Yakult Swallows

The Swallows have long been Tokyo’s second-banana Central League franchise, their Jingu Stadium home situated about five kilometers from Tokyo Dome. Except for the 1990s, when Yakult was the Giants’ principal rival, the Swallows have fluctuated between terrible and competitive.

  • Manager: Shingo Takatsu
  • 2019 Finish: Last, 18 games out and nine games out of fifth place.

Former manager’s record: Junji Ogawa

YearTeamGWLTPctFinish
2018Marines14359813.4215
2019Marines14369704.4964
Total2861281517.459
Prev. 3 yrs4391992246.4703,3,6

Takatsu’s 286 saves are second all-time in NPB. He turned pro out of university in 1991 and didn’t wrap up his top-flight career until he saved 26 games in Taiwan in 2010. He also saved 27 in MLB and eight in South Korea. He becomes the second Japanese big leaguer to manage in Japan after Tadahito Iguchi took over the Marines in 2018.

Like Iguchi, he’ll have a former big leaguer as his pitching coach, former Los Angeles Dodgers all-star Takashi Saito.

Like Shinji Sasaoka of the Carp, Takatsu was promoted from pitching coach to manager when his boss quit. He is also the third straight Swallows manager to have run the farm club, having managed to good finishes in 2017 and 2018, when new Eagles manager Hajime Miki was his head coach.

Evaluating Yakult is a monumental task because of Jingu. An outdoor park with modest dimensions in the middle of Tokyo’s summer heat bubble, a lot of fly balls tend to get out, but not always. The club had four plus offensive performers last year: Superstar second baseman Tetsuto Yamada, left fielder Wladimir Balentien, Norichika Aoki (still grinding) and 2019 CL rookie of the year Munetaka Murakami.

The pitching was on the weak side, while the fielding was particularly poor. In 2014, this was the Swallows’ profile. The following year, the club brought in a new manager, a new veteran shortstop and an emphasis on defensive fundamentals. Those three things, an unusual amount of good health and a historic season from Yamada made them champions.

This year, they have a new manager, a new veteran shortstop (Alcides Escobar) and we’ll see. That 2015 Japan Series was played between the Swallows and the Hawks, two teams bent on bringing fitness training in Japanese baseball into the 21st century.

Unfortunately, since then, both clubs have had more than their share of injuries, which has been the norm for Yakult since 2010.

Key players

  • Tetsuto Yamada 2B
  • Munetaka Murakami 1B, 3B
  • Yuhei Takai RF
  • Yuhei Nakamura C
  • Wladimir Balentien LF >> SoftBank Hawks
  • Kengo Ota 3B
  • Norichika Aoki CF, LF
  • Taishi Hirooka SS, 3B
  • Nobuyuki Okumura SS

Strengths and weaknesses

Team Offensive rankings

  • Best in the league: walks
  • 2nd best in the league: runs, home runs, OBP, Iso Power
  • Next to worst in the league: stolen bases, BABiP
  • Worst in the league: doubles, strikeouts, Avg

Rankings against opponents’ offense

  • Best in the league: nothing
  • 2nd best in the league: GDP
  • Next to worst in the league: triples, stolen bases
  • Worst in the league: runs, home runs, strikeouts, BABiP, Avg, OBP, Slug,

Other rankings

  • Next to worst in the league: errors, saves
  • Worst in the league: ERA, quality starts
  • And… the Swallows issued 23 intentional walks, the second fewest in the league and were fourth in sacrifices.

Roster

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 
PChihaya Sasaki113
PAyumu Ishikawa126
PTomohisa Otani1410
PManabu Mima159
PAtsuki Taneichi163
PRoki Sasaki*170
PKota Futaki186
PYuki Karakawa1912
PTaiki Tojo204
PTatsuya Uchi2116
PYusuke Azuma*241
PDaiki Yamamoto*272
PTakahiro Matsunaga287
PYuji Nishino297
PTsuyoshi Ishizaki306
PMasaki Minami339
PSeiya Dohi343
PKeita Watanabe*352
PYuki Ariyoshi363
PFumiya Ono375
PKakeru Narita*414
PFRANK HERRMANN423
PKazuya Ojima431
PDaiki Iwashita465
PYasuhiro Tanaka4714
PToshiya Nakamura*481
PCHEN KUAN-YU495
PNaoya Masuda528
PShu Hara*564
PJAY JACKSON583
PRikuto Yokoyama*600
PShoji Nagano*622
PTakuro Furuya*651
PHideto Doi*691
PJOSE FLORES860
PFumiya Motomae*1200
PMizuki Kamata*1210
PRyotaro Mori*1230
PYuta Omine12613
PJOSE ACOSTA1280
PEDUARD SANTOS1300
CTatsuhiro Tamura227
CToshiya Sato*320
CYuta Yoshida396
CYuito Munetsugu*453
CNaoya Emura539
CToru Hosokawa5518
CTomoya Kakinuma993
CShota Ueda*1250
IFTakashi Toritani116
IFYudai Fujioka42
IFHisanori Yasuda*52
IFShogo Nakamura85
IFTaiga Hirasawa134
IFRyo Miki236
IFKoki Fukuda*400
IFSeiya Inoue446
IFShin Matsuda*501
IFBRANDON LAIRD545
IFKazuya Katsuki575
IFKei Hosoya5914
IFKenta Chatani*673
IFKenji Nishimaki682
IFTakuya Takahama12713
OFTakashi Ogino010
OFIkuhiro Kiyota110
OFKyota Fujiwara*21
OFKatsuya Kakunaka313
OFShuhei Fukuda713
OFShohei Kato107
OFHiromi Oka257
OFTsuyoshi Sugano312
OFAkito Takabe*380
OFKoki Yamaguchi*511
OFKazuma Mike*613
OFKoshiro Wada*630
OFLEONYS MARTIN791

2019 team data

Batters

NameThrGCGSOWLSHW PctIPHHRBBKRERERA
Kota FutakiR221071000.412128 2/3127163011568634.41
Ayumu IshikawaR27008505.615118 2/31299288150483.64
Atsuki TaneichiR26008202.800116 2/3114115113547423.24
Hideaki WakuiR18213700.30010412114278758524.50
MIKE BOLSINGERR20004600.40010310514528661534.63
Daiki Iwashita*R21005301.62596 1/38014477444393.64
Yuji NishinoR37112325.40070566236423232.96
Naoya MasudaR6000452712.44458 2/3365225615142.15
Tomohito SakaiR540054020.55657 2/3519256028284.37
CHEN KUAN-YUL44001105.50057542274528233.63
Kazuya Ojima*L10003500.37554 1/3555204528264.31
Taiki TojoR5800100161.000.00052 1/3527215326223.78
Yasuhiro TanakaR44004102.80039 2/3422122912122.72
Yuki KarakawaR400053014.62537 2/347763025225.26
Takahiro MatsunagaL460023025.40034 2/3253173213102.60
Chihaya SasakiR7002100.6673226212221192.53
Seiya DohiL60010001.000.00031 2/3354122812113.13
Toshiya Nakamura*L10001103.5002523282112124.32
Yusuke Azuma*R24003207.60021192131611114.71
BRANDON MANNL14000203.000161611220973.94
Yuki AriyoshiR2000200.0007 1/312452111113.50
Kazunari AbeR4000002.00041022000.00
Shoji Nagano*L5000103.00043022224.50
Masaki MinamiR4000100.0003 2/341435512.27
Tsuyoshi IshizakiR2000000.00024010229.00
JOSH RAVINR2000000.0001 2/331315527.00
Tomohisa OtaniR2000200.0001 2/320213210.80
Keisuke TakanoR2000000.0001 1/332102213.50

Pitchers

NameThrGCGSOWLSHW PctIPHHRBBKRERERA
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

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