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Articles Tagged Japanese Baseball 

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08-29

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7

BP Unfiltered: Would MLB Teams Want Wladimir Balentien Back?
by
Ben Lindbergh

08-29

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0

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 276: How Would Wladimir Balentien Hit in the Majors?/Oakland's Second-Half Success Narrative
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

03-06

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21

Prospects Will Break Your Heart: Spring Training Diary, Day 5
by
Jason Parks

01-19

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2

Wezen-Ball: Pre-MLB Nomo & Ichiro in SI
by
Larry Granillo

01-18

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16

Heartburn Hardball: The Hawk and the Dragon
by
Jonathan Bernhardt

12-16

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5

Wezen-Ball: Belittling Japanese Baseball in 1980
by
Larry Granillo

10-31

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12

Resident Fantasy Genius: Yu Got the Look
by
Derek Carty

09-20

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13

The Asian Equation: The Future of the NPB Import Market
by
Michael Street

07-07

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14

The Asian Equation: The Decline of NPB Pitching Imports
by
Michael Street

05-11

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28

The Asian Equation
by
Michael Street

04-13

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11

The Asian Equation
by
Michael Street

12-27

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3

The Week in Quotes: December 20-26
by
Alex Carnevale

05-20

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1

Prospectus Q&A: Dorothy Seymour Mills
by
David Laurila

01-14

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29

Crossing the Pond
by
Dan Wade

06-07

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48

Prospectus Idol Entry: Yeah, That Girl Can Play
by
Brian Oakchunas

03-30

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7

The Week in Quotes: March 23-29
by
Alex Carnevale

03-13

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3

Nippon Prospectus
by
Mike Plugh

11-21

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10

Nippon Prospectus
by
Mike Plugh

06-15

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Prospectus Q&A: Trey Hillman
by
David Laurila

01-27

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0

Prospectus Q&A: Mike Pagliarulo
by
David Laurila

11-20

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0

Wait 'Til Next Year: The Hawaiian Winter League Top 10
by
Bryan Smith

09-05

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0

The Big Picture: Raiding or Raising the East?
by
David Pinto

07-17

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Nippon Prospectus
by
Mike Plugh

05-17

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Nippon Prospectus
by
Mike Plugh

05-13

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Prospectus Q&A: Alex Ochoa
by
David Laurila

04-19

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0

The Foreigners
by
Mike Plugh

04-10

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Impact Talent in Japan
by
Mike Plugh

03-20

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Live From Akita City
by
Mike Plugh

03-13

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Live From Akita City
by
Mike Plugh

11-16

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0

Prospectus Today: The Money of Matsuzaka
by
Joe Sheehan

08-18

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0

Future Shock: Go West, Young Men....WAY West
by
Kevin Goldstein

01-04

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0

Battle of Champions
by
Dave Haller

08-28

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0

Evaluating the Olympians
by
Clay Davenport

07-14

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0

Mid-Season Baseball Awards
by
Ryan Wilkins

01-26

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Prospectus Q&A: Dr. Glenn Fleisig, Part II
by
Jonah Keri

11-11

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The Week in Quotes: November 4-10
by
Ryan Wilkins

01-29

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Japanese Baseball
by
Clay Davenport

05-10

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0

The Daily Prospectus: Xenophobia
by
Derek Zumsteg

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Wladimir Balentien is threatening to break Japan's single-season home-run record. Does that mean he can hit in the majors?

You might remember Wladimir Balentien from his age 22-24 seasons, when he hit a combined .221/.281/.374 for the Mariners and Reds, or his age-25 season, which he spent with Triple-A Lousville because he was blocked by the barely passable bat of Austin Kearns. Then again, you might not, because your brain has space for only so many baseball players, and Balentien didn’t make much of a case for inclusion.

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Ben and Sam discuss how Wladimir Balentien's explosive season in Japan would translate to the majors, then examine the notion that Billy Beane's teams play better in the second half.

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With some thoughts on the best pen and paper for the job, Jason shares some scouting notes on Yu Darvish.

Day 5: 4:30 PM
Back from the fields and swollen with stories, Patricia. Thanks for the note you left. I didn’t read it until I was nearing the stadium here in Surprise. Very thoughtful of you to wish me well. Remind me to volley the kindness back to you at a time more convenient for such an act. I’m growing closer to you by the minute. My eyes might only own a few tears, saved up over the years just in case I might need to deploy them in a tear-appropriate situation, but I think I caught a hint of one’s presence after I learned that you had feelings for me. It retreated out of fear and because this desert climate chews moisture like George Lucas chews chocolate. Tears can be such cowards. I’m just assuming you have feelings for me. I’ve only been in Arizona for five days and I’m already lonely. I’m not sure when you will read this, but it’s Friday, March 2nd when I’m writing it. I know you are busy. Read it when you can.

On the way back to the house I was overcome with anticipation as I pored over my scouting notes from the previous week, knowing that the upcoming dictation of these thoughts would reanimate them in my mind. The process I constructed is as follows: Observe the talent on the field, and take notes on the talent using a standard issue soft-cover Finest Selection Gold Fibre notebook from Ampad, with its 80 medium-ruled sheets that are micro-perforated for neat sheet removal and a convenient 5’’ x 8’’ size, which fits neatly into my leather Wenger portfolio, which also houses several varieties of custom made hit and pitch charts, several Pentel EnerGel pens (black), a respectable stack of glossy Baseball Prospectus business cards that bear my name and my contact information, an extra AX725 AccuSplit stopwatch (yellow), and a backup legal pad, which comes as standard issue when you purchase the Wenger portfolio.


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Looking at Sports Illustrated's first ever mentions of two of Japan's biggest MLB stars, Hideo Nomo and Ichiro.

The news that Yu Darvish has finally signed with the Rangers inspired me (again) to do a little digging into the history of Japanese ballplayers in the Major Leagues. Not that we're talking ancient history here. Other than the Giants' 1960s relief pitcher Masanori Murakami, the only major league Japanese players have been playing only since Hideo Nomo found a loophole in his contract and retired from Japanese baseball to make his way to the Dodgers in 1995.

The first mention of Nomo in Sports Illustrated came in February of that year, shortly after he discovered his path to the majors. Despite being a big star in the Far East, Nomo and his fight to get into American baseball was unknown stateside:

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January 18, 2012 3:00 am

Heartburn Hardball: The Hawk and the Dragon

16

Jonathan Bernhardt

After starring for opposing teams in the Japan Series, Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada will try to adjust to life in Baltimore and last place, as the Orioles react to the new CBA by plugging their pitching holes with Asian imports.

On November 12th, 2011, as Major League Baseball recovers from one of the most exciting World Series in recent memory, Nippon Professional Baseball begins its own best-of-seven championship: the Japan Series.

Much like MLB, Japanese professional baseball has two leagues—the Central and the Pacific—and much like MLB, the champions of those respective leagues play each other to determine a final champion for the entire season. As NPB has only 12 teams compared to to MLB's 30, however, the playoffs are structured a bit differently; with only six teams per league, NPB does not bother with divisions or Wild Cards—the best three teams in each league make the playoffs, with the league's top seed getting a first-round bye. The second and third seeds play a best-of-three series, and the winner faces the first seed in a best-of-five “Climax Series” that's roughly analogous to MLB's League Championship Series. The winning club from each league's Climax Series is that league's champion and advances to the best-of-seven Japan Series to determine which is the best club in NPB. The Climax Series format was implemented first by the Pacific League in 2004 and then adopted by the Central League three years later. Previously, there had been no real postseason in NPB: the team with the best season record from the Central would play the team with the best season record from the Pacific in the Japan Series, and that was that.

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Looking at a 1980 Baseball Digest article called "Japanese Baseball Almost as Foreign as the Language".

Setting aside all things Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols this week, the big news around Major League Baseball has been the posting process of Japanese superstar pitcher Yu Darvish, who hopes to make a big splash next year while earning his NPB club, the Nippon Ham Fighters, a big payday. It's been over 15 years since Hideo Nomo treated us to his version of Fernando-mania and more than ten since Ichiro became only the second player ever to win the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in the same year. The success of others who have followed in Nomo's and Ichiro's footsteps has varied, but by now the NPB-to-MLB transition is commonplace, if not entirely predictable. Thirty years ago, however, it was a very different story.

The December 1980 issue of "Baseball Digest" shows just how different the baseball world was then with an article called "Japanese Baseball Almost as Foreign as the Language":

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October 31, 2011 9:00 am

Resident Fantasy Genius: Yu Got the Look

12

Derek Carty

Will Yu Darvish's Japanese League domination translate to major-league success?

Rumors abound that Yu Darvish, perhaps the most hyped player to come from Japan since Daisuke Matsuzaka, will be posted by his Nippon Pro Baseball team this winter. If that happens, Major League Baseball teams will have the right to bid on exclusive negotiating rights with Darvish in the hopes of securing his services for their rotation. This possibility has the blogosphere abuzz, with many a writer speculating on where he’ll end up or how he’ll fit in with a blogger’s favorite team.

But the big question on everyone’s mind is how much of this buzz is merely hype and how much is legitimate. As Michael Street has shown, Japanese pitchers (particularly starters) have a very spotty track record when they come across the Pacific, and even a guy like Matsuzaka only managed one above-average season before giving way to injuries and ineffectiveness.

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September 20, 2011 10:41 pm

The Asian Equation: The Future of the NPB Import Market

13

Michael Street

Michael ends his look at Japanese imports with some conclusions and a look at the future of the transpacific player market.

In the Asian Equation series, I’ve traced the history of the current posting system that imports players from NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball, the Japanese major leagues) and how the success of Ichiro Suzuki has affected it, from the position players who arrived in his wake to the pricey disappointments among starting pitchers and the marginally successful relievers. In this final column, I’ll take a look back to draw conclusions from this history and see what we can expect from the NPB market in the future. As with my previous columns, Patrick Newman’s advice and ideas were very helpful, as is his website, NPB Tracker.

The simplest, broadest conclusion concerns the players themselves, where we must draw an important distinction between talent and skills. As Craig Brown wrote in the comments section of his article on Tsuyoshi Nishioka, “. . . comparing two middle infielders just because they come from Japan is like comparing two middle infielders just because they come from Delaware.” Just because they’re from Japan doesn’t mean we can draw specific conclusions about individual ballplayers, their talents, or their ability to succeed in Major League Baseball. This goes double for Ichiro, whose skills are idiosyncratic on either side of the Pacific. Throwing money at Japanese players expecting them to be slap hitters with weird batting stances and an uncanny ability to find defensive holes is as foolish as thinking every Venezuelan shortstop will field (and endure) like Omar Vizquel. We can’t expect specific players to have certain inherent talents just because they were born in Japan.

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July 7, 2011 9:00 am

The Asian Equation: The Decline of NPB Pitching Imports

14

Michael Street

In his fourth column in the Asian Equation series, Michael looks at the starting pitchers who have crossed the Pacific, in which many failures are punctuated with a few very notable successes.

In the flood of players coming from Japan, the majority (34 of 43) have been pitchers. Unlike the pursuit of the next Ichiro I described in my previous column, this has less to do with the success of Hideo Nomo than it does with the pitching market–pitching is a difficult commodity to find in any league. What has doomed many NPB starters in MLB, however, has been both talent and adjustment to a different pitching philosophy. To understand and explain the differences between the two, I’ve drawn not only on my own expertise, but relied on Japanese pitching expert Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker for additional insight.

Pitching differences reflect a deeper philosophical difference between Japanese and American baseball. As I discussed in my first Asian Equation column, Japanese culture appreciates baseball’s emphasis on discipline, sacrifice, and the dramatic showdown between pitcher and batter. Instead of putting a batter away quickly, NPB pitchers build tension by indiscriminately filling counts before a perfectly placed strike three resolves the battle. These aren’t seen as “wasted” pitches, instead reflecting the samurai-like virtues of endurance and dramatic battles.

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May 11, 2011 9:00 am

The Asian Equation

28

Michael Street

At the dawn of the posting system, the arrival of the unique Ichiro Suzuki would forever change the player market between the U.S. and Japan.

Last month, I traced the early history of Japanese-American player traffic, from the Pirates’ sly attempt to sign Eiji Sawamura in the 1930s to the loophole-leaping of players like Hideo Nomo and Alfonso Soriano in the 1990s. To close that voluntary-retirement loophole and to prevent trading players like Hideki Irabu without their permission, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) agreed on the current posting system in 1998. The system was designed to allow MLB teams to sign NPB stars without turning the NPB into another minor league, by forcing MLB teams to pay twice for NPB players, with about half of the total fee typically going to that player’s club.

During the leagues’ offseason, NPB teams can choose to post players who want to test the MLB waters. Once a player is posted, any MLB team has four days to submit a bid to the MLB commissioner for the right to negotiate with him. The highest bidding team then has thirty days to sign a contract. If they succeed, the team pays the posting fee to the player’s NPB club, but if they can’t come to an agreement, no fee is paid. The winning club thus pays for a player twice, with a portion going to the team as a non-negotiable sealed bid. This kind of blind bidding can easily lead to overpaying, benefitting the NPB club, but not the player.

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April 13, 2011 9:00 am

The Asian Equation

11

Michael Street

Where did today's Japanese-American player market come from?

This article is the first in a series tracing the roots of today’s transpacific baseball economy between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Japanese professional baseball league.

Today’s fans might think that importing players began with Ichiro Suzuki, or maybe Hideo Nomo, but the practice began much earlier, ultimately affecting the game on both sides of the Pacific.

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The aftermath of the Zack Greinke trade dominates the Christmas week chatter in the major leagues.

THE BOY PRINCE OF MILWAUKEE

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