Tag Archives: Alex Ramirez

NPB 2020 Nov. 14

Saturday’s games

PL Climax Series Game 1

Other news

Hawks outhit but not outplayed in Game 1 win

With one big exception, another unbelievably home run from the amazing Yuki Yanagita, the Lotte Marines swung the bat better in their 3-3 loss in Saturday’s first game of the Pacific League Climax Series to the SoftBank Hawks.

Hawks ace Kodai Senga gave up three runs, the first two on decent second-inning pitches that resulted in a single and a Hisanori Yasuda home run. He gave up another in the third when he paid for mistakes to Tatsuhiro Tamura and Takashi Ogino. The Marines have done well all year to adjust to the Hawks and prepare for them, and this one looked it was going to be another one of those days.

Mima, too, made mistakes, probably more than Senga, but got away with them in the first inning, but not in the sixth, when the Hawks tied it on an error.

The Hawks should have scored a run in the first, but Ogino robbed them of a leadoff single before they loaded the bases with one out and ended it on a double play. Yanagita cut the lead in the fourth to 2-1 with a home run over the wall in center off an improbably low pitch.

Mima then got out of a jam in the fifth. Shortstop Yudai Fujioka tried to barehand a chopper and whiffed. The ball rolled toward left, and Taisei Makihara reached on a leadoff infield double. A walk on a dubious 3-2 pitch put two on, but Takuya Kai struck out foul bunting pitches out of the zone. With two out and two in scoring position, Akira Nakamura appeared to be the victim of makeup calls from the ump. He took a dubious 3-1 strike and another on 3-2 to end it.

The end for Mima came in the sixth. Yanagita and Yurisbel Gracial singled off mistakes and a sacrifice put the tying run in scoring position. Alfredo Despaigne singled off Taiki Tojo, and Makihara chopped one to second with Gracial at third. Second baseman Shogo Nakamura looked the lead runner back, tagged Despaigne for the second out, and threw to first, where Seiya Inoue dropped the ball.

Gracial, broke for home as Nakamura threw, and Inoue’s drop allowed him to score the tying run as he slid in head-first.

Livan Moinelo worked a 1-2-3 eighth and got the win in relief after Hirokazu Sawamura surrendered the lead in the home half on two walks and two infield singles. Takuya Kai hit another chopper to Fujikoka, who fielded it but couldn’t nail the runner at first.

“Hey. A hit is a hit,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said.

Yuito Mori then did the honors in the ninth with another 1-2-3 inning.

The Climax Series gives the league champs a one-win advantage in the final stage, while the home team wins all tie (games are tied after 12 innings), and all games are played at the higher-seeded team’s park. This year’s PL series was cut from two stages to one, with the final stage reduced from six games to four. The Hawks’ one-win advantage means they have a 2-0 lead and should the game be tied after the top of the 12th inning on Sunday, the series will be over.

There’s a lot to be said for foreplay

The series, as I’ve written before is closer to foreplay than climax, since it follows the pennant race, and only serves to pick a league’s team to the the Japan Series, where Nippon Professional Baseball’s championship is decided.

The Central League which looks on fun and a good time as some kind of threat to the purity of the game, used the pandemic as an excuse to get rid of its foreplay series, I mean CS, in a kind of return to the 2004-2006 seasons when the PL teams were playing meaningful postseason games and the CL champs were playing with themselves in intrasquad games.

Ramirez goes out with win against Giants

Alex Ramirez, who won both of his CL MVP awards with the Yomiuri Giants, finished his managing term with the DeNA BayStars with a 5-4 come-from-behind win at Yokohama Stadium against his former team.

Ramirez received flowers and hugs from his former Giants skipper, Tatsunori Hara, who urged him to make a comeback, “I told him to get back in the game.”

Active roster moves 11/14/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/24

Central League

Activated

GiantsP12Rubby De La Rosa
GiantsP18Tomoyuki Sugano
GiantsP30Yohei Kagiya
BayStarsIF44Keita Sano

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

HawksOF51Seiji Uebayashi
MarinesIF23Ryo Miki

Dectivated

MarinesIF67Kenta Chatani

Starting pitchers for Nov. 15, 2020

Pacific League Climax Series

Hawks vs Marines: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 11 pm EDT

Nao Higashihama (9-2, 2.34) vs Wei-Yin Chen (0-3, 2.42)

NPB 2020 Oct. 25

Sunday’s games

Other news

Shuto speeds Hawks into postseason

Kotaro Otake (2-0) came up from the farm, surrendered one run over five innings and Ukyo Shuto sparked the offense as the SoftBank Hawks clinched a postseason spot for the seventh straight year with a 7-2 win over the Seibu Lions at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Otake allowed three singles, all in the Lions’ second, and five relievers finished up while the Hawks offense scored early and often.

Shuto opened the bottom of the first with a single, stole his Japan-best 45th base, and scored on a Yuki Yanagita single to center. Lions center fielder Yuji Kaneko charged his hardest to keep Shuto from scoring, but failed to collect the ball, and Yanagita–even with his diminished 32-year-old wheels–circled the bases easily and scored standing up.

The Hawks put the game away in a four-run second, with Shuto singling home the first run off Lions starter Wataru Matsumoto (5-6). Yanagita walked with the bases loaded and Yurisbel Gracial doubled in two runs.

The Hawks have a magic number to clinch the franchise’s 21st pennant and will play the second-place Lotte Marines at home starting on Tuesday.

Iwashita returns to plague Buffaloes

Daiki Iwashita, Patient Zero in the Lotte Marines recent novel coronavirus outbreak, returned to duty with five scoreless innings in a 10-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Iwashita (6-7) allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four. On the other side of the equation Taiwan’s Chang Yi (2-3) gave up an unlucky run in the first before the roof caved in on him in the third.

“In the third and fifth innings, I made mistakes with my out pitches,” he said after allowing seven runs on 11 hits but now walks over five innings. “I threw fat pitches and that was it.”

Romero steals show in Sendai

Stefen Romero did everything except hit for the cycle, playing great defense in left field while going 4-for-4 with a double and a triple in the Rakuten Eagles’ 13-4 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Romero robbed Sho Nakata of an RBI extra-base hit to end the first with a catch near the top of the fence in left. He singled and scored the game’s first run in the third off Fighters ace Kohei Arihara (7-9) and tripled in two and scored in Rakuten’s three-run fourth.

A single off a big swing in his final at-bat ended Romero’s day as he failed to put his name in the record books next to baseball’s stupidest accomplishment.

Ryota Takinaka (2-1) walked five but allowed no runs over seven innings to earn the win. Rakuten’s D.J. Johnson allowed no hits or walks but gave up an unearned run in the eighth.

Akiyama stops Giants

Right-hander Takumi Akiyama (9-3) allowed six hits over the distance and Yusuke Oyama powered the Hanshin Tigers’ offense in a 4-2 win over the Central Legue-leading Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome.

Akiyama struck out five and allowed both runs on Yoshihiro Maru’s 24th home run. He struck out five without issuing a walk.

The Tigers opened the scoring in the first against Seishu Hatake (3-4) on three straight one-out singles by Kento Itohara, Jefry Marte and Oyama.

Oyama doubled in the fifth and scored on Naomasa Yokawa’s fifth home run.

The Giants’ magic number to clinch the pennant remained at four after the second-place Chunichi Dragons won their late game at nearby Jingu Stadium.

Giants-Tigers highlights

BayStars bullpens Carp in shutout

In the first game since DeNA BayStars manager Alex Ramirez announced he would leave at the end of the season, a parade of six relievers held the Hiroshima Carp to six hits in a 3-0 win at Yokohama Stadium.

With the BayStars leading 1-0 after Toshiro Miyazaki’s first-inning RBI single off Yuta Nakamura (3-3), Neftali Soto drove in an eighth-inning insurance run with his 22nd home run. Tyler Austin followed with a single and scored on a Yamato Maeda single.

Kinoshita doubles down for die-hard Dragons

Takuya Kinoshita doubled in three second-inning runs as the Chunichi Dragons refused to roll over and give up the pennant race in a 5-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Dayan Viciedo homered, singled twice and scored twice for the Dragons, who got 6-1/3 scoreless innings from Yuya Yanagi (5-6). The right-hander allowed four hits, three walks and hit a batter while striking out seven.

Swallows starter Albert Suarez (4-3) also had trouble with location as he allowed three runs over five innings after walking four, hitting one and giving up three hits.

Igarashi goes out on top

Ryota Igarashi threw one pitch in his 823rd and final NPB game, entering the game between the Yakult Swallows and Chunichi Dragons in the eighth inning and left after throwing one pitch and getting an out thanks to a good play at third by Alcides Escobar.

He entered the game to hugs from his teammates, left to a standing ovation, and tossed the ball he threw into the fans at Jingu Stadium.

Buffaloes deactivate Jones

The Orix Buffaloes deactivated outfielder Adam Jones on Sunday due to the season’s most overused catch-all reason, “a lack of lower-body fitness.”

In 87 games, Jones has posted a .331 on-base percentage with a .417 slugging average. He has hit 12 home runs, scored 29 runs and driven in 43.

Meanwhile, the Yakult Swallows activated reliever Ryota Igarashi for the express purpose of allowing him to pitch in his retirement game and for that reason were allowed to exceed the 31-man active roster limit.

Active roster moves 10/25/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/4

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF0Daiki Masuda
GiantsOF43Shinnosuke Shigenobu
TigersIF0Seiya Kinami
SwallowsP53Ryota Igarashi

Dectivated

GiantsIF00Daiki Yoshikawa
GiantsIF52Takumi Kitamura
TigersOF63Yutaro Itayama

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP10Kotaro Otake
MarinesP46Daiki Iwashita
BuffaloesP11Sachiya Yamasaki

Dectivated

MarinesP65Takuro Furuya
BuffaloesP58Kazuyuki Kaneda
BuffaloesOF10Adam Jones

Starting pitchers for Oct. 25, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Ryota Takinaka (1-1, 3.76) vs Kohei Arihara (7-8, 3.40)

Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Chang Yi (2-2, 3.20) vs Daiki Iwashita (5-7, 4.46)

Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Kotaro Otake (1-0, 2.53) vs Wataru Matsumoto (5-5, 4.16)

Central League

Giants vs Tigers: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Seishu Hatake (3-3, 3.14) vs Takumi Akiyama (8-3, 3.10)

Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 6:30 pm, 5:30 am EDT

Albert Suarez (4-2, 2.36) vs Yuya Yanagi (4-6, 4.26)

BayStars vs Carp: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yuta Muto (0-1, 6.39) vs Yuta Nakamura (3-2, 2.20)

Ramirez on way out

Alex Ramirez’s five-year run as manager of the DeNA BayStars will come to an end this season, the Central League club announced Saturday.

With Saturday’s loss to the Hiroshima Carp, Ramirez’s career record is 330-332 with 18 ties for a .498 winning percentage. In four seasons, he finished third twice and second once for a team that has historically been the league’s principal doormat.

Ramirez inherited a team that went .413 over the previous five seasons.

The franchise has had only six managers with at least 400 games the fewest of any of the 1950 expansion teams including the Kintetsu Buffaloes who went out of business after the 2004 season. Among the six longest-tenured managers, only Hiroshi Gondo had a winning percentage over .500. Gondo was, of course, fired for his failure to be politically correct and barely scraped past the 400-game mark.

DeNA’s ownership of the club starting in 2012 ushered in new ways of doing things and have had only two managers since—although as my colleagues have pointed out, the team only turned to Ramirez in 2016 when the mediocre Kiyoshi Nakahata refused to stay on.

The different stories going around Saturday all seem to agree that the BayStars had the talent base needed to win the pennant this year, but that was something the team’s ownership has been saying since 2017, and it’s only slightly truer now than it was then.

All things considered, the team has done quite well, although not perhaps enough to alleviate the heat in an organization that owner Tomoko Namba has turned into a pressure cooker.

Ramirez remains the only import player to get 2,000 hits in Japan. Due to his popularity, he is currently on track to be the second or third import player elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, since Wally Yonamine is already in and two-time triple crown-winner Randy Bass will probably make it through Japan’s version of the veteran’s committee before the writers elect Ramirez.

The article said that Daisuke Miura, the team’s former ace pitcher and current minor league manager, is in line to take over and that the team recognizes Ramirez’s contributions to building up the talent base and has reserved a player personnel job for him if he wants it.

NPB 2020 OCT. 13

Tuesday’s games

Other news

Kuri holds off Giants

Allen Kuri escaped a one-out bases-loaded jam on a questionable called third strike against Zelous Wheeler and allowed a run over eight innings in the Hiroshima Carp’s 4-3 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome on Tuesday.

Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (13-1) took the loss as he failed to set a record by winning his 14th straight decision to start the season.

Kuri (6-5) allowed six hits, four with one out in the sixth, and one walk while striking out five. For the second straight start, Sugan struggled with his command. He allowed four runs, three earned, over six innings. He gave up seven hits, walked two, and struck out five.

Ryuhei Matsuyama doubled and scored the game’s first run in the second, and singled Hiroshima’s second run, in the Carp’s three-run sixth.

Yoshihiro Maru and Wheeler hit back-to-back homers to open the ninth against closer Geronimo Franzua, who notched his 14th save.

In his postgame hero interview, the interviewer, supplied by the Giants asked Kuri about his game and included his thoughts about his opponent’s winning streak.

  • Q: You were aware of Sugano and his record weren’t you?
  • Kuri: “I approach games with a challenger’s mentality, and really only focus on one batter at a time.”
  • Q: It must have been a big thing for you and for your team to end Sugano’s record win streak, wasn’t it?
  • Kuri: “I really wasn’t aware of his record, and so I wasn’t really conscious of it. Thinking about it afterward, I’m glad we won.”

Giants-Carp highlights

Kyoda ignites Dragons’ fire

No. 2 hitter Yota Kyoda doubled, walked and singled to ignite three run-scoring innings as Zoilo Almonte and Dayan Viciedo drove in two runs apiece in the Chunichi Dragons’ 4-2 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.

Tigers cleanup hitter Yusuke Oyama took over the CL home run lead with a two-run blast in the first off Akiyoshi Katsuno (4-4), but the Dragons tied it in the home half against tough lefty Haruto Takahashi (4-4).

Viciedo doubled in the tying run in the first and Almonte doubled in the go-ahead run in the third. Viciedo’s second RBI double made it 4-2 in the fifth.

Daisuke Sobue faced Oyama with two outs and the tying runs on base in the eighth but struck him out to end the inning, and Raidel Martinez recorded his 19th save.

BayStars wallop Swallows

The DeNA BayStars responded to another article ripping manager Alex Ramirez with a three-home run game in an 8-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Tyler Austin doubled off the wall and scored in the sixth against Swallows starter Hirotoshi Takanashi (3-5) on Keita Sano’s 17th home run. Toshiro Miyazaki hit his 14th for the BayStars and Yamato Maeda his third.

Shinichi Onuki (9-4) allowed a run over six innings. He allowed five hits and struck out eight without a walk.

Kasaya outduels Yamamoto

Unheralded lefty Shunsuke Kasaya (3-3) allowed a hit and two walks over five scoreless innings, allowing the SoftBank Hawks to scrape out a 2-0 win against the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (8-4) allowed one run on five hits and two walks over eight innings while striking out seven. No. 9 hitter Hikaru Kawase and light-hitting leadoff man Ukyo Shuto put good swings on a pair of straight fastballs in the third inning to account for the Hawks’ first run.

Rei Takahashi, Sho Iwasaki, Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori each worked one scoreless inning to close it out.

Marines battle back

Shuhei Fukuda opened the game with a big play in center field and singled with one out in the ninth and scored the winning run to end it as Seiya Inoue doubled him home to lift the Lotte Marines to a 4-3 walk-off win over the Rakuten Eagles at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Eagles ace Takahiro Norimoto allowed two runs over seven innings, but Kazuhisa Makita let in the tying run in the eighth and closer Alan Busenitz (1-2) took the loss in the ninth.

The Eagles took a one-run lead in the first when Daichi Suzuki homered off starter Ayumu Ishikawa after Fukuda made a diving catch in the gap to rob rookie Hiroto Kobukata of a leadoff hit.

Takahashi, Garrett blank Fighters

Kona Takahashi allowed three walks and four hits over eight innings and Reed Garrett completed the five-hit shutout as the Seibu Lions scored early and often in a 7-0 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

Takahashi improved to 7-8, while Fighters starter Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-5) allowed five runs over six innings.

Active roster moves 10/13/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/23

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF00Daiki Yoshikawa
GiantsIF68Kazuya Katsuki

Dectivated

GiantsIF0Daiki Masuda
GiantsOF88Gerardo Parra

Pacific League

Activated

HawksC62Takashi Umino
MarinesOF10Shohei Kato

Dectivated

None

Starting pitchers for Oct. 14, 2020

Pacific League

Fighters vs Lions: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Drew VerHagen (6-5, 3.78) vs Shota Hamaya (2-1, 5.97)

Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Chen Wei-yin (-) vs Hideaki Wakui (10-3, 3.06)

Buffaloes vs Hawks: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Sachiya Yamasaki (4-4, 4.98) vs Kodai Senga (7-6, 2.82)

Central League

Giants vs Carp: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuki Takahashi (0-0, 3.38) vs Atsushi Endo (3-4, 4.29)

Swallows vs BayStars: Jingu Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Masanori Ishikawa (1-6, 4.55) vs Yuya Sakamoto (3-1, 5.83)

Dragons vs Tigers: Nagoya Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yudai Ono (8-5, 2.07) vs Koyo Aoyagi (6-7, 4.10)

Logic-defying rants

More logic-defying Ramirez rants

Tuesday saw another attack on Alex Ramirez’s managing, this time from Nikkan Gendai, which claimed it was appropriate to fire the DeNA BayStars skipper at the conclusion of this year’s one-year contract.

The article claimed people within the team are now talking about Ramirez being out, and that former ace and current minor league skipper Daisuke is the logical choice to succeed him

The article argues that Ramirez is the reason that the BayStars have scored fewer runs than the Giants despite similar offensive numbers.

“The (BayStars) batting average tops the league, and they are second in home runs. Yet they are fourth in the league and have scored 27 fewer runs than the Giants. One cannot argue with the reasoning that the difference is down to the managers.”

–Unnamed former BayStars player

As I’ve written before, whenever one sees an article by a former player for a team arguing that the manager should be fired, one should consider the possibility that the player in question is ripping the manager so that the new regime will hire coaches including the former player himself or former teammates who desire coaching positions with the club.  

In regards to the logic, the data bears up under scrutiny. The BayStars are essentially as good as the Giants at getting runners on base and advancing them and have scored fewer runs. But saying the difference between the two managers’ skill IS the difference and saying that conclusion is arrogant beyond words.

Let’s look at this in a different context. Let’s say we have two batters. Over five seasons, Player A has batting averages of: .289, .330, .307, .319 and .275. Player B’s averages over the same period are .248, .290, .270, .265 and .295.

In the current season, Player A bats .275 and Player B bats .295. What person, with any understanding of the randomness of batting averages, would conclude that Player A is batting .275 because he is an inferior hitter? No one, that’s who. Yet that is essentially the argument against Ramirez, that everything he has done the past four years is irrelevant and ONLY this year’s offensive underperformance is the true indicator of the manager’s quality.

That is analogous to the BayStars’ offense this year. They have underperformed their projected runs scored by one run, while the Giants have overperformed by 31 runs. But calling it Ramirez’s fault is stupid because over the past five seasons, his teams have outperformed expectations more than any in the CL.

Since 2016, when Ramirez took over, the BayStars’ offense has averaged scoring 27 runs per season more than its Bill James Runs Created projections. Over the last two seasons they are an average of 20.5 runs above expectations. This is exactly the same figure for Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara.

Team2020 RS2020 RC5-year average above RC
DeNA42342427
Yakult39537617
Hiroshima42641116
Hanshin40737316
Chunichi34932915
Yomiuri45041912
Teams sorted by their average Runs Scored – Runs Created

The thing is the BayStars’ have an active analytics department, and unless their boss is as ignorant and or politically motivated as the former player who contributed to this story, then they will look at Ramirez and see they have something special.

Ramirez’s problem is compounded by a poor win-loss record relative to their actual offensive and defensive results. Given the runs they have scored and allowed, the BayStars should be 48-45-5 this year, five fewer wins than they have actually managed.

If you look at the team’s underlying credentials, what they actually do, and how their talent base has actually expanded under Ramirez, then claiming he should be fired is just an appeal to populism without logic.

The same player argues that Miura is a credible candidate because his team is second in the Eastern League, which I will admit is a positive. The other argument given is that the BayStars farm team is leading the EL in sacrifice bunts. This is an opaque attack on Ramirez, who bunts less than any other manager in the CL.

Why ninth?

The Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast has been asked why DeNa BayStars Alex Ramirez is criticized for batting his pitchers eighth when a great manager like Tetsuharu Kawakami of the Yomiuri Giants did so in the Japan Series?

My answer to that question will drop tomorrow. For today, I’ll ask why would anyone bat their pitcher ninth.

Batting more often

The one reasonable argument for batting a pitcher ninth means the weakest hitter in your order comes up slightly less often. I asked MLB historian John Thorn if pitchers used to frequently bat higher than ninth in the majors. He said it was fairly common when the gap between good-hitting pitchers and regular position players was less stark.

THE most common argument for using a pitcher eighth is that he is a good hitter for a pitcher. But if you really think about an ordinary lineup, with the best hitters bunched 1 to 5 and then declining in quality after that until you get to No. 9, the optimal place for your least productive hitter is not ninth, but eighth.

That’s not cricket

If baseball were more akin to cricket, and each player batted in turn until he was out or until 10 outs were made and there is only one batsman left standing at the crease, then the weakest hitter should go last. But that’s not how baseball works. A baseball batting order may be linear, but it in fact a loop rather than a line with one beginning and one end.

Because baseball isn’t cricket and there are only three outs instead of 10, the worst lineup is not the one that puts the worst hitters at the top of the lineup, but the one that intersperses the best hitters with the weakest ones. If batter “A” has a value of 9, “B” 8, and so on, the worst lineup would something like “I”, “A”, “H”, “B”, “G”, “C”, “F”, “D”, “E” where a weaker hitter always bats between two more productive ones.

Because teams – except for knobs who bat a weak hitter second – stack their best hitters 1 to 5, a pitcher batting ninth is connected not only to the weakest hitting position players batting 6-8, but also the lineup’s very best in the 1-3 spots. And that’s the problem. The cost of inserting the pitcher into the eighth spot where he’ll bat after the sixth and seventh spot is less than that of having an automatic out before the leadoff hitter.

Book learning

Tom M. Tango, Mitchel G. Lichtman and Andrew E. Dolphin published a study of this issue in their cost-analysis of baseball tactics, “The Book.” If every other hitter in the lineup is average, then the best place to put an automatic out is ninth, because that spot bats less often.

Tango, Lichtman and Dolphin calculated the cost of batting a pitcher in each different lineup spot in two different contexts, where each of the other eight hitters were exactly league average, and where each of the other hitters were league average for that batting order slot.

In a model when the other eighth hitters are exactly league average, batting a pitcher eighth–and giving him 2.5 percent more plate appearances–would cost a team an average of 0.023 runs per game, or four runs over the course of a 162-game major league season.

Of course, no team–except perhaps the Lotte Marines in some seasons–has a lineup of nine interchangeable league-average hitters. If you change that model to one where each spot in the order is league average for that batting-order position, with the best hitters 1 through 5, then the cost of having the pitcher bat more often is outweighed by the number of times the top of the order comes up with men already on base. The advantage, of having the worst hitter bat eighth is about 0.12 runs per game, or about two extra runs per season.

In contrast to the actual logic of wanting your weakest hitter to bat least often, I suspect the real reason pitchers bat ninth is the game’s historic obsession with runs batted in.

I guess some people still believe that the players who drive in the runs are the ones doing all the work – except of course for the guys who sacrifice. For them, having a runner on base to be driven in by the best hitters, is less important than having a position player in the No. 8 hole to drive in the Nos. 5, 6 and 7 guys.

Tango, Lichtman and Dolphin found that in a DH league, where even the worst hitter in the lineup is much more effective as a hitter than an average pitcher, that indeed, the best place to put your worst hitter is ninth.

He’s a good hitter, for a pitcher

The only time you should be batting a “good-hitting” pitcher eighth is if if he’s actually a good hitter and better than the guy batting eighth. So Shohei Ohtani is a natural to bat higher in the order. So was Kawakami, who became Japan’s “God of Hitting” after he became the team’s first baseman. As a pitcher batting higher than eighth in the Giants’ batting order between 1938 and 1941, Kawakami went 26-for-59.

Joe Wieland, who got Ramirez started down this slippery if smart slope in 2017, had a slash line better than a lot of NPB No. 8 hitters that year: .229/.302/.438. So Joe Wieland goes in that group, too.

Those guys rarely exist now. Daisuke Matsuzaka? Seventh in Game 1 of the 2002 Japan Series because Lions owner Yoshiaki Tsutsumi thought it was a good idea? Forget about it.

Bat your pitchers eighth, not because they are good-hitting pitchers, but because they are much worse than your No. 8 hitter.

Tomorrow: The history of pitchers batting in Japan, and how the world’s most colorful and diverse leagues became obsessed with rooting out diversity and non-conformists in the 1980s.