NPB Notes: Arm Slots & Other Updates

First a correction/retraction. In my most recent FanGraphs post on Junichi Tazawa, I re-ran a snippet from a post I published on NPB Tracker over a year ago, discussing the young righty’s time in Japan’s Industrial Leagues. One observant reader caught the improbability of this quote: “in his last appearance [Tazawa] didn’t allow any runs, but was nicked for 7 hits in 2 innings”. I did a little digging and couldn’t find any evidence of such appearance, so it looks like I was mistaken on that specific item. The Japanese site Draft Reports, however, has Tazawa’s pitching lines from 2008, and in general he was more hittable in relief appearances made after several starts (duh). So I’ll stand by the observation that Tazawa wore down after heavy workloads in Japan, but admit that I backed it up with incorrect data.

I brought up the submariner Shunsuke Watanabe in our chat last week, and here’s a little more on him: video of an appearance against Yomiuri in a 2009 pre-WBC warm-up match and velocity data from over the last year or so. With a fastball that maxes out at 80mph, Watanabe is perhaps the softest throwing starter in Japan. At the other end of the low arm slot scale is Yakult closer Chang Yong Lim. Some of you might remember Lim from last year’s WBC, when he closed for Korea and surrendered the eventual game-winning hit to Ichiro. Lim isn’t a submariner, but throws from a side-arm slot and runs his fastball into the mid-90’s. Here’s some video and velocity data.

How is the ‘Fat Ichiro’, Ryoji Nakata doing? Not well — .231/.268/.359 slash line through 42 farm team plate appearances. Nakata is perhaps a victim of NPB’s single-level minor league system — he’s behind two other first base prospects who are performing much better.

Matt Murton has taken to Japanese baseball like a fish to water so far, sporting a healthy .351/.400/.529 line as of May 31 Jeff Fiorentino, on the other hand, has struggled to a .235/325/.324 line.

Yu Darvish is striking more guys out this year, 95 in 86 innings pitched so far. Overall he’s in the midst of a frustrating season with a pedestrian 4-4 record despite a 1.67 era, while his Nippon Ham Fighters languish in last place. Darvish has surrendered seven unearned runs in his 11 starts this season, which is surprising given that Ham’s fielders won seven Gold Gloves last season, winning every position except pitcher and one outfield spot.

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

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6 years 26 days ago

Lim’s a thing of beauty to watch from the stands, love how he whips those mid-90s fastballs with funky breaks (due to his arm angle no doubt).