The Baseball Guru - Japanese Baseball Playoff Preview October, 8 2015 - Glenn Davies, Tokyo Japan Home Page

Baseball Analysis Home   Glenn Davies  / Japanese Insider

Japanese Baseball Playoff Preview - October, 8 2015

Japanese Baseball: Pacific League Updates:   September, 2015  / August, 2015 / July, 2015 / June, 2015 / May, 2015 / April, 2015

Japanese Baseball: Central League Updates:   September, 2015  /  August, 2015 / July, 2015 / June, 2015 / May, 2015 / April, 2015

Japanese Baseball News - May, 2015

Japanese Baseball 2015 Season Preview

OCTOBER 8, 2015

Japanese Baseball playoff preview

Glenn Davies

Central league (CL) - Playoff Teams

Yakult Swallows

The Yakult Swallows claimed their first CL title in 14 years under the guidance of rookie manager Mitsuru Manaka.  The team improved upon its 2014 performance by 16 wins in 2015 and look primed to go all the way to the Japan Series.  The Swallows had the best team batting average in the CL, and have a fearsome line-up featuring Tetsuo Yamada (.329 38 100), Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (.268 26 105), and hit machine Shingo Kawabata (.336 8 57). Likely starters for the final playoff round will be Masanori Ishikawa (13-9, 3.31) and Kazuhiro Ogawa (11-8, 3.11), but it’s in the bullpen where teams trying to comeback go to die with Logan Ondrusek (5-2, 2.05, 38 holds), Orlando Roman (5-5, 2.40, 27 holds), and Tony Barnette (1.29 ERA, 41 Saves in 59 games) holding the line.  
How they stack up
Yakult vs. Yomiuri in 2015: 12-13
Yakult vs. Hanshin in 2015: 12-13

Yomiuri Giants

Last year’s CL champions the Yomiuri Giants finished second with a record of 75-67-1. Manager Tatsunori Hara is under pressure to not only reach but win the Japan Series, with press reports indicating that the Giants owner is looking to make a change should they fail. The Giants have the pitching to go all the way in Miles Mikolas (13-3, 1.92), Tomoyuki Sugano (10-11, 1.91), Hirokazu Sawamura (7-3, 1.32, 36 saves), and Aaron Poreda (8-8, 2.94). Although not as fearsome a line-ups as seen in previous years, they have enough talent and bench depth to trouble most teams. The team will be relying upon improved performance from Hayato Sakamoto (.269 12 68), Hisayoshi Chono (.251 15 52), and Shinsuke Abe (.242 15 47) to go as far as they hope.

How they stack up

Yomiuri vs. Hanshin 2015: 16-9
Yomiuri vs. Yakult in 2015: 13-12

Hanshin Tigers
Probably the worst of the 6 clubs that made it to the playoffs this season, the Tigers finished under .500 at 70-71-2 and backed into the playoffs going 9-13-1 in September. Manager Yutaka Wada has already been told that he will not be offered a contract next season, so nothing to lose on that front, and divisions between management and a number of key players are widely reported. Shintaro Fujinami (14-7, 2.40) is the best in a rotation that has been inconsistent all season.  Hanshin will hope that Randy Messenger (9-12, 2.97) and Atsushi Nohmi (11-13, 3.72) have their better days when they match-up against the Giants. They will also hope that veteran Kosuke Fukudome (.281 20 76) can sustain his higher than expected production, while foreign imports Mario Gomez (.271 17 72) and Matt Murton (.276 9 46) will try and show the team why they should keep them next season.

How they stack up

Hanshin vs. Yomiuri in 2015: 9-16
Hanshin vs. Yakult in 2015: 13-12

Central league –First Stage (Giants vs. Tigers ) Predicted Winner – Yomiuri Giants
Central league –Final Stage (Winner of First Stage vs. Swallows) Predicted Winner – Yakult Swallows
Pacific League (PL) - Playoff Teams

Softbank Hawks

The Hawks are the best team in Japan. They had a season record of 90-49-4 but it could probably have been a 100 win season if they had not taken it rather easy at the end of the season.  The Hawks had the best batting average in the PL (.267) and the best ERA (3.16), and first year manager Kimiyasu Kubo’s mantra on staying healthy paid off with  almost career years out of Dae-Ho Lee (.282 31 98), Yuki Yanagita (.363 34 99), and Nobuhiro Matsuda (.287 35 94). In terms of pitching there is a lot of it and Kudo will be spoiled for choice when he lines-up his rotation for the playoffs with,  Shota Takeda (13-6, 3.17), Jason Standridge (10-7, 3.74), Tadashi Settsu (10-7, 3.22), and Rick van den Hurk (9-0, 2.52to choose from. The Hawks  look likely to clean-up in the playoffs.

How they stack up

Softbank Hawks vs. Nippon Ham Fighters  in 2015: 15-9-1
Softbank Hawks vs. Chiba Lotte Marines in 2015: 15-10

Nippon Ham Fighters

The Nippon Ham Fighters played their usual role as the second best team in the PL this season. They got beaten up by the Hawks, but played well against the others.  Nippon Ham two-way star Shohei Otani (15-5, 2.24) did not really live-up to the billing with the bat (he only hit .202 5 15), but was the rock of the rotation winning 15 and continuing his strong performance from 2014 (11-4, 2.61). In a short series he will be key, but the lack of a go-to second or third starter will hamper them in the longer series against the Hawks if they make it past the Marines.  If they are to have any hope then sluggers Brandon Laird (.231 22 97) and Sho Nakata (.263 30 102) will need to set up, along with the disappointing Daikan Yoh (.259 7 36).

How they stack up

Nippon Ham Fighters  vs. Chiba Lotte Marines in 2015: 13-12
Nippon Ham Fighters  vs. Softbank in 2015: 9-15-1

Chiba Lotte Marines
The Chiba Lotte Marines return to the playoffs after a one year absence, but nobody thought they would make it this far. The team lacks the dominating ace or mid-line-up power threats that you would expect on a playoff team. Hideaki Wakui (15-9, 3.39) will likely pitch game 1 against Otani of the Fighters, and Ayumu Ishikawa (12-12, 3.27) may get the nod for game 2, but after than there are 5-6 possible choices, all with around .500 records. The Marines will be hoping that Alfredo Despaigne (.258 18 62) and Luis Cruz (.255 16 73) can up their game and offer some punch in the playoffs to have any hope of success.

How they stack up

Chiba Lotte Marines vs. Nippon Ham Fighters  in 2015: 12-13
Chiba Lotte Marines vs. Softbank Hawks in 2015: 10-15


Pacific League  – First Stage (Marines vs. Fighters ) Predicted Winner – Nippon Ham Fighters
Pacific League  – Final Stage (Winner of First Stage vs. Hawks) Predicted Winner – Softbank Hawks
Japan Series – Predicted Winner – Softbank Hawks


Guru's Baseball Book StoreLink to UsBraintrust & Mailing ListsEmail the GuruContact InfoBaseball Analysis Home