Tag Archives: Shinnosuke Abe

Camp fires: Feb. 1, 2024

Camps opened Thursday for 10 teams in Okinawa and Miyazaki prefectures, with rain greeting the guys practicing in Kyushu. The Orix Buffaloes were not expected to practice until Feb. 2. But telling Japanese baseball players, who since they were small have probably spent close to 99.99 percent of their hours in uniform training rather than playing in games, to not practice is a tough sell.

One guy who is expected to be a tough customer with hard practices is new Yomiuri Giants manager Shinnosuke Abe, but on Day 1, he proved to be generous in his praise, while new SoftBank Hawks manager Hiroki Kokubo figures his position players are going to get the job done this year.

Buffaloes in volunteer mode

Although the Orix Buffaloes aren’t scheduled to hold their first camp workouts until Friday, the players decided to hold a voluntary workout at their spring training facility in Miyazaki, while manager Satoshi Nakajima and his coaches looked on.

Training outside the framework of baseball’s regular season, postseason, preseason, spring training and fall mini camps is called voluntary, even if it’s a standard practice such as when first-year players are “asked” to show up to a practice, handed vests with their numbers on them and ordered to practice while the manager and coaches watch from a distance in street clothes.

Breaking with tradition

A typical workday in a Japanese spring training camp has highly structured morning practices that taper off after lunch until players, on their own or in small groups, keep working until late in the evening, even swinging bats in dark parking lots where they can train after being ordered to stop.

Continue reading Camp fires: Feb. 1, 2024

Strikes, Trackman, the Giants, & the 9

Last week “The Curious Case of Giant Strikes” detailed how the Yomiuri Giants were so good at getting called strikes in 0-0 and 1-0 counts from 2009 to 2019 that they could make the rest of NPB look like amateurs.

The Giants aren’t the only team whose strike rate on pitches taken by hitters was unusual over a period of time in some counts, but they were the most extreme. The data is confusing, but thanks to a reader’s suggestion that I look at individual players, umpires and home-road splits, I discovered some more interesting stuff.

My first study was focused on the period of Yomiuri’s extreme superiority in 0-0 counts between 2009 and 2019, but between looking at players and umpires, and trying different things with the program I used to model thousands of randomly generated seasons, three things eventually jumped out at me:

  1. The real break occurred at the start of the 2018 season.
  2. Yomiuri’s most unlikely advantage was not in 0-0 counts as originally expected, but in 1-0 counts, while its pre-2018 dominance in 2-1, and 1-1 counts was also more impressive than its results on first-pitch called strikes.
  3. Although not a lot of pitchers worked many innings for both Yomiuri and other clubs during the 2009-2022 period in which I have data for, nine did. And as a group, these nine had an easier time getting called 1-0 strikes when they played for the Giants than for other teams.

Here’s looking at you, ump

In 2018, 11 teams, excluding the infamously penurious Hiroshima Carp, began sharing data from the Trackman pitch tracking systems they had installed in their main parks, so that Nippon Professional Baseball could use it for “umpire evaluation and improvement.”

Continue reading Strikes, Trackman, the Giants, & the 9