio (North Kanagawa) who have returned to the Summer Koshien for the first time in 46 years out of difficult Kanagawa.

    Game 3 features two big hitting teams as Toho (West Aichi) score 15 runs in their first game, and Osaka-Toin (Osaka) scored 16 runs in their opening game. Kanazawa almost knocked Toin off its perch in the round of 32 through wily use of multiple pitchers with differing pitching forms, but Toin narrowly pulled off a 6-5 win in extra innings.

    And the final game in the round of 16 is tournament favourites Yokohama (South Kanagawa), who had a very tough draw having to defeat powerhouses Urawa-Gakuin (South Saitama) and Koryo (Hiroshima) to get here, against northern powerhouse Sendai-Ikuei (Miyagi) in an intriguing matchup.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, high school, information, NPB, olympics, opinion, tokyo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    2008.6.10 NPB Pitching and Batting Leaders

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 June 11日 Wednesday

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

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

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

    Batting leaders (2008.6.10)

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

    Pitching leaders (2008.6.10)

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

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

    NPB Power Rankings 2008.4.28

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 April 28日 Monday

    I’m rather busy at the moment, so I’ll try to keep this entry short too. Previous week’s ranking in brackets.

    1. Hanshin Tigers(1) 18-6-1 .750

    Keeps on going strong, splitting the series against the Dragons (1-1-1) and taking 2 of 3 from the Giants with a dramatic game winning bases loaded walk against Yomiuri’s closer Kroon last night.

    2. Chunichi Dragons(2) 15-8-2 .652

    Couldn’t overcome the Tigers wall, but didn’t fare badly either. Ace Kawakami returned to the top team, made a relief appearance, but gave up a solo shot in 1 inning of work. He needs to return to form… by October.

    3. Saitama Seibu Lions(3) 14-9-1 .609

    Dropped both games against the Marines, then feasted upon the Buffaloes weak pitching to the tune of 29 runs in 3 games! The team gets on base (.324 OBP is 2nd in PL) and far outslugs anyone else (.432 SLG and 36 HR, no other team is above .374 and 27 HR). Pitching’s just mediocre though, and Watanabe’s questionable bullpen use (bringing in historically shaky Onuma or Mitsui into high leverage situations) doesn’t bode well for October (and the team’s slugging’s gotta come back down to earth sooner or later). Hiram Bocachica made a dramatic return to the top team, hitting 3 homers in the last 2 games, after a stint in the minors following early season struggles. He adds even more on base ability and power to the lineup, and Watanabe has a happy problem of having too many hot bats to fit into the lineup. If this were the majors, trading one or two hitters for good pitching would be considered, but alas..

    4. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles(8 ) 16-13 .552

    Had an undefeated week to jump up to 2nd in PL, thanks to complete game shutouts thrown by Nagai, Domingo, and Tanaka!

    5. Chiba Lotte Marines(7) 17-14 .548

    A great 4-1 week against the strong Lions and struggling Hawks, continuing its strong play.

    6. Tokyo Yakult Swallows(4) 11-12 .478

    Another 2-3 week. Though splitting the two games against the Carp, and taking 1 out of 3 against the Dragons is pretty much the expected result considering each team’s strengths.

    7. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters(5) 15-15 .500

    2-4 week. The team can’t score runs to save their lives with only 8 runs scored over 6 games, 6 of those against porous Buffaloes pitching. Fighters got swept by the rising Eagles.

    8. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks(6) 14-17 .452

    Continued its poor play, going 1-4 against key rivals Eagles and Marines. 

    9. Hiroshima Toyo Carp(9) 9-13-1 .409

    The same ol’ the same ol’, a 2-3 week against the Swallows and BayStars.

    10. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants(10) 11-14-1 .440

    Continues to struggle. A 4-2 week sounds good, until you realize that 3 of those wins came against the worst team in NPB, the Yokohama BayStars. Kroon blew a save and lost last night’s game against the Tigers. Uehara was sent down to the minors. The team is definitely much less than what the sum of their parts should be.

    11. Orix Buffaloes(11) 11-20 .355

    Lost 2 to the Fighters who can’t score, and got absolutely bombed by the Lions and got swept.

    12. Yokohama BayStars(12) 6-17-1 .261

    Won 2 games against Hiroshima! But the team’s winning percentage is still barely above .250.

    Aaron Guiel Watch

    23GP 95PA 16R 8HR 21RBI .277/.358/.639 9BB 2HBP 18K

    Only 1 HR, 1 walk, and striking out 6 times in 5 games, our man may be in a mini-slump.

    Pitchers Watch:

    Koji Uehara (Giants) – sent down to the minors, there’s definitely something wrong with him physical or psychological, and he already let the team and the fans know that he intends on going to the majors next year in a major PR gaffe (not that he cares about these sorts of things) so his future is really unclear now
    5GS 29.1IP 21/8 K/BB 5HR 22RA 6.75ERA

    Kenshin Kawakami (Dragons) – Returned from minors and promptly gave up a bomb, we’ll have to see how he does when he gets a start.
    4GS 17.2IP 15/3 K/BB 5HR 9RA 4.58ERA

    Masahiro “Ma-kun” Tanaka (Eagles) – a shutout
    6GS 50IP 45/19 K/BB 2HR 12RA 1.80ERA

    Shota Ohba (Hawks)
    6GS 43IP 48/10 K/BB 8HR 18RA 3.77ERA

    Yu Darvish (Fighters) – 9IP 2RA, allowed his first HR, and team lost in extra innings
    6GS 52IP 51/7 K/BB 1HR 5RA 0.69ERA 3CG

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

    2008.4.22 NPB Power Rankings

    Posted by japanstats 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

    Pitchers Watch:
    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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    2008.4.14 NPB Power Rankings

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 April 14日 Monday

    Previous week’s ranking in brackets. Still tight as ever in the PL with the 5 teams (except Orix) within 2 games of the league leader. And thanks to westbaystars’ pitching game scores comment at EWC, we know whose been rocking early this season.

    1. Hanshin Tigers(3) 11-3 .786

    Went 4 – 1 last week, and big bro “Aniki” Kanemoto got his 2000th hit to ensure his place in the Meikyukai (the old boys club version of a hall of fame).

    2. Chunichi Dragons(1) 8-5-1 .615

    A tough week going 2 – 3 losing close fought games to Hanshin, then beating up on Hiroshima. Losses were by 2 runs or less though.

    3. Saitama Seibu Lions(4) 12-9 .571

    A win some, lose some 3 – 3 week. But Brazell is absolutely smokin’ right now, he already has 8 homeruns which is 3 more than anyone else in the league, smashing one of them in a 15-5 win over Chiba.

    4. Tokyo Yakult Swallows(2) 7-6 .538

    An even tougher week going 1 – 3, a loss to the Carp sandwiched by rainouts, and losing the series against the Giants. Losses here were also by 2 runs or less.

    5. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks(6) 11-10 .524

    Dropped 2 games against Orix, but won 2 against Seibu. Hitting just fine, but not getting consistent pitching performance with their super staff, on paper, allowing 4.2 runs per game, the second worst in the PL.

    6. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters(7) 11-9 .550

    A 4 – 2 week where 1 win was by 2 runs, and all remaining games were decided by 1 run, including a 1-0 nailbiter shutout win by Darvish over Iwakuma’s Eagles. Being a fighters fan must do bad things to your heart.

    7. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles(5) 10-10 .500

    Swept Orix, but got swept by the Fighters. Two great pitching performances with a 0-1 complete game loss by Iwakuma, and a 3-0 shutout by Tanaka.

    8. Chiba Lotte Marines(8) 10-11 .476

    A Jekyll and Hyde week slugging it out in the Seibu series (18 RS – 19 RA), then a series of pitching duels against the Fighters (6 RS – 5 RA). 

    9. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants(10) 5-8-1 .385

    The sleeping Giant half awoke, going 3-1-1 against the crosstown Swallows and the lowly BayStars.

    10. Hiroshima Toyo Carp(11) 5-7-1 .417

    Rain washed away 2 games, 2 gritty wins, and 2 blowout losses to Chunichi last week.

    11. Orix Buffaloes(9) 8-13 .381

    Starting to slip from the PL pack with a 2-4 week. Getting swept by the Eagles, including a brilliant 10K shutout performance by Tanaka, is not a good sign. 

    12. Yokohama BayStars(12) 3-10 .231

    A 1-3 week where they offered a helping hand in reviving the Giants, and they also played the Tigers. You can’t win games when you score 2.8 runs per game in a hitters park (and allow 5.3 runs per game). 

    Aaron Guiel Watch

    The man keeps on slugging, in fact he managed to raise his slugging percentage over the past week, amazingly enough.

    13GP 54PA 11R 6HR 15RBI .340/.426/.830 7BB 0HBP

    (CL leader in HR, RBI, SLG) 
     
    For good measure, let’s keep an eye on some pitchers: 
    Koji Uehara (Giants)
    2GS 16IP 17/2 K/BB 4HR 7RA 3.94ERA
    Kenshin Kawakami (Dragons)
    2GS 15.2IP 13/1 K/BB 4HR 8RA 4.60ERA
    Masahiro “Ma-kun” Tanaka (Eagles)
    4GS 32IP 30/12 K/BB 1HR 9RA 1.97ERA
    Shota Ohba (Hawks)
    4GS 30.2IP 35/4 K/BB 6HR 10RA 2.93ERA
    Yu Darvish (Fighters)
    4GS 34IP 32/5 K/BB 0HR 2RA 0.53ERA
    Granted, he plays in the pitchers park of NPB, Darvish continues to dazzle, all this only in his 4th year and as a 22 year old.

    Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, NPB, opinion, Sabermetrics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

    2008.4.7 NPB Power Rankings

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 April 7日 Monday

    I was never really fond of power rankings for sports leagues since they’re so arbitrary. When Aaron Shinsano at EWC asked me to do NPB power rankings, I was hesitant. Not only was I busy with my new job, the task of ranking teams fairly seemed like too much work. But after a while, I suddenly realized that it doesn’t have to be fair, power rankings are always arbitrary anyways. But there’s certainly demand for them as every sports publication, on or offline, seem to indulge in these things. So I’ve decided to join the ranks of the arbitrary rankers! (And hey, what great timing, EWC’s Korea League Rankings have just gone up!)

    Even though it’s a real logjam in the PL with only 3 games separating the 6 teams, without further ado, here’s the NPB power rankings for 7 April 2007, a little more than two weeks and one week into PL and CL seasons, respectively.

    1. Chunichi Dragons 6-2-1 .750

    After a lackluster first year in NPB (batting .261 after a .312 career in the KBO) Byung-kyu Lee has awoken with a .314/.351/.486 line 9 games into 2008. Woods, Nakamura, and Morino(!) are supplying the power, so Kosuke Fukudome is not being missed thus far. Team pitching is absolutely shutting down the opponents with a 1.95 ERA, almost 1 full point lower than the next team in the league.

    2. Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6-3 .667

    Sweet revenge in the home opener Tokyo derby where the team swept the crosstown rival Giants who signed away the birds top pitcher, Greisinger, and one of the top hitters, Ramirez. The team has continued its hot play, but the lineup cannot be expected to keep on slugging .450 (it was .409 last season), and team ERA of 4.04 doesn’t bode well for the future, but things are looking good at the moment. Losing closer Igarashi to injury after the first game may have been a blessing in disguise as import Chang-Yong Lim has wicked stuff, mid-90’s fastball with late movement from a deceptive submarine delivery, and he has probably won the closer’s job (though using him in the most high leverage situations before the 9th would probably be better for the team than a strictly 9th inning closer role, and the birds’ pen is not exactly awash with talent so the return of Igarashi would help.)

    3. Hanshin Tigers 7-2 .778

    The cats feasted on weak opposition in Yokohama, Hiroshima, and the slumping Yomiuri to their current record. Real test starts tomorrow with the series against the mighty Dragons. 

    4. Saitama Seibu Lions 9-6 .600

    Getting it done with both hitting (18 HR is more than twice the second place team in PL, and .418 SLG also leads the league) and pitching (2.77 ERA leads the league). Brazell has been a pleasant surprise (.276/.323/.603 and his 6 HR leads the league) and Takeya “Okawari” Nakamura is showing a return to his 2005 debut year form with 4 HR and .296/.367/.630 after two disappointing years. Rotation has been absolutely solid, with a couple of surprise veterans, one being Nishiguchi’s slow start (is this the beginning of the end for this vet?) and Kaz Ishii’s gems (3GS 3W 1.67ERA). 

    5. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 7-7 .500

    Started the season ice cold with 4 straight losses, then went on a tear winning 7 in a row, then got swept in the most recent series against the Lions. Enigmatic, you could say. But the team took hold of first place in PL for the first time ever in its short franchise history last week. Starters “Ma-kun” Takana, Iwakuma, Nagai, and Asai have been solid, and 40 year old slugger Yamasaki continues to defy father time leading the league in hitting with .390/.490/.707 overshadowing Fernandez who is also off to a hot start with .352/.367/.611.

    6. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 8-7 .533

    54 RS and 58 RA, makes sense being stuck in the middle of the table despite superb performances by everyone’s coveted rookie Ohba who pitched a 16K 0BB shutout on Saturday (1 strikeout shy of tying Hideo Nomo’s NPB record for rookies) against the Marines.

    7. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 7-7 .500

    37 RS and 48 RA, yet the team is doing it again, somehow being kept afloat with a .500 record. Yu Darvish didn’t allow a run until his 3rd start of the season (0.72 ERA in 25 IP) so that certainly helps. But their chronic inability to score runs (though they play in an extreme pitchers park) will come back to haunt them this season, finally. Terrmel Sledge (.236/.340/.457) is needlessly being bashed by the fans because of his low BA, but he’s doing about as well as expected otherwise, as indicated by his numbers in the minors (.309/.401/.490) and majors (.247/.327/.418). Something needs to be done about the league worst .279 OBP.

    8. Chiba Lotte Marines 7-8 .467

    Rotation’s having a shaky start beyond the Naruse, Watanabe, and Kobayashi trio. But the team’s 50 RS and 59 RA means they’re in the thick of things in the PL.

    9. Orix Buffaloes 6-9 .400

    League worst .211/.281/.322 and 61RA puts a shudder in their coaches and fans (and probably themselves too). Tuffy Rhodes (.952 OPS) is playing like himself, but Greg LaRocca (.526 OPS) and Alex Cabrera (miniscule .356 OPS!) need to wake up if this team is going to go anywhere, as they’re dependent on the import cleanup.

    10. Tokyo Yomiuri Giants 2-7 .222

    Best NPB on paper got swept by the Swallows in the opener, and hasn’t recovered since, despite having a great array of pitchers and sluggers. Though opening the season against scorching Swallows and always tough Tigers and Dragons couldn’t have helped. If the team doesn’t right the ship in the upcoming Yokohama series, it’s tough going again with consecutive series against the Swallows and Dragons after that. Koji Uehara declaring his MLB intentions in this midst doesn’t help him or the team, he truly shot from the hip. This team will surely climb up through these rankings as the season progresses. Oh yeah, and .284 team OBP is by far the worst in the CL.

    11. Hiroshima Toyo Carp 3-5-1 .375

    36 RS and 30 RA, have the Carp been unlucky? Nah, the run differential is skewed by the 17-3 win over the BayStars on Sunday. Arai was no Godzilla, but losing him certainly hurt the lineup. And losing Kuroda to the Dodgers have been extremely painful as 25 year old former 1st round pick Kan Otake has been the only good starter (3RA in 16IP) at this early point in the season.

    12. Yokohama BayStars 2-7 .222

     

    Rather hopeless start to the season, scoring only 29 runs on .677 OPS while allowing by far the league worst 57 runs on 6.37 ERA. And unlike the Giants, there aren’t huge improvements in sight. Team’s lone slugger Murata is off to a slow start (.216/.275/.432) but starters Terahara, Wood, and Miura are off to solid starts with ERA in the 3s. But the bullpen’s been absolutely disastrous in the first week of the season.

     

    Aaron Guiel Watch

     

    The underappreciated (many Swallows fans were hoping he wouldn’t return to the team this year) Canadian slugger (his fight song is great, starting out with a long Oh Canada! introduction, which the cheer squad can play because he’s a patient hitter) is the NPB King of Three True Outcomes (HR, K, BB) in the mould of Adam Dunn but not as extreme as Jack Cust. He hit .245/.381/.493 last season with 35 HR (2nd in CL). But incredibly enough, many fans can’t see past his low average. Anyways, this JHB blog will track his year.

     

    Guiel also has a reputation for bending the space-time continuum (one example being his inside the park homerun during playing manager and Swallows legend Atsuya Furuta’s retirement game), but this requires an entirely separate entry  😛

     

    Aaron Guiel (as of 2008.4.7) – the whole team’s off to a hot start and Aaron’s no exception
    9GP 37PA 8R 3HR 12RBI .344/.432/.781 5BB 0HBP
    (CL leader with 12RBI) 

     

    For good measure, let’s keep an eye on some pitchers:

     

    Koji Uehara (Giants)
    1GS 9IP 7/2 K/BB 2HR 4RA 4.00ERA
    Kenshin Kawakami (Dragons)
    2GS 15.2IP 13/1 K/BB 4HR 8RA 4.60ERA
    Masahiro “Ma-kun” Tanaka (Eagles)
    3GS 23IP 20/9 K/BB 1HR 9RA 2.74ERA
    Shota Ohba (Hawks)
    3GS 25IP 29/2 K/BB 3HR 5RA 1.80ERA
    Yu Darvish (Fighters)
    3GS 25IP 26/4 K/BB 0HR 2RA 0.72ERA

     

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