Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Five Teams Confirmed for the World Port Tournament

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

The Honkball and World Port tournament play every other year. The Honkball is in Haarlem while the World Port tournament is played in Rotterdam. Taiwan will be returning to defend their championship against the local team Netherlands and Curacao. Japan will also be participating as well as a United States group.

Cuba is not playing for the first time since 1993. Their absence is because they are unable to send a strong team to compete in the tournament. That is a sad sign of the decline of Cuban baseball.

The dates for the tournament are July 12 to 21.

Kikuchi Rings in New Year with Mariner Signing

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Interesting choice to sign with a club on a rebuilding path. Even though Yusei Kikuchi had stated he was open to negotiating with all 30 major league clubs another Japanese player signed with a west coast club. This puts a ceiling on their economic viability, discouraging east coast teams from bidding on players they probably have no shot of signing. When your market size is six instead of 30 your offers are limited. The next Japanese free agent who states he will consider all 30 major league clubs will not get as many offers from some of the east coast teams, knowing they will not be strongly considered.

Reports are that it was a four year contract, with the last year a player option. That player option can be replaced by another four year deal. The 30 day window was expiring on January 2. The Mariners will pay the Seibu Lions a percentage of his contract, which may end up being a two part payment if his option is exercised after the third year. Dollar terms of the contract have not yet been announced.

By mid-year the Mariners rotation could be Marco Gonzalez, Yusei Kikuchi, Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn, with whoever survives the Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc and Mike Leake early year shelling.

Japanese Set Pitch Limits on High Schoolers

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

The Nigata Prefectoral High School Baseball Federation will institute the first pitch limits in Japanese High School Baseball. A pitcher may not start another inning if he has thrown more that 100 pitches. It is still unclear whether he can pitch the next day but it is a start. Gone will be the tournaments in which a pitcher throws 881 pitches in six games, such as Kosei Yoshida did last year. Depending on the rule he may now be limited to 600 pitches unless they also have provisions that require a couple days rest between outings.

Tomohiro Anraku threw 232 pitches in a 13 inning game at Koshien back in 2013. He three 772 pitches in five games over a nine day period before tiring in the final and losing 17-1. Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 767 pitches in six games. He at least had a successful career before his elbow exploded. Anraku had a 98 mile per hour fastball as a 16 year old in high school. He now pitches for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, but in four years in the NPB he has not pitched more than 84 innings or appeared in more than 15 games, with shoulder injuries limiting his effectiveness.

Of course, major league baseball has established pitch counts, but that has not prevented pitchers from elbow and shoulder issues. Time will tell if this move by Japan becomes effective. One thing it will do is force high school managers to find more pitchers to diversify their rotation, which in the long run could benefit Japan, giving them more pitchers.

Ryosuke Kikuchi Puts Hat in the Post Me Ring

Friday, December 21st, 2018

The Hiroshima Carp’s Ryosuke Kikuchi signed a contract for the 2019 season. According to sources identified in YakyuDB he indicated a wish to be posted for the major leagues before he earns his international free agent option. Next year he will earn his domestic free agency and if he stays healthy he will earn his international free agency after the 2021 season. He will turn 29 before the start of the 2019 season.

Last year Kikuchi had his worst season since his rookie year, hitting only .233 with a .301 OBA. His OPS was only .656. He has made the All Star team five times, but that is mainly for his defensive play. He has had two seasons in which he has hit over .300 (2014 and 2016). Myworld does not see him attracting much interest unless he improves his numbers.

Premier 12 Set for 2019

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

The top 12 teams from the Premier 12 will compete in November 2019 for two spots in the 2020 Olympics. The 12 teams will be broken out into groups of four similar to the World Baseball Classic. These games will be held November 2-8 in Mexico, Taiwan and Korea. Two teams from each of these these groups of four will advance to the finals in Tokyo. They will play the games November 11-16 in the Tokyo Dome and Chiba Marine Stadium in pool play. On November 17 the finals will be held with the top two teams playing against each other and the third and fourth place teams competing for the bronze. This could be rather anticlimactic since the top two teams have already qualified for the Olympics and third place only gets you a bronze medal. But athletes play for pride.

The 12 teams that are eligible to compete are (in order of ranking):

1) Japan, 2) United States, 3) Korea, 4) Taiwan, 5) Cuba, 6) Mexico, 7) Australia, 8) Netherlands, 9) Venezuela, 10) Canada, 11) Puerto Rico, 12) Dominican Republic

Just missing from qualifying for the event are Panama, Colombia and Nicaragua, which finished 13-15 in the rankings.

Korea is the defending champions of the only Premier 12 to be played to date. The United States finished second and Japan third. The November time frame has been established to allow the countries to bring their top players to compete in this event. The professional leagues from Japan, United States, Taiwan and Korea will be over. Cuba will postpone their Nacional Series schedule as they do for the World Baseball Classic. It will be the best baseball has to offer outside of the World Baseball Classic.

Taiwan Slugger Signs with Nippon Ham

Friday, December 7th, 2018

The Taiwan slugger Wang Po-Jung signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters for three years and $4 million. There are also additional incentives to the contract that have not been disclosed. He becomes the first player from the CPBL to sign via the posting system. Though major league teams could have participated in the posting process they did not because of no formalized process in place with Taiwan for the acquisition of players. No information has been provided on the posting fee paid to the La Miga Monkeys, though it has been projected to be near $1 million.

The NPB has a limit of four foreign players on their major league roster, with no more than three of them being a pitcher or position player. Wang will count on that four player limit, meaning the Fighters think enough of him to use up a roster spot for his services over major league players.

Wang hit .414 and .407 in his first two full seasons in the CPBL, slugging 29 and 31 homeruns. His third season last year could be considered a disappointment as he hit only .351 with 17 homeruns. His slugging percentage dropped more than 100 points. He won the CPBL rookie of the year in 2016 and was voted MVP in 2016 and 2017. During his rookie year of 2016 he became the first CPBL player to record 200 hits during a season.

Iwakuma Signs with Giants

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Not the San Francisco Giants. The Yomiuri Giants. Hisashi lwakuma is returning to Japan after two injury filled years in the major leagues where he was limited to six starts in 2017 and no starts in 2018. Iwakuma had undergone shoulder surgery in 2017.

Like they did for Ichiro Suzuki, the Mariners had offered Iwakuma a coaching role but he still had an itch to pitch. Iwakuma had a successful major league career going 63-39 with a 3.42 ERA. In 2013 he made the All Star team and finished third in Cy Young voting his second season in the major leagues. He had one no hitter, against the Baltimore Orioles in 2015.

In Japan Iwakuma has played for the Osaka Buffaloes and the Rakuten Golden Eagles. He won the Sawamura award with the Golden Eagles in 2008, when he also led the Pacific League in ERA. Iwakuma also played for three NPB All Star teams in 2003, 2004 and 2008. Iwakuma was posted in 2010, failed to come to an agreement with the Oakland Athletics and signed as a free agent with the Mariners in 2011.

In Japan Iwakuma also had issues with his shoulder and also had surgery on his right elbow in 2007. In 2008 he would go 21-4 to win the Sawamura award. Before leaving for the major leagues his Japanese record was 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA.

Top 14 Countries for Women’s Baseball

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

There are not as many countries that participant in woman’s baseball. Japan is the most dominant, currently carrying a 30 game world cup winning streak. Canada, the number two rated team came the closest to beating Japan in the World Cup, losing 2-1 in a Super Round game. Taiwan jumped three spots after finishing second in last year’s World Cup. Most of the top United States players are encouraged to play softball because of a lack of baseball programs for women. They dropped a notch after failing to medal the last two years. Below are the top 14 countries for woman’s baseball:

1. Japan - 2000 points
2. Canada - 1300
3. Taiwan - 1297
4. United States - 1094
5. Venezuela - 989
6. Australia - 904
7. Cuba - 537
8. Korea - 500
9. Dominican Republic - 433
10. Hong Kong - 363
11. Netherlands - 311
12. Puerto Rico - 267
13. India - 104
14. Pakistan - 67

Japanese Slugger Tsutsugo Wishes for the Major Leagues

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

The Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo has expressed his interest to be posted to the major leagues according to the Japan Times. Tsutsugo has already signed a $3.5 million contract for the 2019 season so any posting would probably not be until the 2020 season. The Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars would have to agree to the posting, but since Tsutsugo will become a free agent after 2020 they would have only one more season with him if he is not posted in 2019.

Tsutsugo is a leftfielder with good plate discipline and power. In 2016 he hit 44 homeruns and last year slugged 38. He has a career .287 batting average with walk totals reaching 80 or more the last three years. His defense is not great, perhaps along the lines of a Juan Soto so he needs to hit to be attractive. His lefthanded bat can take the ball to all fields. Tsutsugo will be 29 years old for the 2019 season.

NPB Japan Awards

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

In Japan the MVP and Rookie of the year awards were given in both the Pacific League and Central League.

Central League

MVP - Yoshihiro Maru (Hiroshima Carp)
Rookie - Katsuki Azuma (Yokohama Bay Stars)

Pacific League

MVP - Hotaka Yamakawa (Seibu Lions)
Rookie - Kazuki Tanaka (Rakuten Golden Eagles)

Central League Top Nine Awards

Pitcher - Tomoyuki Sugano (Yomiuri Giants)
Catcher - Tsubasa Aizawa (Hiroshima Carp)
First Base - Dayan Viciedo (Chunichi Dragons)
Second Base - Tetsuto Yamada (Yakult Swallows)
Third Base - Toshiro Miyazaki (Yokohama Bay Stars)
Shortstop - Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Giants)
Outfield - Yoshihiro Maru (Hiroshima Carp), Seiya Suzuki (Hiroshima Carp), Neftali Soto (Yokohama Bay Stars)

Pacific League Top Nine Awards

Pitcher - Yusei Kikuchi (Seibu Lions)
Catcher - Tomoya Mori (Seibu Lions)
First Base - Hotaka Yamakawa (Seibu Lions)
Second Base - Hideto Asamura (Seibu Lions)
Third Base - Nobuhiro Matsuda (Softbank Hawks)
Shortstop - Sosuke Genda (Seibu Lions)
Outfield - Yuki Yanagita (Softbank Hawks), Shogo Akiyama (Seibu Lions), Masataka Yoshida (Orix Buffaloes)
Designated Hitter - Kensuke Kondo (Nippon Ham Fighters