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2007 in Japanese Baseball

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2007 in Japanese baseball

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[edit] Nippon Professional Baseball

The 2007 Japanese baseball season was one in which the major leagues of Japan faced some major changes. Star performers Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kei Igawa and Akinori Iwamura had gone to the US via the posting system, the largest exodus since the posting system had been designed. Additionally, the Central League instituted a playoff system for the first time ever. As a result, the team with the best record did not wind up going to the Japan Series, as the second-place Chunichi Dragons beat the Yomiuri Giants in the playoffs en route to their first Japan Series title in over 50 years. Chunichi won despite the absence of injured star Kosuke Fukudome, who would go to the US in 2008 with the Chicago Cubs. The final game was notable as Daisuke Yamai and Hitoki Iwase completed the first combined perfect game in NPB history as well as the first perfect game in Japan Series records.

Japan instituted drug testing for 2007 but the only player to be caught, Rick Guttormson, was nabbed for an ingredient that was in his hair-care formula. When the Mitchell Report came out, a couple gaijin were listed as taking steroids while in Japan, most notably Alex Cabrera of the Seibu Lions and Adam Riggs. Cabrera became the quickest player to 250 career homers in NPB history, breaking Ralph Bryant's record.

The number of American managers continued to increase, to a Japan-record four, with the addition of Terry Collins, whose Orix Buffaloes finished last. Trey Hillman guided his team to their second straight Pacific League pennant before it was announced he would be going to the Kansas City Royals in 2008. Marty Brown and Bobby Valentine were the other Americans. The Matsutaro Shoriki Award went to another manager who did not follow traditional Japanese styles, Hiromitsu Ochiai of Chunichi.

It was a season for old-timers. 38-year-old Tuffy Rhodes came out of retirement and led the Pacific League in slugging percentage and walks. He became the first foreigner in NPB history to reach 400 career homers and the first foreigner to 1,000 RBI. He moved up to second on the all-time NPB leader board for 40-homer seasons behind the legendary Sadaharu Oh. Fellow 38-year-old Takeshi Yamasaki, written off by his team three years ago, led the PL in home runs (43) and RBI (108), both career highs. It had been 11 years since Yamasaki's prior home run crown. Kimiyasu Kudoh set a record with a win for the 23rd straight season.

Youth was also served. Yu Darvish was the youngest MVP in 50 years as the Iranian-Japanese hurler celebrated his 21st birthday in August; Darvish drew considerable attention from overseas. On the college level, Yuki Saito set several records and kept making headlines both in Japan and the US. Norichika Aoki reached 500 hits faster than anyone had in NPB history. Aoki lost one record, as teammate Alex Ramirez broke his Central League hit record of 202.

Greg LaRocca took a bruising as he set a new Japanese record for times hit by pitch in a season. Two Dominican hurlers set balk records this year - Esteban Yan had 12 for the season and Domingo Guzman four in a game.

Joining the meikyukai were Yukio Tanaka, Hideki Matsui and Tomonori Maeda, all of whom reached 2,000 career hits.


[edit] Standings

Bold indicates league champion; Italics indicate Nippon Series winner; * indicates playoff team

[edit] Central League

Team G W L T WPCT GB RS RA AVG OBP SLG ERA Manager(s)
Yomiuri Giants* 144 80 63 1 0.559 -.- 692 556 0.276 0.335 0.449 3.58 Tatsunori Hara
Chunichi Dragons* 144 78 64 2 0.549 1.5 623 556 0.261 0.338 0.387 3.59 Hiromitsu Ochiai
Hanshin Tigers* 144 74 66 4 0.529 4 518 561 0.255 0.319 0.368 3.56 Akinobu Okada
Yokohama BayStars 144 71 72 1 0.497 9 569 623 0.265 0.324 0.400 4.01 Akihiko Oya
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 144 60 82 2 0.423 19.5 557 600 0.263 0.318 0.389 4.22 Marty Brown
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 144 60 84 0 0.417 20.5 596 623 0.269 0.331 0.409 4.07 Atsuya Furuta

[edit] Pacific League

Team G W L T WPCT GB RS RA AVG OBP SLG ERA Manager(s)
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters* 144 79 60 5 0.568 -.- 526 489 0.252 0.312 0.360 3.22 Trey Hillman
Chiba Lotte Marines* 144 76 61 7 0.555 2 629 525 0.262 0.326 0.391 3.26 Bobby Valentine
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks* 144 73 66 5 0.525 6 575 508 0.267 0.319 0.391 3.18 Sadaharu Oh
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 144 67 75 2 0.472 13.5 575 676 0.262 0.327 0.384 4.31 Katsuya Nomura
Seibu Lions 144 66 76 2 0.465 14.5 564 585 0.264 0.327 0.398 3.82 Tsutomu Ito
Orix Buffaloes 144 62 77 5 0.446 17 536 585 0.259 0.317 0.382 3.67 Terry Collins

[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 Norichika Aoki Tokyo Yakult Swallows .327 Atsunori Inaba Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters .334
Runs Norichika Aoki Tokyo Yakult Swallows 114 Hichori Morimoto Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 91
Hits Alex Ramirez Tokyo Yakult Swallows 204 Atsunori Inaba Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 176
Doubles Alex Ramirez Tokyo Yakult Swallows 41 Atsunori Inaba Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 39
Triples Hiroyasu Tanaka Tokyo Yakult Swallows 8 Daisuke Hayakawa Chiba Lotte Marines 8
Home Runs Shuichi Murata Yokohama BayStars 36 Takeshi Yamasaki Rakuten Golden Eagles 43
Runs Batted In Alex Ramirez Tokyo Yakult Swallows 122 Takeshi Yamasaki Rakuten Golden Eagles 108
Stolen Bases Masahiro Araki Chunichi Dragons 31 Yasuyuki Kataoka Seibu Lions 38
Walks Tyrone Woods Chunichi Dragons 121 Tuffy Rhodes Orix Buffaloes 88

[edit] Pitching

Statistic Central League Pacific League
Leader Team Number Leader Team Number
ERA Hisanori Takahashi Yomiuri Giants 2.75 Yoshihisa Naruse Chiba Lotte Marines 1.82
Wins Seth Greisinger Tokyo Yakult Swallows 16 Hideaki Wakui Seibu Lions 17
Losses Daisuke Miura Yokohama BayStars 13 Yoshihisa Hirano Orix Buffaloes 13
Saves Kyuji Fujikawa Hanshin Tigers 46 Takahiro Mahara Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 38
Save Points Kyuji Fujikawa Hanshin Tigers 51 Takahiro Mahara Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 40
Innings Pitched Seth Greisinger Tokyo Yakult Swallows 209 Hideaki Wakui Seibu Lions 213
Appearances Tomoyuki Kubota Hanshin Tigers 90 Koki Watanabe Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 65
Hits Allowed Seth Greisinger Tokyo Yakult Swallows 185 Hideaki Wakui Seibu Lions 199
Home Runs Allowed Hisanori Takahashi
Kazuhisa Ishii
Takahiro Aoki
Yomiuri Giants
Tokyo Yakult Swallows
Hiroshima Carp
21 Hidetaka Kawagoe Orix Buffaloes 20
Strikeouts Tetsuya Utsumi Yomiuri Giants 180 Yu Darvish Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 210
Base-on-Balls Kenichi Nakata Chunichi Dragons 81 Masahiro Tanaka Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 68


[edit] All-Star Game

The NPB All-Star Games featured two games and was won by the Central League two games to none. The first game was played at Tokyo Dome and was won by the CL, 4 - 0. The second game was played at Miyagi Prefectural Stadium and was won by the CL, 11 - 5.

[edit] Postseason

In the first stage of the playoffs, the second place Chunichi Dragons defeated the third place Hanshin Tigers in two straight games. In the second stage of the playoffs the first-place Yomiuri Giants lost three straight games to Chunichi, giving the Dragons the pennant.

In the first stage of the playoffs, the second place Chiba Lotte Marines defeated the third place SoftBank Hawks, 2 games to 1. In the second stage of the playoffs the first-place Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters won three of four games from Chiba Lotte giving them the pennant.

In the Nippon Series, the Chunichi Dragons (CL) defeated the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (PL) in five games, 4 - 1, in a rematch of the 2006 Japan Series but with opposite results. It was the team's first title in 53 years. The winning manager was Hiromitsu Ochiai. The series MVP was Norihiro Nakamura.

The Dragons proceeded to the Asia Series, to determine the champion of the four Asian leagues. The champions of Japan lost to the SK Wyverns in round one but won the finale over the Wyverns, 6-5, to be crowned Asian champions.


[edit] Award Winners

The winner of the 2007 Sawamura Award was Yu Darvish of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. He had a 15 - 5 win-loss record, 210 strikeouts, and a 1.82 ERA in 207.7 innings, leading the league in strikeouts and finishing second in ERA and tied for third in wins.

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 Michihiro Ogasawara Yomiuri Giants IF 566 95 177 31 88 4 .313 .363 .539 Did not pitch
PL Yu Darvish Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters P 8 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 15 - 5 0 207.7 123 9 49 210 1.82
Rookie of the Year CL Keiji Uezono Hanshin Tigers P 21 0 1 0 1 0 .048 .087 .048 8 - 5 0 85.7 70 9 32 83 2.42
PL Masahiro Tanaka Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles P 2 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 11 - 7 0 186.3 183 17 68 196 3.82

[edit] Best Nine

The following players were part of the 2007 Best Nine teams.

Central League Position Pacific League
Player Team Player Team
Hisanori Takahashi Yomiuri Giants P Yu Darvish Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Shinnosuke Abe Yomiuri Giants C Tomoya Satozaki Chiba Lotte Marines
Tyrone Woods Chunichi Dragons 1B Alex Cabrera Seibu Lions
Hiroyasu Tanaka Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2B Kensuke Tanaka Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Michihiro Ogasawara Yomiuri Giants 3B Greg LaRocca Orix Buffaloes
Hirokazu Ibata Chunichi Dragons SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka Chiba Lotte Marines
Norichika Aoki Tokyo Yakult Swallows OF Atsunori Inaba Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Alex Ramirez Tokyo Yakult Swallows Hichori Morimoto Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Yoshinobu Takahashi Yomiuri Giants Naoyuki Omura Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
DH Takeshi Yamasaki Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles


[edit] Gold Gloves

The following players were the recipients of the Gold Glove Award in 2007.

Central League Position Pacific League
Player Team Player Team
Kenshin Kawakami Chunichi Dragons P Yu Darvish Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Motonobu Tanishige Chunichi Dragons C Tomoya Satozaki Chiba Lotte Marines
Andy Sheets Hanshin Tigers 1B Kazuya Fukuura Chiba Lotte Marines
Masahiro Araki Chunichi Dragons 2B Kensuke Tanaka Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Norihiro Nakamura Chunichi Dragons 3B Toshiaki Imae Chiba Lotte Marines
Hirokazu Ibata Chunichi Dragons SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka Chiba Lotte Marines
Tatsuhiko Kinjo Yokohama BayStars OF Atsunori Inaba Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Norichika Aoki Tokyo Yakult Swallows Hichori Morimoto Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Yoshinobu Takahashi Yomiuri Giants Saburo Omura Chiba Lotte Marines

[edit] High School Baseball

The 89th National High School Baseball Championship featured a total of ???? schools competing for 49 spots in the finals at Koshien. In the championship game Saga Kita (Saga) defeated Kouryou High School (Hiroshima) by a score of 5-4.

The 79th National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament featured 32 schools competing in the tournament at Koshien. In the championship game Tohoka Gakuen Kikukawa (Shiozuka) defeated Ogaki Nichidaiko (Gifu) by a score of 6-5.

[edit] University Baseball

[edit] Meiji Jingu Baseball Convention

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

[edit] International Baseball

In the 37th Baseball World Cup, the Japanese national baseball team finished third, winning a bronze medal. In the 2007 Asian Championship, Japan won the Gold Medal and clinched a spot in the 2008 Olympics.

[edit] Japanese Players in Other Countries

Italics indicate a Major League appearance

(Needs information)

[edit] Hall of Fame

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

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