SoftBank Hawks Win 2015 Japan Series
The SoftBank Hawks won their second consecutive Japan Series today, closing out the Yakult Swallows 5-0 to win the series four games to one. No real surprise there — the Hawks had the best regular season record in NPB this year, are loaded with talent and were the defending champs going in.
South Korean slugger Dae-ho Lee was named the series MVP, going 8-for-16 with two home runs. Likely future MLBer Tetsuto Yamada hit three home runs in the only game Yakult won, but went 1-for -15 in his team’s four losses. Yamada won the Fighting Spirit Award, which I assume goes to the best performer on the losing team.
I tend to think of Dae-ho Lee as an overrated player, because he is so incredibly slow he doesn’t score many runs despite a very potent bat. However, the Hawks didn’t need Lee to score runs this year, because it had plenty of other potent bats this year. In any event, his Japan Series performance will unquestionably establish him as a superstar throughout NPB, if he wasn’t already considered one.
One of the reasons for the Hawks’ recent success is the team’s willingness to pay for top foreign talent and the skill/good fortune to identify the right foreign players. NPB’s other two rich teams, the Yomiuri Giants and the Hanshin Tigers, also spend plenty on both foreign and domestic talent, but haven’t been quite as successful in loading up with the best foreigners, at least in the last two years.