I like to write about Japan’s NPB, mainly because I’ve been interested in Japanese baseball at least since reading Robert Whiting’s books about NPB in the 1980’s, but also because I think it’s an area in which the U.S. baseball blogosphere isn’t quite as saturated. Anyway, the go-to sight for English-language news on NPB is yakyubaka.com.
To say that Gen covers NPB exhaustively is probably an understatement. In fact, I only the visit the sight once every 10 to 14 days, because a lot of the news isn’t particularly interesting to me, particularly the game scores which I can get from NPB’s English language website with more numbers and less verbage. When I visit the sight, I skim through the articles to find the information that interests me, and there’s always something that does.
Particularly, I always find it fun to see what tidbits and nuggets there are to be had about the Japanese game. Believe it or not, NPB fans are even more interested in trivial statistics and comparisons than MLB fans, at least if Yakyu Baka is typical of the state of NPB reporting. A baseball nerdling like me gets a kick out of knowing that the Yomiuri Giants’ great catcher Shinnosuke Abe just became only the fourth catcher in NPB history to hit 300 or more doubles and also just became only the eighth player in NPB history to hit home runs off of 200 or more different pitchers.
The factoids just go on and on — Korean relief ace Seung-hwan Oh just got the first base hit of his major league (KBO and NPB) career — Mauro Gomez just became the 17th foreign player to drive in 100 or more runs in his first season in NPB and the first such player in Hanshin Tiger history — Takahiro Norimoto just became the sixth pitcher to strike out all nine hitters in a line-up and the first since Hisashi Iwakuma in 2009 — Norimoto also set a Rakuten Golden Eagles franchise record with his seventh shutout of the season, besting Masahiro Tanaka‘s mark also set in 2009 — and that’s all in the just the last four days of Yaku Baka’s reporting.
Yaku Baka is also a great way to keep track of the players who might one day cross the pond to MLB, since almost every injury is reported in excruciating detail. If a player slipped on a banana peel, and was only able to throw 26 of his typical 40+ pitches in his last throwing session before his next start, you hear about it.
For what it’s worth, MLB fans are becoming increasingly aware of professional baseball beyond North America’s shores. One big part of that is more foreign players; the other part is the internet. Still, one drives the other and vice versa. Baseball Reference is now attempting to publish most Mexican League, NPB and KBO stats, at least for about the last ten or twelve seasons. They wouldn’t be doing so if they didn’t think there would be an interest in this data, if not today, then sometime very soon.