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2006 in Japanese Baseball

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2006 in Japanese baseball

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[edit] Nippon Professional Baseball

The 2006 season in Japan was marked by a surprising champion, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Going from fifth in the six-team Pacific League to first in the course of a year, the Fighters then took the playoffs easily and topped the Chunichi Dragons in the 2006 Japan Series. They became the second straight Japan Series champion with an American manager as they were guided by Trey Hillman. Leading their attack were 1B Michihiro Ogasawara, RF Atsunori Inaba and DH Fernando Seguignol, while a fine young pitching staff was anchored by sophomore Yu Darvish and Rookie of the Year Tomoya Yagi. The Chiba Lotte Marines, meanwhile, fell from first in 2005 to the second division and missed the playoffs.

In the Central League, there was a tight pennant race between the defending champion Hanshin Tigers and Chunichi, with both teams having fine finishing runs to keep the action alive. Unfortunately, it would be the last true pennant race in CL history as the league decided to copy the Pacific League's playoff structure for 2007.

The season marked the return of the player-manager to Japan as Atsuya Furuta guided the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Furuta was the first player-manager in NPB in 30 years, since his mentor Katsuya Nomura had filled the role. The former two-time MVP spent most of the year on the bench, but the 40-year-old still contributed at times.

It was a year for no-hitters of note in Japan. On April 15, there was the first combined no-hitter in NPB in 65 years when Yagi (10 IP), Hisashi Takeda (1 IP) and Micheal Nakamura (1 IP) combined to keep the Softbank Hawks hitless for twelve innings. On May 25, Rick Guttormson pitched the first no-hitter in NPB during interleague play. Using 139 pitches, he became the 7th foreigner in league annals to throw a no-hitter, stopping the Rakuten Golden Eagles flat. He was sent down afterwards on a technicality to free up a roster space for Dicky Gonzalez as NPB rules limit the number of foreigners on the active roster. The third historical no-hitter came in September when 41-year-old Masahiro Yamamoto became the oldest pitcher in league history to throw a no-hitter.

Hanshin Tigers LF Tomoaki Kanemoto, the 2005 Central League MVP, made note this year for a durability mark. He played in his 903rd consecutive game without missing an inning, breaking the world record previously held by Cal Ripken Jr.. Later in the year, Kanemoto reached 1,000 consecutive games played.

Yomiuri Giants SS Tomohiro Nioka provided his club with one of their bright spots in a rare second straight bad season for the most successful team in Japanese history. On April 30, Nioka set a Yomiuri record with 10 RBI in a game, something never done by the likes of Sadaharu Oh, Tetsuharu Kawakami or Shigeo Nagashima. He also became the first player in NPB history to hit grand slams in consecutive at-bats in that game against Chunichi.

While Kazumi Saitoh took home the pitching Triple Crown, most American eyes were on another Pacific League hurler, Daisuke Matsuzaka. The MVP of the 2006 World Baseball Classic (won by Japan), Matsuzaka was finally posted after the season after much anticipation and a denied request a year earlier.

[edit] Standings

Bold indicates league champion; Italics indicate Nippon Series winner; * indicates Pacific League playoffs team

[edit] Central League

Team G W L T WPCT GB RS RA AVG OBP SLG ERA Manager(s)
Chunichi Dragons 146 87 54 5 0.617 -.- 669 496 0.270 0.333 0.409 3.10 Hiromitsu Ochiai
Hanshin Tigers 146 84 58 4 0.592 3.5 597 508 0.267 0.328 0.396 3.13 Akinobu Okada
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 146 70 73 3 0.490 18 669 642 0.269 0.326 0.415 3.91 Atsuya Furuta
Yomiuri Giants 146 65 79 2 0.451 23.5 552 592 0.251 0.307 0.380 3.65 Tatsunori Hara
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 146 62 79 5 0.440 25 549 648 0.266 0.311 0.386 3.96 Marty Brown
Yokohama BayStars 146 58 84 4 0.408 29.5 575 662 0.257 0.311 0.387 4.25 Kazuhiko Ushijima

[edit] Pacific League

Team G W L T WPCT GB RS RA AVG OBP SLG ERA Manager(s)
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters* 136 82 54 0 0.603 -.- 567 452 0.269 0.323 0.418 3.05 Trey Hillman
Seibu Lions* 136 80 54 2 0.597 1 645 556 0.275 0.342 0.419 3.64 Tsutomu Ito
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks* 136 75 56 5 0.573 4.5 553 472 0.259 0.324 0.373 3.13 Sadaharu Oh1/Hiroshi Moriwaki
Chiba Lotte Marines 136 65 70 1 0.481 16.5 502 562 0.252 0.315 0.382 3.78 Bobby Valentine
Orix Buffaloes 136 52 81 3 0.391 28.5 481 570 0.253 0.311 0.373 3.84 Katsuhiro Nakamura
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 136 47 85 4 0.356 33 452 651 0.258 0.320 0.355 4.30 Katsuya Nomura
1 After Oh was hospitalized with stomach cancer on July 6, chief coach Moriwaki took over the team for the rest of the season.

[edit] Leaders

Bold indicates league record, Italics indicate all-time record

[edit] Batting

Statistic Central League Pacific League
Leader Team Number Leader Team Number
Batting Average Kosuke Fukudome Chunichi Dragons .351 Nobuhiko Matsunaka Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks .324
Runs Kosuke Fukudome Chunichi Dragons 117 Hichori Morimoto Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 84
Hits Norichika Aoki Tokyo Yakult Swallows 192 Naoyuki Omura Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 165
Doubles Kosuke Fukudome Chunichi Dragons 47 Fernando Seguignol Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 37
Triples Eishin Soyogi Hiroshima Toyo Carp 8 Shogo Akada
Munenori Kawasaki
Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Teppei Tsuchiya
Seibu Lions
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Chiba Lotte Marines
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
7
Home Runs Tyrone Woods Chunichi Dragons 47 Michihiro Ogasawara Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 32
Runs Batted In Tyrone Woods Chunichi Dragons 144 Alex Cabrera
Michihiro Ogasawara
Seibu Lions
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
100
Stolen Bases Norichika Aoki Tokyo Yakult Swallows 41 Tsuyoshi Nishioka Chiba Lotte Marines 33
Walks Tyrone Woods Chunichi Dragons 84 Nobuhiko Matsunaka Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 102

[edit] Pitching

Statistic Central League Pacific League
Leader Team Number Leader Team Number
ERA Hiroki Kuroda Hiroshima Toyo Carp 1.85 Kazumi Saito Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 1.75
Wins Kenshin Kawakami Chunichi Dragons 17 Kazumi Saito Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 18
Losses Kan Otake
Tetsuya Utsumi
Hiroshima Toyo Carp
Yomiuri Giants
13 Yasuhiro Ichiba Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 14
Saves Hitoki Iwase Chunichi Dragons 40 Micheal Nakamura Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 39
Save Points Hitoki Iwase Chunichi Dragons 42 Micheal Nakamura Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 44
Innings Pitched Daisuke Miura Yokohama BayStars 216.2 Kazumi Saito Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 201.0
Appearances Takeharu Kato
Katsuhiro Nagakawa
Yokohama BayStars
Hiroshima Toyo Carp
75 Hisashi Takeda Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 75
Hits Allowed Daisuke Miura Yokohama BayStars 194 Yasuhiro Ichiba Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 205
Home Runs Allowed Kan Otake Hiroshima Toyo Carp 25 Yasuhiro Ichiba
Fumiya Nishiguchi
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
Seibu Lions
22
Strikeouts Kei Igawa
Kenshin Kawakami
Hanshin Tigers
Chunichi Dragons
194 Kazumi Saito Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 205
Base-on-Balls Kazuhisa Ishii Tokyo Yakult Swallows 59 Yasuhiro Ichiba Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 71

[edit] All-Star Game

The NPB All-Star Game featured two games and was won by the Central League two games to none. The first game was played at Meiji-Jingu Stadium and was won by the CL, 3 - 1. The second game was played at Miyazaki Sun Marine Stadium and was won by the CL, 7 - 4.

[edit] Postseason

In the first stage of the playoffs at the Invoice Seibu Dome, the third place Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks defeated the second place Seibu Lions in two straight games. In the second stage of the playoffs the first-place Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters began the best-of-five series with a one-game advantage over the Hawks for finishing ahead of them. The Fighters swept the two games at the Sapporo Dome giving them pennant.

In the Nippon Series, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (PL) defeated the Chunichi Dragons (CL) in five games, 4 - 1. It was the team's first title in 44 years. The winning manager was Trey Hillman. The series MVP was Toshiaki Imae.

The Fighters proceeded to the Asia Series, to determine the champion of the four Asian leagues. The champions of Japan swept through the round-robin winning each of their three games to advance to the title match against the La New Bears of the CPBL. The Fighters won the game 1 - 0 to be crowned Asian champions.

[edit] Award Winners

The winner of the 2006 Sawamura Award was Kazumi Saito of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. He had a 18 - 5 win-loss record, 205 strikeouts, and a 1.75 ERA in 201.0 innings; winning the Pacific League's pitching triple crown.

Award League Player Team Position AB R H HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG W - L SV IP HA HRA BB SO ERA
Most Valuable Player CL Kosuke Fukudome Chunichi Dragons OF 496 117 174 31 104 11 .351 .438 .653 Did not pitch
PL Michihiro Ogasawara Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 1B 496 77 155 32 100 4 .312 .397 .573 Did not pitch
Rookie of the Year CL Eishin Soyogi Hiroshima Toyo Carp IF 450 78 138 8 36 13 .289 .332 .422 Did not pitch
PL Tomoya Yagi Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters P 26 1 1 0 1 0 .143 .143 .286 12 - 8 0 170.2 134 12 51 108 2.48

[edit] Best Nine

The following players were part of the 2006 Best Nine teams.

Central League Position Pacific League
Player Team Player Team
Kenshin Kawakami Chunichi Dragons P Kazumi Saitoh Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Akihiro Yano Hanshin Tigers C Tomoya Satozaki Chiba Lotte Marines
Tyrone Woods Chunichi Dragons 1B Michihiro Ogasawara Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Masahiro Araki Chunichi Dragons 2B Kensuke Tanaka Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Akinori Iwamura Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3B Jose Fernandez Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
Hirokazu Ibata Chunichi Dragons SS Munenori Kawasaki Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Norichika Aoki Tokyo Yakult Swallows OF Atsunori Inaba Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Kosuke Fukudome Chunichi Dragons Nobuhiko Matsunaka Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Tomoaki Kanemoto Hanshin Tigers Kazuhiro Wada Seibu Lions
DH Fernando Seguignol Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters

[edit] Gold Gloves

The following players were the recipients of the Gold Glove Award in 2006.

Central League Position Pacific League
Player Team Player Team
Kenshin Kawakami Chunichi Dragons P Daisuke Matsuzaka Seibu Lions
Motonobu Tanishige Chunichi Dragons C Tomoya Satozaki Chiba Lotte Marines
Andy Sheets Hanshin Tigers 1B Michihiro Ogasawara Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Masahiro Araki Chunichi Dragons 2B Kensuke Tanaka Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Akinori Iwamura Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3B Toshiaki Imae Chiba Lotte Marines
Hirokazu Ibata Chunichi Dragons SS Munenori Kawasaki Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Norihiro Akahoshi Hanshin Tigers OF Atsunori Inaba Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Norichika Aoki Tokyo Yakult Swallows Hichori Morimoto Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Kosuke Fukudome Chunichi Dragons Tsuyoshi Shinjo Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters

[edit] High School Baseball

The 88th National High School Baseball Championship featured a total of 4112 schools competing for 49 spots in the finals at Koshien. In the championship game Waseda Jitsugyo High School (West Tokyo) defeated Komadai Tomakomai High School (North Hokkaido) by a score of 4 - 3 in a replay of the championship game. The first game between the teams ended after 15 innings in a 1 - 1 tie.

The 78th National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament featured 32 schools competing in the tournament at Koshien. In the championship game Yokohama High School (Kanagawa) defeated Seihou High School (Nagasaki) by a score of 21 - 0.

[edit] University Baseball

[edit] All-Japan University Baseball Championship Series

The 2006 All-Japan University Baseball Championship Series featured 26 schools competing in the tournament at Meiji-Jingu Stadium. In the championship game Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences defeated Aoyama Gakuin University by a score of 7 - 6.

[edit] Meiji Jingu Baseball Convention

In the Meiji Jingu Baseball Convention Asia University defeated Waseda University.

[edit] Tokyo Big6 Baseball League

Season First Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth
Spring Hosei Waseda Keio Meiji Rikkio Tokyo
Fall Waseda Meiji Keio Hosei Rikkio Tokyo

[edit] Tohto University Base Ball League

[edit] Kansai 6 University Baseball League

Season First Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth
Spring Kansai Kinki Kwansei Gakuin Doshisha Ritsumeikan Kyoto
Fall Kansai Ritsumeikan Kwansei Gakuin Kinki Doshisha Kyoto

[edit] International Baseball

In the first World Baseball Classic, the Japanese national baseball team won the championship.

In the second World University Baseball Championship in Cuba, the Japanese national baseball team placed fourth. In the sixteenth Intercontinental Cup in Taiwan, the Japanese national baseball team placed fourth. In the 2006 Women's Baseball World Cup in Canada, the Japanese women's national baseball team won a silver medal. At the twenty-third Haarlemse Honkbalweek in Haarlem, the Netherlands, the Japanese national baseball team placed fourth.

[edit] Japanese Players in Other Countries

Italics indicate a Major League appearance

[edit] Hall of Fame

The following people were elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame:

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