Life in NPB’s results lane

On Friday, the Sankei Sports did their duty in reporting for the Hanshin Tigers by declaring that Jefry Marte is the team’s scapegoat.

The paper “reported” that the Hanshin Tigers need to get Yangervis Solarte signed and in uniform as soon as possible because Marte “has come to a complete stop.”

“What can we do, we put runners on base,” mused Tigers manager Akihiro Yano after Marte went 0-for-4 with runners on, three times with a man in scoring position in the Tigers’ 7-2 loss on Thursday to the DeNA BayStars.

“I’m sure he goes up to the plate with that focus. He has the desire. We just need a little more production.”

With two outs in the first and a runner on second, Marte took a borderline third strike on a 3-2 pitch. In the third, with the game tied 2-2, Marte miss-hit a high 0-1 fastball and lined out to strand a runner at second.

With two on and two outs in the fifth and the Tigers trailing 3-2, Marte swung and missed at two nasty splitters from rookie Shinichi Onuki.

Marte basically swung at strikes and didn’t swing out of the zone, but because he failed three times in a row. But here’s the kicker, had he hit bullets to shortstop three straight times, he also would be considered a failure.

That’s because once a player gets beyond the three true outcomes of a strikeout, a walk or a home run, the only measure of success is what happens after the ball is in play and out of the batter’s hands. Players who do everything they can to get themselves out but still reach base on fluke hits are heroes. Guys who line out are failures.

The scapegoat machine

Going 0-for-4 is evidence of a lack of ability or effort when your team or its beat writers are looking for a scapegoat, and finding scapegoats is a big part of a Hanshin Tigers beat writer’s job.

Marte’s never had 400 plate appearances in one season at any level above Double-A. Japanese pitching is different. If it were easy, so many hitters wouldn’t fail here right off the bat.

Matt Murton, who was beloved in his first season with the Tigers in 2010, later became fodder for the Tigers’ scapegoat machine, as he talked about in March 2019.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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