The Central League is the favorite league for many fans in Japan because of the Hanshin Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants. Myworld prefers the Pacific League because our favorite team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles reside there. The Eagles have developed Hisashi Iwakuma and Masahiro Tanaka for the major leagues. The Nippon Ham Fighters sired Yu Darvish, and may have a better pitcher developing through their system in Shahei Otani. Only one team in the Pacific League has a losing record, but the teams have the Orix Buffaloes to thank for that.
Nippon Ham Fighters (12-6)
They have three players flirting with .300, Kensuke Kondo (.300), Kensuke Tanaka (.299) and Takuya Nakashima (.290). Nakashima has stolen five bases in six attempts and leads the team in runs scored with 10. The big bat has been provided by Sho Nakata, who has slugged six homeruns and driven in 16, tops on his team and three behind the league leader, despite a .227 average. Brandon Laird is having some success with his .227 average, hitting three homeruns and driving in 10 runs, second on the team. Jeremy Heredia is struggling with 24 whiffs in 73 plate appearances and a .234 average. Shohei Otani is still light with the bat (.208, 1, 7) compared to his numbers last year.
On the pitching front Shohei leads the NPB in wins with a 4-0 record and a 0.94 ERA. The twenty year old has been humming a three digit fastball that has contributed to his NPB leading 33 whiffs. He may be a better pitcher at this stage than Yu Darvish. Mitsuo Yoshikawa (3-0, 1.93) is also undefeated and putting up solid numbers. Yohei Kagiya (0.00) has been the setup man with 4 holds and Hirotoshi Matsui (1.80) has been the closer with four saves. Foreigners Victor Garate did not give up a run in his five inning start, allowing only two hits and picking up the victory. Luis Mendoza (1-2, 3.80) has not been so effective.
Softbank Hawks (10-8-1)
Yuki Yanagati is second in the Pacific League with a .361 average. He has scored a team leading 12 runs. Akira Nakamura is not too far behind him in average (.347) and he has crossed the plate 11 times. Nobuhiro Matsuda (.309) has been the big slugger with three homeruns and 11 RBIs. Seichi Uchikawa (.319) leads the team in RBIs with 17. He has seven doubles and two homeruns, giving him a .500 slugging average. Korean Dae-Ho Lee (.191) finds himself south of the Mendoza line with only one homerun. Smooth fielding shortstop Kenta Imamiya (.153) needs to break out of his no hit funk. He does have six sacrifice hits, but he is hitting worse than a pitcher in a league that uses a DH.
Kenji Otonari (2-0, 0.40) leads the Pacific League in ERA. He has only allowed one run in 22 innings and three starts. He has also only struck out 7 in 22 innings, so he relies on weak contact. Jason Stanridge (3-1, 2.17) and Tadashi Settsu (2-2, 2.25) are the other two big starters. The Hawks are soon hoping for the addition of Daisuke Matsuzaka to their rotation, but he is still rehabbing in the Ni-gun league. Dennis Sarfate has one win and six saves in nine appearances. He has yet to give up a run. Edison Barrios is the top setup man with 9 holds in 9 appearances, allowing only an unearned run to score.
Seibu Lions (9-8)
Shogo Akiyama leads the Pacific League in hitting with a .397 average. He is only second on the team in runs scored with 11. Hideto Asumura (.317) tops all Lions with 12 runs scored. He has also walked 12 times to put his OBA at .425. Takeya Nakamura (.246) with his four homeruns and 11 RBIs shares the team RBI lead with Tomoya Mori (.293) who has hit three homeruns. Ernesto Meija (.246) has yet to break out the power with just two homeruns and 9 RBIs. He is only slugging .404.
Wade LeBlanc (2-1, 1.96) is finding his slow stuff effective in Japan. He has only allowed 9 hits in 18 plus innings. Kazuhisa Makita (2-1, 2.00) and Ryoma Nogami (2-1, 1.42) are also having success in the rotation. The kid from Taiwan Chun-Lin Kuo, who shut down Japan in the championships of the 21 and under tournament in Taiwan had two good starts followed by two poor starts that evened his record to 2-2 and saw his ERA climb to 4.32. His command has been an issue with 10 walks in just 16 innings. Tomomi Takahashi has picked up five saves in a closing role with a 1.29 ERA.
Chiba Lotte Marines (9-9)
Alfredo Despaigne has arrived (.188) but after four games he is still looking for his first RBI. Luis Cruz (.294) leads the Pacific League in RBIs with 17. He has hit 7 doubles to go with his one long ball. Ex-major leaguer Tadahito Iguchi (.323), Katsuya Kakunaka (.328) and Toshaki Imae (.357) are hitting for average. Imae only has two extra base hits, both doubles, among his 25 hits. Takashi Ogino leads the team in runs scored with 11 despite a .217 average and .260 OBA. Daichi Suzuki is a good field little hit (.246) shortstop.
Dae-Eun Rhee (3-0, 3.33) left the Cubs to pitch for the Marines. He is undefeated but he has been hit (31 hits in 24 innings). Hideaki Wakui (2-2, 1.86) and Ayumu Ishikawa (2-0, 2.05) are providing the best starts for the Marines. Yuji Hishino (2.70) is the closer with his five saves. Takahiro Matsunaga (1.29, 4 holds) and Carlos Rosa (0.00, 2 holds) have alternated at setup.
Rakuten Golden Eagles (8-8-2)
Eagles are still looking for a power bat. Wily Mo Pena (.246) has yet to go deep and Gaby Sanchez (.152) has gone deep twice but only has three other hits. No player has double digits in RBIs. Kazuya Fujita (.328) has been getting on base. Ginji Akamin (.319) has only two doubles from his 23 hits, far short of the power teams look for in their first baseman. Motohiro Shima has providing a solid bat (.288) for a catcher. Zelous Wheeler (.150) has been absent with his offense. Kaz Matsui is still hanging around with an anemic .235 average.
Kenny Ray (3-0, 1.06) has been a find for them in the starting rotation. Takahiro Norimoto (1-2, 2.17) is taking over the mantle of Iwakuma and Tanaka. Takahiro Shiomi (0.86) has three dominating starts with no decisions. Yuki Matsui (0.00, 5 saves) has had success converting from starter to closer. Rhiner Cruz has been used in a setup role and has yet to give up a run in his five appearances, with two holds.
Orix Buffaloes (5-14-1)
The Buffaloes have been struggling to score runs. Francisco Caraballo (.355, 2, 10) has provided them with a productive bat. He is tied with Yoshio Itoi (.247) for the team RBI lead with 10. Too many hitters below the Mendoza line and no production from Tony Blanco (.067) who has just one hit in 16 appearances. Esteban German (.217) has yet to drive in a run and has only crossed the plate one time.
Bryan Bullington (0-1, 1.80) and Brandon Dickson (1-3, 2.17) have provided consistent starts, but they have been hit with four losses. Not a lot of saves to divvy up in a losing season. Alessandro Maestri from Italy has been provided some good long relief (0.84) and Tomoyuki Kaida (0.63) has 10 appearances in short relief.