Tag Archives: Sadaharu Oh

Tatsunori Hara retrospective, part 1

In the aftermath of Tatsunori Hara’s “stepping down” as Giants manager for ostensibly the third and final time, I thought it was time to do some research into his interesting tenures in Yomiuri Land.

There were a variety of stories out there trying to explain Hara’s failure to get the league’s wealthiest team into the upper division for two consecutive seasons. One of the more interesting takes was the team’s failure to land free agent catcher and 2019 Pacific League MVP Tomoya Mori. Despite a personal appeal from Hara, Mori selected the two-time defending PL champions – and his hometown team – Osaka’s Orix Buffaloes.

This point was brought up in a few stories that also blamed Hara’s failure on his annual turnover of coaches, or player injuries, or the players simply not trying hard enough.

We assume that Yomiuri has the best access in NPB to domestic talent, both amateur and professional, but how much is that really worth on average each season? To find out, I looked up every player in NPB who had played for a different team the year before and how much they produced that year, while also making note of the team that lost that individual.

Hara won nine pennants with the Yomiuri Giants and three Japan Series championships, and won more regular season games than any other Yomiuri manager. Let’s see how he compares to other contemporary managers with 500 or more games managed.

Continue reading Tatsunori Hara retrospective, part 1

NPB toys with expansion

Nippon Professional Baseball, or rather the 12 companies who control its baseball teams, approved a pair of new minor league teams for 2024 on Friday, Shizuoka’s Hayate 223, and Albirex Niigata. Atsushi Ihara, the NPB’s secretary general, said the teams would invigorate the game, while definitely not being a precursor to major league expansion.

On this week’s Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast, recorded Saturday, John E. Gibson said those two were mutually exclusive, but I’m not so sure. We won’t have any idea of where it might go until we learn how the two teams will fit into the existing system.

Will they have access to the NPB draft? Will their players be on standard NPB contracts? Will they actually be precursors to expansion? Let’s talk about those possibilities, by starting with the whole topic of expansion.

Of the 12 Japanese teams, only one, the SoftBank Hawks, has any interest in doing the work needed to build Japanese pro baseball into an elite competition that might rival or surpass what MLB puts on the field.

Continue reading NPB toys with expansion