Archive for the 'Japan' Category

NPB Award Winners

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

The Nippon Professional Baseball has issued out there awards. Below are the winners.

Central League MVP

Hayato Sakamoto SS (Giants) - .312, 40, 94 RBIs. Imagine major league teams with a shortstop who can hit 40 homeruns.

Pacific League MVP

Tomoya Mori C (Lions) - .329, 23, 105. Imagine a major league team with a catcher having the ability to drive in 100 runs.

Central League Rookie of the Year

Munetaka Murakami 1B (Swallows) - .231, 36, 96. Only 19 years old.

Pacific League Rookie of the Year

Rei Takahashi P (Hawks) - 12-6, 3.34 ERA

Sawamura Award (similar to Cy Young)

For the first time in 19 years no award was given. To be considered pitchers have to achieve minimal accomplishments. Wins, innings pitched, complete games, strikeouts, ERA, etc. The voters felt that no pitcher meant these minimums to receive an award. Since these numbers were established back in the iron man days when pitchers threw 160 pitches in a game, there has been talk of modify some of the minimums to take into account the new era.

Central League Best Nine

Pitcher - Shun Yamaguchi (Giants) - 15-4, 2.91. First time voted to the Best Nine. Will be posted for major league teams this year.
Catcher - Tsubasa Aizawa (Carp) - .277, 12, 63
First Base - Dayan Viciedo (Dragons) - .315, 18, 93. Cuban has found a home with his bat in Japan.
Second Base - Tetsuto Yamada (Swallows) - .271, 35, 98. Stole 33 bases to make him a 30/30 player.
Third Base - Shuhei Takahashi (Dragons) - .293, 7, 59. First Best Nine, but the vanilla stats shows a lack of quality at third base.
Shortstop - Hayato Sakamoto (Giants) - .312, 40, 94
Outfield - Seiya Suzuki (Carp) - .335, 28, 87. MVP of the Premier 12.
Outfield - Yoshihiro Maru (Giants) - .292, 27, 89
Outfield - Neftali Soto (Bay Stars) - .269, 43, 108

Pacific League Best Nine

Pitcher - Kodai Senga (Hawks) - 13-8, 2.79. 227 strikeouts. One of the top five pitchers in baseball. His first selection to Best Nine.
Catcher - Tomoya Mori (Lions) - .329, 23, 105
First Base - Hotaka Yamakawa (Lions) - .256, 43, 120
Second Base - Hideto Asamura (Eagles) - .263, 33, 92
Third Base - Takeya Nakamura (Lions) - .286, 30, 103. These are the stats you want to see from your third baseman.
Shortstop - Sosuke Genda (Lions) - .274, 2, 41. Stole 30 bases and scored 90 runs.
Outfield - Shogo Akiyama (Lions) - .303, 20, 62. Another player being posted for the major leagues.
Outfield - Masataka Yoshida (Buffaloes) - .322, 29, 85
Outfield - Takashi Ogino (Marines) - .315, 10, 46. Stole 28 bases.
Designated Hitter - Alfredo Despaigne (Hawks) - .259, 36, 88. One of the few Cuban stars who has not defected. The Cubans sub-contract him out to Japan and make money off his skills, instead of Alfredo making millions of dollars by defecting when he was in his prime.

Baby Shark, Parra Off to Japan

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

The Yomiuri Giants have signed Gerrado Parra to a contract. You have to wonder if he will bring his baby shark walk up song into the Tokyodome. Don’t know if they have a Japanese version of the song.

The Giants will pay him $2 million for 2020 and have a vesting option for $3 million in 2021. Parra is not the offensive threat many Japanese teams usually seek in a foreign bat. Perhaps they are hoping his locker room presence will have the same effect it had on the Nationals.

It has been some time since the Giants have last won the Japan Series (2012). The last time the Giants had a seven year lag between championships was from 1974-1980 and 1982-1988. They have never gone more than seven years between championships and will do so if they do not win the Japan Series in 2020.

Shun Yamaguchi Requests to be Posted

Monday, November 18th, 2019

The Yomiuri Giants do not normally post players from their roster. They and the Softbank Hawks are the two teams in the NPB that have a policy of not posting players. Shun though is 32 years old. He started in the gold medal match versus Korea in the just completed Premier 12 and lasted just one inning, giving up a three run homer in a game Japan eventually won. He started three games and finished with an ERA of 6.00. Someone must have whispered in his year that he would look good in a major league uniform.

Last year, the 32 year old righthander had one of his best seasons in the NPB (15-4, 2.91 with 188 whiffs in 170 innings). He got his start with the Yokohama Bay Stars where he was mostly their closer, saving 111 games in his 11 seasons there. He signed as a domestic free agent with the Giants in 2017. The 170 innings he pitched last year was his most in the NPB. He has enough years to be an international free agent if he had not signed a domestic contract with the Giants.

Shun does not have a big fastball, sitting in the low 90s. His best pitch is a splitter. At best he would fit at the back end of a rotation, which in most cases pays a higher salary than the front end of a rotation in Japan. For what it is worth his Wikipedia page says his father is a sumo wrestler.

Premier 12 All Tournament Team

Monday, November 18th, 2019

The United States may have finished in fourth place but they had the most players on the All Tournament team. Japan had the MVP in outfielder Seiya Suzuki and possible future major leaguer second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi. Below is the All World team.

Starting Pitcher - Chang Yi (Taiwan)
Relief Pitcher - Brandon Dickson (United States)
Catcher - Erik Kratz (United States)
First Base - Bobby Dalbec (United States)
Second Base - Ryosuke Kikuchi (Japan)
Third Base - Wang Wei-chen (Taiwan)
Shortstop - Kim Ha-seong (Korea)
Outfield - Seiya Suzuki (Japan), Jonathan Jones (Mexico), Lee Jung-ho (Korea)
Designated Hitter - Brent Rooker (United States)

Mexico and Korea Qualify for Olympics

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

The fate of Korea had already been known the day before when they made it to the gold medal match. Mexico’s case was determined yesterday when they continued to be a thorn in the United States side, eliminating them from qualifying for the Olympics in the Premier 12 and winning the bronze match in extra innings 3-2 to earn the fourth Olympic bid. The United States still has two more tournaments they can play in to qualify for the Olympics, but there are now only two spots left, with Israel, Mexico, Japan and Korea qualifying for Tokyo next year. A second Olympics could happen without the United States participating in baseball and both times it could be Mexico eliminating them from that opportunity.

Mexico 3 United States 2

The United States jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Jordan Adell hit a one out solo homerun in the first inning. It became a pitcher’s duel after that. Cody Ponce and Arturo Reyes each pitched five innings of shutout ball after that.

The United States went to their bullpen in the sixth and Matthew Clark got the big hits for Mexico to keep their hopes alive. In the sixth he hit a two out infield single with the bases loaded to tie the game. After the United States recaptured the lead in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Robert Dalbec, Clark came through again. He led off the bottom of the ninth with a homerun off United States closer Brandon Dickson to tie the game at 2-2.

In the extra inning both teams employed the same boring strategy that international teams use when placing runners on first and second with no outs. They bunt the runners over and the other team intentionally walks the next batter to load the bases. In the United States case Alec Bohm struck out and Jacob Cronenworth flew out to leave the United States scoreless. Efren Navarro hit his single up the middle to give Mexico the walk off hit and qualification in the Olympics.

Japan 5 Korea 3

Korea won the first Premier 12. Japan wrested the championship away from them this time. It was asking too much for the United States minor leaguers to finish in the finals against two teams using their professional players. The two best teams played in the finals.

Korea scored all their runs early. Ha-Seong Kim hit a two run homerun and Hyun-Soo Kim a solo shot in the first inning to give Korea an early 3-0 lead. Both homeruns were hit off Shun Yamaguchi, who did not come out for the second inning.

Japan was not deterred. Seiya Suzuki drove in his tournament leading 13th RBI with a double in the bottom of the first to pull Japan to within two. In the second Tetsuto Yamada smashed a pitch into the left field bleachers for a three run homer to give Japan the lead. Hyeon-jong Yang pitched three innings, giving up the four runs.

Six different Japanese pitchers held Korea to three hits and no runs through the remaining eight innings to secure the championship. Japanese closer Yasuaki Yamasaki continued his mastery throwing a scoreless ninth. In his five appearances he has only allowed one hit, no walks and struck out seven, picking up three saves.

Japan scored an insurance run in the seventh on a Hideto Asamura single. That seemed to knock the wind out of Korea. They went six up and six down in the final two innings, three of them by strikeouts.

The championship goes to Japan, but Korea and Mexico get the big rewards by qualifying for the Olympics. The United States must hope for another tournament, competing with Taiwan, Netherlands, Cuba and Canada for the last two Olympic spots.

United States Makes it to Bronze Medal Game Versus Mexico

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

The winner of the bronze medal game between the United States and Mexico will qualify for the Olympics. Mexico has beaten the United States in a game earlier in the tournament. Korea has qualified because they are in the gold medal match and Japan has already qualified for being the host. Because the top two teams from the Premier 12 qualify and Japan has already qualified, the winner of the bronze medal game becomes the second team to qualify for the Olympics.

The United States has to thank Taiwan for getting them to the bronze medal game. They beat Australia yesterday. If Australia had won they would have played in the bronze medal game versus Mexico.

Taiwan 5 Australia 1

In international competition Australia has always had trouble scoring runs. That came back to haunt them again as Taiwan pitchers held their hitters to five hits. The only run Australia scored was on a solo shot in the sixth by Logan Wade that tied the game 1-1.

Taiwan put the game away in the eighth when they scored four runs. The first was driven in on a Wei-Chen Wang single. The last three scored when Che-Hsuan Lin deposited a ball into the left field bleachers for a three run homer. For Lin it was his first homer and first three runs driven in for the tournament.

Chih-Wei Hu pitched well for Taiwan, hurling five shutout innings and allowing just three hits. Stephen Kent shut down the Taiwan bats after they scored a run in the third, throwing four shutout innings and allowing just two hits. Hu did not allow a run in his two appearances, working 8.2 innings. Kent has the most innings pitched of any reliever, four appearances with 11.1 innings and a 1.59 ERA.

Australia did get opportunities to score, advancing a runner to second in four of the nine innings they batted.

Japan 10 Korea 8

This game did not really count for anything except bragging rights. Today they play again for the gold medal. Japan erupted for six in the third to win this game. Korea bounced back for five in the fifth but they never could capture the lead.

Neither team felt a need to use their starters, or if they did they were replaced after a couple innings. Seiya Suzuki did get one RBI to increase his tournament RBI lead by five (12 RBIs). Korea’s young superstar Baek-Ho Kang got his first start in the tournament and drove in three runs.

Tsutsugo Posted by Bay Stars

Friday, November 15th, 2019

Let the bidding begin. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo was posted by the Yokohama Bay Stars today. He now has 30 days to negotiate with major league teams, with a release fee given to the Bay Stars depending on the value of the contract.

Tsutsugo is a player that major league teams would want. He has the potential to be a 20 plus homerun hitting outfielder. The park in which he played in was a hitter’s park which may have aided his 30 to 40 plus homerun totals. He also showed a pretty good ability to make contact, though last year he seemed to strikeout at an alarming rate, far more than he has in the past.

His lack of speed will limit him defensively in the outfield. This could restrict him to an American League team where the designated hitter is an option, though after the next collective bargaining agreement is settled the DH could be used in both leagues.

With the posting comes the announcement that Tyler Austin signed with the Yokohama Bay Stars. Don’t be surprised by Tyler hitting 20 plus homeruns each year with the Bay Stars.

United States Survives Premier 12 Scare

Friday, November 15th, 2019

No one said this would be easy, especially with players on the major league roster prohibited from playing in the Premier 12. The United States overcame a 2-1 deficit to defeat Taiwan 3-2 to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the last two spots in the Olympcis. Korea bounced Mexico 7-3, tacking on a second straight loss to the once undefeated team.

United States 3 Taiwan 2

The United States trailed 2-1 until Brent Rooker slugged a two run homer to give the United States a 3-2 lead and keep their slim hopes of qualifying for the Olympics. Taiwan saw all their hopes dashed with the two run bomb.

Sheng-Feng Wu had stymied the United States bats after they had scored an early run in the first inning on an Andrew Vaughn RBI single. After the single by Vaughn Wu did not allow a runner to reach second, striking out six and limiting the United States bats to one hit through the sixth inning. In the bottom of the seventh veteran Erik Kratz singled. After Wu struck out Robert Dalbec for the second out he gave Rooker too good a pitch to hit and he mashed it into the left field bleachers.

Taiwan had tied the game in the top of the third after a walk and single put runners on first and third with no outs. A ground out double play allowed a run to score to tie the game. Taiwan went ahead in the top of the sixth on a Chin-Lung Hu solo shot.

The United States bullpen of Noah Song and Brandon Dickson retired the next six hitters to nail down the victory, each pitcher working an inning each. The United States must now hope that Taiwan defeats Australia to get an opportunity at the fourth place match. If Australia wins they would win the head to head tie breaker. Taiwan has been the lone team eliminated.

Korea 7 Mexico 3

The Mexican pitching staff has been excellent throughout the Premier 12. They had a hiccup in the fifth inning when they gave up seven runs. It was all Korea needed to hold down the victory.

Mexico had just taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth on a Jonathan Jones two run homer. For Jones it is his third homerun of the tournament. He is now tied with Seiya Suzuki for the lead in runs scored with eight. If he was not batting in the leadoff spot some of those homeruns may have resulted in more runs batted in. He currently has six, five behind the leader Suzuki.

Mexico had gone to their bullpen after one out in the fourth inning. In the fifth Korea sent 11 hitters to the plate to score seven runs. Hyun-soo Kim closed out the scoring with a three run double.

Mexico was able to score another run in the sixth on a Roman Solis double. That would be the extent of their offense. The Korean bullpen shut them down for the final three innings to clinch a spot in the Olympics. Mexico will have to settle for a bronze medal game either against Australia or the United States. If they can win that game they will have qualified for the Olympics.

Japan and Korea will play a meaningless game, since both teams have clinched a spot for the gold.

Australia Shocks United States in WBC

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Australia had not won a game in the Super Round and were virtually eliminated from qualifying for the Olympics in the Premier 12. They really had nothing to play for in their game against the United States. They rose to the occasion and shocked the United States team, sending them down the path of elimination. Japan also sent Mexico down to defeat for the first time, leaving no team undefeated in this Premier 12.

Australia 2 United States 1

Australia scored all their runs in the first when they started the inning with a double sandwiched between two walks. Aaron Whitfield drove in both runs with a one out single up the middle, Logan Wade getting thrown out at third on the play.

Australia turned to Timothy Atherton to silence the United States bats. He limited them to one hit and did not allow a runner to reach second in his 5.1 innings of work. In the sixth inning the United States team finally put two runners on base thanks to two walks issued by Peter Moylan. Andrew Vaughn grounded out to short to end the threat.

Mark Payton hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth to close the gap to 2-1. But without the homerun the United States bats could not get a rally going, only once getting a runner to second base. Jon Kennedy retired the final two hitters to secure the victory.

The United States must hope that either Taiwan and Australia fail to win a game to get into the bronze medal match and hope for a third place win to qualify for the Olympics. The United States won the head to head battle against Taiwan, but were losers against Australia and Korea. A three way tie would go to a complicated tie breaker.

Japan 3 Mexico 1

Japan pitchers allowed just one hit in the game, a Jonathan Jones solo blast in the fourth inning to defeat Mexico. Shota Imanaga struck out eight hitters in his six innings of work. The Japanese bullpen struck out seven of the ten hitters they faced to raise that strikeout total for the game to 15.

Japan scored early off Mexican pitcher Horacio Ramirez, netting all three runs in the first two innings. Seiya Suzuki and Kensuke Kondo contributed RBI singles in the first inning. Hayato Sakamoto added an RBI single in the second.

Suzuki leads all players in RBIs with 11. The closest player to him is Robert Dalbec with seven. He is also hitting .476 and his eight runs scored is more than any other player. He also leads all players in homeruns (3) and triples (2) and added two doubles. Seven of his ten hits have gone for extra bases. Major league scouts are salivating at what he could do in their outfield.

The Topsy Turvey World of the Premier 12

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Just when there appears to be consistency in the Premier 12 they have a day where they throw you for a loop. Mexico defeated Australia to remain the lone undefeated team in the Premier 12. This should put them in the Top three and qualify for the Olympics. The other two undefeated teams lost, with the United States beating Japan and Taiwan pulling off the big upset with their win over Korea. It just goes to show you that no country can claim superiority in this game of baseball.

Mexico 3 Australia 0

The pitching for Mexico has been excellent. Another shutout, this one started by Eduardo Vera for the first five innings, with three different bullpen mates finishing the shutout. Vera gave up four hits with one walk, while his bullpen was perfect, retiring all 12 hitters they faced. In five games the Mexican pitching staff has not given up more than two runs, beating all five teams they have faced.

Mexico got all the runs they needed in the first inning on a Jonathan Jones leadoff homer. In the fourth Mexico added two more runs, one on a solo homerun from Matthew Clark. Jones doubled in the second run of the inning for his second RBI of the game.

The closest Australia got to scoring was in the third. Daryl George singled and Robert Perkins hit a double to left field. George tried to score from first but was gunned down at the plate. Once the bullpen came on in the sixth it was 12 up and 12 down. Australia no longer has a shot to finish in the top three, which will eliminate them from qualifying for an Olympic berth in the Premier 12. They have two more tournaments to accomplish that.

Taiwan 7 Korea 0

Perhaps the biggest upset of the day. The professional bats of Korea could get only four hits off Chang Li in his 6.2 innings of work. The bullpen closed out the final 2.1 innings to complete the shutout. An embarrassing day for the Korean professional hitters.

The Taiwan bats had no problem battering the KBO pitchers, lashing out 11 hits. The big hit was the Chun-Hsui Chen three run homer in the seventh that put the game out of reach, extending the lead to 6-0. Kwang-hyun Kim, who attempted to play in the major leagues but failed to get a high enough offer to leave the KBO, got the start for Korea and was not effective. He gave up three runs on 8 hits in his 3.1 innings of work.

Korea failed to get the big hits early, leaving two men on base in the first two innings. Taiwan scored two in the second and Korea failed to erase that deficit.

United States 4 Japan 3

The United States kept their slim hopes alive for finishing in the top three with a win over Japan. Jacob Cronenworth, after striking out four times yesterday and stranding eight runners on base came through on this day, driving in the first run in the second with a ground out, scoring Alec Bohm, who had led the inning off with a double. The United States never trailed after that.

Robert Dalbec continued his productive hitting with an RBI double in the third. Alec Bohm, another player who struggled yesterday, leaving a number of runners on base, drove in a run with a single in the fifth. Jordon Adell closed out the scoring for the United States with a solo shot in the seventh.

It was the Suzuki/Asamura show for Japan. The duo was good for Japan in the fourth when they scored their first run with the hot hitting Seiya Suzuki tripling and scoring on a Hideto Asamura single. Asamura drove in Suzuki again with a double in the sixth after Suzuki reached on an error. That combination proved fruitful a third time in the eighth when Asamura drove in Suzuki with a single, after Suzuki had doubled to lead off the inning.

Brandon Dickson pitched a perfect ninth to close out the victory for the United States. Japan was limited to seven hits, five of them by Suzuki and Asamura.