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More Data

» 27 August 2011 » In npb, NPB Tracker » 3 Comments

Real-life responsibilities have largely kept me away from writing and baseball in general over the last month, but I did find a few hours to add a feature to the data site: pitching lines! Each pitcher’s profile page now includes a complete pitching line for each game he’s appeared in. The caveat is that the data only goes as far back as 2009, which is when I started collecting it.

Here are a couple examples: Ryan Vogelsong, Hayato Terahara and Masahiro Tanaka. Oh, right, and Yu Darvish.

As always, if you see anything that looks wrong, please let me know.

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Year Three Is In The Books

» 28 June 2011 » In NPB Tracker » 1 Comment

It’s hard to believe, but NPB Tracker has been online for over three years now. June 15 was the official date, but I was busy last week.

Ever year has it’s highlights, and this year was no different. I’m probably forgetting a few things but these are the ones that jump out:

  • Coming darn close to actually seeing a game with Deanna and Westbaystars-san. We got as far as the box office at Tokyo Dome, but the BayStars-Giants game was sold out, so instead we had dinner at Hichiori Morimoto’s parents’ restaurant, Yakiniku Erika.
  • The awesome surprise of walking into Borders one day and seeing my article on the cover of Rotowire’s annual Fantasy Guide. Getting to finally meet Peter Schoenke after having worked with Rotowire for the last couple years was fun as well.
  • Getting together with all the guys from FanGraphs in Arizona during spring again.
  • Adding Ken and Adam to the NPB Tracker family.

I’d also like to say thanks to all the readers and commenters for making this thing fun.

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NPB Bullet Points: Shoda, Kikuchi’s Velocity, Darvish’s One-Seam

» 10 April 2011 » In npb, NPB Tracker » 4 Comments

It’s been a while. Here is a random collection of news articles I’ve read recently and found interesting enough to share.

  • Fresh off his release from the Red Sox, Itsuki Shoda is headed to Niigata of the independent BC League.
  • Yusei Kikuchi has made Seibu’s opening day roster, and will start the year in middle relief. He’s also working on a two-seam fastball and a changeup, and hit 155 km/h on the gun in a bullpen session.
  • Hanshin’s opening day starter? Hasn’t been announced, but lefty Atsushi Nohmi is reportedly in the mix. I can’t see why it wouldn’t be Yasutomo Kubo.
  • Osamu Hamanaka is surprisingly a candidate to hit third for Yakult. Hamanka was a good hitter early in his career with Hanshin, but he’s been badly derailed by injuries. Perhaps he’ll experience a Ken Suzuki-style resurgence with Yakult; it is the time of year for optimism.
  • Yu Darvish has been experimenting again with a one-seam fastball, and broke Seiichi Uchikawa’s bat with one in a full count on the 6th. I had thought the one-seam was something new that Darvish invented, but the Nikkan Sports article I linked to says that Tim Hudson and Joel Pineiro throw it. Daigo Fujiwara posted a great summary of the pitch last August.
  • As of the 8th, the parking lot at Chiba’s newly-renamed QVC Marine Field had not been cleared for usage.
  • Seibu has announced that closer Brian Sikorski has returned to Japan after a temporary post-quake visit to the US. All five of Seibu’s players are now back in Japan. Jose Fernandezadmitted to taking it easy while he was away, and since it took a long time to get Sikorski back, the Lions had been looking at using rookie Tatsuya Oishi as their closer.
  • Yokohama’s Brent Leach has decided not to return to Japan, and the BayStars have classified him as a “restricted player” (seigen senshu). According to Nikkan Sports, the restricted player designation was established in 1998, and is intended for players who are taking a personal break from baseball activities. Leach is the first player classified as restricted since the rule’s inception.
  • Former Chiba Lotte Marines pitchers Tomohiro “Johnny” Kuroki and Satoru Komiyama will be raising a rice field with fans in Sodegaura, Chiba this year.
  • iPhone users: magazine Yakyu Kozo has released an app called Makyu Kozo, a cartoon-ish pitching simulation. It looks like it is available in the US app store as well.

And in a site announcement, I’d like to officially welcome our newest writer to NPB Tracker, Adam Burton. Adam is a translator based in the Kansai region of Japan, and has kicked off his NPB Tracker career with a couple MLB updates. Needless to say, we’re happy to have him on board.

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Site Announcement

» 01 April 2011 » In NPB Tracker » 3 Comments

I have an exciting announcement to make on this first day of the fourth month of the 2011th year since we started counting. I have agreed to terms to sell NPB Tracker and it’s related properties to America Online. Apparently AOL was looking for the next hot property to scoop up after buying the Huffington Post and decided we were it. Needless to say, we’re excited about moving to our new home.

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Disaster Strikes

» 14 March 2011 » In NPB Tracker » 11 Comments

Unless you’ve been in a cave, you’re aware of the series of disasters that has taken place over the last few days in northern Japan. I was away in Arizona when these events took place.

I would like to say that I hope everyone reading this was unharmed by the earthquake and tsunami. If you or your family or friends are among those affected, please accept my deepest sympathies, and know that you are in the thoughts of many people on this side of the Pacific.

While I come up with something intelligent to say about the situation, I’d like to direct your attention to two items I found on the New York Times: before and after satellite imagery of various locales in the Tohoku region, and Nicholas Kristof’s blog post on Japanese resolve.

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Beyond the Boxscore Podcast

» 03 March 2011 » In NPB Tracker » 6 Comments

Dave Gershman was kind enough to invite on the Beyond the Boxscore Podcast, which “aired” on Wednesday. My segment starts about an hour in, and you can download it from this page.

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2011 Rotowire Fantasy Baseball Guide

» 08 February 2011 » In NPB Tracker » Comments Off

I’m back with my second plug in as many days. This year, my friends at Rotowire again invited me to contribute to their highly recognized annual Fantasy Baseball Guide. I happily accepted, and wrote an article about two Japanese players that are moving to MLB this year (Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Yoshinori Tateyama) and one we thought would (Hiroyuki Kobayashi).

The guide is available online now and making its way to newsstands across the country, so if you happen to see i, give it a look.

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Welcome Ken!

» 08 February 2011 » In NPB Tracker » 4 Comments

Some of our more eagle-eyed readers may have already noticed this, but writer Ken Dick joined NPB Tracker last November. Ken has already published 10 articles to the site and I’m happy to have him on board.

Kenneth Dick, contributing writer

A baseball fan since 1981, Ken discovered the Japanese game when live broadcasts became widely available over the Internet circa 2005. He founded and maintained one of the earliest fan sites dedicated to the New York Mets on the web back in 1995. In 2007 he was selected by his local National Hockey League team, the New York Islanders, to participate in a groundbreaking program as a full access blogger. Ken made his first trip/baseball stadium tour of Japan in April 2010, and hopes to return in the near future to witness a Summer Koshien tournament. He is also an aviation enthusiast and history buff. He resides in Huntington, New York.

Welcome Ken!

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Phoenix Calling

» 07 February 2011 » In NPB Tracker » 1 Comment

And now for a special announcement. This year, I’ll be taking part in a couple of events at MLB Spring Training in Arizona hosted by my friends at Fangraphs. If you happen to be in the Phoenix area on March 11-12, I hope to see you there.

For the rest of this plug, I will borrow heavily steal directly from the great Dave Cameron’s event announcement at Fangraphs:

FanGraphs Live At Goodyear Ballpark – Friday, March 11th, 10:30 a.m.

Get your nose out of that spreadsheet and watch a game… with a bunch of other people who also like spreadsheets.

On Friday, March 11th, the FanGraphs staff will descend on beautiful Goodyear Ballpark to watch a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Seattle Mariners. Prior to the game, we will be hosting a Q&A with several notable members of the Cleveland Indians baseball operations staff, and then our team of writers will be hanging out in a group area for the rest of the day to watch the game. Included in your admission to this event:

* Pre-Game Q&A with members of the Cleveland Indians front office

* Early admission to the park before the gates open to the public.

* Unlimited ballpark food and non-alcoholic beverages

* Approximately 4 1/2 hours of time hanging out with more than 15 members of the FanGraphs and RotoGraphs staff.

* A highly competitive baseball game between two titans of the American League. Or, at least, nine innings of baseball.

FanGraphs Live In Phoenix – Saturday, March 12th, 6:30 p.m.

Don’t want to watch a baseball game and eat unlimited amounts of food, but still want to hang out with the FanGraphs crowd? We can do that too. On Saturday, March 12th, from 6:30 to 9:30 pm, we will be hosting panel discussions with members of the FanGraphs and RotoGraphs staff, as well as several notable executives from various Major League front offices. They’ll talk about how statistical analysis plays a role in their decision making with their respective clubs, we’ll talk about how awesome heat maps are, and the RotoGraphs guys will talk ADP and other fantasy related topics.

The room we’ve rented for the event is slightly larger than a starter home, so space is somewhat limited. This will likely be a more intimate affair, as much as a collection of baseball statgeeks getting together on a Saturday evening can be considered intimate. Admission to this event will include:

* A chair

* A chance to ask questions of some pretty interesting people

* The right to awkwardly hang around after the event ends and see if the group ends up going to any drinking establishments nearby.

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NPB Bullet Points: Ouen-dan, Wakui, Darvish, Orix Uniforms

» 08 January 2011 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb, npb draft, NPB Tracker » 10 Comments

Before I get caught up on my more analytical pieces, here’s about a week’s worth of news items:

  • The Yomiuri Giants have broken up the Tokyo Yomiuri Kyojin-gun Ouen-dan (Tokyo Yomiuri Giants Cheering Club) over “improper re-sale of game tickets”.
  • Seibu ace Hideaki Wakui is having a hard time reaching an agreement with the Lions on his 2011 salary. It’s reportedly possible that he won’t have a contract signed by the time camp opens, and thus have to pay his way there.
  • Chiba Marine Stadium has been rechristened QVC Marine Field. Yes, that’s QVC, the television shopping network.
  • Sponichi points out that, in addition to being the son of former Chunichi Dragon Mark Ryal, Rusty Ryal was also the guy that hit a line drive off Hiroki Kuroda’s head back in 2009.
  • The Yukan Fuji paper published an article about Bill James projections found at my other haunt, Fangraphs.com. The headline was James’ projection that Koji Uehara would save 31 games with a 2.81 ERA for the Orioles this upcoming season.
  • According to Sankei News, the Chiba Lotte Marines took in 8bn yen in revenue in 2010, the highest figure in team history. While the club finished 2bn yen in the red, they lost 1.3bn yen less than the previous year, and the 8bn yen represents a quadrupling in revenue since 2004. Winning the Nippon Series and posting Tsuyoshi Nishioka helped boost Lotte’s income.
  • Despite being in great shape, former Yokohama and Orix player Katsuaki Furuki got his face bashed in his fighting debut.
  • Yu Darvish’s New Year’s Resolutions are to read two books per month, and watch movies that he doesn’t typically like. His intent is to “refine his sensitivity” (“感性を磨けるかなって理由です(^^)”).
  • Darvish’s Nippon Ham teammate, incoming rookie Yuki Saito, wants to play until he’s 50.
  • Here’s a great pic of Hiroshima ace Kenta Maeda working out with a medicine ball.
  • Lotte managed to sign their 6th-round draft pick, USC right Shuhei Fujiya. Fujiya gets Johnny Kuroki’s number 54.
  • Orix has unveiled their new uniforms. I’m a little disappointed, I thought they would change them more. I think they should have brought back the old Kintetsu Buffaloes logo, at least on an arm patch or something.
  • And finally, one in English: speaking to ESPN, Matt Murton called going to Japan “100 percent the best decision I made.”

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