NPB news: July 3, 2022

Ryan McBroom went boom again, but this time the Yomiuri Giants had an answer, while the Yakult Swallows gave a side-arm novice a ton of run support, the SoftBank Hawks got a huge start from the inconsistent Shuta Ishikawa, and the Rakuten Eagles pretty much crushed the life out of the Lotte Marines.

On another note, Koji Chikamoto extended his hitting streak for the Hanshin Tigers, which led to one of those fiery arguments on the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast that John E. Gibson and I were once known for, not about the hitting streak but about something we see so differently, the value of player contributions to wins. So if you get a chance, listen in when that drops Monday morning. This week’s show also includes a super interview with McBroom, and is packed.

So let’s get to Sunday’s games and the details of the trouble and strife between podcast partners.

Giants 7, Carp 5: At Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, Yomiuri snapped a three-game losing skid to salvage the final game of the series.

Hayato Sakamoto tied the game 3-3 in the sixth with a solo homer and gave Yomiuri a two-run seventh-inning lead with his fifth home run. Ryan McBroom tied it in the home half with a two-run double before a Naoki Yoshikawa RBI double put the Giants in the lead for good in the eighth.

Ryuta Heinai did a better job of preserving a one-run lead in the eighth than he did a tie game the day before, and Yoshihiro Maru’s 17th homer, off Nik Turley, iced it in the ninth, and rookie Taisei Ota secured his 23rd save.

Swallows 11, BayStars 4: At Jingu Stadium, Munetaka Murakami may be flailing for a change in the Swallows’ No. 4 spot, but Ryuhei Nakamura belted a pair of two-run home runs, to give SoftBank castoff Reiji Kozawa (1-0) a five-inning win in his first pro start as he restarts his career this season as a side-armer.

First-year DeNA import Brooks Kriske, who has looked sharper and sharper with every relief outing, left the game with discomfort in his right elbow.

Tigers 3, Dragons 0: At Nagoya Dome, Yusuke Oyama hit his100th career home run, a two-run shot in the second, Takumu Nakano hit a solo homer in the third, the fourth of his career, and six Hanshin pitchers combined on an eight-hit shutout. Hiroto Saiki (1-0), coming off Tommy John surgery, made his first appearance since 2019. He allowed five hits but no walks while striking out five over five innings.

Koji Chikamoto moved into a tie for sixth on Japan’s list of longest hitting streaks, tying him at 29 consecutive games with former BayStars outfielder Glenn Braggs in eighth place all time. Next up at 30 is Matt Murton and Hall of Famers Isao Harimoto and Yutaka Fukumoto.

Win the battle, lose the WAR

It wasn’t intentional but John E. Gibson and I got into our loudest argument in a long time Sunday night when he asserted Chikamoto had a more valuable 2019 season than Munetaka Murakami. Delta Graphs’ WAR agrees with him, Win Shares does not.

I still don’t get a lot of things about WAR, particularly because it follows linear weights and assigns huge negative values to players, and balances that with these “replacement values” that apparently combine the norm for a replacement level player both offensively and defensively at that position. Because WAR is a black box in which the parts are not open for inspection, it’s hard to criticize, but the run valuations assigned to base running seem overly large, and the wins assigned to pitchers as a class, seem hugely exaggerated and suggest a system based on the belief that pitchers are 50 percent of the baseball equation, when they can’t possibly be.

The argument ended when John admitted that it was his opinion rather than a known fact that Chikamoto had a better rookie year, which is reasonable, as is my assertion that the huge gap in their batting production, knowing what we can about the shape of overall contributions to baseball wins and losses over the course of a season, more than outweighed the difference in their fielding and base running skills.

Hawks 3, Lions 0: At Seibu Dome, Kaito Yoza (5-3) allowed three runs over six innings, but had left the mound before his teammates managed their only hit off Shuta Ishikawa (3-3) in the seventh.

Ukyo Shuto homered in the first and singled in the first of two Hawks’ runs in the third, while Ishikawa walked none and struck out eight, finishing up with Hotaka Yamakawa in an emphatic end.

Eagles 14, Marines 1: At Chiba Marine Stadium, Rakuten left 14 runners on base, Lotte six. Reminding me of the common refrain of managers everywhere, “You can’t win if you leave X number of runners on base.”

The Eagles managed 21 hits, drew seven walks and had one runner reach on a fielders’ choice. Takahisa Hayakawa (5-5) allowed a run over five innings for the win.

Fighters 7, Buffaloes 3: At Sapporo Dome, the story in the Japanese media was about how Nippon Ham’s Go Matsumoto stole home with two outs and runners on the corners in the third inning. The Fighters’ trick plays are fun. Sometimes they work and sometimes they blow up, but they’re not boring, like Nippon Ham’s seven pitchers combining to walk seven batters.

Actually, it was a pretty close game that only got out of hand in the Buffaloes’ ninth, with Masataka Yoshida’s game-breaking three-run double.

Active roster moves 7/3/2022

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 7/13

Central League


TigersP35Hiroto Saiki
GiantsP91Kenshin Hotta


DragonsP59Takumi Yamamoto

Pacific League


MarinesOF31Tsuyoshi Sugano
FightersP22Toshihiro Sugiura


MarinesOF79Leonys Martin
HawksIF8Kenji Akashi

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