Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Japan’s NPB
We are now approximately 25 games into the 2013 Nippon Professional Baseball Season, and I thought it would be fun to do a who’s-hot-who’s-not piece regarding players you might/should have heard of. Here goes:
In Japan’s Central league, hot hitters include Hector Luna (.387 batting average, 1.048 OPS), Tony Blanco (.354, 1.245, 13 HRs in 26 games), Matt Murton (.340 BA, but only .821 OPS), Jose Lopez (.313, .926) and Shinnosuke Abe (.284, .986). Meanwhile, cold, cold, cold are Lastings Milledge (.240, .669), Alex Ramirez (.208, .503) and Kosuke Fukudome (.160, .550).
Among the Central League’s pitchers, former MLB number one overall draft pick Brian Bullington (1.45 ERA) is hot, but Tony Barnette (7.50 ERA) is not. Randy Messenger has a 4.80 ERA, worst among the 18 Central League qualifiers, but he’s also 3-0 and has good ratios, so he’s not in any immediate likelihood of losing his job.
The Central League’s best pitcher over the last few years and possible future major leaguer Kenta Maeda is 2-0 with an 0.39 ERA after three starts but he missed his last two starts with inflammation in his triceps brachii muscle (back of his pitching arm) but could pitch again as soon as May 1st.
In the Pacific League, sweetly swinging the stick are Casey McGehee (.400, 1.098), Dae Ho “Big Boy” Lee (.380, 1.013), Esteban German (.361, .874, including .476 OBP), Aarom Baldiris (.321, ..876), Tad Iguchi (.309, .886), Michel Abreu (.302, 1.008) and Brian Lahair (.298, .929). Struggling mightily is Wily Mo Pena (.203, .534).
Among the Pacific League’s pitchers, top future MLB prospect Masahiro Tanaka is 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA. However, is ERA is currently only 7th or 8th best in the six-team league (it’s tough for hitters in NPB). Randy Williams (0.00 ERA), Dennis Sarfate (0.00 ERA) and Brian Falkenborg (0.90 ERA) have been extremely effective in relief. Brandon Duckworth (1-3 record, 4.71 ERA) has been getting hit hard.
Meanwhile, the Yomiuri Giants and the Seibu Lions have early 3.5 game leads over all challengers in their respective leagues. You can get more NPB stats and information here.