Nippon Professional Baseball
With two weeks of the Japanese baseball season in the books, I have a few observations about this 2021 season to share. A few interesting developments and trends are taking place that are worth noting. Some interesting things are happening in Osaka (Hanshin Tigers) and some in Hokkaido (Nippon Ham Fighters) among others. WagerTalk handicapper Tokyo Brandon offers his Japanese Baseball betting update through April 10.
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A NEW LEADER IN THE CENTRAL
After winning the Central League several seasons in a row, it seems the Yomiuri Giants are getting knocked off of their perch by their biggest rival, the Hanshin Tigers. The Tigers are in first place in the Central League and in my opinion have the best starting pitcher rotation in the league. Yomiuri has suffered a few setbacks due to quarantine issues, missing big hitters Maru, Kamei and Wheeler, but even before these setbacks Hanshin was surging. With a rotation of Nishi, Aoyagi, Akiyama and others they are dominating opponents with a starting pitcher team ERA of 2.05 and WHIP of 1.29. They are also expecting KBO Doosan Bear import Raul Alcantra to join that fierce rotation next week.At the moment their bullpen ranks 4 out of 12 which is certainly good enough to get it done. These Tigers are my favorite to win the Central League this year.
A NEW BOTTOM FEEDER
No longer are the Orix Buffaloes the worst team in Japan. That dubious honor goes to Hokkaido’s Nippon Ham Fighters. The Fighters finally got their first win of the season on April 9th, and the frustrations are starting to show. Their only homerun hitter, Sho Nakada, injured his own right eye after assaulting a bat in the dugout and falling over.He received a public toungue-lashing from the coach on national TV and promptly ignored media questions about the incident. He was pulled from the game the next day and was not happy about it. The cracks are showing with this team and they do not have the talent to compensate. Their current starting pitcher rotation has a team ERA of 4.34 and a WHIP of 1.45. By American standards that sounds good but in low-scoring Japan that is terrible. The bullpen also ranks last in every category. With no power in the lineup and morale at an all-time low, look for this team to tail-spin downward even further.
NPB POWER RANKINGS
1. Hanshin Tigers
2. Orix Buffaloes
3. SoftBank Hawks
1. Seibu Lions
2. Rakuten Eagles
3. Yakult Swallows
1. Softbank Hawks
2. Hanshin Tigers
3. Chunichi Dragons
Best Starting Pitcher
1. Ono – Chunichi
2. Yamamoto – Orix
3. Nishi – Hanshin
1. Murakami – Yakult
2. Yamakawa – Seibu
3. Asamura – Rakutens
— Tokyo Brandon (@JPBaseballTV) April 9, 2021
Professional Bettors’ Guide to Japanese Baseball
Drew Martin sits down with professional Asian sports bettor Tokyo Brandon to discuss the biggest differences between Japanese Nippon Baseball and the MLB, KBO, etc..
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