Giant Development, Yankee Influence

» 19 September 2009 » In international baseball, nichibei, npb »

The web edition of the sports magazine Number featured a great article on the Giants’ ni-gun manager, Kaoru Okazaki, who is installing an American-style player development system.

Okazaki, who is currently the manager of the ni-gun team, developed his philosophy of coaching through his experience in the New York Yankees minor league system. The Yomiuri Giants have a strong relationship with the New York Yankees, through former Giant Hideki Matsui, and have utilized this relationship to allow their coaches to hone their craft in the Yankees minor league system.

Okazaki’s experience in the study abroad program for coaches has resulted in developing his philosophy, which has matched the needs of the Giants’ player development system really well. The most important difference he learned from the experience is the usage of ni-gun players.

In Japan, the farm system believes in winning as much as their NPB teams and using a pinch hitter in game deciding situation remains to be a norm. NPB baseball operations personnel has a mindset that if the farm system isn’t winning, the players aren’t developing. In that case the ni-gun manager will not be evaluated efficiently, which results in aggressive decisions.

However Okazaki learned a different style in the minor leagues where players rarely get taken out of games. The evaluation comes into place playing a whole game and not only from a portion of the game. Learning the importance of allowing the players  to play the whole game allowed Okazaki to have a better assessment on each player and decreases the possibility of missing out on players’ less obvious skills.

Even though there are players that need to be developed for certain situations (such as lefty-lefty match ups), Okazaki strongly believes in developing the overall skills in position players. The development of OF Tetsuya Matsumoto and INF Hayato Sakamoto has been hard to miss and if the Giants continue to have success in developing the young talents within their system, we could see a strong Giants team for a long time.

The relationship with NPB and MLB has been stronger as the years pass and many teams are maintaining working relationships across the Pacific. Opportunities for not only players, but managers, coaches and front office personnel to learn the different culture should be a huge benefit for both sides.

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  1. Ryo
    John Brooks
    20/09/2009 at 7:42 am Permalink

    Interesting article, its good to know that ni-gun teams are starting to experiment with new ideas, if Yomiuri continues the development they could be a powerhouse for years to come. Other NPB teams with MLB working agreements should take notice from Yomiuri.


  1. [...] with the Yanks and is installing a more development-focused system for his club. Allow me to quote Ryo of…