Tag Archive > Dan Serafini

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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WBC Musings

» 13 March 2009 » In international baseball » Comments Off on WBC Musings

Time to get back into the swing of things and get back to writing here. I don’t think I’ll be able to post as often as I had been before, but hopefully I’ll get back to a decent pace. Let’s start with some thoughts on the WBC.

  • No matter who wins the WBC, the story of the tournament will be the Netherlands’ upset of the Dominican Republic. I watched the end of the second game and it was electric baseball —  the kind of thing that makes the tournament worth watching. I saw the last couple of innings of the Netherlands-Puerto Rico game, and the Dutch side didn’t look that good at the plate. They couldn’t catch up with what looked like MLB-average fastballs up in the zone. But then again, they were coming off an emotional game against the Dominicans, and were playing in front of a very enthusiastic Puerto Rican home crowd. They’ll be the underdogs against Venezuela, but I’m expecting a good game.
  • I stayed up late to watch some of the Asian pool games, specifically the ones involving Japan. Even I found Orestes Destrade’s Japan bias to be a little annoying. Anyway, the baseball was good. Yu Darvish mostly looked good against China, but I thought he nibbled a little too much and could have challenged the Chinese hitters with his excellent fastball a little more. He had complained about not being able to command his breaking pitches with the WBC ball, so we’ll see if that becomes an issue later on. 
  • Japan’s lineup looks a lot better with Atsunori Inaba not batting fourth. I didn’t expect them to pound Korea 14-2, nor did I expect them to lose 1-0 in the next game. We’ll see how they do against Cuba in round 2. 
  • What’s with the Italian team? Only 10 of the 28 players are actually from Italy. I saw a lot of commenters saying that their win over Canada was “good for Italian baseball” but how does it help if it’s Dan Serafini and Frank Catalanotto (nothing against those two guys)? 

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