Archive > June 2010

2010: A Uniform Odyssey

» 30 June 2010 » In npb » 6 Comments

Update, July 2: Completely forgot about this year’s SoftBank Hawks alternates.

It’s time again for my annual alternative uniforms roundup (last year’s is here). Here’s what we have this year:

  • Yomiuri will sport these cartoonish threads July 19-21 against Yakult. The uniforms were designed by middle school student Hikaru Nomoto, who’s design was selected from out of more than 13,000 entries.
  • This season Seibu is wearing 70’s era throwback uniforms, from when the team was known as the Taiheiyo-Club Lions, prior to Seibu ownership.
  • Nippon Ham chose a garish gold color for this season’s We Love Hokkaido uniforms.
  • The differences between Yokohama’s normal uniforms and this season’s summer alternates are subtle, but pitcher Shun Yamaguchi still called them “unusually stylish”. I wouldn’t mind seeing them keep it simple and re-use these from a couple years ago.
  • Orix’s summer uniforms are red this year, which elicits memories the old red Kintetsu uniforms. Orix also recalled the old Blue Wave team by wearing 1995 throwback uniforms in a game at Skymark Stadium last month. 1995, of course, was the year that Orix lifted the city of Kobe by reaching the Japan Series after the horrific Hanshin Earthquake.

Today’s Japanese vocabulary is 復刻版ユニホーム, (fukkokuban uniform), meaning “re-issue uniform”, though in English we would translate that to “throwback uniform” or “retro uniform”.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-27

» 27 June 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

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NPB Bullet Points: Home Runs

» 26 June 2010 » In npb » 1 Comment

Alright, time for another edition of NPB Bullet Points. Today we’ll look at some notable home runs that have been hit over the last week or so.

  • Craig Brazell had a six-game home run streak end on June 23rd against Hirohima. Sadaharu Oh and Randy Bass jointly hold the home run streak record at seven games. Brazell had been leading the Central League (and Japan) in dingers until…
  • Shinnosuke Abe got hot. Abe hit his 10th home run in June on the 23rd, marking the third time in his career he’s reached double digit home runs in a month. Abe commented, “right now in my at bats, in a good way I’m thinking ‘I’m a foreign hitter. I have awesome power’.” He then went out and hit two more bombs on the 26th to take over the league lead from Brazell. Abe is capable of hitting home runs in bunches; back in 2004 he opened the season with 20 homers in 33 games.
  • When Abe’s Giants teammate Alex Ramirez went deep for the 20th time this season on the 22nd, he become the second foreign player to hit 20 homers in each of his first ten seasons in Japan. The first? Tuffy Rhodes, of course. Ramirez had this to say: “I hit my first home run in Japan in a Yakult uniform at Jingu Stadium, so I’m glad I was able to achieve this in this ballpark.”
  • This happened a few hours after the original publication of this post, but Hanshin veteran Tomoaki Kanemoto hit his 450th career home run on the 27th. Kanemoto is just the 13th NPB player to reach that mark, and the first since Rhodes last year.

In unrelated news, the San Francisco Giants retired the number of Hall of Fame outfielder and African-American pioneer Monte Irvin today. It’s a bit overdue but definitely a feel-good story.

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Pacific League Live

» 25 June 2010 » In Uncategorized » 2 Comments

If you’re a non-Windows user like me, here are some live feeds:

Lotte vs Nippon Ham: http://www.justin.tv/iammatrix

SoftBank vs Rakuten: http://www.justin.tv/aa5332

Orix vs Seibu: http://www.justin.tv/shileemusic

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Foreign Player Signings: Fernandez, Harper

» 25 June 2010 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

A couple of new imports this week to report…

  • Seibu has brought back Jose Fernandez back to Saitama on a $300k deal. Fernandez played for Seibu in 2004-5, and has spent seven years in Japan overall. He had been tearing up the Mexican League with a 1.010 ops this season, after Orix cut him loose last year.
  • Yokohama has officially introduced Brett Harper, who passed an audition last week and signed a contract earlier this week. It’s an interesting contract that pays based on how many games Harper appears in at both levels, topping out at $100k. The deal also includes an option for next year. Harper is a big first baseman who has bounced around four MLB organizations since a strong 2008 season for the Giants 3A affiliate in Fresno. This signing kind of reminds of when the BayStars acquired Cedrick Bowers a few years ago,

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Fastballs in NPB

» 24 June 2010 » In npb » 2 Comments

Was playing around with the ol’ db and wrote a quick query to pull out average fastball velocities this season in Japan. These are exceedingly simple lists; I didn’t filter by number of pitches thrown or anything like that.

Here are the 15 fastest averages:

name max
Juan Morillo 95.32
Eulogio de la Cruz 95.21
Marc Kroon 94.78
Takahiro Mahara 93.98
Brian Falkenborg 93.63
Kyuji Fujikawa 93.11
Brian Wolfe 93.07
Takuya Asao 93.01
Shun Yamaguchi 92.88
Jon Leicester 92.41
Tatsuya Uchi 92.17
Tomoyuki Kubota 92.14
Yao-Hsun Yang 92.14
Yoshinori 92.12
Chang Yong Lim 92.00

No surprises here, mostly relievers and many foreign pitchers, though I didn’t expect to see Wolfe. Morillo, de la Cruz, Uchi and Yang have all thrown very few innings so take their appearance on this list with a grain of salt for each.

And here are 15 slowest:

name max
Atsushi Kizuka 83.89
Masato Nakazawa 83.72
Hironori Matsunaga 83.71
Kazuhito Tadano 83.71
Tomoya Yagi 83.69
Shoto Takekuma 83.66
Koji Hiroike 83.12
Mikinori Kato 83.08
Yasutaka Hattori 83.06
Hayato Aoki 82.82
Makoto Yoshino 81.93
Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi 81.59
Masato Kobayashi 81.50
Masaru Takeda 81.36
Shunsuke Watanabe 75.51

No real surprises here either, though it is striking to see how much softer Watanabe throws than everyone else.

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The Makuhari Steamroller

» 24 June 2010 » In npb » 4 Comments

Put the 2010 Chiba Lotte Marines season down as something I was wrong about. In a year when I thought they’d be mid-division at best, Lotte has by meany measures been the best team in the Pacific League this year. They lead the league in team scoring with 370 (SoftBank is next with 323), run differential at a whopping +106 (Seibu has a +32), batting average (.284), and home runs (72). The pitching staff has done its job too, holding the opposition to 264 runs in 67 games. Lotte has fallen behind Seibu in the standings, but if they keep this up, as they have through the first three months of the season, they’ll be in the race all year.

I’ve only watched two Lotte games this year (a Yuki Karakawa start against Seibu early in the year, and a game against SoftBank prior to interleague), so I’m not the best guy to analyze Lotte’s success (I would recommend this guy, actually), but I won’t let that stop me. Here are a few observations.

In the lineup…

  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Toshiaki Imae are healthy and hitting like the Tsuyoshi and Imae we all know and love.
  • Takashi Ogino was having a great rookie year until he went down with a knee injury that required surgery.
  • Everyone’s getting on base: Lotte has five of the Pacific League’s 10 best OBP’s lead by Tadahito Iguchi with a robust .450. Iguchi is leading Japan in walks with 59; no one else has more than 42 and no one else in the Pacific League has more than 35.
  • With a .290/.372/.524 slash line, Kim Tae-Kyun has been the best Korean hitter we’ve seen in NPB since Lee Seun-Yeop’s heyday, and has already given Lotte more production from their foreign hitter slot than they got from anyone they had last year.

On the mound…

  • Yasuhiko Yabuta has put up outstanding numbers in his return engagement, and SoftBank castoff Akichika is looks like an inspired pickup.
  • Bill Murphy has moved into the rotation and won all six starts he’s made so far. I’m trying to think of the last time a suketto had any success as a starter with Lotte… Dan Serafini maybe?
  • Yoshihisa Naruse is off to a strong start, with 95 K’s in 104.1 innings so far to go along with a 2.95 ERA. I could see him setting new career highs in innings and strikeouts this year.
  • Hiro Kobayashi has made a successful transition to the closer role, picking up 12 saves so far this season.

There are a few minor question marks…

  • Ogino won’t be back until the All-Star game, in late July. His return should be a huge boost.
  • Yuki Karakawa has been out since taking a line drive off his right hand on May 13, and his return is unclear.
  • Without Karakawa, a rotation front three of Naruse, Murphy and Shunsuke Watanabe is a shade below the front three’s of Seibu, Nippon Ham, and Rakuten.
  • Spare a thought for Shunichi Nemoto, who was replaced in the lineup by Iguchi despite a solid 2008 season, and has fallen into no-man’s land.

The Pacific League is pretty well-balanced this year, so you never know what will happen, but Lotte’s chances look pretty good.

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Answering Google’s Questions

» 19 June 2010 » In Uncategorized » 4 Comments

Some of the search engine queries that wind up on this site are phrased as questions. Not all of the questions are answered directly by the content on the site, so I thought I’d answer a few of the more interesting ones here.

- Who is the shortest person in the npb?

This one has shown up multiple times. My best guess is Rakuten infielder Kensuke Uchimura, who is 163 cm or 5’4.

- Where does Hayato Doue play?

Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.

- Who is the best hitter in Japan today?

Today, I would say it’s Kazuhiro Wada, who is tearing up the Central League to the tune of .356/.454/.662 with 17 hr and 44 rbi.

- What pitches does Ryota Igarashi throw?

Mostly a fastball and a splitter. I wrote a profile of him last year, haven’t seen enough of him with the Mets to know if it’s still accurate.

- What is a 4 shake ball?

A knuckleball thrown with a forkball grip. See here for more.

Who does Tadahito Iguchi play baseball for in 2010?

Chiba Lotte Marines.

Who did the SoftBank Hawks trade for Roberto Petagine?

No one, Petagine was signed as a free agent.

Who is Dioni Soriano?

The latest graduate of the Hiroshima Carp’s Dominican Academy to reach NPB. I wrote a little bit about him over at FanGraphs.

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Friday Night Yakyu

» 18 June 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

Or Saturday afternoon, depending on what time zone you’re in.

Got a live feed here of the Dragons vs the Giants. I’ve also updated the NPB Live page.

Watch live video from chihling on Justin.tv

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Velocity Charts of the Week

» 17 June 2010 » In npb » 5 Comments

A couple of velocity charts this week jumped out at me:

  • Eulogio de la Cruz made his Yakult debut on June 15, and showed great velocity but bad command. Case in point: he hit 158 kmph on the gun, but it was on a fastball in that dirt.
  • Another Yakult pitcher, Yoshinori, hit Rakuten with a barrage of fastballs last Sunday. He too showed strong velocity, but had very few strikeouts to show for it.

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