SoftBank Hawks

Despite not having won the Pacific League since 2017, the SoftBank Hawks have finished runner-up the past two seasons, beat the Seibu Lions in the playoffs’ final stage. They then advanced to the Japan Series, which they have won three years in a row and five times in the last sixyears.

  • Manager: Kimiyasu Kudo
  • 2020 Finish: 2nd, beat Seibu in final stage of PL Climax Series 4-1 in four games — Seibu’s only “win” the automatic one-win advantage the Lions received as league champs. The Hawks then beat the Yomiuri Giants in four-straight games in the Japan Series.

Manager’s record: Kimiyasu Kudo

Prev. 3 yrs21819420.5293,4,1

Kudo, like his predecessor Koji Akiyama, and his Lions counterpart Hatsuhiko Tsuji, was a key part of the Seibu Lions’ golden age, see my PL history notes HERE.

A former pitcher, Kudo’s 224 career victories are 13th all-time in Japanese pro baseball history. He turned down the first team that sought to hire him as manager, the DeNA BayStars, when he found out they wanted an American-style organization, where the general manager and not the field manager had the final say in player personnel moves.

Kudo owes some of his longevity as a player to his study of sports science, and in 2015, his first season, the club was remarkably healthy but has since struggled with injuries.

The Hawks are well financed by owner Masayoshi Son, one of the world’s richest men, who took over the club in 2005 and vowed to make it the world’s strongest team. Under Son’s ownership, the Hawks spend more on domestic talent than any team in either league, became the first PL club to lure a star free agent in his prime (Seiichi Uchikawa) from the CL, and are now the last team to completely reject the posting system.

Key players

  • Yurisbel Gracial LF, RF
  • Taisei Makihara 2B, CF, SS, RF
  • Seiji Uebayashi RF, CF
  • Nobuhiro Matsuda 3B
  • Takuya Kai C
  • Seiichi Uchikawa 1B
  • Go Kamamoto CF, LF
  • Kenta Imamiya SS
  • Kenji Akashi 2B
  • Alfredo Despaigne DH

Strengths and weaknesses

The Lions have no glaring offensive weaknesses. They are Japan’s best base-stealing team, they get on base, they hit for power, they stay out of double plays, partly because they hit the ball on the ground less, steal bases better and have great team speed.

Team Offensive rankings

  • Best in the league: home runs, fewest GDP
  • 2nd best in the league: SB Pct, sacrifice hits, Slug, Iso Power
  • Next to worst in the league in OBP
  • Worst in the league: doubles, triples, walks

Their Hawks are solid overall in both pitching and defense although they did issue the most walks in the league. With their biggest hitters — mostly star center fielder Yuki Yanagita — missing playing time, they club plugged holes with guys who could run and catch and throw.

Although SoftBank has modified their home park to make it home run friendly by shortening the home run distances as has been done by the Marines in Chiba and the Eagles in Sendai, they allowed the second-fewest home runs in the league.

Rankings against opponents’ offense

  • Best in the league: runs, doubles, triples, stolen bases, Avg, Slug allowed
  • 2nd best in the league: home runs allowed and opponents’ SB Pct
  • Worst in the league: walks issued

The Hawks had some holes in middle relief and in the starting rotation, but their backup closer Yuito Mori led the league in saves.

Other rankings

  • Best in the league: saves, ERA
  • 2nd best in the league: errors
  • Next to worst in the league: passed balls
  • And… the Hawks were 2nd in the league in sacrifice hits, their 100 was one shy of Orix’s 101; 4th in relievers used (477), 5th in intentional walks issued with 11, one more than Seibu’s league-low 10


Notes: Names in all caps are imported players; names with asterisks still qualify as rookies, hyperlinks are to the player’s English language page.

PosNameNo.Prev years
PKotaro Otake101
PYuki Tsumori*110
PAkira Nibo138
PRen Kajiya146Non-tendered
PNao Higashihama167
PSho Iwasaki1712
PShota Takeda188
PHiroshi Kaino201
PTsuyoshi Wada2113
PSeigi Tanaka*253
PHaruto Yoshizumi*262Non-tendered
PRei Takahashi282
PShuta Ishikawa293
PArata Shiino342
PMATT MOORE370Non-tendered
PYuito Mori386
PShuto Ogata*390
PKazuki Sugiyama*401
PKodai Senga418
PRyoma Matsuda429Non-tendered
PRICK VAN DEN HURK445Non-tendered
PJumpei Takahashi474
PYuta Watanabe*480Aug. 31 Signed from Dev roster
PYuto Furuya*493
PYugo Bando*501
PKeisuke Izumi*531
PFumimaru Taura*562
PShinya Kayama578
PMasato Okumura*611
PHiroyuki Kawahara636
PYuki Matsumoto665
PShunsuke Kasaya675
PTomohisa Ozeki*1220
PReiji Kozawa*1233Released 11/30
PYuto Nozawa*1290Released 11/30
PNaoya Okamoto*1330
PTakeshi Watanabe*1370Released 11/30
PTomoaki Shigeta*1380
PShun Murakami*1430
CHiroaki Takaya1213
CTakuya Kai196
CRyoya Kurihara315
CKenta Tanigawara*454
CTakashi Umino*620
CYuhei Kuki*653
CSoichiro Ishizuka*1210
CRiku Watanabe*1320
CTamon Horiuchi*1441Released 11/30
IFHikaru Kawase004
IFSeiichi Uchikawa119Non-tendered
IFNobuhiro Matsuda514
IFKenta Imamiya610
IFKenji Akashi816
IFTetsuro Nishida2210Non-tendered
IFUkyo Shuto230
IFShu Masuda*332
IFTaisei Makihara368
IFRichard Sunagawa*520
IFDaiju Nomura*551
IFMasaki Miori*683
IFJui Kobayashi*690
IFKeizo Kawashima9915
IFShogo Furusawa*1244Released 11/30
IFKenta Kurose*1263Released 11/30
IFDaisuke Ito*1280
IFHaruki Katsuren*1300
IFShota Araki*1360
OFAkira Nakamura712
OFYuki Yanagita99
OFYuya Hasegawa2413
OFNaoki Sato*300
OFTatsuru Yanagimachi*320
OFOSCAR COLAS462Placed on restricted list 2/19. Non-tendered
OFSeiji Uebayashi516
OFShun Mizutani*591
OFGo Kamamoto605
OFYusuke Masago647
OFShogo Omoto*1250Released 11/30
OFHidetora Funakoshi*1310
OFTsubasa Tashiro*1350Released 11/30
OFYamato Higurashi*1390Released 11/30
OFRikuya Shimizu*1410Released 11/30
OFTakamasa Nakamura*1420

2019 team data


Nobuhiro MatsudaR1435765346413925230765333115.260.305.483.336
Seiichi UchikawaR137535500491282101241302849.256.296.370.292
ALFREDO DESPAIGNER130519448611169036880163119.259.355.520.375
Takuya KaiR137454377429815011439450114.260.346.387.329
Taisei MakiharaL114436409379914232710131085.242.267.308.256
Kenta ImamiyaR10642638344981501441453267.256.317.405.318
YURISBEL GRACIALR103410373611191712868432284.319.365.595.407
Kenji AkashiL993152823170123521622666.248.313.365.300
Seiji UebayashiL9928625828506211311041875.194.254.360.265
Go Kamamoto*L861891731838214111111256.220.270.312.261
Shuhei FukudaB80183166274380926931148.259.302.470.330
Akira NakamuraL44159139103431311001513.245.321.345.299
Yuki YanagitaL38157128173761723412828.289.420.516.405
Tomoki TakataL931251156181001020336.
Ukyo Shuto*L10211410239203216255227.
Keizo KawashimaR4788661424511841179.364.488.515.438
Yuya HasegawaL25544361340391074.302.407.605.419
Masaki Miori*L245148710220132217.208.255.333.249
Ryoya Kurihara*L32453949011700310.231.311.359.291
Hiroaki TakayaL55423025001100515.
Hikaru Kawase*L2937341600011115.
Masayoshi TsukadaR1824181400130056.222.417.389.341
Yusuke MasagoR12232143000120111.
Yuki MimaR1522224210110005.
OSCAR COLASL721182500120016.278.381.444.367
Tomoaki EgawaR1117151500000013.333.412.333.347
Tetsuro NishidaR7882110010000.
Kodai SengaL26660210000002.333.333.500.367
Rei Takahashi*R23440100000002.
Shu Masuda*R2440000000001.000.0000000.000
Kotaro OtakeL17330000000002.000.0000000.000
Yuki MatsumotoL7320110010001.500.5001.000.650
Yuhei Kuki*R2320000000001.000.3330000.233
Tsuyoshi WadaL12210000000011.000.5000000.350
Daiju Nomura*R2220100000000.500.500.500.450
Shota TakedaR32110000000000.000.0000000.000
ROBERT SUAREZR9110000000001.000.0000000.000


Kodai SengaR262213800.619180 1/3134197522760562.79
Rei Takahashi*R230012600.66714311410497356533.34
Kotaro OtakeL17105400.55610611113207247453.82
ARIEL MIRANDAL18007500.583868013485844404.19
Shota TakedaR32005319.62583786407048424.55
LIVAN MOINELOL600031434.75059 1/3374258613101.52
Hiroshi Kaino*R650025826.28658 2/3496347328274.14
Tsuyoshi WadaL12004400.50057 2/35611144526253.90
Yuito MoriR540023357.40053405135913132.21
Ryoma MatsudaR51002405.33352418325723223.81
Jumpei Takahashi*R450032017.60051364175817152.65
Arata Shiino*R36005206.71446375314920163.13
Akira NiboR8001400.20038 1/3406161519173.99
Ren KajiyaR30003106.75036424222326246.00
Nao HigashihamaR7002200.50035 1/3365232626256.37
Yuki MatsumotoR7001100.50033 2/3352113218154.01
Shinya KayamaL540022119.500312915261392.61
ROBERT SUAREZR9000400.00026 2/3286202718175.74
Hiroyuki KawaharaL19000001.00023 2/322114101072.66
Keisuke Izumi*R140020031.000.00018 1/3171818541.96
RICK VAN DEN HURKR30020001.000.00017 1/3132222763.12
Masato Okumura*R12000103.00012 1/313371012128.76
Fumimaru Taura*L8000000.000108166554.50
Shunsuke Kasaya*L2000000.00056177447.20
Kenichi NakataR1000000.0004 2/33032111.93
Kazuki Sugiyama*R2000000.00045054449.00
Shuta IshikawaR2000001.00032003000.00
Sho IwasakiR2000000.00021012114.50
Seigi Tanaka*R1000000.0000 2/31020000.00

writing & research on Japanese baseball