Tag Archive > Hayato Sakamoto

I Disagree About a Few Things

» 19 November 2010 » In npb » 6 Comments

The other day, NPB held its awards ceremony and announced the winners of this year’s MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Best Nine awards. Gen over at Yakyu Baka has transcribed all the winners (MVP/RoY, Best Nines), which saves me the trouble of doing it here. I don’t plug Gen often enough, so here’s another link — go and look at his site.

I published my picks about a month ago, and amazingly, the NPB voters mostly agreed with me. But there were a few differences.

Pacific League MVP — my pick: Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Lotte SS), winner: Tsuyoshi Wada (Softbank SP)

Wow. I don’t think I can disagree with this more strongly. NPB MVP voters have an annoying habit of favoring players from the league winner. That, combined with Wada’s one win more than Softbank teammate Toshiya Sugiuchi, was enough to propel him to the award. Nishioka had a historic year in which he drove Lotte’s league-leading offense with 206 hits and 121 runs (17% of Lotte’s total). Penalizing him because his team finished 2.5 games out of first is both archaic and illogical. Then again, maybe the voters were punishing him because he is a bit of a prima donna, or because he’s bolting for MLB.

Pacific Leage RoY — my pick: Keisuke Kattoh (Softbank RP), winner Ryo Sakakibara (Nippon Ham RP)

I didn’t realize Sakakibara was eligible; I guess that’s why I’m not an official voter. Kattoh finished second, no complaints.

Pacific League Best Nine P — my pick Yu Darvish (Nippon Ham), winner Tsuyoshi Wada (Softbank)

Not much to say here — Darvish was superior to Wada in every category except wins. I would have put Sugiuchi and Chihiro Kaneko ahead of Wada as well, so he would have been my fourth choice for this award.

Pacific League Best Nine 2B — my pick Tadahito Iguchi (Lotte), winner Kensuke Tanaka (Nippon Ham)

I was actually kind of on the fence about this one. In the end I took Iguchi’s glove, power and walks over Tanaka’s batting average. The voters didn’t agree though, and Iguchi finished in third. In second was Softbank’s Yuichi Honda who hit .296 and led the PL with 59 steals.  Yasuyuki Kataoka would have been my third choice, but he finished a distant fourth despite better overall numbers than Honda.

Pacific League Best Nine OF — my picks Teppei (Rakuten), Yoshio Itoi (Nippon Ham), winners Takumi Kuriyama (Seibu), T-Okada (Orix)

I picked T-Okada as the DH on my Best Nine, so I can live with him winning as an outfielder. I just don’t see how Kuriyama beats either Teppei or Itoi though, particularly Itoi, who was superior in slugging, on-base percentage, and base stealing.

Pacific League Best Nine DH — my pick Okada, winner Kazuya Fukuura (Lotte)

Fukuura put up a respectable .295/.354/.475 line, but didn’t get enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title.

Remarkably, the voters and I only disagreed on one Central League award:

Central League Best Nine SS — my pick Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri), winner Takashi Toritani (Hanshin)

I succumbed to the shiny allure of Sakamoto’s 31 home runs on this one. Toritani had a better batting average and on-base percentage, and made fewer errors.

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Giant Development, Yankee Influence

» 19 September 2009 » In international baseball, nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

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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Pro vs. College All-Stars

» 01 September 2009 » In amateur baseball, npb, sports business » Comments Off

Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Central and Pacific Leagues, the NPB young stars will take the field against a university all-star team on November 22nd at the Tokyo Dome. The NPB team will mainly consist players under the age of 26 and the candidates for the team include Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten Golden Eagles) and Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants). The university team should include Yuuki Saito and players (Junior or below) who will be eligible for the World University Championship taking place in Japan next year.

Each team will select 24 players and current Tokyo Yakult Swallows manager Shigeru Takada will manage the pros and current Kinki University manager Tamotsu Enomoto will lead the university team.

On August 30th, Japan Student Baseball Association approved a revision the Japan Student Baseball Charter and the change will allow the professionals to build relationship with a student-athletes with practices and games. There have been numerous revisions to the charter, but not in an extreme way which allowed the pros to exchange time together on the field with high school and college amateur players. However with the recent movements of amateur players opting to go straight to the United States, the last thing NPB wants to see are college prospects leaving the country without playing in the NPB. In order to avoid that, building a stronger relationship with the Japan Student Baseball Association was a must.

This will be an interesting attempt for both sides and a big crowd is expected as a possible Masahiro Tanaka vs. Yuuki Saito showdown might be seen again, bringing back memories for the fans of the memorable 2006 summer Koshien Tournament. The same generation choosing different paths after graduating from high school taking to the same field should bring numerous stories to the Tokyo Dome on November 22nd.

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