A bit rushed, but here are some of my immediate
reactions to the Tigers failed season campaign, and to the excellent postings of Christopher over at Japanesebaseball.com on the Tigers season. Read the original post by him here here.
Pitching– certainly Nohmi and Kubo were the positives of this season. Nohmi finished 13-9 with a good EPA of 2.62, while Kubo was 9-8 with 3.75. Iwata was also good- 2.68 with 7-5, but was sidelined by injury too much. I don’t think our other two regular starters- Andoh and Shimoyanagi had that bad seasons: with EPAs of 3.9 and 3.62 they were average, but not terrible. The real key is that with these two we can see downward trends- Shimoyanagi in particular, despite all his years of loyal service, is nearing the end, and as it takes young fresh pitchers time to bed in this should have been done this season. Instaed, comedy Fukuhara was given too many starts, despite finishing the season in ni-gun. In relief, as Christopher points out, Mayumi’s ineptidude really came to the fore. Mismanagement, incompetence, and prejudice combined to produce a bizarre set of often comedy-decisions regarding the relief. The positive is that we do have some good pitchers there- but negative is that Mayumi can’t seem to use them. Still, hats off to Egusa, Atchison, and of course, Kyuji Fujikawa, in particular.
Catching- a big positive of the season, Kanoh was excellent and is indeed the future of the Tigers. Good work son!
Batting– a breakdown and inability to cement the batting order in the opening stages of the season led to a crisis for the management. Despite Kanemoto’s excellent hitting, things weren’t functioning, with Toritani in a particular slump, and being moved all over the shop. Looking at the end stats, we can see that Asai was a good find- 0.312, while Brazell and Sakurai also hit well- 49 and 42 RBIs respectively. Our home run leaders were Kanemoto (0.261, 22) and Toritani (0.288, 20). Arai finished with a 0.261 average, and my man Akahoshi- unfortunately sidelined through injury for a lot of the season, 0.263. Yet instead of picking our individual good hitters and slumps for certain players, what we can see is a general lowering of the batting averages from last season- Mayumi and his staff are obviously failing to do their job, either in motivating the players or in the technical coaching side of things.
Its pretty obvious in summary that Mayumi has been a big disappointment. A team with the financial might of technical prowess of the Hanshin Tigers should not be finishing fourth. Yet it’s not just this singular “stat” that is the concern, but the whole process of getting there. Last season Okada’s Tigers failed at the last hurdle, with the biggest baseball upset in Japanese history when the Giants came from a 10 game deficit to win the league (interestingly Okada is now the new kantoku of the Orix in the Pacific League). This season has none of the bitter pain of last, but it instead has a feeling to general pessimism about the future. Unless Mayumi et al. are sacked, and a new regime is brought in in the close season, next season could be more of the same.