The six teams' performance has actually
been a little closer than their won-loss records might indicate. Let's
take a look at the Pacific League Pythagorean standings:
|RUNS SCORED||RUNS ALLOWED||RUN DIFF||EXP WIN %||EXP WINS||EXP LOSSES|
*Apologies for the
somewhat crappy quality of the formatting on these charts - I made them
in Excel and didn't test on a wide variety of browsers.
I was surprised to see that Orix has a positive run differential,
but aside from that this is about what I expected. Only Seibu has
really separated themselves from the pack, mostly due to a powerful
offense. The teams are mostly even with each other; home/road splits
and interleague performance might explain the differences in won/lost
Now for some thoughts on how things will play out for the rest of the season...
The Lions would have to really slump to miss the playoffs, but if
someone else is going to take a run at them, now would be the time. Ace
Hideaki Wakui, slugger GG Sato, and PL batting avg Hiroyuki Nakajima
are all representing Japan in the Olympics and will miss most of
August. I think they're a lock at this point.
The Fighters get it done with pitching and defense, outplaying
their expected won-lost record by 3 games. The absence of Yu Darvish
for the Olympics will be felt in Sapporo, as will that of leading
batter Atsunori Inaba. Still I think they're in good shape for a
Masayoshi Son's team wasn't able to acquire the big bat they
were looking for, and now they're faced with losing twin lefty aces
Toshiya Sugiuchi and Tsuyoshi Wada to Olympics, as well as table-setter
Munenori Kawasaki. They'll have to rely on rehabbing Nagisa Arakaki and
their foreign starters throughout August to stay competitive.
After a slow start, Lotte has played back into contention.
Lotte is losing three key guys to the Olympics - lefty starter
Yoshihisa Naruse, infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and catcher Tomoya
Satozaki, but has Julio Zuleta and Shingo Ono returning from the
injured list. Those guys don't quite balance out the stars that will be
gone, but Bobby Valentine is confident.
I'd love to see these guys make it the playoffs; Bobby has done a ton
for Japanese baseball, they have great fans and a good group of guys.
New manager Daijiro Ohishi seems to have energized the
Buffaloes back to competitiveness, along with the resurgence of veteran
import sluggers Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera. The presence of Kazuhiro
Kiyohara could serve as motivational factor as well. Orix isn't sending
anyone to the Olympics, so now is their time to strike. I'd love to see
these guys make the playoffs; Ohishi turning the team around mid-season
is a great story and I'd like to Tuffy in the playoffs again.
RakutenThe Golden Eagles are sitting in last place despite their 11
run differential, which is 2nd best in the league. They'd have to go on
a tear to come back from 11 games under .500, but it's possible. Young
righthander Masahiro Tanaka is Rakuten's only Olympic representative.
I'd love to see these guys make the playoffs; manager Nomura has done a
great job making the team competitive and they have some great pitchers
that would really be tough in a short series.
So the Olympics will loom large in the already tight Pacific League playoff race. Should be a great pennant race!
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