Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Tokyo Giants

Tokyo Giants

2005 ATL Season Review

by "Sayonara" Shuto
Union League correspondent
Tokyo Yakyu

The Great Japanese Baseball Experiment. The plan to draft an all-Nippon team for the Tokyo franchise was done for three reasons:
1.) put the All Time Nippon Baseball Player Set to the fullest possible test
2.) There is a history of anti-gaijin prejudice in the Tokyo/Yomiuri franchise
3.) it would be fun

Of course, if it weren't for #3 the plan would not have been implemented. The draft was successful in that a majority of the Japan Hall of Fame inductees were drafted by the team. The team was truely a group of superstars that encompassed the entirety of Japanese baseball history. The downside of the draft was losing some of the elite Japanese talent to other teams. Talent personalized by the likes of Sadaharu Oh, Ichiro Suzuki, Hideo Matsui, Hideo Fujimoto and Juzo Sanada. Attempts were made to get Oh, Suzuki and Matsui, but only Godzilla Matsui finally made it to the club -- and he did not live up to the advance billing.

Nevertheless, the team fielded by Tokyo in this inaugural ATL season would probably have set a Wins record if they played against any 'normal' Japanese League team from any era. The fact that the Union League turned out to be a pitcher's league may have worked in the team's favor as they never had the pressue of having to score lots of runs. The Union League was conducive to the old-style Japanese ballgame where teams played for the single run. As well, playing in the comfortable confines of their longtime and legendary home park of Korakuen Kyujo would give the team a nice homefield advantage, as Tetsuharu KawakamiShigeo Nagashimaopposed to playing in the sterile Tokyo Dome. The lineup for the inuagural season featured the God of Batting, Zen Master Tetsuharu Kawakami and his famous red bat as its centerpiece, and Mr. Baseball Shigeo Nagashima as the counter-balance. Kawakami and Nagashima disapointed early. Both got off to a very slow start, and only Kawakami ever got hot. Nagashima did so poorly that he bounced out of the cleanup spot, all up and down the lineup and even to the bench for a while. Only his great presence (and fielding ability) kept him in the lineup most of the season. On the other hand, once Kawakami started to hit you could see his batting average creep up week after week. He ended up finishing at .302, leading the Tokyo team in average and finishing 7th overall in the Union League. His 32 doubles & 91 RBI paced Tokyo and was good enough for 3rd (tied) & 10th in the league, respectively. Kawakami also put together a 15-game hitting streak, longest on Tokyo and 5th (tied) in the league. Kawakami overall did better than any batter from the All Time Nippon Player Set except Toronto's Sadaharu Oh (.293-34-102) -- and that is perhaps as it should be. He also batted the highest of any regular from the Player Set, and that is as it should be because he is, after all, The God of Batting.

Wally YonamineYutaka Fukumoto After Kawakami perhaps the next best players on the team are both Hawaiian-born -- Wally Yonamine and Bozo Wakabayashi. Wally, as most all the team's opening day lineup, had a rough beginning of the season and at one point management toyed with benching him. But he started to hit and he stayed in the lineup, eventually doing so well he was moved into the leadoff spot in place of the Japanese career stolen base king, Yutaka Fukumoto. Yonamine's .296 average was good enough for 10th in the Union League, and 2nd on the team. His .360 On Base Percentage led the club, and was marked 14th in the league. In the Stolen Base department his .783 success rate on 23 attempts was tied for 5th in the league while leading the team. His 14 sacrifices were 3rd on the team and 4th in the league. And his 99 Runs Scored topped all his teammates while placing him 9th overall in the Union. All in all he had a productive year, one that heralds good things to come once the lineup soldifies around him and Kawakami. Yes, the experiment will continue for the second season. Wally wants his 100 Runs Scored!

Kaoru BettoBozo Wakabayashi One of the pleasant surprises of the first year was right-fielder Kaoru Betto, The Gentleman of Baseball. Although he was certainly one of Japan's premier players, his abilities were not as widely known as the more famous players. Betto led the club in home runs with 23, good enough for 21st in the Union League. He also finished 2nd on the team in triples (8), and 3rd in doubles (23) -- providing the most power (.483 SLG) in the regular lineup for the Giants. More than that, he was clutch. He was like clockwork if the game was on the line. Management went into the season not knowing if they had a good enough rightfielder, and by the end of the season they knew they had a gamer.

On the mound Bozo Wakabayashi and his rainbow-colored pitches captured the league's ERA Crown with a sparkling 2.56 mark in 158 innings. Definitely the sterling achievement of the team in its inaugural season is this one: the ERA Crown. Unfortunately, the lineup couldn't get him the runs he needed to win ballgames. Wakabayashi's 7-9 won-loss mark is a poor stat to always connect to his league-leading ERA. His 3 Saves in 3 Opps help the numbers a bit, but the bottom line is always the win or the loss. The hometown fans hope Bozo can duplicate his ERA magic next season, but get a few more runs at crucial times to boost that winning percentage into the aurora borealis heights.

Pitching and fielding were high points of the club's first season, but none of the high points are very high. The most wins on the club belong to Masaichi Kaneda (11-11 - 22nd in league), the most Saves to Mr. Zero, Shingo Takatsu at 15 (8th). Kaneda Masaichi KanedaShingo Takatsuhad the most K's (123 - 12th), while Kaneda and Jiro Noguchi tied for the most Complete Games (8 - 8th) and Shutouts (2 - 5th) on the team. However, where the staff shined was in Opponent Batting Average, Opponent On Base Average and Opponent Slugging Average. Wakabayashi (.204/.271/.332) claimed 2nd place in the league in all three. Jiro Noguchi was 6th (.223), 10th (.293) and 7th (.353). Masaaki Koyama and Kaneda placed in the top-20 in two of those three categories as well. The downside here was that an inordinate number of home runs were allowed, so while the pitching staff finished 2nd in the league in Team ERA (3.72), they finished 10th in Home Runs Allowed (191). The Giants pitchers had the least Hits Allowed (1210) but were 9th in Walks Allowed (567). But even though they threw a lot of pitches the staff was also 2nd in the league Complete Games (38) and 3rd in Saves (34) while being only 7th in Wins (78). Lots of positives there but also evidence of a deep-seated fragility.

Fielding was the another highlight, of sorts. No fielder led the league in Fielding Percentage, nor did any player win a Gold Glove. But they placed someone high in the Fielding Percentage lists at nearly every position. Kawakami placed 2nd (.993) at first base, Yoshio Yoshido (.966) rated 3rd at shortstop, and Wally Yonamine posted 3rd in left field (.987). Shigeo Nagashima held 4th (.946) at third base, Kaoru Betto took 4th in right field, and Katsuya Nomura finished at 11th behind the plate. Only at centerfield did nobody qualify, and that because of the late-season acquisition of Hideki Matsui (.953). But Godzilla did more than just forget how to field, he forgot how to hit also (.198). The centerfielder before that was the team's stolen base leader (32), Yutaka Fukumoto (.987). The primary position battle that will play out next year is this one between Matsui and Fukumoto.

Other notable fielding marks included Shigeo Nagashima's 1st in 3B Doubleplays (29) and 3B Putouts Per Game (.073), Shigeru Chiba's 1st in 2B Doubleplays (81) and 2B Assists Per Game (3.60), Kawakami's 1st in 1B Doubleplays (93), Katsuya Nomura's 1st in Catcher Pickoffs (3 - tied), and Betto's 2nd in RF Assists (11). As a team they were 1st in Defensive Doubleplays (119) and Putouts (4250), but were last in Passed Balls (25).

Next season, as already billed, will be a titanic struggle in centerfield that will not just determine who fields the position -- but also what kind of lineup and offense the team will have. Matsui should give the team some power, a good cleanup hitter. Hideki MatsuiFukumoto on the other hand is the speedster, leadoff batter and dependable fielder. The focus of the offense hinges on which of these left-handed batters wins the job. However, there will be other competitions taking place at other positions. Most notably the pitching staff. The rotation was in turmoil all season long because no pitcher, not even Wakabayashi, could be counted on to deliver a good start when his slot rolled around. The numbers look nice in places, but what is hard to see is that the pitching broke down at crucial times too many times to count. Dependability was not in evidence throughout the year. From the beginning when Victor Starffin led the rotation, downhill, to the end when Masaichi Kaneda scrambled to get his innings in, no starting pitcher could be counted on in any given start. It matters a lot that there is a "go-to guy" in the starting rotation as well as in middle and late relief. The go-to guys is part of the chemistry a team has . . . or doesn't have. Tokyo will be looking to fill those positions next year.

But to end on a good note: there is one more position that is solid going into the new year: second base where The Indomitable Buffalo roams. Shigeru Chiba was a clutch performer who put up solid numbers (for this sparse offense) from his keystone sack. He will help anchor both the offense and defense in the coming season.



Awards Won by Giants Players

Kaoru Betto
All-Star

Jiro Noguchi
All-Star

Union League



Team Batting -- 2005 Tokyo Giants*


S Name P AVG OBP SPC G AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB K HBP IW SB CS
n Starffin sp .368 .368 .368 15 19 7 0 0 0 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
Yoneda sp .320 .346 .400 12 25 8 0 1 0 1 3 1 7 0 0 0 0
Wakabayashi sp .318 .367 .477 30 44 14 1 0 2 6 10 4 4 0 0 0 0
n Kawai ut .308 .333 .308 18 26 8 0 0 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Kawakami* 1b .302 .353 .440 136 530 160 32 4 11 67 91 40 61 6 2 9 7
Nakanishi 3b .301 .346 .548 44 73 22 3 0 5 13 16 5 9 0 1 3 1
Yonamine* of .296 .360 .423 148 584 173 25 8 11 99 54 52 81 8 3 18 5
Chiba 2b .284 .358 .406 132 497 141 14 13 7 72 63 58 59 3 1 8 5
Betto of .280 .336 .483 144 542 152 23 9 23 83 88 48 58 1 3 17 7
Fukumoto* cf .270 .334 .339 117 319 86 16 3 0 48 21 30 30 2 1 32 15
Kizuka ss .259 .299 .333 56 135 35 7 0 1 8 9 6 10 2 0 12 6
Mori* c .250 .323 .286 30 28 7 1 0 0 2 3 3 2 0 0 0 0
Go* lf .237 .357 .325 65 80 19 5 1 0 14 8 16 10 0 0 11 7
Nomura, Ka c .223 .310 .369 123 363 81 15 4 10 47 36 38 40 8 1 4 1
Nagashima, S 3b .222 .300 .389 144 519 115 22 10 15 58 67 55 58 6 1 4 6
Yamamoto, K cf .217 .296 .442 99 217 47 8 4 11 24 34 24 34 1 0 3 4
Karita 2b .213 .280 .333 62 75 16 4 1 1 10 8 7 9 0 0 2 2
Kinugasa 3b .210 .281 .309 36 81 17 2 0 2 13 6 8 12 0 0 3 2
Ochiai 3b .210 .359 .306 40 62 13 0 0 2 7 5 14 10 1 0 1 1
Yoshida ss .207 .264 .247 125 348 72 6 4 0 34 34 28 24 1 1 7 10
Furuta c .207 .272 .234 64 145 30 2 1 0 11 13 9 17 4 0 0 1
Matsui,H* cf .198 .323 .415 60 207 41 8 5 9 33 39 39 27 1 1 0 0
Enatsu* cl .182 .308 .364 50 11 2 2 0 0 2 3 1 5 1 0 0 0
Koyama sp .176 .176 .176 34 51 9 0 0 0 2 5 0 14 0 0 0 0
Ito c .173 .259 .212 25 52 9 2 0 0 6 7 6 7 0 0 1 0
Kaneda* sp .150 .190 .175 32 40 6 1 0 0 1 2 1 4 1 0 0 0
Noguchi sp .148 .213 .278 37 54 8 1 0 2 6 9 5 10 0 0 2 0
Sugishita sp .143 .143 .143 10 7 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 1
n Kudo* sp .143 .143 .143 18 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0
Toyoda ss .130 .286 .130 21 23 3 0 0 0 1 0 5 5 0 0 1 0
n Gondo* sp .111 .273 .111 10 9 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 1 0 0 0
Yamada* sp .100 .182 .100 10 10 1 0 0 0 2 1 1 4 0 0 0 0
Takahashi,K* sp .091 .083 .091 19 11 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 0 0 0 0
Sugiura sp .091 .118 .152 31 33 3 2 0 0 3 3 1 9 0 0 0 0
Egawa sp .061 .061 .182 23 33 2 0 2 0 2 0 0 20 0 0 0 0
Kajimoto* sp .000 .000 .000 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Katori rp .000 .000 .000 48 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0
Suzuki,K* sp .000 .000 .000 22 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Takatsu cl .000 .000 .000 38 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0
Total .249 .317 .377 154 5273 1311 202 70 112 682 642 507 659 47 15 138 81


Team Pitching -- 2005 Tokyo Giants*


S Name P ERA W L S G GS CG SHO INN H R ER BB K HR GDP BF
Kawakami* 1b 0.00 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2.1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 10
Takatsu cl 1.93 7 6 15 38 0 0 0 51.1 33 13 11 29 21 3 6 208
Katori rp 2.54 2 0 0 48 0 0 0 78.0 57 23 22 15 40 9 6 310
Wakabayashi sp 2.56 7 9 3 30 20 5 1 158.0 116 49 45 52 58 20 15 628
n Kudo* sp 2.81 2 0 1 18 0 0 0 32.0 24 11 10 12 17 2 1 133
Yamada sp 2.88 1 2 0 10 4 1 0 34.1 29 13 11 6 24 4 2 138
Kajimoto* sp 3.12 0 0 0 4 1 0 0 8.2 7 5 3 2 10 1 0 35
Sugiura sp 3.17 9 5 0 31 16 1 0 122.0 84 52 43 55 77 15 6 502
Noguchi sp 3.21 10 9 1 30 22 8 2 165.2 139 70 59 58 86 18 9 691
Koyama sp 3.25 10 4 1 34 17 7 1 155.0 152 65 56 41 100 17 12 649
Enatsu* cl 3.64 5 8 9 50 3 0 0 76.2 62 37 31 43 74 12 7 330
n Starffin sp 4.50 4 3 1 15 6 1 0 60.0 52 32 30 21 35 7 5 248
Yoneda sp 4.61 3 4 0 11 11 2 0 66.1 67 34 34 19 39 8 7 279
Suzuki,K* sp 4.68 1 2 0 22 1 0 0 32.2 32 17 17 16 23 7 2 143
Egawa sp 4.72 4 5 1 23 16 3 1 108.2 108 62 57 43 73 24 9 468
n Gondo* sp 5.23 0 3 0 10 4 0 0 31.0 29 20 18 28 22 3 3 147
Takahashi,K* sp 5.23 1 2 1 19 5 1 1 43.0 47 29 25 22 19 8 5 193
Kaneda* sp 5.30 11 11 0 32 24 8 2 156.1 141 101 92 88 123 23 10 687
Sugishita sp 5.45 1 3 1 10 4 1 0 34.2 30 25 21 16 22 10 3 151
Total 3.72 78 76 34 154 154 38 9 1416.2 1210 658 585 567 864 191 108 5950



n=non-roster at end of year


ATL Logo

Console


Copyright 2005 DMBATL © All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2005 John Mortimer © All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2005 Edward Mortimer © All Rights Reserved