Tag Archive > Sho Aranami

A Midsummer Night’s Blog Post

» 18 August 2012 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

While my baseball consumption has not returned to it’s previous levels, my itch to write has returned, so tonight I’m taking a hiatus from my hiatus to share a few thoughts on the season so far.

  • After years of anticipation, Yu Darvish, has made his Major League debut. The results have been mixed — lots of strikeouts, lots of walks. The walks are a surprise to me; the mid-season struggles are not. I must admit that fate has conspired against me, and I haven’t seen a single Darvish start all the way through this year.
  • Nippon Ham has carried on without Darvish, currently leading the Pacific League by a game over Seibu. 24 year-old lefty Mitsuo Yoshikawa took advantage of the hole left by Darvish, and is enjoyed a breakout season. While he lacks Darvish’s eye-popping dominance, a 10-4 record with a 1.91 ERA isn’t too shabby.
  • I never thought I’d see Ichiro traded, but last month it happened. It felt more like Ichiro was on the path to retirement this season, but his bat has woken up a bit with the Yankees. Perhaps playing for a winning time will revive his career.
  • The Japanese Players Association is threatening to sit out next year’s World Baseball Classic if WBC Inc doesn’t give them a bigger share of the revenue. So far neither side is willing to budge. I hope they can work out some sort of agreement because a Japanese boycott would be bad for both sides.
  • I didn’t get to finish my predictions this spring, but every year I think that Chunichi is going to stumble and that Seibu is going to be good. And, every year I’m wrong, at least about the Chunichi side of the prediction. This year was no exception. I thought Chunichi was set for a big step backwards, but they’re comfortably in second place in the Central, and had been in the hunt for first until Yomiuri started to pull away. Seibu got off to a rough start and appeared to be headed for a disappointing season, but has righted the ship and is now in the hunt for a league title.
  • I was going to write something about Brad Penny here but I don’t think I’ll bother.
  • Softbank veteran Hiroki Kokubo announced his retirement last week. Otsukare-sama.
  • Yomiuri veteran and personal favorite Yoshinobu Takahashi slugged his 300th career home run last week. Jason Coskrey has more.
  • The two young players I’ve enjoyed watching the most this year? Hiroshima’s Yusuke Nomura and Yokohama DeNA’s Sho Aranami.
  • While it doesn’t stack up to MLB’s three perfect games this season, NPB has seen a pair of no-hitters this year: Toshiya Sugiuchi’s against Rakuten on May 30, and Kenta Maeda’s against DeNA on April 6. Although, I did not witness either of these games, I did catch a pair of near no-hitters. Another personal favorite, Daisuke Miura, took a no-no into the 9th against Hanshin on May 12, but pinch-hitter Shinjiro Hiyama put up a veteran at-bat, working a full count before finally hitting a long single. Hanshin eventually scored and Miura lost his shutout, but won the game. The other was another Sugiuchi gem, thrown on May 4 against Hanshin. The only solid contact I recall Sugiuchi surrendering happened to be the only hit Hanshin managed, a sharp single, hit mid-game by Takashi Toritani. The game lacked the drama of a late-innings no-hit bid, but was a dominant performance nonetheless.

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A Good Season For The BayStars

» 31 May 2011 » In npb » 11 Comments

The Yokohama BayStars have an impressive track record of futility. They’ve finished in the Central League’s basement seven of the last nine years, twice finishing more than 40 games out of first place. The February issue of Yakyu Kozo featured a detailed analysis of Yokohama’s 2010 futility. Among other things, the ‘Stars were the worst or second to worst in the Central League in scoring first in games, winning percentage after scoring first, wining percentage after failing to score first, advancing runners, scoring with runners in scoring position and less than two outs, and inducing swinging strikes on pitches outside the strike zone.

After an offseason that saw the BayStars wave goodbye to their best pure hitter, their best arm, and a productive middle infield bat, I figured another last place finish was the safest bet in Japan this year. So far Yokohama has matched this expectation, in 6th place with a 14-22-3 record. But it’s more competitive last place, with the bright spots being that so far Hama’s offense leads the Central League with 28 home runs and 133 runs scored. Their pitching is still way behind the rest of the league though, and that’s probably not a situation that will improve much during the season.

So the focus in Yokohama has to be on finding and developing the players who are going to be on the next good BayStars team. Some of them may be on the roster already, and here’s what I would consider a good season for the BayStars.

  • Development from Takayuki Makka, Kota Suda, Atori, Kisho Kagami and any other young pitcher that happens to be around.

Pitching has been the core of Yokohama’s problem for so long that pitching has the be the top priority, particularly developing the best prospects from the last two or three drafts. I don’t really see a potential ace among this group, but if three of these guys become useful pitchers, that’ll be a pretty big win.

  • Kentaro Takasaki‘s first eight starts not being a fluke.

I saw Takasaki pitch in relief a season or two ago and was not impressed. I saw him start a game against Chunichi early this season and was extremely impressed. Nothing he threw was overwhelming, but he seemed to throw the right pitch each time while I was watching. Through eight starts, Takasaki has a 2.60 ERA in 52 innings, with 36 K, 15 BB, 3 HR. The ERA is going to go up, but if he has another 120 quality innings in him it’ll be the best season a Yokohama starter has had in a while.

  • Getting some kind of sustainable contribution from at least one of their young foreign pitchers: Clayton Hamilton, Brandon Mann, Luis Gonzalez, Kuan-Yu Chen, and I-Cheng Wang.

The foreign pitcher section of Yokohama’s roster is mostly populated with development project types. I would be lying if I claimed to know much about any of these guys, aside from the observation that they mostly completely lack MLB experience and mostly lack upper minors experience. Finding useful innings from one of these guys over the next few seasons will be a plus. Hamilton’s heart seems to be in the right place, I’d love to see him to well.

  • Development from Keijiro Matsumoto or Sho Aranami.

Center field has been a hole for Yokohama since… when? Tatsuhiko Kinjo’s most recent good season? Hitoshi Tamura? Tatsuya Shimozono was actually respectable with the bat last year, but hasn’t played at all this season. I don’t really think Hichori Morimoto is a starter any more, though he is a useful player. Matsumoto and Aranami have both up up ugly lines at ni-gun this season; one of those guys turning things around and becoming a viable outfield option would be a major depth boost.

  • A good draft.

Most of the guys I’ve written about fall in to a supporting cast category. Yokohama needs more stars, particularly a frontline starting pitcher. There are a couple of big arms in this year’s draft, and they’ll need to score one of them.

I’d love to see a more competitive NPB, one that doesn’t have any doormats. With Orix showing signs of life these last few years, we’re only a healthy BayStars away from such a scenario.

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Offseason Changes: Yokohama BayStars

» 22 January 2011 » In npb » 16 Comments

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing team-by-team summaries of this offseason’s NPB transactions. There aren’t enough hours in the day to make this a comprehensive list of all movement, so we’ll focus on the highest-impact changes. Our series starts at the bottom of the Central League, which again means the Yokohama BayStars.

Coming: Hichori Morimoto, Shogo Yamamoto, Go Kida, Naoto Watanabe, Brandon Mann, Clayton Hamilton, Brent Leach, Ikki Shimamura, Koji Ohnuma, Kuan Yu Chen

Going: Seiichi Uchikawa, Hayato Terahara, Kazuya Takamiya, Chris Bootcheck, Stephen Randolph, Jose Castillo, Atsushi Kizuka,Yataro Sakamoto, Toshihiro Noguchi, Takahiro Saeki, Shingo Nonaka, Kentaro Kuwabara

Staying: Shuichi Murata, Brett Harper, Termel Sledge, Tatsuhiko Kinjoh, Tomo Ohka

Summary: A lot of turnover for the BayStars again this year, headlined by the losses of Uchikawa and Terahara. Uchi will be missed, as he was Hama’s most consistent on-base threat, and while Morimoto is a useful player, he doesn’t match up at the plate. And trading Terahara for Yamamoto… I just can’t understand that one. Even if they were dead set on acquiring a lefty, they could have simply signed Eric Stults or kept Randolph. But ‘Stars took a different approach to their import roster this year, signing less experienced minor leaguers Mann, Hamilton and Leach rather than getting more 4A guys. Signing a number of guys and seeing if one of them works out is actually a decent strategy for a team that can’t realistically expect to content in 2011. Or perhaps ownership is keeping the payroll down in anticipation of a team sale.

Yokohama finished last in run production and run prevention last year, and didn’t acquire any veteran talent that will immediately improve the team on either side of the ball. So is there any hope by the Bay in 2011? If there is, it has to come from the team’s young talent. The BayStars’ 2010 draft focused on college and Industrial League players who can help soon, and top picks Kota Suda, Kisho Kagami, and Sho Aranami should all be in the mix for ichi-gun time as rookies. Yokohama doesn’t have great organizational pitching depth, but any steps forward taken by Takayuki Makka, Hitoshi Fujie, Atori Ohta and Yoh Sugihara will be meaningful. Overall, though, this looks like a team that is headed for another last place finish.

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Japan Eliminated from the World Cup

» 24 September 2009 » In amateur baseball, international baseball, mlb prospects » Comments Off

Japan ended its run in the 2009 Baseball World Cup finishing 2-5 in the second round. The United States remained the only undefeated team in the second round.

  1. vs. Mexico: 9-2, Win
  2. vs. USA: 4-2, Loss
  3. vs. Chinese Taipei: 3-1, Loss
  4. vs. Canada: 3-2, Loss
  5. vs. Italy: 6-4, Loss
  6. vs. Australia, 5-0, Loss
  7. vs. Netherlands Antilles: 10-1, Win

The offensive leader of the second round  was OF Sho Aranami (Toyota) hitting .429 (6-14) with two doubles, five walks, and four runs scored playing in six games with four starts. He ranked 2nd in the second round with a .579 on-base-percentage. OF Ikuhiro Kiyota started in all seven games averaging .414 (12-29) with two doubles, HR, 5RBI, 3BB and 5R. He finished with the second most hits in the entire round.

The pitching remained consistent for Japan in the second round posting a 2.98ERA in seven games. The pitching staff of Japan struck out the most in the second round with 80. They held the opponents to .191 batting average. The defense showed their discipline with only three errors, the least in the round in seven games. RHP Tomohisa Ohtani (Toyota) was impressive with a 0.71ERA throwing 12.2 innings and allowing eight hits, a run and a walk with 12 strikeouts. LHP Atsushi Tanaka (Panasonic) ranked 2nd with 16 strikeouts posting a 2.38ERA in 11.1 innings pitched.

The tournament will continue with eight teams remaining and the schedule can be seen here.

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