The Tigers don’t look like they’ve found their stride just yet. But it’s getting there.
I have to admit I was in a bit of a panic mode at the start of the NPB season, but the Tigers now look like they have turned a corner, sitting in second place behind the surprising Carp and in front of the Giants. And while last year Hanshin really rode their pitching, this year it’s the bats that keep them in the race.
I mean, out of the position players six players are hitting above .300, with Matt Murton leading the pack with a .380/.444/.671 line. Oh, and he already has 6HR as well.
On the other hand only Suguru Iwazaki has a decent ERA (2.00). Except for him and Randy Messenger (3.81), the rest of the staff didn’t really storm out of the blocks. Nohmi (4.78), Fujinami (5.40) and Enokida (9.20) all have room for improvement. Good for Fujinami he hit his first pro homerun though. Congrats
Looking at the bigger picture you can’t help but think that the Carp won’t be in first place for much longer if the can’t get their offense going. Their team average of .241 is dead last in the Central League. They are riding the pitching right now (2.86 team ERA, way ahead of the rest) and you bet it scared them to death when their ace Kenta Maeda looked like he might have injured himself. He’s off to a great start (2-1, 24.0 IP, 1.88 ERA, 20 K, 5 BB, 1.04 WHIP) and – if he keeps this up (which he should) – should be in line for a nice contract should he get posted during the winter.
Over in the Pacific League the Hawks are ahead of the rest for now, but the player everbody’s looking at has to be Shohei Ohtani. He got off to a great start with his arm (2-0, 15.0 IP, 1.20 ERA, 19 K, 6 BB, 1.67 WHIP) and his bat (.385/.405/.538). That’s with an absurd .429 average with runners in scoring position.
(Never mind what they’re saying in that video, just look at what he’s doing)
Last: You might have heard that Coco Balentien is leading the league in homeruns again? 11 in 19 games. If he keeps this up, we’re in for another record this year.