The Japanese Professional Baseball Players Association asked Monday if NPB could revise its player-entry procedures to account for players who begin their pro careers abroad following the abolition of its awful Tazawa Rule.
According to the Nikkan Sports, the union wants Japanese nationals who turn pro overseas to be treated in the same manner as imported players, who can negotiate to sign with a team of their choosing for whatever they can get.
NPB rules require Japanese nationals and non-citizens who finished their amateur careers in Japan to sign their first NPB contracts only after being selected in the annual new-player draft.
Even players with extensive major league experience can only enter NPP through the draft and then are subject to NPB’s salary structure. These limit first-year player salaries to15 million yen, roughly $160,000, along with a maximum signing bonus of 100 million yen ($950,000) and 50 million yen in incentives.
A Japanese national, such as Gosuke Kato, who has never lived in Japan but has played pro ball in his U.S. homeland for years, can only enter NPB on the same terms as an amateur in Japan. The was true for Mac Suzuki and more recently Junichi Tazawa. Had the draft rules been different, and had he not been banned from playing in NPB because of the Tazawa rule, Tazawa could have picked up his career this summer in NPB instead of turning to an independent minor league team.
Fighters to talk posting Arihara, Nishikawa
A pair of the Nippon Ham Fighters’ top players, ace right-hander Kohei Arihara, and centerfielder Haruki Nishikawa, reiterated their desire to move to the major leagues this winter via the posting system, Sponichi Annex reported.
Arihara’s 2020 season was in many ways the same as his 2019 second half, after he was unstoppable in the first half. He posted an 8-9 record and saw his ERA rise by a run.
Nishikawa, the ultimate Japanese slap-hitting up-the-middle defender, posted a career-high .430 on-base-percentage, largely because his .372 BABIP was near his career high and his batting average rose with it to .307.
Hawks exploit Lions rookie to gift Ishikawa
Nobuhiro Matsuda and Yuki Yanagita homered off Seibu Lions rookie Hiromasa Saito (0-1) in a three-run third inning, allowing Shuta Ishikawa (11-3) the chance to earn his 11th win as the SoftBank Hawks won 6-2 at PayPay Dome on Monday.
Matt Moore allowed a run over three innings, while Seibu starter Kona Takahashi threw two scoreless innings he needed to qualify among the league ERA leaders. Matsuda then tied it by leading off the third and Yangita put the Hawks ahead for good with his 29th home run, a two-run shot. By preserving the lead for three innings, Ishikawa tied for the league wins lead with SoftBank ace Kodai Senga and Hideaki Wakui of the Rakuten Eagles. The wins title is Wakui’s fourth and his first since 2015.
Senga and Ishikawa both won for the first time and became the first NPB pitchers to lead their league in wins after entering pro ball on non-roster developmental contracts. Senga also tied for the league-lead in strikeouts, while clinching the ERA title. Ishikawa posted the PL’s best winning percentage, .786.
Ukyo Shuto became the first Hawk to steal 50 bases in a season since 2011, the year the Hawks won the first of their six Japan Series titles during the 2010s.
Fighters end with win
Catcher Yushi Shimizu homered and drove in three runs to help the Nippon Ham Fighters erase an early deficit in a 7-4 come-from-behind season-ending win over the playoff-bound Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
The Marines, who will open the playoffs in Fukuoka on Saturday, finished second for the first time since 2007.
Active roster moves 11/9/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/19
A rare home run from Yudai Fujioka broke a 2-2 tie, and Yuki Karakawa preserved the lead with a big sixth-inning strikeout as the Lotte Marines exploited some Seibul Lions defensive lapses in a n 8-2 win that sent them into the playoffs for the first time in four years.
The Marines surrendered the lead in the second inning, when Kazuya Ojima walked a batter and the Lions put good swings on three pitches in the heart of the zone to go up 2-0. Ojima was pulled after two frames, beginning an impressive daylong bullpen car rally for the Marines.
After a great start to the game in which his fastball was absolutely hopping, Wataru Matsumoto couldn’t get out of a jam with one out and runners on the corners. Cory Spangenberg, whose RBI single opened the scoring, lost a smash to third base, by dropping it between his feet and then fell victim to Lindsey Nelson’s Law — which dictates that a player typically looks the wrong way first whenever a ball is dropped.
Spangenberg looked everywhere but down, allowing the runner from third to score and leaving him with no play at first. Tsuyoshi Sugano tied it with a two-out RBI single.
Fujioka put the Marines in front in the fourth when Matsumoto (6-7) hung a fastball. The Marines shortstop stayed back on it and smacked it over the fence in right and into the Home Run Lagoon seats.
Daiki Iwashita (7-7) normally a starter, came on from the top of the fourth and left after walking two in the top of the sixth. With two outs and the bases packed, Yuki Karakawa entered to strike out No. 9 hitter Wu Nien-ting.
After a tenuous outing from Lions reliever Reed Garrett, a pair of misplays in the bottom of the inning helped score three runs. all charged to Katsunori Hirai. The Marines then committed their bullpen cavalry to chase the Lions out of pennant contention, as Frank Herrman, Hirokazu Sawamura and closer Naoya Masuda worked one scoreless inning apiece.
Sakamoto milestone highlights loss
Hayato Sakamoto only needed one at-bat against Albert Suarez to become the second-youngest player with 2,000 hits in Nippon Professional Baseball, but he tacked on a two-run home run, an infield single and a walk before the Yomiuri Giants were sunk 5-4 by the Yakult Swallows.
With teams permitted now to admit up to 80 percent of capacity, the Giants welcomed Japan’s biggest crowd of the season, 31,735, to Tokyo Dome, where Yakult’s Kotaro Yamasaki put only the slightest damper on the day with an eighth-inning grand slam.
Sakamoto is the 53rd player with 2,000 hits in Japan, a list that includes neither Ichiro Suzuki or Hideki Matsui, who moved to the majors before they could get that many hits in their homeland.
The Giants captain is the seventh player whose career has been spent primarily at shortstop to reach the milestone, since the position tends to be filled in Japan with light-hitting sacrifice bunters who rarely play regularly past the age of 30.
With numerous supporters urging Sakamoto to aim for 3,000, one could apply Bill James career assessment formula to get an idea of his chances. The formula gives him a 35 percent chance of reaching 3,000, and a 28 percent chance of surpassing Isao Harimoto’s NPB record of 3,085
Active roster moves 11/8/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/18
Rookie Kyota Fujiwara’s three-run home run brought the Lotte Marines from a run down in a 4-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes that put them in pole position to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday.
Kota Futaki (9-3) allowed a run in the first on a Steven Moya RBI single but held the Buffaloes off the board after that at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth Fujiwara lined a pitch into the right-field stands with two on to make it 3-1. Frank Herrmann allowed one run in relief and Naoya Masuda another in the ninth. The closer had to sit through a short rain delay with two outs and the tying run on second but came back to earn his 31st save.
The win moves Lotte a half-game ahead of the Seibu Lions before the two teams square off in Chiba on Sunday. A Lotte loss or tie will keep the PL’s postseason picture in the dark until the teams finish their schedule on Monday. A Marines win will send them into the postseason for the first time since 2016.
Nakamura scores hat-trick in Lions comeback
Takeya Nakamura scored three runs as the Seibu Lions overcame a five-run first-inning deficit to earn a 6-6 10-inning tie against the Rakuten Eagles at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi on Saturday afternoon.
Seibu starting pitcher Tatsuya Imai surrendered six runs in jus two-thirds of an inning, but seven Seibu relievers combined to work 9-1/3 scoreless innings. Reed Garrett, fireballing rookie Kaima Taira and closer Tatsushi Masuda notched nine of the Lions’ 10 strikeouts in a combined 4-2/3 innings of work.
Shuta Tonosaki singled in a run for the Lions in the first and brought them to within a run when he led off the seventh by homering off D.J. Johnson. Nakamura doubled with one out and scored on Cory Spangenberg’s single to tie it.
Alan Busenitz worked a scoreless eighth for the Eagles, while Yuki Matsui struck out three over two scoreless innings to ensure Rakuten’s final game of the season did not end in defeat.
Akiyama wins it for Tigers
Takumi Akiyama (11-3) worked seven-plus innings, backed by an RBI double from Seiya Kinami and Yusuke Oyama’s 28th home run in the Hanshin Tigers’ 2-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Akiyama left after surrendering his third hit of the game to open the eighth. Forty-one-year-old lefty Atsushi Nomi, who is leaving the Tigers after the season for an uncertain future, “retired” 41-year-old catcher Yoshiyuki Ishihara, who is leaving the game at season’s end.
With the day’s sentimental journeys attended to, Jon Edwards entered an induced an inning-ending double play.
Robert Suarez earned his 25th save for the Tigers.
Sakamoto moves within 1 hit of 2,000
Two of the Central League’s biggest sluggers each went deep twice but they were overshadowed by the buzz surrounding Hayato Sakamoto’s pursuit of 2,000 hits in the Yomiuri Giants’ 6-2 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome.
Sakamoto, who turns 32 in December, recorded his 1,999th career hit in the third inning before Kazuma Okamoto extended his lead in the CL home run race with his 30th. Sakamoto is 53rd on Nippon Professional Baseball’s all-time hit list, and his 2,000th will tie him with former Lotte Marine Kazuya Fukuura.
The 24-year-old Okamoto has now hit 30 home runs in three straight seasons. Both Swallows runs came on 20-year-old Munetaka Murakami’s 27th and 28th home runs.
Iwakuma goes out a Giant
Are you kidding me? Hisashi Iwakuma, who ended his pro career in a Yomiuri Giants uniform after throwing two innings in the Eastern League for them in 2019, was given a hero’s sendoff at Tokyo Dome, with his teammates all wearing “Thanks Iwakuma” T-shirts.
Active roster moves 11/6/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/16
Retiring player-coach Naoto Watanabe got a heck of a send-off from fellow former Lion Takayuki Kishi (7-0) as the Rakuten Eagles beat Seibu 4-2 at Sendai’s Rakuten Semei Park Miyagi.
The Lions fell back into a tie for second and the Pacific League’s final playoff spot with the Lotte Marines. Both teams have three games remaining, with the Lions holding the advantage in a tie-breaker.
Watanabe who spent five seasons with the Lions from 2013 to 2017 before returning to Sendai where he began his career in 2007, the same year Kishi debuted as a rookie with the Lions and finished a distant runner-up in the rookie of the year voting to Masahiro Tanaka.
Batting leadoff and starting at DH, the 40-year-old Watanabe doubled, scored the game’s first run, singled and took over at shortstop in the ninth inning, where he helped Kishi out of a jam by starting a double play and earned a standing ovation from the home crowd.
“I wanted to stay in the game long enough for Naoto to take the field on defense,” said Kishi said, who struck out 11 over the distance.
Lions rookie Shota Hamaya (3-3) allowed all four runs to suffer the loss.
Buffaloes sock it to rookie Kawano
The Orix Buffaloes tagged Nippon Ham Fighters rookie Ryusei Kawano (3-5) for four runs, three earned, over six innings in a 4-3 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome between the PL’s bottom-two clubs.
Orix’s first draft pick last autumn, 19-year-old Hiroya Miyagi (1-1) allowed three runs, two earned, over five innings to earn his first career win. Twenty-three-year-old righty Yu Suzuki, who showed some tremendous stuff if inconsistent command in his first real playing time this season, earned his first save.
Swallows spoil Yoshimi’s exit
Taishi HIrooka homered and squeezed in a run in the 10th inning as the Yakult Swallows outlasted the Chunichi Dragons 5-4 at Nagoya Dome that was the last for former ace Kazuki Yoshimi.
The 36-year-old right-hander who went 69-26 over a five-year stretch from 2008 to 2012, was limited by injury over his last eight seasons. He started Friday’s game with a strikeout before turning the ball over to rookie Yariel Rodriguez, who surrendered three runs through 4-2/3 innings.
Scott McGough (4-1) worked a scoreless ninth, and slugger Munetaka Murakami doubled to lead off the 10th with a drive near the top of the wall in dead center and scored on Hirooka’s safety squeeze. Swallows closer Taichi Ishiyama recorded his 19th save.
Active roster moves 11/6/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/16