Tag Archives: Adeiny Hechavarria

NPB wrap 5-22-21

Saturday is Tanaka day

Not that it’s been that big a story every week. He’s pitching really well, being crafty with his fastball, but still not settled in against teams that are really pumped to solve him.

It was also a big day for Nick Martinez and Yuki Yanagita of the Hawks, while Cory Spangenberg had a magical day for the Lions, Brandon Laird hit homered for his third straight game, Scott McGough made a hell of a tough save, while Angel Sanchez and Zelous Wheeler helped the Giants earn a win. So let’s roll.

Marines 3, Eagles 1

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte’s Manabu Mima outpitched his former teammate Masahiro Tanaka even though both starter had similar pitching lines with two walks and a run over seven innings. Mima missed barrels from start to finish, while the Marines did a good job on Tanaka’s few mistakes but were denied more runs through a handful of big plays from the Rakuten Eagles defense.

Tanaka continued to feel his way around pitch combinations, this time throwing mostly sliders, which has been his best pitch so far. Once again, Eagles pitching coach Shinjiro Koyama praised Tanaka’s lively fastball, and it was on occasion. But much of the game was about the Marines sitting on sliders, laying off most of those he threw out of the zone and smashing the ones Tanaka missed with.

In addition to Mima, who made the win possible, second baseman and captain Shogo Nakamura had three hits, including an RBI double in the third and an eighth-inning leadoff home run against reliever Hiroyuki Fukuyama (0-2). Brandon Laird followed Nakamura’s second homer with his 10th and his third in three games.

Leonys Martin walked and Nakamura singled in the first but both were stranded, but the tag team did the job in the third. Martin singled and took off for second on a run-and-hit and scored on Nakamura’s double.

The Eagles’ lone run against Mima came after Adeiny Rodriguez was ridiculed for making a reasonable play that didn’t work out on a grounder to short with a runner on second. This is a tricky play in Japan, and we heard a few different opinions of the optimal choices and odds. I wrote about this in detail, with a data-driven explanation of how often runners and fielders should take the third-base gamble.

Lions 8, Fighters 1

At MetLife Dome, Nippon Ham’s Drew VerHagen (1-4) held Seibu in check for four innings before two walks and Cory Spangenberg happened. After two swinging strikes and five fouls – including a dribbler VerHagen let roll foul that Spangenberg was going to beat out for a base hit, Spangenberg took a center-cut fastball to left for an opposite-field homer.

The Lions scored twice more in the inning and that was the ballgame.

Wataru Matsumoto (4-3) allowed eight hits and a walk, but stranded eight and allowed one run on Haruki Nishikawa’s third home run.

Hawks 7, Buffaloes 2

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, it was the Nick and Gita show for the SoftBank Hawks as

Nick Martinez (3-1) lowered his ERA as a SoftBank Hawk to 1.44 with nine strikeouts over seven scoreless innings, and Yuki Yanagita hit his ninth home run, a three-run first-inning monster off Daiki Tajima (2-2) and singled in another run in the third.

Gita doing Gita stuff

Nick of time

The Gita and Nick postgame show

Swallows 1, BayStars 0

broke out. Yakult’s Yasuhiro Ogawa (4-1) allowed three singles and a walk over eight innings, Yasutaka Shiomi hit a solo homer off DeNA’s Haruhiro Hamaguchi (2-4), and Scott McGough worked around a leadoff double and a WILD pitch to record three outs with the tying run at third and earn his second save. Edwin Escobar worked a 1-2-3 eighth for the BayStars. Shiomi’s homer was his second.

Giants 5, Dragons 4

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Yomiuri’s Angel Sanchez (4-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and for the second straight game Giants manager Tatsunori Hara used three pitchers in the ninth in addition to the two who worked the eighth to close it out.

Kazuma Okamoto did most of the damage off Yariel Rodriguez (0-1) with his 12th home run, a three-run third-inning shot that moved him into a tie for the league lead with Yakult’s Munetaka Murakami and one back of Lotte’s Leonys Martin for the most in Japan.

Zelous Wheeler doubled twice for the Giants, scoring on Okamoto’s homer and driving in a run in the sixth, while Dayan Viciedo drove in three of Chunichi’s runs.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Lions vs Fighters: MetLife Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Katsunori Hirai (3-1, 3.83) vs Robbie Erlin (0-0, 7.20)

Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kazuya Ojima (1-1, 4.24) vs Takahisa Hayakawa (5-2, 2.82)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (2-2, 5.03) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (1-4, 3.72)

Central League

Swallows vs BayStars: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Albert Suarez (1-2, 4.40) vs Shota Imanaga (-)

Dragons vs Giants: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Koji Fukutani (1-4, 4.31) vs Nobutaka Imamura (2-1, 2.31)

Active roster moves 5/22/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 6/1

Central League





Pacific League


MarinesP60Rikuto Yokoyama
MarinesP64Yuta Omine


MarinesP58Tokito Kawamura
MarinesP69Hideto Doi

The fielder’s dilemma

In an addendum to the discussion of runners taking off from second on a grounder to short and the after-the-fact criticism of players failing to make a play, Marines shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria was taken to task on Saturday for failing to nail the lead runner at third and costing his team an out on the routine grounder.

Tatsumi was safe on the tag play, and former Marines catcher Tomoya Satozaki, in the broadcast booth, said, “I understand the urge, but he’s got to go for the sure out.”

Had the tag been applied, Hechavarria would have been praised for quick thinking and for not taking the sure out, while Tatsumi would be condemned for a bone-head base-running play – even though it is objectively provable to be a high percentage effort.

The thing about these criticisms is that, with the exception of former BayStars manager Hiroshi Gondo, one never hears criticism of the poor-percentage plays demanded by Japan’s small-ball ethos: bringing the infield and outfield in with runners on second and third, and increasing the chances every ground ball will be a hit and every routine fly will become a two-run double or triple.

Orthodoxy is praised regardless of the outcome, and when good results occur, the routine, predictable orthodox tactic is praised as the secret weapon that was the key, and the reason “why Japanese baseball really is better, because we care about the finer details and we’re not just about power and speed.”

Unorthodox tactics, on the other hand, are praised only when they succeed, regardless of whether they are optimal tactical choices or not, and ridiculed mercilessly when they fail.

On Pro Yakyu News, Kenichi Yazawa took the orthodox position — that regardless of the outcome the runner on second must not try for third, and so a wrong choice paid off, so in this case, even when the unorthodox — but smart move — paid off, the head’s up play was declared a mistake.

The objective evidence

I’ve written in the newsletter about the percentages involved in the runner on second taking third on a grounder to short, but I’ve never spelled them out explicitly, so this seems like a good time.

Based on run expectations gleaned from NPB’s seasons from 2017 to 2019, the situation in question consists of three likely states, a runner on 1st and 3rd with no additional out, a runner on second with one additional out, and a runner on third with one additional out.

Ending Situation0 outs1 out
R1,3 + 0 outs1.691.12
R3 + 1 out0.920.34
R2 + 1 out0.700.33
R1 + 1 out0.540.23
Run expectancy in four situations in NPB from 2017-2019

The key is to know the break-even point at which point it’s a smart try. Since I didn’t discuss the fielder’s choices in the newsletter, I’ll start there.

The shortstop’s break-even point

If we assume the shortstop can get the out at first base 99 percent of the time, then how often does he need to throw the runner out at third in order to make throwing to third a good percentage play?

With no outs, the answer is, as best I can figure it, 68 percent of the time.

If we start with 10 plays and assume a 99 percent success rate throwing to first, then the offensive team can be expected to score 9.09 runs if the SS goes for the easy out.

The break-even point is then when the offenses’ expected runs including successes and failures equal that. In this case, the shortstop needs to throw out the runner 6.8 times in 10 plays. (3.2 failures * 1.69 = 5.41 and 6.8 successes * 0.54 = 3.67. Add those together and you get 9.08)

With one out, the break-even point for the shortstop is 87 percent, so if he’s not absolutely sure, then he’s better off going to first.

Martin’s throw, from behind a fast runner with no outs, was from my standpoint, a 50-70 percent chance and so a little iffy.

The runner’s choice

The base runner can’t select the shortstop’s choice. His options are to remain at second, with an assumed 99 percent chance that the shortstop can throw the batter out at first, then with no outs, the runner at second should take off if he thinks he can make it 13.4 percent of the time. With one out, the break-even point for the runner is about 11 percent.

So the rule is not, “the runner should NEVER go,” but the runner should go if he thinks he has any chance at all of making it.