Tag Archives: Tetsuto Yamada

NPB 2020 6-27 GAMES AND NEWS

Sunday’s announced starting pitchers are HERE.

Let’s go Jerry!

The Hanshin Tigers dialed the right number on Saturday, when they called up 2019 KBO RBI leader Jerry Sands to the active roster. Sands made a run-saving sliding catch in the fourth inning, and put the Tigers ahead for good in the ninth, with a two-out, three-run homer off closer Yasuaki Yamasaki (0-1) in an 8-6 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

BayStars starter Michael Peoples allowed five runs in five innings. The right-hander struck out three, walked one and hit two. Jefry Marte’s sac fly opened the scoring in the first before Justin Bour singled in a run and stole a base in the visitors’ two-run inning.

The BayStars tied it in the bottom of the inning on doubles by Takayuki Kajitani, Neftali Soto and Keita Sano. With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth, a BayStars runner on first an no outs, Sands slid into the left field corner to just snag a fly for the first out.

Trailing 6-5 in the ninth, Yamasaki, who also closes for Japan’s national team was in trouble for the second-straight game. The right-hander got two outs before walking Marte and pinch-hitter Yusuke Oyama. Sands belted a 1-2 pitch over the wall to put Hanshin in front.

Former Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, who reclaimed the Tigers’ closer role last summer, also got into hot water. The 39-year-old had blown his last save opportunity, the first time that had happened in over a year.

A walk to Soto, and a single to former Padre Tyler Austin, who drove in two runs in the sixth, put the tying runs on and a hit batsman loaded the bases with two outs before Fujikawa got out of it for his first save of the season.

Yamada crushes Giants

Tetsuto Yamada capped a sixth inning in which both teams combined for 11 runs with a grand slam as the Yakult Swallows beat the Yomiuri Giants 9-6 on Saturday.

Yamada doubled in a run and scored in the first inning, but the Giants pounded Swallows starter Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa for four runs in the sixth, two on Gerardo Parra’s third home run, a two-run shot.

Yoshimi stops Carp, Dragons’ losing skid

Kazuki Yoshimi (1-1), once the ace of the Chunichi Dragons staff, pitched out of a fourth-inning jam to allow a run over five innings in a 6-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp. Yoshimi, who has a long history of elbow surgeries and has had seven 100-inning seasons but only two since 2012. He struck out two and hit a batter while allowing four hits, all singles.

With a 3-0, fourth-inning lead, back-to-back, no-out singles brought up Seiya Suzuki, but the Carp star grounded into a double play. With two out and two on, Yoshimi retired Alejandro Mejia on a fly out to end the inning.

Sato caps Marines’ victory with 1st career hit

Toshiya Sato, the Marines’ second pick in last autumn’s draft, drilled a pinch-hit single to the wall in the 10th inning to lift Lotte to a 2-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes.

Tyler Higgins, made his Japan debut by getting three outs in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded for the Buffaloes, while Marines relievers Jay Jackson and Frank Herrmann each struck out two in a scoreless inning of relief. Herrmann (2-0) got the win.

The Buffaloes have now lost five straight since right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto won last Sunday. With the Pacific League looking to reduce travel among its far-flung teams by holding six-game series, Yamamoto will go to the mound tomorrow to prevent the Buffaloes from suffering a six-game sweep.

Yamakawa decides Lions-Hawks slugfest

Takeya Nakamura, with six PL home run titles under his belt, and Hotaka Yamakawa, who owns the last two, each homered for the Seibu Lions in an 8-7 victory over the SoftBank Hawks at MetLife Dome.

The Hawks’ Yuki Yanagita set the tone early with a first-inning shot off Lions starter Wataru Matsumoto.

The Lions bullpen, which has been inconsistent to say the least, worked six scoreless innings, while allowing two walks and three hits.

Trailing 7-5 in the seventh, Sosuke Genda and Shuta Tonosaki singled off Sho Iwasaki (0-2) before Yamakawa hit his fourth homer of the season to put Seibu in front.

Reed Garrett, who struck out the side on Friday night to earn the win, retired all three batters he faced in the eighth, while closer Tatsushi Masuda survived a two-out triple to nail down his third save.

Asamura wrecks Fighters

Hideto Asamura took a hammer to the Nippon Ham Fighters, scoring twice and driving in seven runs in the Rakuten Eagles’ 18-4 blood-letting at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Jabari Blash drove in three runs, scored twice, walked twice and singled for Rakuten, whose starter, former southpaw closer Yuki Matsui, surrendered four runs in four-plus innings.

Six Fighters pitchers combined to issue 10 walks.

Buffaloes call up Higgins

The Orix Buffaloes activated right-hander Tyler Higgins on Saturday to take the spot of Opening Day starter Taisuke Yamaoka, who strained an internal oblique tendon in the first inning of Friday’s start against the Lotte Marines in Chiba.

In two farm outings this season, the 29-year-old allowed a run on one hits and a walk, while striking out three. Higgins spent nine seasons in the minor leagues, mostly with the Miami Marlins. Last year, he pitched in 33 games for Triple-A El Paso, where the Padres assigned Japanese pitching coach Akinori Otsuka.

In his Japan first-team debut, Higgins came on with two on and no outs in the bottom of the ninth of a 1-1 game. After issuing an intentional walk, he retired the next three batters to send the game to an extra inning.

Tigers bring up KBO RBI king Sands

Outfielder Jerry Sands, who led the Korea Baseball Organization in RBIs last season, was called up for the first time this season by the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Central League on Saturday.

Since Opening Day, the Tigers have deactivated three imported pitchers, Onelki Garcia, Joe Gunkel and Jon Edwards. Their four active imports now are Sands, first baseman Justin Bour, third baseman Jefry Marte and reliever Robert Suarez.

“Hit it hard and make it fly Jerry. Home runs to left, home runs to right Jerry Jerry Sands Lets go! Jerry Sands Lets go!”

Jerry Sands cheer, as displayed on the big screen at Koshien Stadium this spring.

Sands has played in two games for the Tigers’ Western League farm club this summer and has one hit and three walks in seven plate appearances.

The Tigers started the season 1-6.

Scout diary: Report on Yasutaka Shiomi

Yasutaka Shiomi was taken 4th by the Yakult Swallows in NPB’s 2017 amateur draft. He played for corporate league powerhouse Japan Energy after graduating from Teikyo University. I haven’t had a chance to see him try and beat out an infield single. But he has been a successful minor league base stealer.

I updated this on 3/7/20 after Shiomi made a couple of very accurate throws from center field, raising his arm strength from 40 to 50 (average) and his accuracy from 50 to 60 (above average).

  • Birthday: 6/12/1993
  • H: 1.79 m, W: 76 kg
  • Bats: R, Throws: R
  • Position: OF

Physical description: Physically, he resembles Swallows second baseman Tetsuto Yamada. He has a small leg kick similar to the Carp’s Seiya Suzuki.

PresentFuture
Hitting Ability5560
Power3030
Running Speed7070
Base Running7070
Arm Strength5050
Arm Accuracy6060
Fielding5560
Range6060
Baseball Instinct6060
Aggressiveness6060

Abilities: Knows what he is doing at the plate with very good strike zone discipline. He will chase, but generally makes the pitcher throw strikes. He also appears to be a good base stealer and base runner.

Weaknesses: Ground ball hitter.

Summation: Shiomi will get on base like nobody’s business and will likely take over in center field, where he will continue the team’s recent tradition of center fielders without really good arms.

Best 10 of the 2010s

I know one’s supposed to do these things before 2020, but Ione of the things about New Year’s Eve in Tokyo is that the trains run all night, and I was on the train, so it seemed like an optimal time. So here are my top 10 Japanese baseball stories of the past 10 years in chronological order.

2013: It’s the ball stupid

Six weeks into the 2013 season and everyone noticed it. Home runs were jumping and the players union, worrying about pitchers failing to collect on their incentives, asked what was going on. Commissioner Ryozo Kato said, “Nothing. The ball is the same uniform ball we introduced in 2011.”

His disloyal lieutenant, Atsushi Ihara, stood there and let his boss tell that knowing full well that he had conspired with the Mizuno Corporation to introduce a livelier ball without the commissioner’s consent or knowledge. Ihara, one of four people involved, came from the Yomiuri Shimbun — owner of Japan’s most influential team and the leading opponent of the commissioner — whose new ball cut home runs and who had introduced a third-party panel to adjudicate player arbitration cases.

So Ihara let his boss hang himself in public. And then later came clean that he and his immediate superior, who was not a Yomiuri guy, had switched out the balls. Ihara’s boss was fired, the commissioner was ousted and Ihara, the fox, was put in charge of the henhouse.

2013: Masahiro Tanaka, Senichi Hoshino and the Eagles

Masahiro Tanaka went 24-0 and didn’t lose all year until Game 6 of the Japan Series. After that complete game, he earned the save in Game 7 as the city of Sendai — struck by a killer earthquake and tsunami two years earlier — won its first Japan Series.

Manager Senichi Hoshino, who had lost his three previous Japan Series as manager of the Chunichi Dragons and Hanshin Tigers said when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame that he lost interest after winning the Central League pennant because his mission in life had been to beat the league-rival Giants. But in 2013, as Pacific League champions with NPB’s newest franchise, he faced the Giants and beat them in seven.

2014-2016: Tetsuto Yamada

From July 2014 through July 2016, the Yakult Swallows second baseman may have been the best player on the planet. He wasn’t a very good fielder in 2014 but took steps forward the next year when he was the CL MVP and led the consistently bad Swallows to the pennant.

His 2015 season was the 10th best in NPB history as measured by win shares and adjusted for era. His run came to a screeching halt in August 2016, when he was on his way to an even better season, but was hit in the back by a pitch that threw him off his game for nearly two seasons. Because of his stellar 2016 start, he became the first player in NPB history to record multiple seasons with a .300 average, 30 homers and 30 steals — even though he was an offensive zero the last two months of the season.

2015-2016: Giants stung by gambling scandal

Toward the end of the 2015 season, three Yomiuri Giants minor league pitchers were found guilty of betting on baseball — including games by their own team, although not in games they played in. The following March, a fourth pitcher, Kyosuke Takagi, revealed he, too, had been betting on games.

The first three players were all given indefinite suspensions and fired. In March 2016, Kyosuke Takagi also admitted to gambling. The only pitcher of the four of any quality, Takagi was let back into the game after a one-year suspension, following a recent pattern in which athletes who break the rules in Japan receive punishment inversely proportionate to how successful they are as competitors.

2016: Shohei Ohtani

If Yamada was the best for a 25-month span, 2016 cemented Ohtani’s place as the most intriguing player in the world. Ohtani had his first “Babe Ruth season” in 2014 with 10-plus wins and 10-plus home runs, but 2016, when he often batted as the pitcher in games when his manager could have used the DH was magical.

That summer, the Tokyo Sports Kisha Club, which organizes the voting for Japan’s postseason awards, made a rule change that allowed writers to cast Best Nine votes for the same player at multiple positions — provided one was a pitcher. The Ohtani rule allowed him to be win two Best Nine Awards, as the Pacific League’s best pitcher and best designated hitter.

His signature game came against the SoftBank Hawks — the team his Fighters came from behind to beat in the pennant race. Ohtani threw eight scoreless innings, opened the game with a leadoff homer and scored Nippon Ham’s other run in a 2-0 victory. Although he rolled his ankle running the bases in the Japan Series, he capped his year batting for Japan by hitting a ball into the ceiling panels at Tokyo Dome in November’s international series.

2016: Hiroshima Carp end their drought

In 2015, Hiroki Kuroda returned from the major leagues and even without Sawamura Award winner Kenta Maeda, the Carp’s young talented core snapped a 24-year drought, winning their first CL title since 1991.

The Carp went on to win three-straight CL championships, the longest streak in club history. When the club failed to win its fourth straight pennant and finished out of the postseason in 2019, manager Koichi Ogata resigned.

2019: Ichiro Suzuki retires in Japan

The only better script would have been for Suzuki to sell his soul to the Devil in exchange for another MVP and a World Series championship.

2010-2019: The CL status as a 2nd-class league is confirmed

The PL won nine Japan Series in the decade, the only time either league had ever done that. It equaled the best 10-year stretch by either league—when the Yomiuri Giants won nine straight from 1965 to 1973 bookended by PL titles.

2010-2019: The SoftBank Hawks

Never mind that the Hawks opened the decade by losing the playoffs’ final stage for the 4th time in 7 years to the third-place Lotte Marines. Softbank’s six Japan Series titles from 2011 t0 2019 under two different managers made them the team of the decade.

2019: The Giants discover the posting system

In November 2019, Shun Yamaguchi was posted by the Yomiuri Giants, who along with the Hawks have been the most critical of NPB’s posting agreement with MLB. When approached for comment about the impending news, the Giants’ official response was “that’s a rumor” and “speculation.”

Eight days later it was a done deal. Then followed the fun stuff as first one executive said it was a “one-off deal” and that the team had not changed its policy, having been obligated by contract to post Yamaguchi, which is pretty dumb, since the Giants agreed to that contract in the first place when they took him on as a free agent three years before.

The move makes it virtually impossible that the club will be able to keep ace and two-time Sawamura Award-winner Tomoyuki Sugano much longer and not post him.

Tetsuto Yamada keeps door open for move from Yakult

Second baseman Tetsuto Yamada ostensibly became the highest-paid player in the history of the Yakult Swallows, Kyodo News (Japanese) reported in its online edition Tuesday. The 27-year-old is the only player in NPB history to hit .300 with 30 home runs and 30 steals more than once in his career.

He accomplished the feat for the third time in 2018. In 2019, he went 33-for-36 as a base stealer with 35 home runs, but only batted. 271. Despite that slight hiccup, Yamada received a 70 million yen pay increase for 2020 after turning down a multiyear contract. This opens the door for him to file for domestic free agency next November or even ask the Swallows to post him.

As Japan’s premier second baseman since he broke out in the second half of the 2014 season at the age of 21, some have wondered if Yamada might ask Yakult to post him, and he did express some positive feelings about such a move. Since then, the lingering effects of being hit by a pitch in August 2016, and a quiet multiyear commitment to the team muted talk of a major league move.

Despite the injury that reduced his production to fairly pedestrian levels for nearly two seasons, Yamada’s peak value is unmatched among NPB second baseman, a position where Japan has traditionally obsessed about fielding and preferred slap hitters. His best three seasons using Bill James’ win shares rank 10th in NPB history. The value of his best five-year span is 15th. Both are tops at his position in Japanese pro baseball history.

Although he is not shy and retiring like notable busts like pitcher Kei Igawa and second baseman Kensuke Tanaka, Yamada seems content, like Yomiuri Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto, to be a superstar in Japan. If Yamada does remain in Japan, expect the Giants or his hometown Hanshin Tigers to make a serious run at him next season along with the SoftBank Hawks, who have not had a big gun at second since Tadahito Iguchi left after the 2004 season.

Yamada’s 2019 salary was reportedly the highest the club had ever paid a Japanese player, while next year’s deal eclipses the 450 million paid to first baseman Roberto Petagine after he was the CL’s MVP in 2001.

Second to none: NPB’s top-10 second basemen

The following table gives my estimate of the top-10 second basemen in the history of Japanese professional baseball, based on: Each player’s ranking among all players in total career win shares, the value of their five-best consecutive seasons, and the total of their three best seasons — all as measured by Bill James’ win shares.

I don’t have win shares data prior to 1946. With those numbers, Chiba, who began playing in 1938 might move up a little closer to Yamada.

NameOverall RankCareer WS5-year spanBest-3 seasons
Tetsuto Yamada*25th153rd15th10th
Tadahito Iguchi46th22nd76th70th
Shigeru Chiba+76th132nd70th70th
Hideto Asamura*78th156th75th60th
Tatsuyoshi Tatsunami+90th34th146th231st
Bobby Rose91st172nd75th92nd
Hiroyuki Yamazaki109th60th192nd216th
Yutaka Takagi131st121st169th191st
Ryosuke Kikuchi*133rd306th125th106th
Yuichi Honda155th204th149th226th

NPB games, news of Sept. 14, 2019

The Ono NoNO

Eight days after Japan had its first no-hitter in 13 months, it had another, as Yudai Ono allowed a runner to reach on an error and a walk in a 3-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers on Saturday.

When Kodai Senga no-hit the Lotte Marines a week ago last Friday, it was the Hawks’ first no-hitter since before Donald Trump was born. The Dragons, on the other hand, have thrown six of NPB’s last 18 no-hitters.

Ono, the Dragons’ first draft pick in the 2010 draft, improved to 9-8 on the season. He has a 58-61 record.

Pacific League

Lions 4, Marines 3

At MetLife Dome, Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda, who pitched with the maximum allowable lead in two of Seibu’s previous three games, couldn’t hold a two-run, ninth-inning lead against Lotte.

The Lions, however, won the game with one out in the 10th. With portly slugger Takeya Nakamura on first, Marines center fielder Hiromi Oka misplayed Ernesto Mejia’s one-out, medium-deep fly. When he fell trying to make the catch the ball rolled and rolled and Nakamura chugged home from first.

Here’s the post-game hero interview with winning pitcher Tsubasa Kokuba (1-0) and Mejia.

Game highlights are HERE.

Hawks 3, Fighters 1

At Sapporo Dome, Yurisbel Gracial singled in the tie-breaking run in the fifth, and Yuito Mori recorded his 32nd save by stranding two runners in the ninth, as SoftBank beat Nippon Ham to maintain a tiny winning-percentage-point lead over Seibu.

The loss eliminated the Fighters from pennant contention.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 3, Eagles 2

At Kyocera Dome, Yuma Mune drove in all three Orix runs, while starter Taisuke Yamaoka (11-4) lost his shutout bid in a two-run Rakuten eighth inning. Brandon Dickson stranded two runners in the ninth to earn his 19th save.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Carp 6, Giants 5, 10 innings

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara was unhappy after his team wasted a one-out, bases-loaded chance to break a 5-5 tie in the ninth inning in a 10-inning loss to Hiroshima. The Carp then scored the winning run in the 10th on a passed ball by catcher Takumi Oshiro.

“You could see who was clutch and who wasn’t,” said Hara after Alex Guerrero and Oshiro popped up one after the other to end the ninth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Dragons 3, Tigers 0

At Nagoya Dome, Dayan Viciedo reached base four times, and he and Nobumasa Fukuda each scored one run and drove in another to back Yudai Ono’s no-hitter.

BayStars 7, Swallows 4

At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA hammered lefty Masanori Ishikawa (7-6) for five runs over five innings in a win over Yakult, in which Swallows second baseman Tetsuto Yamada was caught stealing for the first time since Aug. 22, 2018, ending his record streak of 38 successful stolen base attempts.

NPB games, news of Sept. 4, 2019

Wednesday saw lots of home runs, and a lot of big ones, three sayonara blasts, one of which was a grand slam, and the player’s 200th. The other grand slam was hit by Japan’s most proficient grand slam hitter, who extended his career record.

Pacific League

Hawks 5, Eagles 1

At Yafuoku Dome, Ariel Miranda (7-4) struck out Hideto Asamura and popped up Jabari Blash en route to pitching out of a first-inning bases-loaded jam and collecting the win as SoftBank beat down Rakuten in a four-home run salvo.

Akira Nakamura and Alfredo Despaigne each went deep in the first inning against Takahiro Norimoto (3-5), while Nobuhiro Matsuda added to the right-hander’s miseries in the fourth with a solo shot. Despaigne capped the scoring in the eighth with his 32nd home run of the season and his 150th in Japan.

Game highlights are HERE.

Lions 10, Buffaloes 2

At Hotto Motto Field Kobe, Shuta Tonosaki homered twice and Takeya Nakamura extended his Japan record for career grand slams to 19 with a five-RBI night as Seibu overturned an early 2-1 Orix lead. Nakamura also had a sacrifice fly, and his five RBIs tied him with teammate Hotaka Yamakawa for the PL lead with 108.

Daiki Enokida (4-2) allowed two runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out two without issuing a walk.

Game highlights are HERE.

Marines 4, Fighters 2

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Takayuki Kato held Lotte scoreless for five innings, but the hosts came back against Nippon Ham’s bullpen, tying it on an unearned run in the eighth and winning it when Tatsuhiro Tamura blasted a two-run sayonara homer off closer Ryo Akiyoshi in the ninth. The loss was the Fighters’ eighth straight.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Dragons 8, Giants 4

At Shikishima Stadium, Tomoyuki Sugano (11-6) gave up four runs on five second-inning hits and Chunichi held on to beat Yomiuri. Four of the five hits Sugano gave up in the inning were misses up in the zone, while the other came from his failure to cover first base quickly enough.

After the game, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara revealed that something had happened to his nephew Sugano, but would not spell it out, saying only there had been an “accident.”

Hayato Sakamoto gave the Giants a first-inning led with his 34th home run after Sugano worked a 1-2-3 first, but the Giants never led again.

Dayan Viciedo fouled a ball of his left ankle and was taken to a hospital in Maebashi, where he was diagnosed with a contusion. He returned to the ballpark, where he was treated and said he expected to play Thursday.

“I can walk,” he said. “It’s a contusion, so I’ll be OK.”

Game highlights are HERE.

Swallows 11, Carp 7

At Jingu Stadium, Tetsuto Yamada’s 200th career home run was a big one, breaking a 7-7, ninth-inning tie with two outs and the bags juiced in Yakult’s walk-off win over Hiroshima.

Swallows rookie Munetaka Murakami overturned a 5-4 deficit in the sixth inning with a three-run home run. His 32nd homer of the year is the most ever by a player under 20 years old in Japan.

BayStars 7, Tigers 5, 10 innings

At Yokohama Stadium, each of DeNA’s big boppers, Neftali Soto, Jose Lopez and Yoshitomo Tsutugo had one of their team’s four home runs, with Tsutsugo’s 27th of the year ending it in the 10th against Hanshin. Soto’s 35 kept him one ahead of Yomiuri’s Hayato Sakamoto for the league lead.

The Heisei ERA, part 2

On this past week’s Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast, a listener asked:

  1. Who had the single most dominant season in the Heisei era (1989 to April 30, 2019)?
  2. Who was the best player of the Heisei era in NPB?

To recap our answers, we split on Question 1. John (@JBWPodcast) Gibson answered Masahiro Tanaka‘s 2013, 24-0 MVP season for the Rakuten Eagles, while I had Tetsuto Yamada‘s 2015 MVP season at second base for the Yakult Swallows, which ranks — according to Bill James’ win shares — as the seventh most valuable season in Japanese pro baseball history.

The Heisei Most Dominant Season Award

Tanaka’s season ranks 457th overall among all players in history, and second behind Hall of Famer Masaki Saito’s 1989 season for the Yomiuri Giants. But if one thinks about how the game has changed, Tanaka’s season is pretty darn remarkable.

The quality of play in NPB has increased steadily along with the number of pitches needed to get batters out. Saito, who is a big strong guy like Tanaka had a season that was a little better but required 33 more innings to accomplish.

In terms of how much Tanaka accomplished per inning pitched, his 2013 season is third in Japanese baseball history, behind two more Hall of Famers, Masaichi Kaneda (1958, Kokutetsu Swallows) and Tadashi Sugiura (1959, Nankai Hawks) during Japan’s most pitcher-friendly years since the end of World War II.

John, for those of you who haven’t heard it, brought up Wladimir Balentien‘s 60-home run 2013 season, but Win Shares has that ranked right behind Hotaka Yamakawa‘s MVP season last year for the Seibu Lions and the 28th most valuable during the Heisei era.

The Heisei MVP Award

John and I both picked Tomoaki Kanemoto as the Heisei MVP, which came as a shock to Mr. Gibson. The question excluded Ichiro Suzuki, but if I valued his MLB win shares at 1.2 per NPB WS, he ranks as the undisputed Heisei king. Through that somewhat conservative formula, Suzuki’s 540 ranks him third in Japanese baseball history, far behind the run-away leader, Sadaharu Oh (723 WS) and catcher Katsuya Nomura (581). Because the bulk of Suzuki’s win shares come from MLB, he would shoot past Nomura if each WS was valued at 1.5 per NPB win share.

If we allowed MLB win shares, Kanemoto would finish third, right behind Hideki Matsui.

Anyway, here are the top Heisei win share seasons:

Position players

PlayerYearTeamWS
1. Tetsuto Yamada2015Swallows46.8
2. Yuki Yanagita2015Hawks42.0
3. Hideki Matsui2002Giants41.7
4. Ichiro Suzuki1995BlueWave40.5
5. Kosuke Fukudome2006Dragons39.1
6. Kazuo Matsui2002Lions38.8
7. Alex Cabrera2002Lions37.7
8. Tuffy Rhodes2001Buffaloes37.4
9. Yuki Yanagita2018Hawks36.4
10. Takeya Nakamura2011Lions35.8

Pitchers

PlayerYearTeamWS
1. Masaki Saito1989Giants29.8
2. Masahiro Tanaka2013Eagles27.3
3. Masaki Saito1990Giants26.6
4. Masahiro Tanaka2011Eagles26.3
5. Hideo Nomo1990Buffaloes25.1
6. Hideyuki Awano1989Buffaloes24.2
7. Shinji Imanaka1993Dragons23.2
8. Tomoyuki Sugano2017Giants23.2
9. Yu Darvish2008Fighters23.1
10. Koji Uehara1999Giants22.8

And for the guy who doesn’t fit anywhere easily, Shohei Ohtani had 32.3 win shares in 2016 as a pitcher and a hitter, and would have ranked high in either list had he only batted or pitched.

You can find my post on NPB’s Heisei era pitching leaders HERE.

Yamada eyes Tokyo 2020


Olympics lure could keep Swallows slugger in NPB

Saying he wants to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games as motivation, slugging Yakult Swallows second baseman Tetsuto Yamada began his winter workouts on Thursday.

“I am going to demand results from myself, because if I don’t produce, I can’t get selected for the national team,” Yamada said.

The 26-year-old appeared to regain most of the form he had from the middle of 2014 to the middle of 2016, when he was on course to be the best player of his generation. But he struggled even more with inside pitches after he was hit in the back in the middle of the 2016 season, and took more than a year and a half to bounce back.

Yamada, whose defense has steadily improved year after year, is the only player in NPB history to have more than one season with a .300-plus average along with 30 or more home runs and steals. He made it three this season.

He is perhaps the only position player in Japan who would attract a sizable guaranteed MLB contract and bring his club some return in the form of a posting fee. But his apparent lack of interest — and the fact that he will be worth considerably less as a 28-year-old, means he may have to wait until he is eligible for international free agency after the 2021 season to finally make the move.