Japan postseason outlook

Baseball in Japan will finish its regular season next week and here are a few notes I came up with on twitter so I though I might compile them here as well.

  • I was really impressed with Hanshin’s pitching. Somehow I had though they were a lot worse, but as of September 30th they had 4 guys in the top 12 of the Cenral League and three of them (Iwata, Fujinami and Messenger) had an ERA below 3.30.
  • Takashi Toritani,.313/.405/.415 (.352 w/ RISP), and Matt Murton, .340/.396/.481 (.338 w/ RISP), were a very nice 3-4 combination for Hanshin this season.
  • The Softbank Hawks have six players with at least 100 games and a BA over .300.
  • Homerun numbers are back to normal after Coco Balentien’s magical season. CL Leader Brad Eldred (Carp) 37. PL Leader Ernesto Mejia (Lions) 33.
  • The Hanshin Tigers’ run differential is -16 (could still change) and they’ve made it to the postseason.
  • Orix Buffaloes have a team ERA of 2.92.
  • Hiroshima Carp have outhomered everybody with 151 jacks.
  • While Yakult Swallows sit in last place of the Central League, they still had the highest team batting average on September 30th with .279.
  • The best thieves are in the Pacific League with the Hawks, the Buffaloes and Fighters all recording more than 120 stolen bases.
  • Oh Seung-hwan looks like a legitimate successor to Kyuji Fujikawa. He recorded 38 saves with a 1.83 ERA.

The postseason is set in the Central League with the Giants clinching the division. They will wait for the winner of the first stage of the Climax Series. If I read this right though, for that first round series, the home field advantage is still up in the air. The Carp (74-67-2, .525) and the Tigers (75-68-1, 524) are almost tied. The Carp still need to play one more game. Now my math isn’t very good, but if they lose, their winning percentatge should drop below the Tigers. Which would mean the series will be played at Koshien.

Over in the Pacific League the Softbank Hawks have clinched the division title and will wait for the winner of the Buffaloes vs Fighters series. Orix will have the home field advantage here. Quite frankly, one has to hope for a Chihiro Kaneko vs Shohei Ohtani matchup for game one. That should be a thriller. While Kaneko has had himself an outstanding season (16-5, 1.93 ERA, 191 IP, 199 K, 42 BB, 1.04 WHIP), Ohtani did it from both sides of the field. As a pitcher he was outstanding (11-4, 2.64 ERA, 153.1 IP, 176 K, 57 BB, 1.17 WHIP), as a batter … well … he was almost as brilliant (86 G, 212 AB, .274/.338/.505, 10 HR, 31 RBI, 21 BB, 48 K). Those are ridiculous numbers for a pitcher. He just has to hope his teammates can keep up with him.

The postseason will start on October 11th with the first round of the climax series.

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