Ask Away 2011

About a year ago, shortly after joining Fangraphs, I did a post inviting questions on my area of expertise, Japanese baseball. It’s been a year, so I’d like to do the same again today. This time I’ll add a single rule: please adhere to a limit of one question per comment. I’ll make my best effort to respond to every (serious) question that is posted.

Fire away!



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Patrick Newman is a veteran enthusiast of Japanese baseball who happens to write about it at npbtracker.com, and on Twitter @npbtracker.


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Andrew
Guest
Andrew
5 years 6 months ago

What are the best books on Japanese baseball?

Robert
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Robert
5 years 6 months ago

What stories can we expect to hear once Yu Darvish officially makes his way stateside? When Daisuke was posted, stories of the Gyroball and his insane Koshien appearance were all the rage.

Rodney
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Are you thrilled with how Colbyashi has performed thus far in his return to MLB, and glad that you somewhat foresaw his ability to translate his numbers?

Pierre
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Pierre
5 years 6 months ago

will we see Norichika Aoki in MLB, and if so, when? How does he project?

cowdisciple
Guest
cowdisciple
5 years 6 months ago

Could Tsuyoshi Nishioka handle SS defensively?

phoenix2042
Member
Member
phoenix2042
5 years 6 months ago

Do you have any theories on why it seems so difficult for Japanese players to transition to the MLB? I find it incredible when the best pitchers or hitters in Japan come over to the MLB and sputter out (with notable exceptions of course).

bear
Guest
bear
5 years 6 months ago

Who are the top 10 Japanese baseball players now? Who are the top 10 of all time? Which Japanese players do you see making the jump to MLB in the next two years? What are your predictions for them? What are your opinions on a “true” world series between mlb and Japanese teams?

DonCoburleone
Guest
DonCoburleone
5 years 6 months ago

He said 1 QUESTION PER COMMENT!

Matty Brown
Member
Member
Matty Brown
5 years 6 months ago

How fearful are the Japanese of a potential resurgence of Godzilla?

ToddM
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ToddM
5 years 6 months ago

I hope Mothra eats you.

DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone
5 years 6 months ago

I’m sure you’ve probably answered this question before or talked about it at some point, but how much money (in US Dollars) do the highest paid Japanese players make?

JoeIQ
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JoeIQ
5 years 6 months ago

Wild guess on Hoffpauir’s Japan stats?

S.M. Jenkins
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S.M. Jenkins
5 years 6 months ago

PN: How do you think Tsuyoshi Nishioka will fare in Minnesota in terms of his offensive game?

Danya
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Danya
5 years 6 months ago

What Japanese cities that don’t have NPB franchises now might get one in the future?

Joshua Maciel
Member
5 years 6 months ago

Naha (Okinawa) could work too.

Jonathan
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Jonathan
5 years 6 months ago

I find it ridiculous that Francoeur, Melky and Nick Punto have spots on MLB rosters and Matt Murton doesn’t. Any idea why there has been so little interest in Murton stateside?

nolan
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nolan
5 years 6 months ago

As weak as Punto’s bat is, he is way better than Melky and Francoeur. He plays terrific lights-out defense at three positions. He probably didn’t deserve all those at-bats that Gardy threw at him the past few years, but the lack of depth at infield in Minnesota isn’t his fault, is it?

SweetChenMusic
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SweetChenMusic
5 years 6 months ago

What’s the latest on Wei-Yin Chen’s contractual status and whether Chunichi will let him go after this season, and how do you suppose he would perform in MLB in 2012?

gobaystars!
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gobaystars!
5 years 6 months ago

As recently as 2008 there was a talk of Shuichi Murata giving MLB a try. Is this still the case or have recent injuries, struggles and turning 30 closed that window?

Frank
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Frank
5 years 6 months ago

What do you think of Kyle Blanks now that the hype has passed. Can he be a breakout stud this year?

Frank
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Frank
5 years 6 months ago

shoulda read the whole heading. Didn’t realize this was Japan Chat. oops

Kapellmeisters
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Kapellmeisters
5 years 6 months ago

Kyre Branks?

ToddM
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ToddM
5 years 6 months ago

I hope Mothra eats you, too.

Jeff Zimmerman
Member
Member
5 years 6 months ago

I was going to ask about what the BASIP level is for Japanesse players, but I should just look that up. Which leads me to my real question:

What is the best website for stats from Japan in English?

Jeff Zimmerman
Member
Member
5 years 6 months ago

BABIP not BASIP

Joshua Maciel
Member
5 years 6 months ago

I posted basic batting and pitching stats for 2005-2010:
http://henkakyuu.blogspot.com/2010/12/nippon-pro-baseball-data-2005-2010.html

gradygradychase
Member
gradygradychase
5 years 6 months ago

In 2010, Central League’s BABIP was .311 and Pacific League’s was .322.

I don’t know a NPB stats site in English, but want to recommend one awesome site.
It’s this! (http://www.baseball-lab.jp/)

Sorry, this is written in Japanese, but surprisingly, this is the first sabermetrically-oriented baseball site in Japan, like Fangraphs, The Hardball Times, or Baseball Prospects. It started late-November, so provided few articles and carried less stats yet. But again, this is the first saber-related site in Japan.

MonteroSmash
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MonteroSmash
5 years 6 months ago

What are your expectations on Byung-Hyun Kim? He hasn’t pitched professional for few years and glad to see him sign with Rakuten.

Nick
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Nick
5 years 6 months ago

Who are the top 3 players likely to come to the US within the next year and what do you expect out of them in the US? Thank you.

Tarik
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Tarik
5 years 6 months ago

How established is the baseball pipeline between Korea and NPB? Is it similar to the way that Latin-American players have avenues into MLB?

nolan
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nolan
5 years 6 months ago

My question would be: How much coverage does the MLB get in Japan? Is it predominately Yankees, Red Sox, and Seattle games? Is there a channel dedicated to MLB/baseball? What’s the proportion of NPB to MLB coverage in their news? (I know this is more than one question, but the rest just clarify the first question.)

Joshua Maciel
Member
5 years 6 months ago

They broadcast just enough to blackout japan from mlb.tv and they always use the worst local team announcers.

gradygradychase
Member
gradygradychase
5 years 6 months ago

In 2010, probably 60% of MLB games broadcasted in Japan were about the Mariners.

And now few games of the Red Sox are broadcasted, because more Japanese fans don’t expect Daisuke Matsuzaka to pitch well. There were less games of the Yankees in 2010, because of Hideki Matsui’s depature, but still more than the Red Sox.

Brad
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Brad
5 years 6 months ago

Seems like everyone above me sucks at following rules. Do you think we will see Matt Murton back in the States anytime soon?

Mr. Met
Member
Mr. Met
5 years 6 months ago

Could Bobby Valentine win a political position?

Derek
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Derek
5 years 6 months ago

Could you talk a little bit about late-game strategy in NPB? I’ve seen a few games and it seems like if the game is close, 1-run game or tied, teams will bunt a lot and play for 1 run only as opposed to going for more. Is this really the case or is my opinion skewed by a small sample-size? If this is so, will most managers bunt with their best batters (say if a runner is on first), or will they let him swing away?

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
5 years 6 months ago

How much better were Ichiro and Matsui than an average NPB player?

Ryan S
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Ryan S
5 years 6 months ago

That’s a skewed question. Even in the states Ichiro is light years ahead of the ‘average’ MLB player offensively and defensively (He’s average 5+ WAR over TEN seasons) and was an MVP winner. Heck even Matsui was much better than the average MLB player even though my dog was a better fielder. The real question should be how much better is the avrage MLB player than the average Japanese player. Then you’ll have your true value.

David Wishinsky
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Patrick – I love your stuff, especially when you wrote about the conditions under which the posting system works, so my question has to deal with the posting system. Had Oakland actually signed Hisashi Iwakuma, there was talk he would have been just a fourth starter caliber pitcher, though Baseball America said he would be Oakland’s #1 prospect without question in their 2011 Prospect Guide. What numbers (ballparking it) would you have expected out of him this season in the American League? Would he have been worth the outlay?

Tomas
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Tomas
5 years 6 months ago

Could you comment on what you see in the future for NPB, and whether or not the increasing trend of star players coming to play in the United States is seen as a significant concern in NPB circles?

Dixon
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Dixon
5 years 6 months ago

Randy Ruiz left the Jays last year to go to Japan, did he ever make anything of himself? I was always curious what he would have done if we gave him a chance.

SteveS
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SteveS
5 years 6 months ago

What are the best stadiums in Japan to catch games in? Would it be worth it for a tourist visiting Japan to try and find the time to take in a game?

gobaystars!
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gobaystars!
5 years 6 months ago

My non-expert opinion. Please go to an NPB game if you are visiting Japan. If you are at all a baseball fan it is a must. I lived there for a few years and made it to Yokohama Stadium, Tokyo Dome, Meji Jingu Staduim, Yahoo Dome, and Koshien. I’d say Koshien near Osaka is worth it because, I believe, it is the oldest park in use and Tigers fans are some of the best in Japan. I’d also recomend taking in a game at Yokohama Stadium because it has a great central location and tickets are easy to get and cheap as the Baystars are consistently awful. Oddly enough I’d recomend skipping Tokyo Dome. While iconic, it is pretty much immitation MLB. They play loud pop music, sell Super Pretzels, and make PA announcements in English. At places like Yokohama the experience is its own.

Joshua Maciel
Member
5 years 6 months ago

Great places: Koshien (Hanshin Tigers), Mazda Stadium (Hiroshima Carp), Green Stadium (Orix Buffaloes).

Avoid: Osaka Dome, Tokyo Dome, or really any dome.

Moe
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Moe
5 years 6 months ago

How good would Hisashi Iwakuma be on Oakland and what do you think the chances are he comes to the U.S. in the next few years?

bureaucratist
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

How does the fan experience differ from MLB? I’ve heard that the fans in Japan don’t cheer, except for designated sections where the patrons are paid by the teams to mount highly ritualized cheers and chants. I’ve also heard that you can get a shot of sake directly into your mouth from a vendor with a backpack full of the stuff. If so, that is an innovation we are sorely lacking here.

Also, the worst beating I’ve ever seen in my life was at a Phillies game at the Vet ca. 1985. Not an uncommon thing at Philadelphia sporting events, as well as cities like Boston, New York, and Detroit (I’m just speculating about those other cities, but I also lived in Houston and polite clapping was the rudest anyone ever got). Does anything like that kind of savagery happen with any frequency at a Japanese baseball game?

Joshua Maciel
Member
5 years 6 months ago

I’ve been beaten up at a sumo match in Nagoya, but never had anything like it happen at any other sporting event.

Jeffrey Gross
Guest
Jeffrey Gross
5 years 6 months ago

Does experience in the asian leagues equate to “AA ball experience”, akin to Division I College Baseball, or somewhere higher.

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
My echo and bunnymen
5 years 6 months ago

How would you suggest buying tickets for Japanese baseball games, for a planned trip in Nihon? And if you have visited any stadiums which are your favorites?

Mo
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Mo
5 years 6 months ago

You know Lim Chang-Yong? If he had not chosen to stay in Japan and had come to the U.S., could he become a Major Leaguer?

Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Jingu Stadium, home of the Yakult Swallows in Tokyo, and Koshien Stadium, home of the Hanshin Tigers in Osaka are the best parks by far. Skip Chiba Lotte, it’s a concrete bowl in the middle of nowhere (great fans though).

Furuhata Ninzaburo
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Furuhata Ninzaburo
5 years 6 months ago

Will Ichiro become an actor once he retires? He did great on my show!

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
5 years 6 months ago

I’m sure that a WAR could be created for Japanese baseball but I wonder how those WAR would convert to MLB WAR. In other words, if we could convert Ichiro’s Japanese stats to MLB WAR, how much WAR would that add to his career MLB total? I wonder how his overall professional baseball numbers would compare to others throughout history.

KindOfAshamed
Guest
KindOfAshamed
5 years 6 months ago

I know you addressed the possibility of Yu Darvish coming to the states previously, but if you had to put a number on it, what percent chance do you think there is that he signs with an MLB team before the start of 2012? Sorry for being the one to ask the predictable Darvish question…

Jake
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Jake
5 years 6 months ago

how many australians play at the top level of japanese baseball?

anthony
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anthony
5 years 6 months ago

obviously everyone expects the Yanks to offer huge at Yu Darvish if he ever wants to come over. What are the chances that the Mariners make a push too if that were to happen? They’ve obviously been known to do so and I would think that playing in a much more asian city would be more comfortable to a young pitcher like Yu. Plus he’d be with Ichiro.

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