NPB Update

The playoff opportunities in the Nippon Professional Baseball League have all but been decided for five of the six teams. In the Pacific League the top spot appears to be the Seibu Lions. One of the benefits of taking first place is the bye in the first round, the automatic win prior to the playoffs starting and every playoff game in the conference is at your park. It is rare for a first place team not to advance to the Japan Series. The two wild card teams are the defending champion Softbank Hawks and the Nippon Ham Fighters. Last year with Shohei Otani on the team the Fighters did not make the playoffs. In 2016 they were Japan Series champions.

In the Central League the Hiroshima Carp have sewn up the conference for the third year in a row. Last year they lost to the wild card Yokohama Bay Stars in the Central League championship, a rarity in the NPB. They have not won a championship since 1984, the longest drought in the NBP. The Yakult Swallows appear to have the first wild card in hand. For them it will be their first playoff appearance since 2012.

The last playoff spot appears to be a battle between the Yokohama DENA Baystars and the Yomiuri Giants. Last year the Giants did not make the playoffs. You have to go back to 2006 to find a time when the Giants went two consecutive seasons without making the playoffs. The Baystars have had back to back season when they have qualified for the playoffs as the wild card team. Last year they won the Central League championship but were beaten by the Hawks in the Japan Series. On the outside looking in with still a hope is the Hanshin Tigers, but the games are getting scarce and they are more than two games out with 12 to play.

For individual performances in the Pacific League, the leaders are:

Batting average

Yuki Yanagita (.359) Softbank Hawks, Shogo Akiyama (.325) Seibu Lions, Kensuke Kondo (.321) Nippon Ham Fighters, Hideto Asamura (.312) Seibu Lions, Masataka Yoshida (.310) Orix Buffaloes

Homerun Leaders

Hotaka Yamakawa (44) Seibu Lions, Yuki Yanagita (34) Hawks, Hideto Asamura (30) Lions, Nobuhiro Matsuda (28) Softbank Hawks, Alfredo Despaigne (27) Softbank Hawks

RBIs

Hideto Asamura (119) Lions, Hotaka Yamakawa (117) Lions, Sho Nakata (102) Nippon Ham Fighters, Yuki Yanagita (97) Hawks, Seiya Inoue (89) Chibba Lotte Marines

ERA Leaders

Takayuki Kishi (2.72) Rakuten Golden Eagles, Yusei Kikuchi (3.16) Seibu Lions, Naoyuki Uwasawa (3.24) Nippon Ham Fighters, Nick Martinez (3.49) Nippon Ham Fighters, Yuki Nishi (3.65) Orix Buffaloes

Wins

Shinsaburo Tawata (15) Seibu Lions, Yusei Kikuchi (13) Lions, Shuta Ishikawa (13), Softbank Hawks, Mike Bolsinger (13) Chibba Lotte Marines, Kodai Senga (12) Softbank Hawks

Saves

Yuito Mori (34) Softbank Hawks, Hirotoshi Masui (33), Orix Buffaloes, Tatsuya Uchi (25), Chibba Lotte Marines, Frank Hermann (18) Rakuten Golden Eagles, Naoya Ishikawa (14) Nippon Ham Fighters

Central League

Batting Average

Dayan Viciedo (.350) Chunichi Dragons, Hayato Sakamoto (.332) Yomiuri Giants, Ryosuke Hirata (.329) Chunichi Dragons, Norichika Aoki (.326) Yakult Swallows, Toshiro Miyazaki (.325) Yokohama Bay Stars

Homeruns

Yoshihiro Maru (38) Hiroshima Carp, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (38) Yokohama Bay Stars, Neftali Soto (35) Yokohama Bay Stars, Wladimir Balentien (34) Yakult Swallows, Tetsudo Yamada (33) Yakult Swallows

RBIs

Wladimir Balentien (121) Swallows, Dayan Viciedo (98) Dragons, Yoshihiro Maru (95) Carp, Kazuma Okamoto (95) Yomiuri Giants, Seiya Suzuki (91) Hiroshima Carp

ERA

Tomoyuki Sugano (2.36) Yomiuri Giants, Daichi Osera (2.53) Hiroshima Carp, Katsuki Azuma (2.54) Yokohama Bay Stars, Onelki Garcia (2.88) Chunichi Dragons, Kris Johnson (3.27) Hiroshima Carp

Wins

Daichi Osera (15) Carp, Tomoyuki Sugano (13) Giants, Onelki Garcia (13) Dragons, Randy Messenger (11) Hanshin Tigers, Katsuki Azuma (11) Bay Stars

Saves

Yasuaki Yamasaki (34) Yokohama Bay Stars, Taichi Ishiyama (31) Yakult Swallows, Shota Nakazaki (30) Hiroshima Carp, Rafael Dolis (30) Hanshin Tigers, Shinji Tajima (15) Chunichi Dragons

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