We’re a couple days into September,and about a month left in the season, nine of the 12 NPB have a chance at making the playoffs.
Before we delve into the standings, here’s how the playoff system works.
Nippon Professional Baseball has two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, each of which consist of six teams. Each year, the top three finishers from each league advance to the playoffs, known as the Climax Series. The Climax Series is split up into two stages, which break down like this:
1st Stage: 3rd vs 2nd, in a best-of-three series. Winner advances to the 2nd stage.
2nd Stage: winner of 1st stage vs the league champion, in a best-of-seven series with a twist*. Winner advances to the Nippon Series.
* The the 2nd stage is formatted like a best-of-seven series, but the league champion is automatically credited with a one-game advantage at the start of the series. So a maximum of only six games is played, and the league champion only has to win three games to advance to the Nippon Series, but the challenger would have to win four. Since this format was introduced in 2008, there have been no upsets in the 2nd Stage. Prior to 2008, the 2nd Stage was a standard best-of-five series.
In both stages, the team ranked higher in the standings gets home field advantage. The first place finisher is considered the league champion, even if they fail to reach the Nippon Series.
Make sense? If not, let me know in the comments.
After the jump, you’ll find the current (as of September 3) NPB standings, borrowed from NPB’s official site.
(both the Central and Pacific Leagues play a 144-game schedule)
Yokohama has been a doormat for years, and despite a number of roster tweaks, 2010 has been no exception. Hiroshima, with the loss of Colby Lewis, has taken a step backwards and never really been a contender this year. Yakult got off to a horrid start, but played themselves to a .500 record after their manager stepped aside in May. Conversely, Yomiuri had been dominant early in the season, but has slumped with sub-.500 records in both July and August. Yakult finishing in a playoff spot would require one of Hanshin, Chunichi or Yomiuri to collapse, but I wouldn’t have expected them to be in this position a month into the season.
The Pacific League is a little more interesting, with only Rakuten really out of the hunt for a playoff spot. Like Yakult in the Central, Nippon Ham and Orix both climbed into contention after rough starts, though neither team lost a manager. Both teams’ chances are hurt slightly by the fact that they play a four-game series against each other from September 18-22. Still, Seibu, SoftBank and Lotte being in a rather tight race makes things interesting — if any one of them falters, Nippon Ham and Orix are poised to jump into the mix.
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