2007 in Japanese Baseball
From BR Bullpen
|2007 in baseball|
|Cuban National League|
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 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.
- Bold indicates league champion; Italics indicate Nippon Series winner; * indicates playoff team
 Central League
|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|
 Pacific League
|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|
- Bold indicates league record, Italics indicate all-time record
|Statistic||Central League||Pacific League|
|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|
 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.
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.
 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|
 Best Nine
The following players were part of the 2007 Best Nine teams.
 Gold Gloves
The following players were the recipients of the Gold Glove Award in 2007.
 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.
 University Baseball
 Meiji Jingu Baseball Convention
 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.
 Japanese Players in Other Countries
- Italics indicate a Major League appearance
- Jung Ji Cho: GCL Braves, Gulf Coast (ATL-R); Danville Braves, Appalachian (ATL-R); Rome Braves, South Atlantic (ATL-A); Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Carolina (ATL-A-Adv)
 Hall of Fame
The following people were elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame:
|Japanese Baseball Seasons