Archive for the 'Japan' Category

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

Japan Wins Series Against the Major Leaguers

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

To be fair it was not really a major league All Star team. But Japan still showed that they can play baseball with some of the best beating a group of major leaguers five games to one. Yesterday they scored all their runs in the second inning to carry them on to a 4-1 win.

Sosuke Genda got the bit hit with a bases clearing three run triple. That was about all she wrote for the major league team, who found leads very fleeting in this series. They scored their lone run in the eighth inning on a solo blast from Ronald Acuna Jr. They did outhit Japan 10 to 8 but stranded 11 runners. The major leaguers were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

Erasmo Ramirez had a dominating outing for the major leaguers after Brian Johnson could not retire a batter in the second inning. Ramirez went five innings, striking out seven and allowing just two hits. That was his best outing of a ugly series.

Shotaro Kasahara got the win working 4.2 scoreless innings. Yasuaki Yamasaki picked up his second save of the series.

Japan Continues to Defeat Major Leaguers

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

The pitching staff the major leaguers brought to Japan is not the best in quality. Most teams did not want their $20 million arms to barnstorm Japan. But Kenta Maeda may have been one of the better major leaguers that made the trip. He only pitched two innings while returning to his roots, holding the Japanese scoreless. It was then a bevy of relievers whose names are a bit sketchy even to those who closely follow major league baseball. Japan rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth off major league closer Kirby Yates to down the major leaguers 5-3.

The Japanese pitchers have not been star quality either, but they have been containing the major league bats a little better. Daichi Ohsera held the major leaguers to two hits in his five innings of work. One of those hits was a Rhys Hoskins solo blast in the second. The game froze at 1-0 until the seventh inning when the major leaguers tacked on another run on a Juan Soto double.

The Japanese hit their second inside the park homerun of the series, this one by Shogo Akiyama to left field in the eighth inning. The major leaguers countered that with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth by Carlos Santana.

In came the major league closer in Kirby Yates. The 2018 season saw him pick up 12 saves and carry a 2.14 ERA with 90 whiffs in 63 innings. The Japanese were not impressed. A leadoff walk to pinch hitter Kazuki Tanaka got the inning started. He stole second and then scored on a Seiji Uebayashi single. The Japanese played their style of baseball, bunting Uebayashi to second. He scored on a single by Kosuke Tanaka to tie the game.

More Japanese baseball as Tanaka steals second and advances to third when J.T. Realmuto throws the ball away. Shogo Akiyama is intentionally walked and in comes John Brebbia. He lacks the credentials of Craig Kimbrel or Wade Davis, but this is Japan and they play by a different set of rules. Ryosuke Kikuchi lays down a bunt to score the go ahead run and is safe at first. A passed ball moves the runners over and Yuki Yanagita drives in the fourth run of the inning with a ground out.

Not one extra base hit in the inning but four runs. Enough to send the United States to their third loss of the series. Japanese closer Yasuaki Yamasaki pitched a scoreless ninth to drop the major leaguers record to 2-3 while in Japan.

They recently lost another game 6-5, again victimized in the late innings by a four run outburst by the Japanese. Rhys Hoskins again got the scoring started for the major leaguers with a two run homer in the second. The Japanese bounced back with a solo shot from Kazuma Okamoto in the bottom of the second. It was the only hit Junior Guerra would allow in his five innings of work.

The major leaguers dominated the next four innings to take a 5-2 lead. Juan Soto again drove in a run with a single in the third. Yadier Molina continued to carry a hot bat with his RBI double in the fourth. And Carlos Santana drove in another run with a single in the sixth.

The Japanese are relentless with their small ball tactics. Three singles and an error score two. Hotaka Yamakawa ties the game with his two run double. Japan wins it in the eighth on a Takuya Kai RBI double. Seiji Uebayashi had started out the inning with a two out single.

Japan brought out Yuki Matsui to shut out the major leaguers in the ninth to improve their record to 4-1 against the major leaguers (the Yomiuri Giants taking the other loss.)

Molina Leads Major Leaguers to First Win

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

The jet lag should be over. The major leaguers. led by the three run homerun from Yadier Molina in the fifth inning beat Japan for the first time 7-3. The major league pitching staff, led by rookie Scott Barlow finally prevented the Japanese All Stars from crossing the plate in village like numbers.

J.T. Realmuto got the scoring started for the major leaguers with a solo homerun, his second homerun of the series. Japan responded with a run of their own in the bottom half on a Shuta Tonosaki RBI double. The major leaguers then pulled away from Japan with four in the sixth, capped by a Molina three run homer.

Eugenio Suarez and Mitch Haniger drove in runs for the major league team in the seventh to extend the lead to 7-1. The Japan all stars scored two in the bottom of the ninth to make the score closer.

Japan did manage to spray 10 hits, but did strand 13 baserunners. The major leaguers collected 12 hits and stranded 14 baserunners. Molina finished the day with a game high three hits, raising his average for the series to .636. Japan now leads the series two games to one.

Juan Soto again hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome, which may have prevented him from hitting a homerun in his third consecutive game. The ball was then caught by the right fielder.

Japan Hammers Major League Pitching

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

Japan hitters are hammering major league pitching, scoring 19 runs in their first two games of a six game series. They won the first game 7-6 and the second 12-6.

Kirby Yates failed to protect a lead in the opener giving up three runs in the final frame to take the loss. As he did in the Japan Series Yuki Yanagita blasted a two run sayonara homerun to end the contest. Shogo Akiyama had the other big hit for Japan with a three run double in the fifth.

The United States team slammed three homeruns, Ahmed Rosario with a solo shot in the third, Carlos Santana with a three run bomb in the fifth and Juan Soto with a two run shot in the sixth. Every time the major leaguers would take the lead Japan would match them to tie it, except when the major leaguers scored two in the sixth the Japan all stars waited until the ninth to strike.

Japan banged out 17 hits in the second game, abusing major leaguers Erasmo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson for 12 runs in 6.2 innings. Yanagita again went deep for the Japan stars in a perfect 4 for 4 day with 4 RBIs. Akiyama also had a good day going 3 for 4 with three RBIs and a triple. Sosuke Genda also contributed three hits.

The major leaguers got another homerun from Juan Soto, a solo shot in the fifth for their first run to make it 9-1. J.T, Realmuto also went deep with a three run dinger in the eighth, but that only made it 12-6.

There is probably a little jet lag involved in the United States performance. Their bats are hot scoring enough runs to win most ballgames, but their arms are no match for the Japanese hitters.

Soto Hits Roof of Tokyo Dome in Major League Win

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Juan Soto hit an infield double to drive in a run when his high popup hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome. The major league team went on to beat the Yomiuri Giants 9-6 in the exhibition game that preceded the six game series between the major league All Stars versus the Japanese All Stars.

The United States erupted for five runs in the third inning to take a commanding 7-0 lead. Soto’s double scored Yadier Molina from second for the second run of the inning. J.T. Realmuto doubled home Soto and Ahmed Rosario capped the inning with a two run single.

Soto is not the first player to hit the ceiling of the Tokyo Dome. Shoei Ohtani also hit a ball through the roof in 2016. The first base coach for the major league team Hideki Matsui crushed a homerun that hit the ceiling of the Tokyo Dome. Both of those shots you can watch on You Tube.

Yomiuri Giants fans got a thrill when rookie outfielder Seiya Matsubara split the left centerfield gap in the fourth inning and raced all the way home for a three run inside the park homerun. Matsubara has yet to play a game in the NPB. The inside the park homerun cut the major league lead to 7-4.

J.T. Realmuto added a solo homerun in the fifth. The solo homerun and RBI double made him the hero of the game. That is a big tradition in Japan where the hero of the game is celebrated by getting up on a stand and talking to the crowd after the game in a “hero interview”. That is a little different than talking to reporters in the locker room after having a good game. Realmuto was not used to that tradition.

The major league team was a bit sloppy committing four errors in the game. The four errors only resulted in two unearned runs scoring. Japan committed one error that allowed two unearned runs to score. Hayato Sakamoto threw a ball away in the top of the first with two outs that allowed the first two runs to score.

Yadier Molina was a perfect 2 for 2 hitting in the DH spot, with two runs scored and an RBI. The two players vying for National League rookie of the year, Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto were 2 for 5 and 2 for 4. They did let the ball hit by Matsubara split between them for an inside the park homerun.

Daikan Yoh was a perfect 3 for 3 for the Yomiru Giants, scoring two runs. He is from Taiwan and has been playing in the NPB for 12 years. Giants starter Hosei Takata had a rough outing, charged with seven runs in his three innings of work. Hosei is a 20 year old who made one NPB appearance last year and gave up six runs in two innings. So you could call this outing an improvement. He was a fifth round pick of the Giants in 2016.