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  • Updated Japanese baseball articles

    I'm going to add these to my blog pages. Right now, I'm having issues getting them posted on the baseballguru site.
    Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
    Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
    A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

  • #2
    Sadaharu Oh and Cooperstown, Part I


    Over fifteen years ago, I tried to estimate how many home runs Sadaharu Oh would have hit in the major leagues. That led to a debate on whether or not Oh was a major league hall of fame quality player. I came to the conclusion that he was a player of that quality. In those years, we have moved from Win Shares as the main measure of the value of a player’s career to WAR. We also have some more information than we did fifteen years, though as I will make clear in this article, we still do not have some information which would clearly improve the quality of the estimation of Oh’s career. Also, the passage of time has provided the records of other players to help us get a fix on the quality of Oh’s play. I think it is time to revisit this issue with this updated information.

    As I did fifteen years ago, I will divide the evidence into three parts: 1) the actual Japanese record, 2) the subjective record, and 3) projections from the statistical record. Strong cases for Cooperstown will be supported by the weight of the available in all three categories. I think all three categories are important for a strong case for a number of reasons. I think the Major League Equivalent such as I will do in part two of this discussion are quite useful. They have frequently been done by renowned analysts like Bill James and Clay Davenport. Such projections have proven their value by being useful in predicting future major league performance. I think the other two categories are important because if the Japanese record isn’t impressive, the major league projection isn’t likely to be. Further, there is a significant reluctance by many to simply rely on a major league equivalent. It relies on familiar data, but manipulated in mathematical ways many are unfamiliar with. People have seen data used in many ways to try and prove a point and have also seen that many of these manipulations are far less concerned with accuracy than with the point they are trying to make to the audience. When people see numbers misused in that manner, they become skeptical of numbers. However, it is likely that many who oppose Oh’s candidacy would readily accept a negative projection because it supports their position, but would refuse to accept such projections when the projections are at odds with their previously derived conclusion on the matter. For such people, we still have two other bodies of evidence to point to, namely the actual record and subjective observations from knowledgeable persons. Another reason all three categories are important for a strong case is that in a strong case, those categories will reinforce each other, and when they do not, we have to decide which large pile of evidence to accept and which to reject. The fact we have to choose between competing masses of evidence means our confidence in any conclusion we reach is at least somewhat limited.

    We will certainly examine the statistical evidence for Japanese players because good statistical evidence exists. However, this is no reason to abandon the subjective record, especially when that record clearly points in one direction or the other. The facts will show why all three categories of the evidence point in favor of Oh’s induction to the Hall of Fame.
    I.The Actual Record

    A.Regular Season

    It is clear that any candidate from a league which is of less than major league caliber must be dominant in his own situation to even be considered for a plaque in Cooperstown. That is because Cooperstown is properly for those who show they were able to dominate major league caliber opposition for a sufficient period of time to be considered great players. While not all of Cooperstown’s existing inductees meet this standard, we have no desire to add to the number of mistakes made in the ranks of Hall of Famers.

    Oh was quite dominant in his own time and place. He won two consecutive Triple Crowns in 1973 and 1974. He won 9 MVP Awards, and was named the best first baseman in his league at the end of 18 seasons (the award is called the Best Nine), he was named an All-Star in 20 of his 22 seasons, and he won the first 9 Gold Gloves awarded in the last nine years of his career. He led his league 5 times in batting average, 15 times in runs scored, 3 times in hits, 15 times in homers, 13 times in RBI, 18 times in walks, once in doubles, and 14 times in slugging percentage. The triple crown categories are the only ones we have complete top five finishes for, and Oh was in the top 5 11 times in average, 20 times in homers, and 19 times in RBI. Another way to look at his seasonal marks is to count how often he met certain standards:

    Batting average times on base percentage times
    >=.300 13 >=.400 17
    >=.320 10 >=.450 11
    >=.340 2 >=.500 2

    Slugging percentage times Homers times
    >=.500 18 >=30 19
    >=.600 14 >=40 13
    >=.700 9 >=50 3

    RBI times runs scored times
    >=100 14 >=100 10
    >=120 3

    Don’t forget that these standards were achieved in seasons of no more than 140 games, and usually of 130 games.

    Another way of looking at things is to consider career marks. Here Oh is 14th in batting average, 1st in runs scored, 3rd in hits, 1st in homers, 1st in RBI, 1st in walks, 3rd in doubles, 4th in at bats, 1st in slugging percentage, 1st in total bases, and 2nd in plate appearances. Not only that, but his first place finishes are often by large margins: 311 runs scored, 211 homers, 182 RBI, 547 total bases, 43 points of slugging average, and 915 walks. On base percentage would also be among the firsts if only the Japanese baseball encyclopedia listed it, but it doesn’t. However, a .445 on base percentage is an excellent mark in a good professional league.

    If you want to check out Oh’s actual record, whether it be in regular season, the Japan series, all-star games, or in exhibitions against major leaguers, you can do so at:
    http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/ohsactuals.htm
    B.Japan Series

    Oh’s dominating regular season performances helped his teams win the Central League 14 times, thereby earning a berth in the Japan Series against the best team from the other Japanese league, the Pacific League. Oh’s teams won 11 of those series, and he was the MVP of the series once. He played in 77 Japan Series games and hit .281 with 29 homers in 242 at bats with an on base percentage of .465 and a slugging percentage of .665. He scored 58 times and drove in 63 runs. Clearly, his performance against the best teams the Pacific League had to offer in those 14 seasons was dominant as well.
    C.Japan’s All-Star Games

    Japanese baseball has had a two or three game All-Star format. Oh was in those series in 20 of his 22 seasons for a total of 58 games. While he was the MVP of three of those 58 games, his performance in 188 at bats in those games was not Hall of Fame quality. We only have aggregate totals for his All-Star games, and he did hit 13 homers with 33 walks with a slugging percentage of .463. However, his batting average was only .213, though the walks got his on base up to .330. This performance is one piece of evidence weighing against Oh’s candidacy for Cooperstown. However, it is only 188 at bats in an average of 11 plate appearances per year. Also, it seems that All-star games favor pitchers, because in the major league all-star games the hitters have averaged under .250 despite being undeniably much better than that against normal opposition. All things considered, this single piece of evidence does not deserve great weight.
    D.Exhibitions Against Major Leaguers

    Oh played 110 exhibition games against major leaguers, either in October or November or during spring training. He had 338 at bats and hit for a .260 average with 88 walks for a .413 on-base percentage. He also slugged 14 doubles, no triples and 25 homers among his hits, for a .524 slugging average. (I’ll list the pitchers he took out of the park below). These numbers include a 6 for 54 in 1971 against the Orioles, and an 0 for 12 in 1960. We won’t make any discount for the 1971 performance, as it may or may not represent a slump, but it would be appropriate to eliminate the 1960 results, since we do not project Oh to have been ready for the majors at that time. If you eliminate the 1960 results, his average will rise to .270, his on base percentage to .414, and his slugging percentage to .543. It is likely this performance came at least mostly in parks which were not of major league dimensions. However, it is a dominant performance against pitching which appears be above the average of pitching he would have faced in the majors, for reasons which will be demonstrated when we list the MLB pitchers Oh hit his homers against.

    The pitchers (and the year) Oh hit his homers off of were (lefties are denoted with an asterisk[*], and if a pitcher gave up multiple homers to Oh, the number appears in parentheses): Hank Aguirre*, 1962; Nick Willhite*, 1966 (2); Alan Foster, 1966; Joe Moeller, 1966; Jim Brewer*, 1966; Steve Carlton*, 1968; Dick Hughes, 1968; Nelson Briles, 1968; Ray Washburn, 1968; Larry Jaster*, 1968; Wayne Granger, 1968; Frank Reberger, 1970; Frank Linzy, 1970; Pat Dobson, 1971; Jim Palmer, 1971; Dick Hall, 1971; Jerry Cram, 1974 (2); Jerry Koosman*, 1974; John Matlack*, 1974 (3); Tom Seaver, 1978; and Tom Hume, 1978. Further, the same data tells us Oh was pulling even this group of pitchers: 4 to left, 1 to left center, 3 to center, 5 to right center, and 12 to right.

    If you looked at the teams Oh played against, you’d think he should have faced some pretty good pitching. Oh and the Giants faced three league champions from the majors. Also, if you took the major league won/loss records of the teams Oh and the Giants faced and weighted them by the number of games against Oh and the Giants, then took the resulting won/loss percentage out to a major league schedule of 162 games, the team would have a 92-70 record. The list of pitchers Oh homered off of supports the belief he was facing good major league pitching. For those of you who need more proof, let’s look at the median (the middle of the group) pitchers Oh homered against. Since we don’t have the full record, it only seems fair to be conservative in our estimate. We’ll use the pitcher’s ERA the actual year the homer occurred unless the pitcher had less than 50 IP. In that case, we take the ERA for both the season the homer occurred and the next season as well. If a pitcher remains under 50 IP after adding in a second season, so be it (Dick Hall and Jerry Cram wound up with less than 50 IP under these rules). Oh hit two against guys with ERAs of 5 or more, and there were only 4 more homers off of a pitcher with an ERA over 4. Anyway, the median lefty yielding a homer had a 2.92 ERA, the median righty yielding a homer had a 2.80 ERA, and the overall median pitcher yielding a homer had a 2.85 ERA. The average ERA was 3.55 in the majors during the period 1962-1975, and the lowest it got for any season for the whole majors was 2.98 in 1968. Thus, one can reasonably say in the exhibitions against major leaguers, Oh got his homers off a better than average group of major league pitchers. When all factors are considered, this segment of data outweighs the All-Star data and keeps Oh’s record the way we would expect a HOFer’s record in his circumstances to be.
    II.The Subjective Record

    Oh’s critics cannot reasonably deny that he was dominant in his own place and time. The usual approach of the critics is to downplay those accomplishments as having come against inferior pitching and/or in small ballparks. All but Oh’s most ardent advocates will concede there is some truth in those statements, and also that even such dominance of, for example, competition as weak as American high schoolers, would not make a player worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown. However, Japanese baseball is a good professional league. Therefore, there are two questions we must try to answer: 1) how good was the quality of play in the Central League in Oh’s time, and 2) how does Oh’s performance stack up against the level of greatness one needs to achieve to merit induction into Cooperstown?

    There are two ways to address this issue in the case of Japanese baseball. The first is the one we’ve relied upon heavily for Negro Leaguers, which is the subjective record, namely what people have said about Oh. It is only appropriate to limit the discussion to people who should know what they’re talking about, namely, Oh and major league scouts, players and managers who actually saw Oh play. The second method, which will come later in this presentation, is a statistical projection of Oh’s record to a major league equivalent. This section will also address certain other subjective issues pertaining to Oh’s case for enshrinement.

    Before discussing any further what the average quality of play in the Central League in Oh’s time was, there are several crucial points that must be made. First, the average quality of opposition is only relevant to help assess the quality of Oh’s play. This point cannot be overstressed, because there is a suggestive, intuitive, and yet seriously flawed logic which operates in situations where a player played in a league described as having less than 20th century major league quality of play on average. The logic I refer to runs something like this: 1) “less than 20th century major league quality on average” means minor league, 2) therefore, a star in such a league is a minor league star, and 3) minor league stars do not make the Hall of Fame.

    The problem with this logic is when it is applied to leagues such as Japan, the Negro Leagues, or 19th century baseball is that in each case, there was no major league calling up the best players to play in the majors, thereby skimming the cream of the crop. In each of the three situations named above, no matter the exact quality of play, were the pinnacle of competition the players in those leagues could reasonably aspire to compete in. The stars of the Negro Leaguers were almost invariably major league quality players, and often even Hall of Fame quality. Perhaps the Japanese stars do not have so many of Hall of Fame quality, but their stars were of major league quality as well. In each case, the stars of those leagues were denied the opportunity to perform on a major league stage through no fault of their own. In short, the average quality of such a league cannot be used as a shorthand method for evaluating players. The entire available record must be carefully examined to properly evaluate the players from such leagues.

    Now that those necessary cautionary notes are out of the way, the most common assessment of the quality of Japanese baseball is it is equal to the highest level of the minors, perhaps even a tad better. For examples of this assessment, see Bill McNeil’s Other Stars book, page 113, Fred Ivor-Campbell, page 35 of the 1992 edition of National Pastime, . Oh himself provides one of the best quotes for critics of Japanese baseball, though it came after or during his 6 for 54 performance against the Orioles:

    When the Dodgers came here in 1966 and the Cardinals in 1968, I felt I could play with the Americans. But after facing the Orioles, I think it would be difficult. They are very, very strong . . . . It will be a long time before we reach the level of the Americans . . . . Maybe never. Physically, they are stronger than we are. We are trying to close the gap, but it is very wide yet. (Sports Illustrated, page 31, December 15, 1971)

    Unfortunately for Oh’s critics, Oh has made numerous other statements which indicate he feels he would have performed well on the major league stage, though in his typically very understated manner. Listen to this one, made in the August 14, 1997 edition of Baseball Weekly:

    If I had had the chance, I would have wanted to [play in the majors]. But I couldn’t . . . .[responding to a question of how many homers he would have hit in the majors] I don’t know . . . . I think (the pitchers) would have challenged me more. So I probably would have had more strikeouts, but would have hit more homers. I wouldn’t have reached 755, though.

    For those who denigrate Oh’s accomplishments based upon the quality of play and/or the short fences, it is important to understand just how drastically one must discount Oh's actual performance in Japan to drop him below the level of certain HOFers. I’m going to exclude Pete Rose, guys who have been linked to performance enhancing drugs (MccGwire, Sosa, Palmiero, Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez being the main ones in this category), and guys like Pujols who I think are good bets to make the Hall but have not had much or any of a chance to get in yet. With that caveat, everybody in the majors who scored more than 1668 runs is in the Hall. Oh has more than 17% more than that. Everybody with 541 or more homers in the majors is in the Hall. Oh has 160% of that total. Everybody with more than 4787 total bases in the majors is in. Oh has 122% of that total. Everybody with more than 1628 RBI in the majors has a plaque. Oh has 133% of that total. Everyone with more than 4165 times on base is in the Hall. Oh has over 127% of that total. Remember too that we’ve just been talking about exceeding levels where everyone is in the Hall of Fame. The median and floor levels are considerably below the levels we’ve been discussing. In short, one must heavily discount Oh’s actual performance in Japan to get him out of HOF territory.

    An even bigger problem for Oh’s critics is that he accomplished his actual record in far shorter seasons (an average of over 20% shorter). Commonly, those critics would argue that players wear down in a longer season. On the whole, that is a correct statement. However, this does not deal with Oh specifically, nor does it deal with the fact that the Japanese of Oh’s time trained at a level of vigor major leaguers of the same era would have regarded as nearly fanatical. It is important to note that Oh was frequently singled out as being especially hard-working in NPB. How hard did the Japanese of that time and/or Oh train? Listen to this from William Chapman, who wrote this for page G1 of the July 13, 1978 Washington Post:

    [Charlie Manuel, yes, the recent MLB manager] said . . . . “First I lift weights. Then there’s batting practice. Then base running. And then there’s jogging, we run an awful lot. I’m worn out before the game even starts. It is the common complaint of . . . . Americans who play baseball in Japan: Fatigue. Japanese players train like demons the year round and the . . . . foreigners must keep up . . . A 6:30 p. m. . . . game is preceded by five hours of exercise, practice and team meetings. It is the greatest shock for American players who come to Japan accustomed only to shagging a few fly balls and belting a couple of practice balls before game time.

    Or this, from the same article, quoting pitcher Clyde Wright: “ Spring training is four times as tough as in the States . . . . They go to the park at 10 and finish at 4:30 and then run 3 ½ miles back to the hotel. And everybody does it.”

    As for Oh’s practice habits, you can read his autobiography, A Zen Way of Baseball for an in-depth view how he approached practice. Suffice it to say, Oh spends a great deal of time detailing his practicing to perfect his technique, and the picture painted is of a man working even harder than depicted by Mr. Chapman’s article. Don’t want to read the book or accept our thumbnail review of it on the issue of practice? Fine. Listen to Frank Deford from his piece on Oh in the August 15, 1977 issue of Sports Illustrated:

    For a 1:30 game, Oh arrives at 10:30; the first scrubs go in the batting cage at 8:30 . . . Oh gets no respite from this enervating routine. After almost a half an hour in the batting cage, he goes to the clubhouse, where, lest he grow rusty, he swings a bat in front of a full-length mirror for another 10 minutes. Then he hies himself back to the diamond, where a coach spends 15 minutes or so slapping hard grounders just past his reach, so that he must run and stretch for every one. Here he is, 37 years old, the finest player in the game . . . being worked over daily in the noon heat of summer. Off days—especially after a defeat—mean grueling two- or three-hour team practices. But every player endures this schedule, and Oh-san endures it best . . . Late every season, when most players’ averages are falling even faster than their weights, Oh finishes with an inhuman rush.

    A guy who fits this profile could almost certainly handle a longer schedule and still maintain his level of play, though perhaps he would have had to ease up slightly on his level of training. It is only appropriate to allow him more playing time when we compare him to major leaguers. As a result, his already heady accomplishments will be multiplied by over another 120% before we get to the task of making the appropriate adjustments to allow for the smaller parks and the lesser quality of pitching. Common sense dictates that the difference between the majors and a good professional league cannot be so large as to drop Oh below the level of legitimate HOFers.

    Oh wasn’t blooping fly balls over short fences, either. There is a breakdown which purports to estimate the length of Oh’s homers in the book by Tetsuya Usami entitled Oh and Nagashima: Every Record, and it has been translated to English and posted at: http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/ohshrs2.htm According to that chart, 191 of Oh’s homers were hit 394 feet or more, which would have put them out over the fence in straightaway right in almost every major league park of Oh’s time, much less down the rightfield line. Another 286 were hit 361-393 feet, which means many to straightaway right would have gone out, and virtually all down the rightfield line would have been out of every major league park. Another 289 would have gone out of most major league parks if they had been pulled to the rightfield corner (328-361 feet). Only 102 were less than 328 feet, and even a few of those would have gone out down the rightfield line in some major league parks, like Yankee Stadium. Don’t forget, too, that one of the hallmarks of Japanese pitching of Oh’s time is they didn’t throw as hard as major leaguers. That means Oh was generating more of his own power to propel the balls that far than he would have to against major league pitching.

    Lest you ask where Oh hit his homers, the same breakdown tells us Oh hit 612 to “right” and 140 to “right center”, with the remaining 116 to all other fields. This breakdown is posted at: http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/ohshrs.htm In short, Oh was a dead pull hitter. In fact, the Japanese teams routinely played a shift very much like the one Ted Williams faced in the majors. Oh managed to drive balls through the small seams presented by such an overshift often enough to average over .300 for his career. The larger dimensions of major league parks would have ensured that he would have had more outfield room to work with, which would certainly be to his advantage.

    According to Deford’s Sports Illustrated article, Oh once said he got four strikes every time up (though he later denied making the statement). Deford claims that this scenario applied to all Giants, because they were such an important team in Japan. Another writer alluded to this kind of advantage for Oh, but attributed it to the “Oh ball”, which he wrote was a term used to indicate umpires so respected Oh’s command of the strike zone that if Oh took a close pitch, it must have been a ball and they called it that way. The same accusation was made about American umpires and Ted Williams. It seems plausible to me that Japanese umps were more deferential to Oh and the Giants than American umps would have been. However, the Giants did have several players who emphasized patience at the plate (Oh, Shibata, and Nagashima come to mind) during Oh’s time, and doubtless there was some envy of the team which won 9 consecutive championships. His walk total may be a little inflated, but since he walked over 900 more times than anyone else, it is clear he deserved his reputation for a fine command of the strike zone.

    Another issue is whether or not Oh had a real opportunity to come to the majors. A previous quote from Oh indicates he did not. A careful examination of the history of Japanese baseball to American baseball shows Oh’s contention is credible, as there was a de facto ban on Japanese players coming to the States during much of his career. For details, see http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/an...lbright15.html

    Now we can look at actual quotes. The actual quotes are quite impressive, and unless otherwise noted come from an appendix in his autobiography. What we find even more impressive is the complete absence of quotes by major league types who saw or played against Oh indicating he wasn’t a very impressive player, despite inviting his critics in SABR-L to provide such quotes. We realize that many of the quotes presented would have been collected by people who would be sympathetic to Oh, like the Japanese press. However, the Japanese press wasn’t always present for the Americans, and the quotes come from people in some cases who are not exactly known as diplomats (Pete Rose comes to mind). The most negative quotes from major league players, coaches, scouts and executives who actually saw Oh play we were able to find were statements he was not in a class with Aaron, Ruth, and perhaps Mays. Siuchstatements aren’t tremendously revealing on their face with respect to whether or not Oh is a Hall of Fame caliber player, as far lesser players than these greats are enshrined in Cooperstown. If they reveal anything, they can probably best be seen as a backhanded way of saying he was very good, probably even HOF quality. I say this because if your goal is to say a guy isn’t very good, you don’t compare him to some of the very best guys in the history of the game. The quotes we have chosen often indicate Oh would have been a star or a HOFer in the majors, or would have achieved standards only HOFers reach.

    Davey Johnson (the only man to have been a teammate of Oh and Aaron)[from the Sporting News, January 7, 1978, page 37] : Oh would have hit 700 homers over here. He would be a good hitter anywhere in the world. Quality is still quality.

    Davey Johnson again, this time from Deford’s Sports Illustrated article: You couldn’t find a better [fielding] first baseman

    Tom Seaver: He sure hit me. He was a superb hitter. He hit consistently, and he hit with power. If he played in the United States, he would have hit 20-25 home runs a year, and what’s more, he’d hit .300. He’d be a lifetime .300 hitter. He had tremendous discipline at the plate. He knew the strike zone extremely well . . . .He could pull your hard stuff, and you couldn’t fool him off-speed.

    Hal McRae: Oh had tremendous patience as a hitter . . . He had good power. I don’t know how many he would have hit here . . . start with 20 (a year) . . . at least. He was a great all-star. He’d have been a Hall of Famer.

    Pete Rose: There’s no question in my mind he wouldn’t have hit 800 home runs if he’d played here, but if he played in a park tailored to his swing, he’d have hit his 35 [homers] a year. . . He’d hit .300, I’ll tell you that.

    Don Baylor: Oh could have played anywhere at any time. If he played in Yankee Stadium, being the left handed pull hitter he is, I have no doubt he’d hit 40 home runs a year.

    Frank Howard: You can kiss my ass if he wouldn’t have hit 30 or 35 home runs a year and hit anywhere from .280 to .320 and drive in up to 120 runs a year. The point being, he rates with the all-time stars of the game.

    Greg Luzinski: There’s no question he’d have been a great player in the United States, that he was a super talent.

    Brooks Robinson: He could have played right here in the big leagues with the best players in the world. He would have hit here. Not as many home runs, but he would have hit his share and hit for average. He was just an outstanding hitter.

    Frank Robinson: I’m sure he would have hit in the 30’s (of homers per year) and probably in the low 40’s. . . . Thirty home runs a year add up to over 600 home runs, and he’d do that if he played the same number of years here that he played there.

    Don Drysdale: He would have hit for average and power here. In a park tailored to his swing, there’s no telling how many he would have hit. . . . He was always ready for anything we threw him. We were all impressed.

    Any player who gets reviews like this from a group like this and nobody is willing to say he wasn’t a fine player, well, that’s impressive. We’re now done with the first two sections of the case for Oh as a Hall of Fame caliber player.







    Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
    Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
    A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

    Comment


    • #3
      Sadaharu Oh and Cooperstown, Part II
      1. Statistical Analysis
      1. My projection
      You have now entered the section of the discussion of Oh some will dismiss as pure fantasy. If you are one of the folks who do not believe it is possible to project what a player would do in the major leagues from his performance in another league, you may want to skip this section entirely. We will use projections because they place the accomplishments for a player from a non-major league situation into a readily understood context, namely major league performance. Once we enter such a readily understood context, it is easier to get a reasonable fix on the quality of the player.

      I’m going to describe the techniques used to arrive at all the career numbers for the Oh projection in a fair amount of detail If you don’t want to be bothered with all that math, feel free to skim the text until you get to the final projection and the evaluation of what those numbers mean. That projection will look like a career batting line, with at bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, walks, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage.

      The biggest single factor in reaching the estimate is the difference between facing Central League pitching in Central League parks versus facing major league pitching in major league parks. Fortunately, there were 66 players who played in the Central League between 1960 and 1980 who also played in the majors. These players provide the basis for determining the size of this factor, because the differences in their home run rates between the majors and the Central League is almost exclusively the result of this factor. I didn’t see a strong bias toward good home run parks in the majors nor in Japan among these players. It is true that if one weighted the at bats by age, the players would unanimously be older in Japan. Fortunately, home run hitting is what Bill James has termed an "old player’s" skill, one which seems to decay more slowly in the players who have this skill and will have the greatest effect on the calculation. However, I also endeavored to use a method which would minimize the age issue in order to provide the most accurate measurement possible, since I am not aware of any studies which would give a reasonable estimate of the size of the effects of aging on home run hitting. Also, I wanted to ensure that the quality of players was as close to identical as possible. An example of a situation I wanted to avoid was comparing Willie Mays as a part-time 19 year old in the Negro Leagues to the accomplished Willie Mays of the major leagues. I have seen writers place Willie’s totals in both leagues, and make no effort to account for the vast difference between a bit player’s effect on the Negro League total and a Hall of Famer’s effect on the major league total. It is clear that such an approach can seriously skew the data.
      My solution to getting the best possible comparison between the Central League and major league data was to do the following was first to determine in which league the player had the fewest career at bats. I then entered that leagues at bats and home runs in the columns assigned to it. I then got the same number of at bats in the other league, starting with the nearest season in time, and prorating a the season home run total when I had to use part of a season to reach the at bat total I was seeking. Two examples should help to explain how this works.
      Sam Perlozzo his no homers in 26 major league at bats in 1977 and 1979. These were the lower totals, and were entered in the major league columns. He want to Japan in 1980 and hit 15 homers in 473 at bats. I prorated the Japanese figure to 26 at bats, which made his home run total 0.8. Roy White played several seasons in Japan, but 1980 is the only one which qualifies for our study. That season, Roy hit 29 homers in 469 at bats. His nearest season in the majors was 1979, in which he hit 3 homers in 205 at bats. His next nearest season was 1978, when he hit 8 homers in 346 at bats. However, I only needed 264 at bats from 1978 to reach 469, so I prorated the 1978 home run figure to 264 at bats, which gives Roy a major league home run figure of 9.1 in 469 at bats. The man with the largest individual effect on the results is Willie Kirkland, who had 2323 matched at bats with 100.2 homers in the majors and 126 in the Central League. These are the largest totals by any individual in each category . The overall totals are 23,817 matched at bats, 575.0 major league home runs, and 1071.9 Central League homers. Thus, we will multiply Central League homers by 575.0/ 1071.9 or 0.536 to account for this difference.
      This technique was repeated for hits, doubles, triples and walks. The adjustment figures yielded by this approach were:

      Hits: 0.904 2B: 0.829 3B 2.149 HR: 0.536 BB: 1.148

      Now that we have a major league estimate to work from, we can address the issue of Oh’s career. Injuries aren’t a factor in Oh’s case, so we don’t have to concern ourselves with how to handle them. The issues regarding how much playing time Oh should receive are subjective in nature. I set several guidelines to follow. First, there would be no fictitious seasons unless he needed 10 or less homers to meet to meet a significant milestone (500, 600, 700, 715, or 750 homers, for example ). Since Oh turned out not to meet that criteria, no fictitious seasons were created. Another guideline was that Oh’s first solid or better season in Japan would be the one we used as his last year in the minors in our determining when he came to the majors (in real life, he came to the Central League right out of high school, which would not have happened in the majors). The reasoning behind this guideline lies in two facts: first, the major leagues like to have a player have success at the highest level of the minors before coming to the majors, and second, the fact Japanese baseball has long been somewhere in quality between the highest level of the minors and the major leagues. This guideline excluded the 1959 and 1960 seasons (1959: .161 average, 7 HR in 94 games, 1960: .270 average, 17 HR in 130 games). A third guideline was that so long as Oh was a productive hitter for a first baseman, he would have his totals adjusted upward to reflect the longer major league season. This took care of the 1963 through 1979 seasons as far as I was concerned, because even taking away 10% of his batting average as would have happened in real life and going to the major league home run figure he was averaging between .258 and .300 with 21-34 homers and a lot of walks. If there was a question about his productivity, I felt the two best other options were either to give him no playing time at all or to give him his actual playing time. My reasoning behind this was choosing any other amount of playing time was even more subjective than those three choices (none, actual, or adjusted to major league length), and thus less desirable. If I really couldn’t decide between two of those choices, I probably would have selected an average of the two. I was able to reach a decision within those three choices for the two difficult seasons, however.
      The three hard decisions in terms of how much playing time to give Oh, as far as I am concerned, are 1961, 1962 and 1980. Under my initial guidelines, Oh should have his rookie season in 1961, and even though he slid back from his 1960 marks to a .253 average with 13 homers and 64 walks in 127 games. Until I ran the batting average numbers, I thought that it should be his rookie season, partly because it was an expansion year. When those marks are converted to major league levels, they are not impressive for a first baseman (.228 and 7 homers in his actual playing time). The 1962 season makes a much better rookie year, and although it converts to a .246 average with 24 homers, that’s a solid year for a 22 year old rookie seen as a future star, especially when he throws 72 walks into the mix. That season, when seen as a rookie year, deserved to be expanded to the full major league schedule, in my opinion.
      The other hard case is 1980. The situation here is a 40 year old star who has played well every year for the past 18 seasons, but then starts to be slowed by advancing age. His major league equivalents for his actual performance (including keeping his number of games at the actual level) are a .214 average with 16 homers and a 72 walks for a .323 on base percentage. I think he’s entitled to one off year before being forced out of the game, so it’s easy to dismiss the option of giving him no playing time. I think the most likely way this would play out is that at the start, Oh’s manager keeps sending him out there to play, hoping he’ll come out of his "slump". Eventually, he’ll try giving his aging veteran a day or two off in hopes that is the answer. If it worked, you can be sure the manager would do the same thing every time Oh slumped again. This would keep Oh from being an everyday player. If it didn’t, the manager would probably realize Oh had gotten old and would want to see what his options were in the organization to replace Oh, maybe even next year. Either way, a proud man like Oh would see the handwriting on the wall and announce his retirement at the end of the season. This would help ensure him a good amount of playing time, because there would be fans in the stands every day thereafter who would want to see Oh play one last time. This would create pressure on the manager to play Oh. Any way you look at the situation, the best of my three favored choices is to give Oh his actual playing time, at least in my opinion. He might play more than that, but it is at least as likely he’d play less. When you’re making an estimate, that sure ought to help you pick that number.

      The walks figure we will actually use is 1.000, without any upward adjustment for playing time for this one piece of data. Oh already has what would be third in career number of walks, and the adjustment figure given above multiplied by the factor for longer seasons would give him 39% more walks. This seems too high, and may be seen as giving some additional credence to the argument Oh received four strikes per at bat, whether it was because he was Sadaharu Oh or because he was a Giant, or some combination of those two. This approach is conservative, but still recognizes that Oh in fact had superb command of the strike zone. I effectively eliminated the extra walks called for by the walk factor. However, I concluded it wasn’t accurate to eliminate the season length adjustment in the same fashion. I will detail what I chose to do about that issue when I talk about the season length adjustment. Similarly, we chose to use Oh’s actual career stolen base figure of 84 both because stolen bases are of little import in assessing Oh’s career and because the players playing in both leagues were predominantly slow sluggers. Since Oh arguably is in that classification, perhaps that isn’t a serious concern, but the unimportance of stolen bases to an examination of Oh’s career value frankly did not justify the work necessary to come up with a conversion factor.

      As indicated above, I chose 1962 as the first season of Oh’s major league career., with the exceptions of Oh’s final season of 1980 (as discussed previously, I used a 1.000 season factor that year) and the slightly shorter 1972 major league season due to a strike, the seasonal adjustment factor is the major league 162 games divided by the length of the NPB season that year for each team. I multiplied this factor times at bats and the statistics I have major league conversions for (hits, doubles, triples, home runs) except for walks. If I had used just this factor (and not the factor I came up with for walks to account for the differences between the leagues) on walks, he would have had 455 added to his total. It doesn’t feel right to have all those plate appearances disappear, so what I did is made them all at bats and gave him his career batting average times those at bats, his rate of doubles per at bat times those 455 AB, and so on. His production is slightly diminished because he gains 330 outs in place of those walks, but I think it is better than giving him nothing. Also, it makes his production per plate appearance less, which means I’ve made the projection more conservative. This helps ensure we do not seriously overestimate Oh’s production in the major leagues, and I find that desirable.

      The last step to coming up with a “park” adjustment. If I had runs scored in Yomiuri home games versus runs scored in road games, I’d divide the runs scored in road games by the runs in home games, adjust if the number of home and road games weren’t the same, and take the square root and multiply it times hits, doubles, triples, home runs and walks. Since I don’t have that data, I substituted the league average of runs per game divided by the runs per game in Yomiuri games, and then ran the square root and apply the adjustment to the same statistics. It’s the closest number I could come up with to replace the data I wanted. Over Oh's career, it’s reasonable, though I suspect the fact Yomiuri had two of the very best hitters ever in NPB together for so many years probably works to influence the result in the direction of saying the Giants played in a park that encouraged scoring that really has nothing to do with the effect of the park. The run factor I’m using was multiplied by each season’s plate appearances, added together, and the sum divided by his career plate appearances to yield the park adjustment factor. The square root, which is the one applied to the various statistics mentioned above, is 0.979 in this case.

      While I had to use season by season data to deal with playing time issues in order to make my projections, the adjustment factors are designed for Oh’s entire career, not individual seasons. Therefore, we will not use the single season projections as part of my formal presentation regarding Oh’s worthiness for the HOF. Instead, we will restrict ourselves here to working with the career totals estimated for Oh, as these totals are within the intended bounds of the adjustment figures.

      At Bats and all other factors will rise by the season length factor, but the net result for most factors will be that Oh’s totals will actually drop, especially after his first three seasons are dropped on the grounds he wouldn’t have reached the majors until 1962. The abbreviation of his career will somewhat counteract the drops dictated by the adjustment factors in the percentage stats (average, OB pct, and slugging pct). He will get about 8% more hits in the seasons after 1962, but in over 20% more at bats in those same seasons. He will hit less than 64% as many homers in 1962-1980 as he did in real life. The adjustment factors demonstrate that the circumstances Oh faced were not of major league caliber.

      I wanted to fill in two other categories, runs and RBI. Here, my relatively recently acquired skills in doing regressions were quite useful. Given that I had already projected Oh’s major league batting marks, I could use a regression of major league hitters to come up with run and RBI figures. I chose to limit my set of players to guys after 1919 (the game was very different before the home run became such a large element of the game), and also to guys who played enough to have a chance at making the Hall of Fame. The only position players not to have at least 5000 plate appearances to make the Hall played several seasons in the Negro Leagues.

      For runs, I dropped home runs from the regression, as by definition, guys score a run when they hit one of those. I calculated how many times guys started on base at first (hits – doubles – triples – home runs), second (doubles) and third (triples) plus stolen bases. Triples and stolen bases are strongly related to speed, so those categories not only involve the chance an average player could score from the base reached (and of course, players can steal third or home) but also whether the player in question might have the speed to score a little more often from any given base. The least predictive p value of those four categories was in the 10-30 level. The r-squared value is over .927, which is to say this regression tracks the number of career runs quite well. And it becomes even more accurate when the home runs are added back in. The standard error is just under 60.9 runs. The coefficients are 0.245093 for times on first, 0.479712 for doubles, 1.522654 for triples, 0.453462 for steals and -34.7247 for the intercept. Just for clarity, the formula is:

      0.245093 * (hits- doubles- triples- home runs) + 0.479712 * doubles + 1.522654 * triples + 0.453462 * steals = runs – home runs
      Using the projection results and Oh’s 84 career steals, the result when the home runs are added in is 1789.

      For RBI, I started with the thought of doing a regression of singles, doubles, triples and home runs. However, the regression had a coefficient of less than -1.5. Now, I could accept that because of speed, a guy might hit leadoff and have less RBI opportunities. I could buy a negative coefficient between 0 and -0.5 without much fuss. I might have accepted between -0.5 and -1.0. However, this is less than -1.5, and for a hit that drives in every runner on base. I preferred to do the regression without triples. The least predictive p value is expressed in terms of 10-35 power. The r squared value is over .95, which is excellent, and the standard error is just over 67.7 runs. The coefficients are 0.196225 for singles (hits – doubles- triples – home runs), 0.693741 for doubles, and 1.96489 for home runs, with an intercept of 17.31794. For clarity, the formula is:

      0.196228 * (hits – doubles – triples – home runs) + 0.693741 * doubles + 1.96489 * home runs + 17.31794.

      Plugging the values from Oh’s projection into this regression formula, the result is 1723 RBI.

      Putting all of the above together, Oh’s career line is most impressive:
      AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB avg obp slg
      10394 1789 2845 373 39 548 4942 1723 2189 0.274 0.400 0.475
      I find it most interesting that this projection closely resembles a) his actual performance in exhibitions against major leaguers, and b) the anecdotal assessments major leaguers made of him. I guess those who deny the value of such projections will claim that I was merely lucky. I expect such a reaction from that group, because otherwise, they'd have to concede that there is some real validity to the projections. I’m sure you can guess my conclusion, but I’m willing to let each individual reader consider the evidence and reach his or her own conclusions.


      One way we will use the projection in the formal case examining Oh’s worthiness for a plaque in Cooperstown is to look at how players with various totals in certain categories fared in terms of induction into the Hall of Fame. I’m excluding active players as their career totals are not yet known, and Pete Rose and the guys commonly regarded as having used PEDs (Barry Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmiero, Alex Rodriguez, and Sheffield) really can’t be regarded as instructive in terms of Oh’s qualifications, as the current exclusion of these guys has very little to do with an assessment of their statistical achievements at face value. I regard Jim Thome, Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones as highly likely to make the Hall of Fame when they get their chance, but Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon as longshots at best. I suspect David Ortiz will make it eventually despite the bias against the DH, but I’m not sure of that, and I strongly doubt he’ll do it quickly after the writers get their first chance to vote on his case. I am aware Ortiz is listed in the Mitchell report as having tested positive, but he’s the one guy the commissioner’s office has publicly exonerated, he hasn’t tested positive on any other occasion I’m aware of, and the public perception, accurate or not, seems to me to be that he was not using PEDs.

      There are eleven players within 416 plate appearances of Oh’s projected total , and except for Bonds, Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, all are in the Hall. I’d say that means all nine of the guys who aren’t considered PED users have made the Hall or will:
      Player PA
      Cal Ripken 12883
      Eddie Murray 12817
      Stan Musial 12718
      Barry Bonds 12606
      Derek Jeter 12602
      SADAHARU OH 12583
      Craig Biggio 12504
      Willie Mays 12496
      Dave Winfield 12358
      Robin Yount 12249
      Alex Rodriguez 12207
      Paul Molitor 12167
      In home runs, there are 18 guys with between 500 and 600 home runs. McGwire, Palmiero, Manny Ramirez and Sheffield are all linked to PEDs. Thirteen of the other 14 are in, and the one who isn’t is David Ortiz, who I regard as about a 50% chance of making it.
      Player HR
      Frank Robinson 586
      Mark McGwire 583
      Harmon Killebrew 573
      Rafael Palmeiro 569
      Reggie Jackson 563
      Manny Ramirez 555
      Mike Schmidt 548
      SADAHARU OH 548
      David Ortiz 541
      Mickey Mantle 536
      Jimmie Foxx 534
      Frank Thomas 521
      Willie McCovey 521
      Ted Williams 521
      Ernie Banks 512
      Eddie Mathews 512
      Mel Ott 511
      Gary Sheffield 509
      Eddie Murray 504
      In walks, the only one of the top six who is not in the Hall is the PED associated Barry Bonds:
      Player BB
      Barry Bonds 2558
      R Henderson 2190
      SADAHARU OH 2189
      Babe Ruth 2062
      Ted Williams 2021
      Joe Morgan 1865
      Carl Yastrzemski 1845

      In total bases, there are seven major leaguers within 100 of Oh’s projected total. All are in the Hall:
      Player TB
      Mel Ott 5041
      Jimmie Foxx 4956
      SADAHARU OH 4942
      Derek Jeter 4921
      Ted Williams 4884
      Honus Wagner 4870
      Paul Molitor 4854
      Al Kaline 4852
      In times on base, there are five guys within 200 times on base of Oh’s projection. Four are already in, and I expect Jeter to quickly join them:
      Player TOBwe
      SADAHARU OH 5013
      Babe Ruth 5004
      Tris Speaker 4998
      Willie Mays 4960
      Derek Jeter 4911
      Eddie Collins 4891
      There are twelve guys with career on base percentages between .390 and .410 and at least 10000 plate appearances. Sheffield is connected to PEDs, Abreu is a longshot, but Thome and Chipper Jones are likely to make it quickly. Moreover, all of them have over 1600 less plate appearances than the Oh projection, and only Thome and Jones have better OBPs than the projection, and only by two and one points respectively:
      Player OBP PA
      Paul Waner 0.404 10766
      Charlie Gehringer 0.404 10245
      Jim Thome 0.402 10313
      Chipper Jones 0.401 10614
      Rickey Henderson 0.401 13346
      SADAHARU OH 0.400 12583
      Luke Appling 0.399 10254
      Bobby Abreu 0.395 10081
      Cap Anson 0.394 11331
      Gary Sheffield 0.393 10947
      Rod Carew 0.393 10550
      Joe Morgan 0.392 11329
      Honus Wagner 0.391 11749
      In runs scored, there are eleven players within 140 runs of Oh’s projection. We have Palmiero and his PED link, Jeter, who should make it soon after the writers get to vote on him, and Johnny Damon, who is a longshot but also has fewer runs:
      Player R
      Derek Jeter 1923
      Craig Biggio 1844
      Frank Robinson 1829
      Carl Yastrzemski 1816
      SADAHARU OH 1789
      Paul Molitor 1782
      Mickey Mantle 1676
      Dave Winfield 1669
      Johnny Damon 1668
      Rafael Palmeiro 1663
      Ken Griffey 1662
      Joe Morgan 1650

      So there’s seven categories in which players not associated with PEDs nor Pete Rose who did at least as well as Oh are almost unanimously in or will be. No matter what one thinks of these comparisons, if one accepts the projection as being reasonably accurate, it is clear Oh is quite worthy of induction into Cooperstown. B. Other projections

      Bill McNeil did a similar projection of Oh’s stats for his book King of Swat His projection was based on 550 at bats, and I will put my projection in the same terms.

      AB H 2B 3B HR avg slg McNeil 550 156 30 6 23 .283 .485

      Albright 550 151 20 2 29 .274 .475

      As you can see, they are rather similar. I have exchanged several emails with Mr. McNeil, and he has graciously indicated to me (and granted permission for me to share with you) that he feels that my projection of Oh is superior to his, essentially because his system was devised in the context of evaluating all Japanese players, while my approach was much more focused on Oh’s circumstances. In either case, we both project Oh to be worthy of the HOF. In fact, Mr. McNeil’s book Other Stars has Oh as the third best first baseman of all time, behind Gehrig and Foxx.
      1. A Calculation of Oh’s MLB WAA and WAR

      I’ve got one last way I’m going to try and put Oh into proper context. I’m going to do my best to calculate the MLB WAR for Oh from the information I have, starting with the projection . That particular metric seems to be the one that’s dominant today, and I’m mainly basing this on the version used by baseball-reference.com.

      The first step is to estimate batting runs created. I did this by adding total bases to walks, and multiplying that total by 0.32 , adding that to hits multiplied by 0.26, and multiplying the quantity (at bats minus hits) by 0.10. It’s essentially a linear weights equation of 0.32 times walks plus 0.48 times singles plus 0.80 times doubles plus 1.12 times triples plus 1.44 times homers minus 0.10 times outs. The result is 1982.3 runs. Next, I needed to figure out the number of games (using 25.5 outs per game due to double plays, caught stealing and baserunning errors) Oh used. This is simply his (at bats – hits)/ 25.5, and the result is 296.0. Since this is a major league evaluation, I had to decide what run figure to use. My first rule is that players in a league which don’t use the DH in league games, like Oh’s Central League, would be placed in the National League once the American League began using the DH in 1973. For the seasons before that, I used whichever League had the most runs per game, as this would yield the most conservative result. I think there might have been one exception to the assertion that the National League figure was used for each season Oh is projected to play in the majors. I figured out the career average run total by weighting by multiplying by Oh’s projected plate appearances. I then added up all the weighted numbers and divided it by Oh’s projected plate appearances. This result was used for the average runs per game of 25.5 outs made by Oh, and also to calculate the number of runs per win. In this case, it was the 4.10 runs per game per team. For batting runs above average, we take the 1982.3 batting runs created and subtract (4.10 runs per game times 296 games), which comes out to 768.8 batting runs above average. If there’s a small rounding difference, it’s because I didn’t do rounding on the spreadsheet I used to calculate this figure, but in reporting the figures I used, I needed to report rounded figures.

      Next, the baseball reference WAA has runs above or below average in baserunning and double plays. They’re two separate categories in their calculation, but I was able to run a regression of the sum of these two figures by major leaguers with at least 5000 plate appearances after 1954 (when we first have gidp data) that seemed to yield better results than doing them separately. I used three categories in the regression: triples divided by (hits minus home runs), triples and stolen bases. The least predictive p value of these three figures was less than 0.00049, the r-squared result was over .698, and the standard error below 17.5. The coefficients for the categories were 108.4542 for the triples divided by (hits minus home runs), 0.288497 for the triples, and 0.134134 for the stolen bases, with an intercept of -30.9337. For clarity, the formula is:

      108.4542 * (3B/ (H – HR)) + 0.288497 * 3B + 0.134134 * SB -30.9337

      Using the figures from Oh’s projection and his 84 career stolen bases, we get a figure of -6.3.


      The next figure in the baseball-reference WAA calculation was the hardest one to resolve. It was the fielding runs above or below average for the player’s position. With the limited data available for Oh and other NPB players, it was hard to come up with a decent calculation for this category. It wasn’t until in desperation I tried using gold gloves by position that I got even a modestly successful result. The coeffieints were:

      11.73626 per gold glove at catcher
      11.26132 per gold glove at first base
      7.581625 per gold glove at second base
      18.98308 per gold glove at third base
      14.67945 per gold glove at shortstop and
      11.45049 per gold glove in the outfield
      with an intercept of -7.66891

      The least predictive p value was at first base, at 0.000107, the r-squared value was just over .265, and the standard error just under 56.7. It’s pretty rough, but it is better than assuming everyone is average, which was about the only alternative I saw. I’m plugging in NPB Diamond Gloves for MLB Gold Gloves. Oh won 9 Diamond Gloves in his last nine seasons, the only ones awarded during his career. They all came at first, so the calculation puts him at a very favorable mark for a first baseman of +93.7.

      The last category is the position adjustment, which Baseball-Reference.com gives as -9 runs per 150 games times 9 innings. Oh did have two games in the outfield, but in a season where he played 130 games, and played 130 at first. I chose to disregard these two apparently cameo appearances in the outfield. He didn’t play in the field in 32 games in which he appeared, and 16 of those were before 1962, when I have him starting his major league career. That means he missed 16 games, and I’ll bump it up by the league adjustment factor and round up that figure to 20 games. He has more than 4.2 plate appearances per defensive game, so I’m going to assume each defensive game was nine innings. Since I’m assuming each game is 9 innings, I can just use -9 runs per 150 games. Deducting 20 games from his projection, I have 2975/150 * (-9) for a result of -178.5 runs for the positional adjustment.

      To get our runs above average, we take the 768.8 batting runs above average and subtract the 6.5 runs below average for the combination of baserunning and grounding into double plays then add the 93.7 runs above average fielding at first base and subtract 178.5 runs for the first base position adjustment and get 677.7 runs above average. To turn this into wins above average, we need to divide this figure by the runs per win figure. The easiest way to calculate the runs per win is a calculation used by Tom Tango, which is 1.5 times the average runs per game of 4.10 we already calculated plus 3, or 9.15 runs per win. Dividing the 677.7 runs above average by that 9.15 runs per win figure yields 74.1 wins above average. In order to go from WAA to WAR, we first need to add the runs above replacement to the 677.7 runs above average figure. We calculate the runs above replacement at 20.5 runs per 600 plate appearances, which we’ll approximate by at bats plus walks. We have 12583 plate appearances divided by 600 times 20.5, or 429.9 runs. That means he has 1107.7 runs above replacement, and at 9.10 runs per win, he has 121.1 WAR

      Those WAA and WAR marks are spectacular, as I will make clear in a moment. Here are the position players with over 70 WAA:
      Player WAA/pos
      Babe Ruth 125.6
      Barry Bonds 123.6
      Willie Mays 110.4
      Ty Cobb 101.7
      Rogers Hornsby 97.5
      Ted Williams 94.2
      Hank Aaron 92.4
      Honus Wagner 91.9
      Tris Speaker 88.2
      Stan Musial 81.4
      Mickey Mantle 79.0
      Eddie Collins 78.9
      Lou Gehrig 78.2
      Alex Rodriguez 75.9
      Sadaharu OH 74.1
      Mike Schmidt 73.3

      Now the guys with over 100 WAR:
      Player WAR/pos
      Babe Ruth 163.1
      Barry Bonds 162.5
      Willie Mays 155.9
      Ty Cobb 151.1
      Hank Aaron 142.5
      Tris Speaker 133.8
      Honus Wagner 130.9
      Stan Musial 128.2
      Rogers Hornsby 126.9
      Eddie Collins 124.0
      Ted Williams 123.2
      Sadaharu OH 121.1
      Alex Rodriguez 117.7
      Lou Gehrig 112.3
      R Henderson 110.7
      Mickey Mantle 109.6
      Mel Ott 107.6
      Frank Robinson 107.4
      Nap Lajoie 107.4
      Mike Schmidt 106.6
      Joe Morgan 100.4
      Oh’s estimated WAA and WAR are placing him among the elite players ever to play the game.

      Let’s look at first basemen with over 50 WAA:
      Player WAA/pos
      Lou Gehrig 78.2
      Sadaharu OH 74.1
      Albert Pujols* 64.9
      Jimmie Foxx 62.7
      Cap Anson 55.4
      Dan Brouthers 54.9
      Roger Connor 54.2
      Jeff Bagwell 51.9
      Pujols has the asterisk (*) because he’s active.

      Now the first basemen with over 75 WAR:
      Player WAR/pos
      Sadaharu OH 121.1
      Lou Gehrig 112.3
      Albert Pujols* 99.6
      Jimmie Foxx 96.3
      Cap Anson 94.0
      Roger Connor 84.2
      Jeff Bagwell 79.8
      D Brouthers 79.5

      Believe it or not, I’m not afraid of ranking Oh over Gehrig and every other first baseman on a career basis, as Pujols is about 1500 plate appearances below Oh’s projection at this point, Anson 1200 below, and Gehrig and Foxx over 2600 each below. Oh was a notch below them per game, but he played so well that giving him that much more playing time allows him to pass them all. Oh belongs below Gehrig on peak, as he trails in WAA despite significantly more playing time. I’m not sure there is a consensus on even whether we should try to combine peak and career to determine who the greatest is. Even if there is, there certainly is no consensus on how it should be done. That, plus the fact that the Oh projection is an estimate of his major league value, albeit one I contend is reasonable but on the conservative side, means it’s hard to definitively say Oh is the greatest first baseman of all time. I do think he belongs in the discussion for that honor, however. I am comfortable in saying he’s at least the second best first baseman of all time, as he’s got enough room to cover those issues and stay ahead of Foxx and Pujols

      V. Other Issues

      1. Pitchers in Japan are the real stars/ Was Nagashima greater?

      One issue which I have heard is that pitchers have been the bigger stars in Japan, and therefore shouldn’t one of them precede Oh into Cooperstown. The point about pitchers being the bigger stars is arguable, but in terms of who should go to Cooperstown, it is irrelevant. If we ever get around to honoring players solely for their play in Japan, we should start with the very best in that group and work our way down. No one can rival Oh as the greatest player in Japan.

      Some English-speaking writers have written that the Japanese public regards Nagashima as the greatest player in Japanese baseball history. I cannot say whether or not this accurately reflects the sentiments of the Japanese public. It has been suggested that Nagashima is regarded as the best “Japanese” player, Oh being excluded because his father is Chinese. Another suggestion, courtesy of Josh Reyer, is that while Oh’s statistics were regarded as better, Nagashima was seen as more “clutch” because he came up with more memorable hits, homers, and defensive plays. Fred Ivor-Campbell indicates that this perception lasted most if not all of Nagashima’s career, but that Oh emerged from Nagashima’s shadow when the latter retired. That seems reasonable, because much of Oh’s advantage in career numbers came once Nagashima retired. The fact Oh could sustain that high level of performance for many more years would make his superiority as a player clear. Certainly, Oh’s statistics are far superior. Oh and Nagashima were teammates for 15 years, and Oh has 645 more games, 1156 more at bats, 697 more runs, 315 more hits, 424 more homers, 648 more RBI, 1421 more walks, and 4 more MVP awards. Any reasonable interpretation of the record clearly shows Oh to be the greater player. It does seem to be true that Nagashima was more popular. Oh’s Chinese heritage may or may not be one factor. It also seems that Nagashima was much more outgoing and willing to show his emotions on the field, while Oh rarely showed emotion and was generally reserved. Fans have always preferred outgoing guys who show their emotion to reserved guys who don’t, and the Japanese fans seem to have the same preference.
      1. The “National” Hall of Fame

      The last argument against Oh we will address is the argument that Cooperstown is the National Hall of Fame and is limited to those who have contributed to the game in North America. First of all, no one in the debate has yet cited anything beyond the name of the institution as proof there is any formal restriction on who the Hall of Fame may honor. Second, even if such a restriction exists, it certainly can be changed about as easily and rapidly as the sudden decision to allow Negro Leaguers to be honored on an equal basis with the major leaguers. Third, the Hall should honor all the best players in the game, no matter where they played or who they played against, because they all have helped to make it the great game it is. Fourth, the game is becoming increasingly international in scope. In 2002, nearly a quarter of the major leaguers were born outside the 50 states. Seventeen different countries were represented in the majors, and a total of 31 in the minors. About half of all minor leaguers were born outside the 50 states. We now have major league all-stars from the Orient, and undoubtedly we will have many more. Ichiro is almost certain to be voted into the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible. We even allow those outside North America to vote for the major league all-star teams. Under such circumstances, the “National” argument seems to me to be hopelessly parochial and possibly even self-defeating. It certainly looks hypocritical to promote diversity on one hand while denying the game’s highest honor to foreigners who have been subjected to a de facto bar nearly as sacrosanct as the color line was before Jackie Robinson. Even honoring the players in Japanese baseball history who are worthy of Cooperstown seems to be inadequate compensation for siphoning off at least some of Japan’s elite players. Maybe the Japanese wouldn’t have come even if they were given a realistic opportunity to do so, but to deny them plaques in Cooperstown solely on such speculative reasoning is plainly ridiculous.

      Furthermore, Oh has had a tremendous influence on Japanese baseball as its greatest player, as its goodwill ambassador, and as a successful manager. He came into contact with many major leaguers, and his career has touched present day major league managers like Jim Tracy, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel and Bobby Valentine. Isn’t it likely Ichiro learned something from Oh, whether as a youngster or as an opponent of Oh’s teams, or some other way? Oh’s influence upon major league baseball may be small today, but that influence will almost surely grow with the increased influx of Japanese players. Also, listen to Steve Garvey: “ I learned a lot . . . from Sadaharu Oh. I spent some time with him in spring training in 1971, and again in ’75 and ’79. He always talked about the use of his legs as the single biggest asset to his power . . . . You’ve got to use your whole body to hit the ball effectively, not just your arms. That’s the difference between a power hitter and a slap hitter.”

      The “National” argument is at best a dinosaur doomed to extinction by the strong existing trend toward international growth in the game. Eventually, I believe MLB will have a permanent presence in Japan in some form, and at that point, it will need to please its Japanese fans. When that occurs, the “National” argument will surely fall. It may hold sway until that time, but it is only staving off its eventual losing fate.
      1. Conclusion

      There is a large body of evidence available on Oh’s worthiness for the Hall of Fame, and it strongly indicates that he is a very worthy candidate. All the arguments against his candidacy either do not hold water or are simply overwhelmed by the mountain of evidence in his favor. For all the reasons set forth in this review of the evidence, he richly deserves a plaque in Cooperstown, and it is likely that some day there will be such a plaque. However, there is one more thing we should consider: Oh is 77 now, and although he is in apparent good health despite having been treated for cancer several years ago, the time in which he can personally enjoy the honor he so eminently deserves is limited. Those of you who are convinced by the evidence presented by this analysis should do what you can to see that Oh is honored while he can still enjoy it. It is the right thing to do.

      Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
      Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
      A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

      Comment


      • #4
        The Rating System

        My rating system for players is based upon my estimation of WAR and WAA for the NPB careers of these players. I didn’t vary much from the methods laid out for calculating WAR in the following links at Baseball-reference.com:
        https://www.baseball-reference.com/a...position.shtml mostly for position players
        https://www.baseball-reference.com/a..._to_wins.shtml mostly for pitchers, using version 2.1

        I did do estimations of baserunning runs plus runs saved by avoiding grounding into double plays and fielding runs based on career data, and for purposes of peak calculations distributed those runs to the individual seasons as a portion of the player’s career plate appearances. The details for the WAR calculation for position players are laid out in the section of the Oh article projecting his major league WAR. There were occasions when I had to use data derived from the major leagues in my calculations of NPB WAR and WAA. For NPB WAR, I used the average runs scored plus the average runs allowed per game by the team as the league average runs throughout as my best effort to provide some adjustment for the effect of the park. It’s not ideal, as Oh’s excellence (and that of teammates such as Nagashima) may actually mean he needs more runs per win than required by the park beyond the adjustment Baseball-reference.com does in its calculations—but Baseball-reference has better data to adjust due to the park than I have for NPB. I also did not do every player, every year, so the adjustments Baseball-reference makes such as in adding up all the wins between average and replacement and making sure that the total comes out to the proper number of wins for the whole league are not replicated in my effort. One number I used from the major leagues in Japan was the average number of runs created by pitchers at bat. Since all runs above the average pitcher are then turned into WAA and WAR for the hitting portion of the pitcher’s ratings, I found all pitchers who had zero runs created for their careers as offensive players, and figured out their average offensive WAR, which was -0.675 offensive WAR per 100 plate appearances. A second reference to the major leagues for an answer is in leverage for relievers. I found the median leverage index for major leaguers with over 200 saves to be 1.8, and used that as the leverage for WAR for relievers. Also, with the foreign born, if a player had less than 5000 AB + BB, I prorated the intercept to the player’s percentage of 5000 AB + BB to a maximu of 100% times -31. The intercept was created assuming a minimum of 5000 PA, and without this adjustment the marks of the foreign born players in baserunning plus gidp seemed too low for me, even considering the fact many of the foreign born hitters were older and/or slow footed sluggers. I will do one position player season and one pitcher season to give you a better feel for how this works.

        I’ll go through the process of getting to WAA and WAR for one NPB position player’s season and one NPB pitcher’s season. I’ve chosen Randy Bass in 1986 as the position player, and Victor Starffin in 1939 as the pitcher.

        Since we’ll talk even more about Bass later, we’ll start with him. We take 0.32 times his walks and total bases, add that to 0.26 times his hits, and subtract 0.10 times his at bats. This results in a set of linear weights for various events: 0.48 runs for a single, 0.80 runs for a double, 1.12 runs for a triple, 1.44 runs for a home run, and 0.32 runs for a walk and -0.10 runs for an out (at bats minus hits). That leads to a result of 139.34 runs created.
        To determine how many runs that is above average, we first need to determine how many runs is average for a player in his team’s games using the same number of outs. The first step is to determine how many games worth of outs he had. I first subtract hits from at bats, and then divide by 51. I’m using the runs by the two teams in the player’s games (his team and the opposing team), but not using 54 outs because for much of NPB history I don’t have caught stealings, ground into double plays, outs on the basepaths like being picked off or being thrown out trying to advance. Fifty one outs is the number used to represent the outs in the available data per game. He had 5.43 games worth of runs by that 51 out standard. There were 8.54 runs per Hanshin Tiger games that season. If you subtract 8.54 times 5.43 from his 139.34 runs and you have 92.96 runs above average. He didn’t win any Gold Gloves, so all that’s left in the fielding runs above average is the -7.67 runs intercept for his career figure. I prorate that to his (AB + BB) for the season divided by the career figures in those two categories, multiplied by the -7.67. The result is -1.64 runs for 1986.

        Now we look at baserunning. We start by figuring out how many runs above or below average he is for his career. The basic formula is 108.4542 * 3B/ (Hits – HR) + 0.288b497 * 3B + .134134 * SB -30.9337. The -30.9337 is the intercept of a regression based upon major leaguers with at least 5000 career plate appearances. Many foreign born players, like Bass had far fewer plate appearances, and this large number of runs seemed to be unfair to players like that. I just used AB + BB in place of plate appearances, and Bass has 2507. I divided that number by 5000 and multiplied by 31 (a small upward adjustment, to somewhat compensate for understating plate appearances, and the intercept for Bass becomes -15.5. Players with at least 5000 AB + BB stay at the -30.9337 intercept figure. With this new intercept, Bass comes out at -12.87 runs versus average between baserunning and GIDP when the appropriate career data is plugged in. To move this figure to seasons, I split it up on the basis of each year’s percentage of his career (AB + BB). His career figure, as noted previously is 2507, and in 1986 he had 535
        (AB + BB), which means -2.75 runs are assigned to 1986 in these categories. The next figure to calculate is his position adjustment. First we figure out how many games he played at each position that year. He played 125 games at first. We don’t have to worry about adjusting for playing multiple positions in the same game, but we have to make sure he batted about as often as we’d expect if he played the whole game each time. The way I do this is to assign 2.1 defensive innings per (AB + BB), and see how many innings he’d get if we divide by his defensive games at all positions he played that season, to a maximum of 9 innings. Bass gets credit for full games of innings. The Baseball-Reference.com WAR position adjustment is based upon 150 games of 9 innings, or 1350 innings, and Bass had 125 * 9 innings, or 1125. Since the position adjustment for first base in 1986 is -9.5, that means Bass gets
        1125/1350 * (-9.5), or -7.92 runs for the season. Now we add up his batting runs above average plus his baserunning + GIDP runs against average + his fielding runs above average + his position adjustment and get 80.7 total runs above average. ( 92.96 - 2.75 - 1.64 - 7.92, which rounds to 80.7). Next, we have to convert this to wins. The first step is to find how many runs were scored per game involving his team that season. That figure is 8.54. From that figure for two teams, we figure the runs per win by multiplying that figure by 0.75 and adding three, for a result of 9.41. We get WAA by dividing the runs above average by that 9.41 figure for runs per win, and get 8.6. To get to WAR, we have to first figure out how many runs he should be credited with between average and replacement levels. Baseball-reference.com uses 20.5 runs per 600 plate appearances. I just used his walk plus at bat total of 535, divided that by 600 and multiplied by 20.5, with a result of 18.3.
        For WAR, add the runs above average to that 18.3, and divide by the 9.41 runs per win and we get 10.5 WAR, and we’re done with evaluating his excellent 1986 season

        Now we’ll do a pitcher’s season, Victor Starffin’s 1939 campaign. The first step is to determine runs above average. Since we define the average as the number of runs scored by Starffin’s Kyojin and their opponents, the figure is 7.92 runs. Starffin pitched 458.1 innings that year. To get to average runs, we divide his IP by 17.86 (just short of 9 innings for both teams, a figure used by Baseball-reference.com) and multiply by the average runs. When we subtract the 114 runs (earned and unearned) charged to Starffin, he’s 89.14 runs above average. Baseball-reference.com uses a Pythagorean theorem approach to determining how many wins that figure represents. Unfortuately, I couldn’t get it to work right. I thought I had it, but when I compared the WAA I was getting compared to replacement runs divided by runs per win, I found the method using runs per win was consistently around two times my attempt to replicate the Pythagorean approach. I couldn’t spot where my method caused that kind of disparity from what should have been close to what the Pythagorean approach yielded. Baseball-reference.com initially used the replacement runs divided by runs per win approach in its first version of the method, and indicates the latest method should not vary from the Pythagoream approach by as much as my results did. I just didn’t think it appropriate to multiply the WAA I was getting in the Pythagorean method by a factor of approximately two to adjust for an error I couldn’t explain when another, more logical approach was available that would get WAA results in the right range. The runs per win figure is three added to the quantity of 7.92 average runs times 0.75, or 8.94 runs per win. The runs above average figure of 89.14 divided 8.94 yields 10 when rounded to the tenths digit. If Starffin had relieved in 80% or more of his appearances and with a leverage bonus larger than the replacement runs for his innings pitched, we’d use the leverage bonus instead of the replacement runs number. That did not happen, so we just use the replacement run figure.
        We now need Starffin’s replacement runs to go from WAA to WAR. I’m using runs per inning rather than runs per out, and I calculate from the numbers they provided that we should multiply .0105 times the average runs times his innings pitched. The product of those numbers is 38.10 replacement runs. I stayed with dividing the runs figure by runs per win to get this part of WAR. As noted above, the runs per win figure is 8.94. When we divide the 38.10 by 8.94, we get 4.3 wins due to replacement, which gives us 14.3 WAR when added to the 10.0 WAA.
        I’m satisfied that the numbers for wins due to replacement are a good match for what we’d expect from Baseball-reference.com’s WAR. That’s the most important thing. It’s an already established and used technique, which is another positive. In fact, in previous versions of WAR, Baseball-reference.com used a very similar technique to calculate replacement WAR. What clinches it for me is the reason they give for using this newer technique is not that it deals with ordinary cases any better, but that it deals with the extreme cases (such as presented by Hall of Famers) better. The replacement wins figure represents the wins amassed by the player above replacement level, but not above average or a .500 winning percentage. That’s hardly an extreme level of performance. I’m using the new and improved approach to deal with the extreme, but substituted something I can implement with real confidence that the results are accurate and in the proper range of results.

        We now need to deal with an issue I am convinced is ignored far too often: pitcher hitting. A good hitting pitcher can help himself far more than a swing the bat and hope it hits the ball type hitting pitcher does. The difference in runs scored for the better hitting pitcher can be the factor that turns a loss into a no decision or win, or a no decision situation into a win. We start with the same process for Starffin that we used with Bass to calculate his runs created. Starffin created 11.28 runs that year with his bat. With 8.94 runs per win, that’s 1.3 wins, but that figure isn't comparing him to any batter. WAR evaluates the hitting of pitchers by comparing them to the hitting of an average pitcher. I had wondered how I would do this for NPB players short of a massive study, and my solution was to see what WAR was expected for all pitchers who created 0 runs. I took the two hundred MLB pitchers who had the most plate appearances in their careers and created zero runs according to the Baseball-reference.com site. The high in plate appearances was 129 and the low 22. I had 8046 total plate appearances, and these pitchers had -54.5 batting WAR. So, pitchers creating zero runs at the plate were -0.675 WAR per 100 plate appearances below the average pitcher. Since that 1.3 is wins compared to nothing, I need to account for the production of an average pitcher and thus get his batting WAR as a pitcher to the appropriate level. The way I did this was to deduct .675 WAR from that runs created divided by runs per win figure to get to WAR. Applying this tactic to Starffin, he had 182 at bats and five walks that year, we need to subtract 187/100 plate appearances times 0.675 and add that to his offensive WAA and WAR (which are identical for pitchers in Baseball-reference.com’s version of WAR). The result of that calculation is -1.3, which gives him exactly zero offensive WAA and WAR that season. When we add that figure to his pitching WAA and WAR, he has a total of 10.0 WAA and 14.3 WAR that year. The last consideration is only related to the rating system: had he relieved in at least 80% of his appearances, he’d use the WAR figure for WAA for the season. As noted earlier, that’s not the case, so we won’t worry about that here.

        For my rating system, I’ve borrowed from a system I used for major leaguers. I wanted to keep the value of peak versus career pretty much in balance. I felt that WAR worked OK for career, but not so well over the eras for peak. WAA did this much better. Once I hit on the idea of doubling the two peak measures (total of top 3 seasons and total of best 5 consecutive seasons, which is a measure of consistency), I was on my way.

        Relievers were a pain, so relief pitchers (defined as guys with no GS or with IP/GS > 12 and 5 or more saves for the season) used WAR for seasons in relief for their WAA peak season values.

        For position players before 1945, when the schedules were considerably shorter, I went with bumping them up 10% in WAR. They need some upward adjustment, but there's no guarantee they would have sustained that level of production over another 25 or more games. So, I gave those players a little less than halfway between what I estimate would be full time and their actual playing time and go with that answer. It's not perfect, but I still have a reasonable number of players from those short schedules represented, so I feel it's fair. Also, the leagues were weaker then, so this amounts to a seat of the pants league quality adjustment. It may be a bit conservative, but I tend to prefer doing so when projecting so I can minimize the number and magnitude of my mistakes through such techniques.

        Below is a table with each of the three elements (career WAR, top three seasons in WAA, and best five consecutive seasons in WAA) to show the rating system in action.:For Bass, I’ll even show his WAA and WAR seasonal marks in NPB to show how those elements were arrived at.

        player career WAR best 3 WAA 5 consecutive WAA score
        Charlie Luis (Lewis) 12.4 8.1 8.1 46.8
        Bucky Harris 6.4 3.6 3.6 20.8
        Roberto Petagine 47.5 22.7 33.8 160.5
        Alex Cabrera 55.4 17.5 22.4 135.2
        Randy Bass 31.9 18.0 22.7 113.3
        Bobby Rose 42.7 17.1 23.3 123.5
        Daryl Spencer 23.7 16.9 21.0 99.5
        Leo Gomez 30.6 12.8 18.7 93.6
        Tom O'Malley 35.9 15.6 21.7 110.5
        Tony Roig 23.5 8.7 10.4 61.7
        Larry Raines 14.4 9.5 10.2 53.8
        Tuffy Rhodes 57.9 12.4 16.7 116.1
        Wally Yonamine 44.4 14.5 19.8 113.0
        Shosei Go 50.9 13.4 15.9 109.5
        Alex Ramirez 51.1 12.2 16.4 108.3
        John Sipin 40.1 12.2 17.7 99.9
        Warren Cromartie 32.9 14.7 17.8 97.4
        Victor Starffin 100.2 30.9 36.1 234.2
        T Wakabayashi 68.2 20.0 23.0 154.2
        Genji Kaku 31.0 12.4 12.3 80.4
        Dennis Sarafate 19.3 12.1 17.1 77.7
        Taigen Kaku 30.2 8.9 11.8 71.6
        Gene Bacque 21.1 8.1 8.4 54.1
        Brian Sikorski 15.1 8.9 8.0 48.9
        Joe Stanka 18.4 5.8 6.5 43.0
        Chang Yong Lim 9.0 7.5 8.6 41.2

        I’ll also show you how we get each of those elements below:
        Randy Bass
        year WAA WAR
        1983 2.5 3.9
        1984 2.2 3.6
        1985 5.1 6.9
        1986 8.6 10.5
        1987 4.3 6.3
        1988 0.4 0.8
        Total 31.9


        Bass had 31.9 WAR for his NPB career. His best season in WAA is 1986, his second best is 1985, and his third best is 1987. Add the WAA for those three seasons and the total is 18. The best five consecutive seasons in WAA are his first five, and the total is 22.7. If you add the two WAA based scores, you get 40.7. That number is multiplied by two to get 81.4 and that result is added to the career WAR of 31.9 to arrive at a final score of 113.3. The multiplication is meant to make the WAA (or peak) related elements about the same over a full career as WAR. The foreign born players had short careers, and therefore the scores of many such players are dominated by the peak elements rather than the career WAR.


        Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
        Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
        A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

        Comment


        • #5
          ALL-TIME FORIEGN BORN TEAM

          By Jim Albright

          For this article, my primary sources on who was born outside of Japan is Carlos Bauer’s All-Time Japanese Baseball Register and the The 1998 Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook and Media Guide edited by Wayne Graczyk Bauer gives the statistics in encyclopedia form for all North American players plus all the players meeting certain criteria, like 1500 games played or who won a batting title. There are too many to list, but I think you get the idea. I also received help from my good friend Michael Westbay, especially with players more recent than provided by those resources, and that combined with Baseball-reference.com’s material on NPB filled in any gaps in my information.
          I chose to focus on whether or not a player was born outside Japan for this article. This decision gave me an easy way to decide who should or should not be included. One could stretch the point and consider men born to at least one non-Japanese parent to be eligible for this article. The team would be much stronger, as it would then add Sadaharu Oh (whose father was Chinese) Masaichi Kaneda (he was half Korean) Isao Harimoto (again, half-Korean), and Sachio Kinugasa (his father was a black American GI), for some prominent examples. If I went that far, though, I'd have spent an inordinate amount of time investigating family trees, and I had no desire to do so. Further, the chances of inaccuracies sneaking into the article would have increased unacceptably.
          My rating system for players is based upon my estimation of WAR and WAA for the NPB careers of these players. I didn’t vary much from the methods laid out for calculating WAR in the following links at Baseball-reference.com:
          https://www.baseball-reference.com/a...position.shtml mostly for position players
          https://www.baseball-reference.com/a..._to_wins.shtml mostly for pitchers, using version 2.1

          I did do estimations of baserunning runs plus runs saved by avoiding grounding into double plays and fielding runs based on career data, and for purposes of peak calculations distributed those runs to the individual seasons as a portion of the player’s career plate appearances. The details for the WAR calculation for position players are laid out in the section of the Oh article projecting his major league WAR. There were occasions when I had to use data derived from the major leagues in my calculations of NPB WAR and WAA. For NPB WAR, I used the average runs scored plus the average runs allowed per game by the team as the league average runs throughout as my best effort to provide some adjustment for the effect of the park. It’s not ideal, as Oh’s excellence (and that of teammates such as Nagashima) may actually mean he needs more runs per win than required by the park beyond the adjustment Baseball-reference.com does in its calculations—but Baseball-reference has better data to adjust due to the park than I have for NPB. I also did not do every player, every year, so the adjustments Baseball-reference makes such as in adding up all the wins between average and replacement and making sure that the total comes out to the proper number of wins for the whole league are not replicated in my effort. One number I used from the major leagues in Japan was the average number of runs created by pitchers at bat. Since all runs above the average pitcher are then turned into WAA and WAR for the hitting portion of the pitcher’s ratings, I found all pitchers who had zero runs created for their careers as offensive players, and figured out their average offensive WAR, which was -0.675 offensive WAR per 100 plate appearances. A second reference to the major leagues for an answer is in leverage for relievers. I found the median leverage index for major leaguers with over 200 saves to be 1.8, and used that as the leverage for WAR for relievers. Also, with the foreign born, if a player had less than 5000 AB + BB, I prorated the intercept to the player’s percentage of 5000 AB + BB to a maximu of 100% times -31. The intercept was created assuming a minimum of 5000 PA, and without this adjustment the marks of the foreign born players in baserunning plus gidp seemed too low for me, even considering the fact many of the foreign born hitters were older and/or slow footed sluggers. I will do one position player season and one pitcher season to give you a better feel for how this works.

          I’ll go through the process of getting to WAA and WAR for one NPB position player’s season and one NPB pitcher’s season. I’ve chosen Randy Bass in 1986 as the position player, and Victor Starffin in 1939 as the pitcher.

          Since we’ll talk even more about Bass later, we’ll start with him. We take 0.32 times his walks and total bases, add that to 0.26 times his hits, and subtract 0.10 times his at bats. This results in a set of linear weights for various events: 0.48 runs for a single, 0.80 runs for a double, 1.12 runs for a triple, 1.44 runs for a home run, and 0.32 runs for a walk and -0.10 runs for an out (at bats minus hits). That leads to a result of 139.34 runs created.
          To determine how many runs that is above average, we first need to determine how many runs is average for a player in his team’s games using the same number of outs. The first step is to determine how many games worth of outs he had. I first subtract hits from at bats, and then divide by 51. I’m using the runs by the two teams in the player’s games (his team and the opposing team), but not using 54 outs because for much of NPB history I don’t have caught stealings, ground into double plays, outs on the basepaths like being picked off or being thrown out trying to advance. Fifty one outs is the number used to represent the outs in the available data per game. He had 5.43 games worth of runs by that 51 out standard. There were 8.54 runs per Hanshin Tiger games that season. If you subtract 8.54 times 5.43 from his 139.34 runs and you have 92.96 runs above average. He didn’t win any Gold Gloves, so all that’s left in the fielding runs above average is the -7.67 runs intercept for his career figure. I prorate that to his (AB + BB) for the season divided by the career figures in those two categories, multiplied by the -7.67. The result is -1.64 runs for 1986.

          Now we look at baserunning. We start by figuring out how many runs above or below average he is for his career. The basic formula is 108.4542 * 3B/ (Hits – HR) + 0.288b497 * 3B + .134134 * SB -30.9337. The -30.9337 is the intercept of a regression based upon major leaguers with at least 5000 career plate appearances. Many foreign born players, like Bass had far fewer plate appearances, and this large number of runs seemed to be unfair to players like that. I just used AB + BB in place of plate appearances, and Bass has 2507. I divided that number by 5000 and multiplied by 31 (a small upward adjustment, to somewhat compensate for understating plate appearances, and the intercept for Bass becomes -15.5. Players with at least 5000 AB + BB stay at the -30.9337 intercept figure. With this new intercept, Bass comes out at -12.87 runs versus average between baserunning and GIDP when the appropriate career data is plugged in. To move this figure to seasons, I split it up on the basis of each year’s percentage of his career (AB + BB). His career figure, as noted previously is 2507, and in 1986 he had 535
          (AB + BB), which means -2.75 runs are assigned to 1986 in these categories. The next figure to calculate is his position adjustment. First we figure out how many games he played at each position that year. He played 125 games at first. We don’t have to worry about adjusting for playing multiple positions in the same game, but we have to make sure he batted about as often as we’d expect if he played the whole game each time. The way I do this is to assign 2.1 defensive innings per (AB + BB), and see how many innings he’d get if we divide by his defensive games at all positions he played that season, to a maximum of 9 innings. Bass gets credit for full games of innings. The Baseball-Reference.com WAR position adjustment is based upon 150 games of 9 innings, or 1350 innings, and Bass had 125 * 9 innings, or 1125. Since the position adjustment for first base in 1986 is -9.5, that means Bass gets
          1125/1350 * (-9.5), or -7.92 runs for the season. Now we add up his batting runs above average plus his baserunning + GIDP runs against average + his fielding runs above average + his position adjustment and get 80.7 total runs above average. ( 92.96 - 2.75 - 1.64 - 7.92, which rounds to 80.7). Next, we have to convert this to wins. The first step is to find how many runs were scored per game involving his team that season. That figure is 8.54. From that figure for two teams, we figure the runs per win by multiplying that figure by 0.75 and adding three, for a result of 9.41. We get WAA by dividing the runs above average by that 9.41 figure for runs per win, and get 8.6. To get to WAR, we have to first figure out how many runs he should be credited with between average and replacement levels. Baseball-reference.com uses 20.5 runs per 600 plate appearances. I just used his walk plus at bat total of 535, divided that by 600 and multiplied by 20.5, with a result of 18.3.
          For WAR, add the runs above average to that 18.3, and divide by the 9.41 runs per win and we get 10.5 WAR, and we’re done with evaluating his excellent 1986 season

          Now we’ll do a pitcher’s season, Victor Starffin’s 1939 campaign. The first step is to determine runs above average. Since we define the average as the number of runs scored by Starffin’s Kyojin and their opponents, the figure is 7.92 runs. Starffin pitched 458.1 innings that year. To get to average runs, we divide his IP by 17.86 (just short of 9 innings for both teams, a figure used by Baseball-reference.com) and multiply by the average runs. When we subtract the 114 runs (earned and unearned) charged to Starffin, he’s 89.14 runs above average. Baseball-reference.com uses a Pythagorean theorem approach to determining how many wins that figure represents. Unfortuately, I couldn’t get it to work right. I thought I had it, but when I compared the WAA I was getting compared to replacement runs divided by runs per win, I found the method using runs per win was consistently around two times my attempt to replicate the Pythagorean approach. I couldn’t spot where my method caused that kind of disparity from what should have been close to what the Pythagorean approach yielded. Baseball-reference.com initially used the replacement runs divided by runs per win approach in its first version of the method, and indicates the latest method should not vary from the Pythagoream approach by as much as my results did. I just didn’t think it appropriate to multiply the WAA I was getting in the Pythagorean method by a factor of approximately two to adjust for an error I couldn’t explain when another, more logical approach was available that would get WAA results in the right range. The runs per win figure is three added to the quantity of 7.92 average runs times 0.75, or 8.94 runs per win. The runs above average figure of 89.14 divided 8.94 yields 10 when rounded to the tenths digit. If Starffin had relieved in 80% or more of his appearances and with a leverage bonus larger than the replacement runs for his innings pitched, we’d use the leverage bonus instead of the replacement runs number. That did not happen, so we just use the replacement run figure.
          We now need Starffin’s replacement runs to go from WAA to WAR. I’m using runs per inning rather than runs per out, and I calculate from the numbers they provided that we should multiply .0105 times the average runs times his innings pitched. The product of those numbers is 38.10 replacement runs. I stayed with dividing the runs figure by runs per win to get this part of WAR. As noted above, the runs per win figure is 8.94. When we divide the 38.10 by 8.94, we get 4.3 wins due to replacement, which gives us 14.3 WAR when added to the 10.0 WAA.
          I’m satisfied that the numbers for wins due to replacement are a good match for what we’d expect from Baseball-reference.com’s WAR. That’s the most important thing. It’s an already established and used technique, which is another positive. In fact, in previous versions of WAR, Baseball-reference.com used a very similar technique to calculate replacement WAR. What clinches it for me is the reason they give for using this newer technique is not that it deals with ordinary cases any better, but that it deals with the extreme cases (such as presented by Hall of Famers) better. The replacement wins figure represents the wins amassed by the player above replacement level, but not above average or a .500 winning percentage. That’s hardly an extreme level of performance. I’m using the new and improved approach to deal with the extreme, but substituted something I can implement with real confidence that the results are accurate and in the proper range of results.

          We now need to deal with an issue I am convinced is ignored far too often: pitcher hitting. A good hitting pitcher can help himself far more than a swing the bat and hope it hits the ball type hitting pitcher does. The difference in runs scored for the better hitting pitcher can be the factor that turns a loss into a no decision or win, or a no decision situation into a win. We start with the same process for Starffin that we used with Bass to calculate his runs created. Starffin created 11.28 runs that year with his bat. With 8.94 runs per win, that’s 1.3 wins, but that figure isn't comparing him to any batter. WAR evaluates the hitting of pitchers by comparing them to the hitting of an average pitcher. I had wondered how I would do this for NPB players short of a massive study, and my solution was to see what WAR was expected for all pitchers who created 0 runs. I took the two hundred MLB pitchers who had the most plate appearances in their careers and created zero runs according to the Baseball-reference.com site. The high in plate appearances was 129 and the low 22. I had 8046 total plate appearances, and these pitchers had -54.5 batting WAR. So, pitchers creating zero runs at the plate were -0.675 WAR per 100 plate appearances below the average pitcher. Since that 1.3 is wins compared to nothing, I need to account for the production of an average pitcher and thus get his batting WAR as a pitcher to the appropriate level. The way I did this was to deduct .675 WAR from that runs created divided by runs per win figure to get to WAR. Applying this tactic to Starffin, he had 182 at bats and five walks that year, we need to subtract 187/100 plate appearances times 0.675 and add that to his offensive WAA and WAR (which are identical for pitchers in Baseball-reference.com’s version of WAR). The result of that calculation is -1.3, which gives him exactly zero offensive WAA and WAR that season. When we add that figure to his pitching WAA and WAR, he has a total of 10.0 WAA and 14.3 WAR that year. The last consideration is only related to the rating system: had he relieved in at least 80% of his appearances, he’d use the WAR figure for WAA for the season. As noted earlier, that’s not the case, so we won’t worry about that here.

          For my rating system, I’ve borrowed from a system I used for major leaguers. I wanted to keep the value of peak versus career pretty much in balance. I felt that WAR worked OK for career, but not so well over the eras for peak. WAA did this much better. Once I hit on the idea of doubling the two peak measures (total of top 3 seasons and total of best 5 consecutive seasons, which is a measure of consistency), I was on my way.

          Relievers were a pain, so relief pitchers (defined as guys with no GS or with IP/GS > 12 and 5 or more saves for the season) used WAR for seasons in relief for their WAA peak season values.

          For position players before 1945, when the schedules were considerably shorter, I went with bumping them up 10% in WAR. They need some upward adjustment, but there's no guarantee they would have sustained that level of production over another 25 or more games. So, I gave those players a little less than halfway between what I estimate would be full time and their actual playing time and go with that answer. It's not perfect, but I still have a reasonable number of players from those short schedules represented, so I feel it's fair. Also, the leagues were weaker then, so this amounts to a seat of the pants league quality adjustment. It may be a bit conservative, but I tend to prefer doing so when projecting so I can minimize the number and magnitude of my mistakes through such techniques.

          Below is a table with each of the three elements (career WAR, top three seasons in WAA, and best five consecutive seasons in WAA) to show the rating system in action.:For Bass, I’ll even show his WAA and WAR seasonal marks in NPB to show how those elements were arrived at.

          player career WAR best 3 WAA 5 consecutive WAA score
          Charlie Luis (Lewis) 12.4 8.1 8.1 46.8
          Bucky Harris 6.4 3.6 3.6 20.8
          Roberto Petagine 47.5 22.7 33.8 160.5
          Alex Cabrera 55.4 17.5 22.4 135.2
          Randy Bass 31.9 18.0 22.7 113.3
          Bobby Rose 42.7 17.1 23.3 123.5
          Daryl Spencer 23.7 16.9 21.0 99.5
          Leo Gomez 30.6 12.8 18.7 93.6
          Tom O'Malley 35.9 15.6 21.7 110.5
          Tony Roig 23.5 8.7 10.4 61.7
          Larry Raines 14.4 9.5 10.2 53.8
          Tuffy Rhodes 57.9 12.4 16.7 116.1
          Wally Yonamine 44.4 14.5 19.8 113.0
          Shosei Go 50.9 13.4 15.9 109.5
          Alex Ramirez 51.1 12.2 16.4 108.3
          John Sipin 40.1 12.2 17.7 99.9
          Warren Cromartie 32.9 14.7 17.8 97.4
          Victor Starffin 100.2 30.9 36.1 234.2
          T Wakabayashi 68.2 20.0 23.0 154.2
          Genji Kaku 31.0 12.4 12.3 80.4
          Dennis Sarafate 19.3 12.1 17.1 77.7
          Taigen Kaku 30.2 8.9 11.8 71.6
          Gene Bacque 21.1 8.1 8.4 54.1
          Brian Sikorski 15.1 8.9 8.0 48.9
          Joe Stanka 18.4 5.8 6.5 43.0
          Chang Yong Lim 9.0 7.5 8.6 41.2

          I’ll also show you how we get each of those elements below:
          Randy Bass
          year WAA WAR
          1983 2.5 3.9
          1984 2.2 3.6
          1985 5.1 6.9
          1986 8.6 10.5
          1987 4.3 6.3
          1988 0.4 0.8
          Total 31.9


          Bass had 31.9 WAR for his NPB career. His best season in WAA is 1986, his second best is 1985, and his third best is 1987. Add the WAA for those three seasons and the total is 18. The best five consecutive seasons in WAA are his first five, and the total is 22.7. If you add the two WAA based scores, you get 40.7. That number is multiplied by two to get 81.4 and that result is added to the career WAR of 31.9 to arrive at a final score of 113.3. The multiplication is meant to make the WAA (or peak) related elements about the same over a full career as WAR. The foreign born players had short careers, and therefore the scores of many such players are dominated by the peak elements rather than the career WAR.



          Greatest Foreign Born Players
          (minimum 100 points)
          Rank Name Position Rating points
          1 Victor Starffin P 234.2
          2 Roberto Petagine 1B 160.5
          3 Tadashi Wakabayashi P 154.2
          4 Alex Cabrera 1B 135.2
          5 Bobby Rose 2B 123.5
          6 Tuffy Rhodes OF 116.1
          7 Randy Bass 1B 113.3
          8 Wally Yonamine OF 113.0
          9 Tom O’Malley 1B-3B 110.5
          10 Shosei Go OF 109.5
          11 Alex Ramirez OF 108.3

          I started with the idea of a 26 man team, consisting of 17 position players and nine pitchers. I wanted at least two men to a position except DH, and no one could serve as the sole backup at two positions. Starters have to have played more games in NPB at the position in question than any other, with a minimum of 100 games. Players can qualify as a backup at a position if they played at least 100 games at the position. Also, the pitching staff had to have at least five guys who started more games than they relieved in at least one year. Finally, I chose a manager by a system that determined success by adding pennants won to a regression relating wins and losses to the number of pennants won.



          Greatest Gaijin Roster
          Pos Starter Name Pos Backup Name Pos Pitcher Name
          C Charlie Luis C Bucky Harris P Victor Starffin
          1B Roberto Petagine 1B Alex Cabrera P Tadashi Wakabayashi
          2B Bobby Rose 2B-1B Daryl Spencer P Genji Kaku
          3B-1B Leo Gomez 1B-3B Tom O’Malley P Dennis Sarfate
          SS-3B-1B Tony Roig SS Larry Raines P Taigen Kaku
          OF Tuffy Rhodes OF Alex Ramirez P Gene Bacque
          OF Wally Yonamine 2B-OF John Sipin P Brian Sikorski
          OF Shosei Go OF Warren Cromartie P Joe Stanka
          mgr Tadashi Wakabayashi 1B Randy Bass P Chong-Yeong Lim

          CATCHER Charlie Luis (Lewis?) 45.2 points
          The fact we've got to go as low as 45.2 points to get the starting foreign born catcher highlights the issue of pitcher-catcher communication. I'd guess Luis/Lewis could speak enough Japanese to get by, though I'd guess he learned it in the service in WWII. Does anybody know? Another issue is Baseball-reference.com has his family name as Luis, while other sources I’m familiar with have it as Lewis. Which is correct? Played only two seasons in Japan, but they were both of high quality.
          CATCHER Bucky Harris 20.8 points
          Came to Japan out of the Pacific League in the 1930's. My guess is he also knew at least some Japanese and therefore could handle communicating with pitchers that way. I have no how he learned the language, though there are any number of possibilities. Does anybody know?
          FIRST BASE Roberto Petagine 160.5 points
          He has hit over .290 with at least 29 HR in each of his six seasons to date. He adds excellent walk totals, at least 75 a year. His lows are .outside of his last year in NPB, six years after his first stint are .290 average, .409 on-base percentage, and .561 slugging. Most players don't reach those levels as career highs. He won an MVP and four Best Nines. He did enough to be the leading foreign born position player and the second overall.
          FIRST BASE Alex Cabrera 135.2 points
          He won an MVP and five best nines while hitting for a .303 career average in NPB with an on base percentage of .398 and a slugging percentage of .592
          FIRST BASE Randy Bass 113.3 points
          His 1986 season is truly one of the greatest in NPB history, with a .389 average, .481 on base percentage and .777 slugging with 47 homers—but didn’t get his one MVP in that season Even Oh never had a season with an average or slugging percentage that high. It was one of his three years as the league Best Nine at first base. For his career, he hit .337, got on base at a .416 rate and slugged .660. I kept three full time first basemen as it seems clear one of them would be the DH.
          SECOND BASE Bobby Rose 123.5 points
          Played 8 seasons in Japan, and only once was his average under .300, and that was .296. His low in on-base percentage was .362, and his low in slugging percentage was .455. Had a high of 37 HR in 1999, but otherwise hit 15-22 HR a year. In 1999, he had a .369 avg, .439 OBP, and a .655 slugging pct! He won 6 Best Nines at second along with one Gold Glove. His career marks are superb, especially for a middle infielder: 167 HR, .325 avg, .402 OBP, and .531 slugging pct.
          SECOND BASE -FIRST BASE Daryl Spencer 99.5 points
          He had years with 38, 36 and 30 homers, which is excellent for a second baseman. His career average in NPB is .275, with an on base percentage of .379 and slugging of .536. He won two Best Nines at second.
          THIRD BASE-FIRST BASE Leo Gomez 93.6 points
          Played for the Baltimore Orioles in the majors. Gomez played six years in Japan, beginning at age 30, all of them for the Dragons. He hit 153 homers in those six years, with a high of 36. He hit over .300 twice, with a high of .315. He also took a lot of walks, so his on-base percentage was at least 80 points higher than his average. His career NPB average was .293. All these fine qualities helped him capture 2 Best Nines. He's the only guy whose primary position is third that I kept, but Tom O’Malley and Tony Roig could fill in at third.
          FIRST BASE-THIRD BASE Tom O’Malley 110.5 points
          He played more at first, which is why he doesn’t start at third over Gomez despite having more points in the rating system. He did play a full year at third, though, and won a Gold Glove at that position. He also won a Best Nine at first. More important, he won an MVP award. Every season in NPB, his average was over .300. His on base percentage was over .400 in all but one season, and his slugging percentage was at least .470 every season. His career average was .315, career on base .422 and career slugging .519.
          SHORTSTOP-THIRD BASE -FIRST BASE Tony Roig 61.7 points
          There haven't been many successful gaijin shortstops. My theory is that if they're good enough defensively to play short in the high minors or above and carry a good enough bat to be a standout in Japan, they can find jobs in the states at second, third, or maybe even the outfield in the majors rather than go to Japan. Roig played six seasons in Japan, and had only one where he hit over .260 (.292 in 1965). One reason for this is he came to Japan at age 36. Also, he had a power swing for Japan, hitting 126 homers in those six years, which is good for a third baseman and excellent for a shortstop.
          SHORTSTOP Larry Raines 53.8 points
          According to Clark and Lester's Negro Leagues Book, Raines was born in West Virginia in 1930 and played in the Negro Leagues in Chicago in 1951 and 1952. He then went to Japan at age 23 and had two excellent seasons. He returned to the states and the minor leagues and eventually made it to Cleveland in the majors for 103 games in 1957 and 1958. He then returned to the minors, and in 1962, he went back to Japan for his last season in organized ball.
          OUTFIELD Tuffy Rhodes 114.2 points
          From 2001-2003, he hit 152 homers, including one season to tie the Japnese single season mark at the time of 55. He's also hit .300 or more in three seasons in NPB.
          OUTFIELD Wally Yonamine 113.0 points
          Even though he and Kawakami were teammates, they were rivals more than anything else. Add to that Kawakami's chauvanistic all-Japanese NPB notions, and it is hardly a shock that once Kawakami became the Giants' manager, Yonamine was released. In Kawakami's defense, Yonamine hadn't played well in 1960 (a .228 average with 5 HR in 399 AB) and was even worse for the 1961 Dragons. Yonamine eventually extracted a measure of revenge by managing the Dragons to the 1974 Central League pennant to end the Kawakami "V-9" Giants' reign.
          OUTFIELD Shosei Go 109.5 points
          He was only 5 foot, 6 inches tall and weighed only 140 pounds, but was known as "The Human Locomotive", almost certainly because of his speed. He was born in 1916 in Taiwan, when it was a Japanese colony. He was a lefty hitter who won two batting titles, a stolen base title, and also pitched a no hitter in the early days of NPB. He probably deserves to be the centerfielder. He’s certainly the fastest guy who primarily played in the outfield selected for this team by the rating system.
          OUTFIELD Alex Ramirez 108.3 points
          He didn’t walk much(.336 career NPB on base percentage, despite a .301 career NPB batting average), or he might be the greatest foreign born player in NPB. He slugged .523 in his 7152 career plate appearances in NPB, 380 of which resulted in home runs. He won three best nines and an MVP award.
          SECOND BASE-OUTFIELD John Sipin 99.9 points
          Won 2 Best Nines and 2 Gold Gloves at second while compiling a .297 average in 3779 AB. He supplemented that nice record with 218 career HR and a .536 career slugging mark. Only the brevity of his NPB career holds him back from a Japanese Hall of Fame caliber career.
          OUTFIELD Warren Cromartie 97.4 points
          He wrote an interesting autobiography called Slugging It Out in Japan. The chapters discussing his seven seasons in Japan are by far the best aspect of the book. His perspective on the life of gaijin is interesting and informative. He won three Best Nine Awards as well as the 1989 MVP for the Central League.
          PITCHER Victor Starffin 234.2 points
          The most productive gaijin was this man, Japan's first 300 game winner. He pitched over 4000 innings in his career. He won 2 MVPs and a Best Nine award, led the league in wins 6 times, in winning percentage once, strikeouts twice, and ERA once.
          PITCHER Tadashi Wakabayashi 154.2 points
          He won 237 games against 144 losses in over 3500 innings with a 1.99 career ERA, almost all of which came in the one league era. He won the MVP twice.
          PITCHER Genji Kaku 80.4 points
          This Taiwanese pitcher won an MVP, led the league in saves twice and in ERA once. He had 88 saves from 1987 through 1989.
          PITCHER Dennis Sarfate 77.7 points
          Only the sixth pitcher to reach 200 saves in Japan, and also the holder of the single season record for saves. No foreign born pitcher has more saves.
          PITCHER Taigen Kaku 71.6 points
          Another Taiwanese hurler, he won 1 MVP, 1 Best Nine Award, and two Gold Gloves. He also led the league in winning percentage twice.
          PITCHER Gene Bacque 54.1 points
          His best season was 1964, when he went 29-9 with a league leading 1.88 ERA in 353.1 innings to lead the Tigers to a pennant. He won a Best Nine Award and a Sawamura Award for that performance. Overall, he pitched nearly 1600 innings in NPB with a 2.34 career ERA. He had a no-hitter in Japan in 1965 against the Giants. He's the only American to win the Sawamura. He was known for throwing brushback pitches and liked to ridicule batters when he pitched to them, which isn't the Japanese way. Two players he seemed to take particular delight in mocking were Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima, according to Robert Whiting in Chrysanthemum and the Bat

          PITCHER Brian Sikorski 48.9 points
          He pitched 10 seasons in NPB, including a 33 save season in 2010. From 2004 to 2010, he had only one season with an ERA over 2.67, and that was only 3.09 in 2005.
          PITCHER Joe Stanka 43.0 points
          He won an MVP and a Best Nine Award in 1964 for leading the Hawks to the Japan Series title. Gaijin pitchers were big stars that year, with Gene Bacque pulling down his awards. The only award Stanka and Bacque were eligible for the the 1964 regular season that they didn't win was the CL MVP, which went to Sadaharu Oh for his record-setting 55 HRs. Stanka's 1964 marks were 26-7 with a 2.40 ERA in 277.2 innings, which led the league in winning percentage.
          PITCHER Chang-Yong Lim 41.2 points
          A closer who pitched primarily sidearm and underhand. He had two Tommy John surgeries. In four seasons of pitching with Yakult, he recorded 128 saves and 2.15 ERA.
          PITCHER Marc Kroon 54.8 points
          When he joined Japanese baseball, he stepped became the closer of the Yokohoma Bay Stars the
          season after Kazuhiro Sasaki left for the majors. He did well, and has had four seasons in the top
          four in his league in saves, leading once. He also holds the record for the fastest pitch in an NPB
          game at 162 km/h (101 mph)
          PITCHER Marc Kroon 54.8 points
          When he joined Japanese baseball, he stepped became the closer of the Yokohoma Bay Stars the
          season after Kazuhiro Sasaki left for the majors. He did well, and has had four seasons in the top
          four in his league in saves, leading once. He also holds the record for the fastest pitch in an NPB
          game at 162 km/h (101 mph)

          MANAGER Tadashi Wakabayashi 3.3 actual plus virtual pennants
          He won two pennants in the one league era, and a .546 winning percentage gave him the top spot among foreign born managers with 3.3 actual plus virtual pennants. His closest competition is Bobby Valentine (2.9), who had one less pennant, and a .545 winning percentage, though he did manage about 230 more games in NPB. Trey Hillman isn’t far behind those two at 2.8.
          Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
          Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
          A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

          Comment


          • #6
            The Top Players in Japanese Baseball History : 120-1
            Most of the methods used to arrive at these rankings are the same ones as were used to rank the top foreign born players. However, expanding the discussion from the foreign born to all players in NPB caused me to encounter some issues which did not exist or were of far lesser importance in the discussion of the foreign born players.

            One of the first issues is how to deal with switches between the MLB and NPB. For those who weren’t born in Japan and started in the MLB or its minor leagues, they only get credit for their time in NPB. I didn’t notice any gaijin born in Japan who started professionally in NPB or its minors, but if I come across any, I’ll deal with them on a case by case basis. The rest get not only their estimated WAR in NPB, but also their WAR in MLB. They’re generally not doing as well in WAR when compared to NPB, but since they clearly are still followed by Japanese fans, I think they deserve some credit for their MLB play.

            Losses of time to military service during World War II and/or the suspended 1945 season were another issue. I only gave credit to position players, as some research I’ve seen from Craig Wright, including his fine book The Diamond Appraised suggests that healthy pitchers who were used lightly or not at all actually benefitted over the course of their careers from that rest season. I’m not inclined to give anybody a double benefit, so I limited pitchers to that actual career benefit from rest/light usage. It might be too small, but I’m not certain of that, and figuring out proper usage patterns that would not wear the pitcher out far earlier than actually happened would be difficult at best. Position players, by contrast, just lost time, and it’s fairly easy to adjust for that. What I did was look at two factors for the players, the percentage of their team’s games they played in , and their WAR per game played. I averaged the season before the absence with the season he returned for the percentage of team games. I did the same for WAR per game played, but also compared that mark to his career level of WAR per game played and chose the lower figure to go with a fairly conservative boost for this figure. I then took the number of games missed from his team’s games during his absence, giving 70 games for 1945 and multiplied this total by the other two results to arrive at how many WAR were lost to World War II.

            The data I have (from baseball-reference.com) has some gaps in games played at defensive positions, most notably in 2004. I estimated this missing data in a manner similar to the above for World War II position players. Here I averaged the player’s percentage of games played at each position in the year before and the year after the missing data. If a player averaged 50% of his games at second base between the year before and the year after the missing data, I assigned him 50% of his actual games played in the year with missing defensive position data as playing at second. So, if he played 100 games in the season without that data, I filled him in at 50 games at second, I did this for all his positions played in the year before and the year after the missing data year.

            Baseball-reference did not list games at DH, so to fill that gap, I took the lesser of the following two calculations: first, games played minus total of all games at the various positions, so if a guy played 50 games in the outfield and ten at first, that would be 60 games at the various positions. The second calculation is plate appearances minus games played minus the quantity of games at the various positions times four. That result is then divided by three and any result to the right of the decimal place is discarded (i.e., rounded down). The games played figure is mostly aimed at weeding out pinch hitting and pinch fielding appearances, and the rest is just reducing plate appearances to games. An example may help clarify. A player played in 122 games but only had six at a defensive position. That means the first number is 122 minus 6 or 116. This player also had 479 plate appearances. The second number is 479 minus the 122 games played for a total of 357 then minus 4 times the 6 games at various defensive positions, or 24, for a total of 333. Divide that result by 3, and the second number is 111. The second number is the smaller, so that’s the one we use. The estimate of the player’s games at DH that year is 111.

            My sense from working with the rating system for major league catchers is the guys at that position come out too low. For seasons the player caught in over half the games he played and in at least half of his team’s games, I multiplied his seasonal WAR by 8/7 to address this issue.

            There are also a few guys who pitched significant innings and played a good bit in the regular positions as well. The one complication in using the methods to calculate WAR comes in deciding how many plate appearances and thus runs created are assigned to him as a pitcher, and how many as a hitter My solution to this was to assign him plate appearances as a pitcher on the basis of IP/2.1, to his actual total of plate appearances. The rest of his plate appearances, if any, are treated as though he was a position player.

            The final issue I had to address was what to do about guys who had careers before Gold Gloves were awarded. I really couldn’t do anything for guys who never won any Gold Gloves, even if they played their entire careers before the award existed. However, if a guy’s career straddled the years before the award and the years after it started and he won at least one such award, I felt I had some basis for making an adjustment. The first thing to do was to define what years were considered eligible for Gold Glove consideration. I set that number at 100 games in a season. I’ll use Morimichi Takagi to demonstrate how I arrived at this calculation. He had six seasons which met this standard when the award was made, and won three at second base. Three of six is 50%. In the years before the award was made, Morimichi Takagi had 10 seasons meeting the standard. Fifty percent of 10 is five Gold Gloves, all at second. We credit him with 3 plus 5 or 8 Gold Gloves at second. There is one limitation—the player gets the bonus in his fielding for the awards he actually won, but he gets no bonus if his estimated awards increase his total beyond 125 runs. This is to avoid giving a guy like Shigeo Nagashima the award every year (he was only eligible for it two years, and won it both times). He may well have deserved it, but I’d rather be cautious, and +125 defensive runs is a top-notch result.


            I’m going to post everyone with over 100 points in the rating system, as all of them in my opinion are/were clearly stars. Some are still active and may move up. All these guys are missing data, especially defensive data, and that could clearly scramble the standings. Once we get to the top 120, though, it becomes quite difficult for someone to leapfrog over so many candidates to make the top 100. I’m not going to provide comments for the guys 101st place and lower.

            Spots 120-101:
            Place score position player
            120 100.5 2-1-s Tadahito Iguchi
            119 100.7 p Choji Murata
            118 101.1 ss Katsumi Shiraishi
            117 101.1 3b-1b Takeya Nakamura
            116 101.5 2-s-1-o Yutaka Takagi
            115 102.1 of Yoshihiro Maru
            114 102.3 p Daisuke Matsuzaka
            113 103.2 2b/1b Daryl Spencer
            112 103.7 ss Yoshihiko Takahashi
            111 103.9 3b-2b Hideshi Miyake
            110 104.1 1B Katsuo Osugi
            109 104.1 3b Kinji Shimatani
            108 104.2 ss-of-1b Yukio Tanaka
            107 104.5 3b-2b Kazuto Tsuruoka
            106 104.7 ss Takahiro Ikeyama
            105 105.5 p Takao Misonoo
            104 105.9 1b-of Kenichi Yazawa
            103 106 2-s-3 Mitsuo Motoi
            102 106.2 p Tetsuya Yoneda
            101 106.4 p Kyuji Fujikawa
            100) Michio Nishizawa 1b-p 106.6
            He started out in NPB as a 16 year old pitcher, and never was special as a hurler. in 1947 and 1948, he played for the Stars, and was converted to first base. For most of the next decade, this right hander hit line drives, mostly to left field, and with some power, reaching a single season high of 46 HR.

            99) Masaki Saito p 106.8
            He’s the only Central League pitcher to lead the league in wins five or more times and ERA three or more times. He won four Gold Gloves and five Best Nines plus being only one of four men to win three Sawamura Awards, joining Shigeru Sugishita, Minoru Murayama and Masaichi Kaneda.

            98) Masahiko Morino, 3b-1b-of-2b 107.7
            He really didn’t walk much until age 28. His career high entering that season was his age 27 year at 26 znd a career high OBP of .326. He jumped to 59 walks and an OBP of .366. He had six seasons with at least 400 PA with an OBP of at least .360, and his five seasons with at least 400 PA and a slugging percentage of .450 came as well. He finished his career with a .351 OBP.
            97) Morimichi Takagi 2b 107.9

            He was a scrappy right hander with speed (369 career steals) and good power for a middle infielder (272 career HR). He didn't walk much, and his average suffered for five seasons after a serious 1968 beaning in which he was hit in the face by a pitch from Tsuneo Horiuchi. He is best known for his defense around second, though.

            96) Alex Ramirez of 108.3
            He had a long career in NPB for a foreigner, 13 seasons. He is the first foreigner to get 2000 hits in NPB. He was quite successful, with 2 MVPs, making the all-star team eight times and winning four best nines. He won a batting title, a home run title and three RBI titles, setting a record in NPB for the most consecutive 100 RBI seasons at eight, and finishing with a .301 career average and a .523 slugging mark. He had three seasons of 40 or more homers, three of 30-39 homers, and three more of 25-29 homers.

            95) Hiroki Kokubo 3b-1b-2b 109.2
            He was a hell of a player, but one season missed to injury and almost all of another lost to being snared in a tax fraud scandal hurt his career numbers some He was also traded to the Yomiuri Gians (imagine someone giving the Yankees an All-Star caliber player) for literally nothing after missing the 2003 season due to injury. He won three Best Nines and was an eleven time all-star. He also had power, hitting 40 or more homers twice, three more of 30-39 homers, and two more of 25-29.

            94) Atsunori Inaba of-1b 109.5
            He certainly was a champion in NPB, as he was a member of four Japan Series winners. He won a batting title, five outfield Gold Gloves, five Best Nines and was an eight time all-star.

            93) Tetsuto Yamada 2b 109.5
            He’s certain to rank much higher when he’s done, as he’s only 25 now, and already has been a four time all-star, a three time Best Nine winner, a MVP, and has led the league twice in steals and once in homers. In 2015, he became the first player in NPB to lead his league in both homers and steals.

            92) Atsushi Aramaki p 109.5

            This slight (5 foot 8 inches tall, 135 pound), glasses-wearing lefty relied on a variety of off-speed pitches, according to Fitts and Engels. His work against the New York Giants in 1953 impressed Bill Veeck enough for Veeck to make him a standing offer of a tryout with the Indians. He was named to 5 all-star teams and had a monster rookie season in 1950 with a 26-8 record and a league leading 2.08 ERA. Also, his 26 wins were best in the league that year.

            91) Hirokazu Ibata ss-2b 110.2
            He was an all-star in eight seasons, won Gold Gloves in seven and was a five time Best Nine winner, all of the awards coming while he played shortstop.
            90) Yutaka Enatsu p 110.3

            This left handed power pitcher began his professional career as a dominant starter and eventually became a dominant reliever. In that way, he's much like the majors' Dennis Eckersley, though Enatsu was more dominant as a starter than Eckersley, but less so as a reliever than Eckersley. Despite Enatsu's brilliance on the mound, he played for five different teams in 10 years. The reasons for this are in the form of his off the mound behavior. He sometimes slept during practice, once shoved one of his managers, had a feud with another of his managers, chain smoked five packs of cigarettes a day, associated with gangsters, and had drug abuse problems, according to Fitts and Engels.

            89) Tom O’Malley 1b/3b 110.5

            His NPB career is very short for him to be considered among the best, with only six seasons and 2603 career AB. However, he hit over .300 in each of those years with good to spectacular walk totals with at least 15 HR a year and a high of 31. He won one batting title, one MVP, and one Best Nine Award. I think that the short career does in his JHOF chances, but just barely. In his 1996 Guide, Jim Allen said that "O'Malley is a smart player who does everything he can to win."

            88) Hiroshi Nakao p 110.7

            A lefty who early in his career took a Nolan Ryan-type pitching philosophy to its logical extreme. This Giant from the early days of NPB either struck out batters or walked them in his first seven seasons. In 1940, he walked 212 men while striking out 225 and allowing only 223 hits in 347 innings to keep his ERA down to 1.76. He must have thrown an ungodly number of pitches that year. He certainly was unique, and a 209-127 won-loss record (.622 pct) for his career are what got him into the JHOF.

            87) Kenji Jojima c 111.6
            Known by many Americans for his stint with Seattle, he was more impressive in Japan, where he was named an all-star in ten seasons, to the Best Nine as a catcher eight times, and as the winner of the catching Gold Glove seven times, as well as receiving an MVP award.

            86) Tokuji Iida 1b-of 112.1

            A right hand hitter known for his durability and base stealing ability, one of the top 10 in career steals.

            85) Shosei Go of 112.1

            I was once skeptical of his worthiness to be inducted into Japan's Hall of Fame. This new rating system demonstrates to my satisfaction that if you give him due credit for the deadball play of the wartime years, the short seasons of that time, the suspended season of 1945, his fine pitching in 1946 (including a no hitter), and his excellent ability to get on base, he easily deserves the honor. He was the premier leadoff hitter of the one league era, with good stolen base numbers to support his superior ability to get on base.

            84) Ryohei Hasegawa p 112.9

            Hasegawa is truly one of those pitchers who was let down by his teams. Yes, he had a 197-208 record, but the teams he played for were far worse than that. Hasegawa was a workhorse pitcher who strove mightily to make the Carp respectable in the 1950's. A classic example of what he was up against was 1955, when he won 30 games, but the Carp managed only 28 wins for all its other pitchers.

            83) Minoru Murayama p 113

            He grew up rooting for the Tigers and declined a more lucrative offer from the Giants to sign with the Tigers. In so doing, he honored his father's dying request that Minoru become a Tiger. He was a power pitcher who relied on a forkball and a fastball along with excellent control.

            82) Takuro Ishii ss-3b 113.3
            He was a 6 time all-star who won four Gold Gloves, three at third and one at short. He received five consecutive Best Nines at short, and led the league in steals three times.

            81) Randy Bass 1b 113.3

            Bass had a short career, but he has some tremendous positives in his favor. In fact, he did well in the voting for the candidates who will be inducted in 2004, reportedly missing induction by a mere two votes. His two consecutive Triple Crowns head his list of achievements, along with 1 MVP and 3 Gold Gloves. He hit 54 HR in one of the Triple Crown seasons, and might well have tied Oh's record had Giant pitchers (Oh managed the Giants at the time) not thrown their pitches so far away from the plate as to make them unhittable in Bass' last game that year. The following year he hit .389, which remains one of the two best single season marks in NPB history. His career ended in disputes arising from his departure from Japan to be with his 8 year old son, who was discovered to have a brain tumor. The Tigers promised to pay for the boy's medical expenses, but unfortunately no one in the organization procured insurance to pay for the boy's expensive treatments. This led to a nasty disagreement between Bass and the Tigers. For a nice, more in-depth discussion of Bass' NPB career, see Chapter 12 of You Gotta Have Wa.

            80) Takeshi Kuwata 3b-ss 114.2

            He had good power, with 20 or more HR in eight seasons. Unfortunately for him, he played for the generally sad-sack Whales at a time when the Giants had a far better third baseman named Nagashima. He couldn't wrest any Central League awards away from Nagashima.

            79) Tuffy Rhodes of 114.2
            He tied Oh’s single season homer record, and played Oh’s team in the final series. Oh’s team essentially refused to give him a chance to break it by not throwing him strikes. That record has since been broken by Balentien. He was a ten time all-star, won a MVP, and was a seven time Best Nine winner. He’s the 28th man to reach 1000 RBI in NPB, the first foreigner to do so. His 464 career homers places him in the top 20 in that category in NPB, and he was the 23rd man to reach 3500 total bases in NPB. His career slash line is .286/ .381/ .559
            78) Kenjiro Tamiya of 114.2
            He was inducted in 2002 to the Japanese Hall of Fame. This new, WAR based metric indicates despite the fact his career was on the short side (4807 career AB), he merited that award as he was a high average hitter who won five Best Nine Awards.

            77) Wally Yonamine, of 115.5
            He was born in Hawaii to Japanese parents. He was a football star and even played football professionally until suffering a broken wrist in 1950. He maintained a hard-nosed, hustling football style of play when he went to Japan in 1951. As a result, he introduced the Japanese to a far more aggressive style of baseball. He won 6 Best Nine Awards, an MVP, and 3 batting titles. His NPB career average is .311. Add to that the fact he was an important part of the Giants' success in the 1950's, and I'd say he earned his induction into Japan's Hall.

            76) Mitsuo Minagawa p 117
            This right handed submariner is the last man to win 30 games in NPB, in 1968. He had excellent control and used a sinker as his out pitch. He seems to have worn out his arm in that 30 win 1968 season.

            75) Atsushi Nagaike of 118

            He won 2 MVPs and 7 Best Nine Awards. He was a slugger who hit 338 HR in his career and had a career slugging percentage of .534. The main reason he doesn't rank higher is that his career is on the short side, 4872 career AB.

            74) Hideji Kato 1b 118.4
            A key performer for the Braves' dynasty of the 1970's, which won 6 pennants and 3 Japan Series in that time. He was over .300 in almost all the 1970's seasons, and adds 347 career homers to his resume. There's no doubt he was an excellent player.

            73) Shigeru Chiba 2b 119.2
            He was called "The Formidable Buffalo" for reasons I don't understand, especially given his rather diminutive size of 5 feet 6 inches tall and 140 pounds. He was formidable as a leadoff man, combining excellent averages, high walk totals and speed. He was also a strong defensive middle infielder.

            72) Isao Shibata of 119.6
            The leadoff hitter and center fielder for the "V-9" Giants, he hit for good averages, drew a lot of walks, and stole the third most bases in a career. He did strike out quite a bit, though. The Gold Gloves didn't start in Japan until his was half over, but he still won five of them.

            71) Makoto Kozuru of-1b 119.9
            He had two Best Nines and a MVP award by the end of 1950. He was an all-star in three other years but tailed off early due to a herniated disk in his back. He won a batting title in 1949, hitting .364/ .445/ .589 with 15 steals. He was even better in 1950, when he was Japan’s first player to hit 50 homers in a season and set runs scored and RBI marks which still stand. He added 28 steals to a .355/ .450/ .729 line, leading the league in RBI, HR and slugging while finishing second in average.

            70) Hiroshi Oshita of-1b 120.1
            This left handed outfielder was born in Taiwan and used a blue bat. He helped the Lions to 4 pennants and 3 Japan Series titles, including his 1954 MVP season. He won 7 Best Nine Awards and 3 batting titles. According to Fitts and Engels' book, "Oshita loved the nightlife and had a legendary appetite for both sake and women." He’s not only well accomplished, but it can also reasonably be argued he lost a few seasons to WW II, and if he had those seasons, he'd be an even stronger candidate.

            69) Akira Eto 3b-1b 120.7
            He was a competent if perhaps unspectacular fielder who drew lots of walks and hit for power. His career OBP was .370, and his career slugging .504. That’s one heck of a combination.

            68) Kazuyoshi Tatsunami 2b-ss-3b-of 122.2

            From Baseball-Reference’s Bullpen pages:
            A leader for the Dragons for 15 years, Tatsunami has filled in wherever needed, playing second, third and the outfield and batting at the top of the order and in the heart of the order. His 2,346 hits rank 11th in NPB history; his 1,149 runs place him 16th and his 983 walks are 11th. He had his 172nd 3-hit game in 2006, passing Sadaharu Oh for second all-time in the Central League, behind only Shigeo Nagashima (186). Not bad for a guy who had only two Best Nine seasons (ed: one at second and one at third) and played in a pitcher's paradise a great deal. The multi-talented Tatsunami is an example of a player who does everything well - some power, some speed, some walks and some contact - but has no trademark skill to make him stand out from the crowd.

            I should note Japanese baseball analyst Jim Allen called Tatsunami a special fielder at second base. In seasons with over 400 PA, Tatsunami had seven with an average of .300 or more , thirteen with an OBP of .360 or more, and eleven seasons with a .400 slugging percentage or more.

            67) Juzo Sanada p 122.4

            His 1950 season was a monster. He was 39-12 in 395.2 innings and while his ERA was 3.05, runs were so plentiful that year he finished eighth. He led in wins and innings pitched and added an excellent year at the plate as well. He didn't play in the field that year, but he still had 172 AB, a .314 average, 22 walks and a .448 slugging percentage. His on-base percentage was a marvelous .392 that year. That would be a nice contribution from a part-time position player, but such a contribution from a pitcher like him is spectacular.
            This right hander was renowned for having the best curveball of the period after WW II to the mid-fifties. In 1946 and 1947, he pitched a total of 888.2 innings, and did so quite effectively. He was also solid enough with the bat to register a .255 career average. In his career, he pitched two no hitters, won two Best Nines as a pitcher and a Sawamura Award.
            66) Hiromi Matsunaga 3b 122.5
            In his 1997 Guide, Jim Allen says Matsunaga was once the best third baseman and leadoff hitter in Japan. By the time that was written, Matsunaga was 37 and had several serious injuries in the previous six years, so he no longer deserved those accolades, as Allen made clear. Still, somebody who met those criteria for several years is a great player.

            65) Hiroyuki Nakajima ss-3b-1b 122.9
            He succeeded Kazuo Matsui as Seibu’s shortstop. He was an eight time all-star, four as the Best Nine winner and three as Gold Glove winner.

            64) Masaaki Koyama p 123.4
            This righthander had excellent control, which helped him win 320 games. He had good size for a Japanese player at 6 foot 1 inch tall and 161 pounds. He was traded in mid-career from the Tigers to the Orions for Kazuhiro Yamauchi.

            63) Masahiro Tanaka p 123.5
            He’s now in the majors and has one all-star year to his credit there. He had four all-star years in Japan, including two seasons as the best pitcher in Japan as evidenced by his two Sawamura Awards. He won a MVP in one of those two seasons as well. His 2013 year was one for the ages, with a 24-0 mark. He won the ERA title that year and in his other Sawamura season of 2011. He had three other seasons where he finished second or third in ERA in NPB’s Pacific League. In 2013, he had nine more wins than any other pitcher in his league, and his team won the Japan Series to boot.
            62) Bobby Rose 2b 123.5
            One of the very best all-time best position players among the foreign-born players. He was a decent but unspectacular fielder who could really hit and played a middle infield spot to boot

            61) Takumi Otomo p 125.5
            This right hander pitched well for the Giants, with a 27-6 season with a league leading 1.86 ERA in 1953 and a 30-6 season with a 1.75 ERA in 1955. The season in between, 1954, was a heck of a year as well. Unfortunately, those three seasons amount to over 54% of his career innings pitched (863.2 of 1591.2). I think that although he was truly brilliant for those three years, the shortness of his career is clearly a weakness in terms of comparing him to the other all-time greats of Japan.

            60) Yoshinori Hirose of-ss 125.9
            He was a right handed contact hitter who led off for the Hawks for much of the 1960's. He was an excellent base stealer, with stolen base percentages consistently over 80%. He stole 596 bases in his career, second only to Fukumoto. He once stole 31 bases in a row without being thrown out. He began his career at short, but was moved to center field. He quickly became a defensive standout at center.

            59) Shuichi Murata 3b 127.6
            He won two home run titles and had six seasons with slugging percentages over .500 and three with batting averages over .300.
            58) Hayato Sakamoto ss 127.7
            Through 2018, he’s been an All-Star 10 times, and his career slash line is 291/ 355/ 446, which are excellent marks for a shortstop.
            57) Michio Arito 3b-of 129
            He was an all- around player, with good averages, power and defense to go with speed (he stole 20 or more bases in 5 different seasons). The only minor flaw I see is his walk totals were quite ordinary.

            56) Yoshio Yoshida ss-2b 129.1
            He was known as "Mr. Shortstop" in Japan because of his fielding prowess. He won 9 Best Nine Awards even though his career batting average is a not overly impressive at .267. He won those awards because of his fielding, base stealing, bunting, and proficiency at the hit and run. He was the Tigers' leadoff hitter from 1955 to 1966, which doesn't seem to be the optimal spot in the batting order for a guy with the bunting and hit and run skills he had in a non-DH league. I have to wonder if the Tigers wouldn't have done better to bat him second instead

            55) Tadashi Sugiura p 129.6
            Amassed almost 2/3 of his career wins (116 out of 187) in the four seasons from 1958 to 1961, including a stellar 38-4 mark in 1959 to lead the Hawks to a Japan Series title. He was worked very hard, and as a result, after 1964, he only pitched six more seasons, all of them as a reliever. This relatively short career explains why he doesn't rank higher.

            54) Keishi Sizuki p 130.7
            This lefty began his career as a pure fireballer, but as he aged, he made the transition from hurler to pitcher. Unfortunately, he played for the Buffaloes, who usually lost more than they won in those days. Also, because he relished challenging hitters, he surrendered 560 homers in his career.

            53) Yoshitomu Tsutsugo of-3b 130.8
            In 2014-18, has averaged a.303, with an on base percentage of .400 and slugged .568. His lows in any of those five seasons in those three categories are .284 average, .373 OBP, and .513 slugging. No surprise that he’s been an all-star three times.
            52) Hiromitsu Kadota of 133.6
            This 5 foot 7 inch 180 pound power hitter smacked 567 homers, the third best NPB career total ever. He also surpassed the magic 2000 hit mark despite missing the 1979 season to a ruptured Achilles tendon. After that injury, he was primarily limited to serving as a DH. He may have been moving in that direction anyway since he played more at DH than in the outfield in 1978.

            51) Yu Darvish p 135.1
            He’s been in the majors since 2012, and has been a 4 time all-star, with a strikeout title in 2013 and three seasons in the top 10 in strikeouts and a second place in the 2013 Cy Young Award voting for the 2013 AL. In Japan, he won 2 MVPs, a Sawamura Award and two Best Nines. In 2006, his second season, he was a big factor in his team’s (Nippon Ham) winning its first pennant in 25 years and its first Japan Series in 45 years. In 2010, he became the first Japanese pitcher in five decades to record 4 consecutive seasons with an ERA under 2, and in 2011, he had his fifth such season. In Japan, he won 3 strikeout titles with a second and a fourth in the category; 2 ERA titles with 3 seconds; a first, two seconds, a third and a fourth in IP; and two seconds and two thirds in wins.

            50) Alex Cabrera, 1b 135.2
            In his first three seasons in Japan, his first year was the “low” with a .385 on base percentage, 49 homers, and .613 slugging percentage. His second season was monumental, with a .336 average, .467 on base percentage, 55 homers, and a .756 slugging percentage. He broke his arm in spring training, and played only 64 games, but near these levels. He tailed off a bit after that, but that injury came in his age 32 season.

            49) Tatsunori Hara, 3b-1b-of 138.1
            Warren Cromartie’s Slugging it Out in Japan makes clear that Cromartie didn’t like this guy very much. Hara had his critics, but it seems the main complaint was he wasn’t as good as Oh or Nagashima. He was quite popular with Giant fans, and I think this was deserved. No, he wasn’t as good as Oh or Nagashima, but as this ranking indicates, he was an all-time great regardless.


            48) Akinori Iwamura 3b 138.6
            I know, he didn’t overwhelm in the majors. But even there, he was above average in his first three years. In that third year, he tore a ligament in his knee, and was never the same. He played one more poor year in the majors, and went back to Japan to record four unimpressive seasons. The reasons he got to the majors are the reasons he ranks this highly: 5 Gold Gloves, 1 Best Nine, 3 All-Star years, and career rates of .290 average, .358 on base percentage, and .494 slugging.

            47) Taira Fujita ss-1b-3b 138.8
            Fujita hit for average (.286 lifetime, with a single season high of .358) and had good power for a middle infielder with 207 career homers. This lefty also rarely struck out. He won 3 Gold Gloves at short as well to go with his seven Best Nine Awards, six at short and one at first. All in all, a wonderful player.

            46) Sachio Kinugasa 3b-1b 139.7

            Kinugasa was the offspring of a black American serviceman and a Japanese woman. Unfortunately, Kinugasa's father wasn't involved in his life after birth. Kinugasa is best known for his 2215 consecutive game streak. It's clear there were times his production suffered from playing hurt. Please note I didn't say this hurt his teams, because it is certainly possible he still performed better than whoever on the bench would have taken his place in the lineup. Presumably, his manager (usually the quite astute Koba) thought he was better than the alternatives. One thing I find quite odd is how he split his time between third and first base. It looks like he started at third but would be switched to third for defensive purposes. Ordinarily, this would suggest his defense at third was a weakness, but he won his three Gold Gloves there. Without more data to help resolve the issue, it will have to remain a mystery.

            45) Masahiro Doi of 143.8

            He wasn't much with the glove, but Doi was an excellent power hitter. He had 465 homers among his 2452 hits, but because he played most of his career for one of the least popular teams, the Buffaloes, he rarely got as much recognition as he deserved.

            44) Hisashi Yamada p 145.4

            This right handed submarine style pitcher won three consecutive Pacific League MVPs. He added five Best Nine Awards and five Gold Gloves. His major weakness was allowing home runs, once giving up 42 in a season.

            43) Tatsuhiko Kimata, c 146.0

            He was overshadowed by his Central League contemporary at catcher, Tabuchi. He caught almost 2000 games and hit for decent power, with 285 homers. He won five Best Nines at catcher, despite frequently having Tabuchi for competition.

            42) Shinichi Eto of-1b-c 146.5

            He openly rebelled against his manager in 1970 when he refused to obey a curfew or pay fines for his disobedience. The rebellion forced a trade. Also of note is that in an admittedly small number of at bats, Fitts and Engels report he did quite well against major league pitchers, going 18 for 44 (.409) with 3 homers.

            41) Kazuhiro Kiyohara, 1b 146.7

            This popular player is clearly one of the greats in Japan. He had a .389 career on base percentage and slugged .520 for his career, which involved playing a key role on eight Japan Series winners and two more teams that won the Pacific League pennant but fell in the Japan Series. His 525 career homers is 5th all-time in NPB, and he’s also in the top ten in career walks and total bases. He was a 16 time all-star and won five Gold Gloves at first.

            40) Kazuhiro Wada of 147.1
            He won a MVP and a batting title and six Best Nines. Now retired, having finished with over 2000 hits and 1000 RBI and a .303/ .381/ .511 career slash line.
            39) Yoshio Itoi of-1b 147.6
            He’s 37 already, so he probably won’t move up a lot from here. He’s still had a superb career, making nine all-star teams, five Best Nines, seven Gold Gloves, a batting title and a stolen base crown.
            38) Norihiro Nakamura 3b-1b 148.1
            He had knee troubles and was 31 before his lackluster MLB stint, so don’t read much into that. He won two Best Nines and seven Gold Gloves. He had six consecutive seasons of 40 or more homers and 100 or more RBI. He finished as one of sixteen men with over 400 homers in NPB.
            37) Yuki Yanagita of 148.3
            This CF is active and only 29 years old, so he’s sure to move up. He’s already won a MVP, has made five all-star teams, won three Best Nines and three Gold Gloves, a batting title and three OBP titles.
            36) Norichika Aoki of 150.1
            He was above average in his 30s in the majors, though only a little, in part due to injury issues that older players are susceptible to. This is mostly about his Japanese record, which through 2011 yielded rate stats of 329/ 402/ 454. His low full season marks through 2010 were .303 average and a .357 on base percentage, with four full years of .400 or better OBP marks. He also had three years with slugging percentages over .500. He won 3 gold gloves in center in Japan and is the second man to have over 200 hits in a season in Japan.
            35) Fumio Fujimura 3b-1b-2b-p 151.7
            This early star of Japanese baseball was very superstitious, never shaving before games or hurting insects, lest doing so adversely affect his batting. A very intense player with a hot temper who was once suspended for physically abusing an umpire.
            34) Hiromichi Ishige 3b-ss 153.8
            He won 5 Gold Gloves at shortstop, then five more as a third baseman. I'd sure like to know who or what inspired them to move him. Anyway, in Jim Allen's 1994 Guide, there is this about Ishige: "This guy is the nail who holds the Lions together. No one outhustles or outthinks him." He added 8 Best Nine Awards to his Gold Gloves, 5 at short and 3 at third.
            33) Tadeshi Wakabayashi p 154.2
            He was born in Hawaii to Japanese parents. In 1929, Wakabayashi toured Japan as a Nisei high schooler, and then attended a Japanese university. After finishing his schooling, he joined the Tigers and became a top-notch professional hurler in Japan. He was also known as an outspoken critic of Japanese society and Japanese baseball.
            32) Atsuya Furuta c 154.3
            He was an all-star 16 times, won 9 Gold Gloves and 9 Best Nines, not to mention 2 MVPs. He was the catcher for 4 Japan Series winners. Add to that he was the leader of the NPB player strike that forced the NPB to create an expansion team in exchange for allowing two teams to merge into one.
            31) Shigeru Sugishita p 155.9
            This glasses-wearing right hander with a fine curve ball had a relatively short but brilliant career. His best season was his dominant 1954 campaign in which he led the Dragona to a Japan Series win. In the process, he collected the MVP, Sawamura Award, and the Series MVP.

            30) Kihachi Enomoto 1b 156.6
            He won 9 Best Nine Awards, primarily while hitting third in front of Kazuhiro Yamauchi. According to Fitts and Engels, after an off year in 1965, Enomoto bought a batting cage with a plastic roof (in case of rain) and put it in his backyard. The extra practice he put in there helped him to a league leading .351 average to win the batting title in 1966.
            29) Tetsuharu Kawakami 1b 157.5
            He was nicknamed "The God of Batting" due to his regularly high averages. He had some power, but especially after a 1950 talk with Ted Williams, he focused on hitting line drives for average. He still had good doubles power, though. His managing career is even more impressive than his playing career, with 11 pennants and Japan Series titles in only 14 seasons, none of which were under .500!
            28) Koji Akiyama of-3b 158.5
            A fine defensive outfielder with good speed (51 stolen bases in 60 attempts in 1990) . He won 8 Best Nine Awards and 11 Gold Gloves.
            27) Roberto Petagine 1b 160.5
            Excluding his age 39 season with the Hawks after six years away from NPB, his low marks are .290 average, .409 slugging, and .561 slugging with 75 walks and 29 homers. His overall NPB career averages are .312/ .438/ .613 He won a MVP , four Best Nines and three Gold Gloves at first

            26) Michihiro Ogasawara 1b-3b 166.3
            He won 2 MVPs, one in each league, two batting titles, an RBI and a HR title. He won 6 Gold Gloves, 7 Best Nines, and 11 All-Star teams. He had ten seasons over 30 homers, ten seasons of over 400 PA with a .300 average, 9 seasons with that same minimum number of PA with a OBP of at least.380 , and 8 seassons with that minimum number of PA with a slugging percentage of at least .550. His career slash line is .310/ .389/ .540
            25) Tomoaki Kanemoto of 166.5
            He won a MVP and seven Best Nines, and was named an all-star in ten seasons. He had eleven seasons with at least 25 homers, 8 seasons with a .300 or better average in at least 400 PA, ten seasons with a .370 or better OBP in at least 400 PA, and ten seasons with a .500 or better slugging percentage. His career slash line is .285/ .382/ .503
            24) Futoshi Nakanishi 3b-1b 169.6
            An absolutely briiliant player from 1953 to his wrist injury in 1959. Unfortunately, he only had 949 at bats after the injury spread out over 11 seasons. He could still hit, as seen by the 54 homers he hit in those 949 AB. The brilliance of his good years propels his rating this high, but the fact he had only 4116 career AB keeps him from going higher.
            23) Yutaka Fukumoto cf 170.1
            Japan's ultimate leadoff man--a high average with a good eye (he led the league in walks 6 times) and superb base stealing speed. He is the career leader in steals, and has 469 more steals than anyone else in a NPB career. He also used his speed to good advantage in the field, winning 12 consecutive Gold Gloves in center field. He was durable, and even had some power, though not a lot. All in all, a very formidable package of talents. His career OBP is .379
            22) Takashi Toritani ss-3b 171.1
            He currently is 36, and his career OBP is .371. He’s made six Best Nines and has been named an all-star seven times and the Gold Glove winner at short five times.
            21) Kosuke Fukudome of-3b-ss 172.1
            He’s at or nearing the end now at age 41. He’s been an all-star in the majors and won four Best Nines in NPB. He also won five Gold Gloves in NPB. His career slash line in NPB is .293/ .385/ .501
            20) Kazuo Matsui ss-of 173.4
            Retired at the end of the 2018 season. American fans will remember his injury plagued MLB career, where he only once in seven seasons played more than 114 games. Before he went to the majors, he only once had less than 21 steals in a season, and in his last five seasons in NPB before going to the majors, he hit 131 homers, never less than 15 in a year. His last seven years before going to MLB, he posted averages over .300, with OBPs of .362 to .389 and slugging percentages from .431 to .617. He led his league in steals three times, won seven Best Nines and four Gold Gloves at short.
            19) Koichi Tabuchi c 180.2
            A huge man by Japanese standards (6 foot 3 inches, 210 pounds), he was a fine defensive catcher who had big time home run power. Won five Best Nine Awards and two Gold Gloves at catcher.
            18) Hideo Fujimoto p 183.9
            The first man to pitch a perfect game in NPB, on June 28, 1950. In fact, he is still best known in Japan for this accomplishment. By 1948, this 5 foot 7 inch, 145 pound fireballer had a sore arm, but he successfully coped by changing his delivery from over the top to sidearm and adding the slider to his repertoire. He was, according to Fitts and Engels, the first Japanese pitcher to use this pitch. He was also a good hitter for a pitcher, with a .245 lifetime average.
            17) Masayuki Kakefu 3b 184.8
            Kakefu drew a good number of walks to add to a .292 lifetime average. He added good defense as well, as evidenced by his 7 Best Nine Awards and 6 Gold Gloves. He would rank even higher had he not missed about half the season in 1980, right in the middle of his best years.
            16) Yasumitsu Toyoda ss-1b 188.4
            He won a batting title and was in the top ten in average a total of six times. He led the league in walks three times and had enough pop in his bat to regularly hit in the mid to high teens of homers per season. His main position was shortstop, but his bat was formidable enough that he finished as a first baseman. He was a nine time all-star and won six Best Nines.
            15) Masaichi Kaneda p 196.2
            He won three Best Nines and three Sawamuras spread over 4 different seasons. He won 30 or more twice, and 20 or more in 14 consecutive seasons, frequently for awful clubs. All in all, he finished with 400 wins, the most in Japanese baseball history. He led in strikeouts 10 times and has the most career strikeouts by a pitcher, 4490. He led in ERA 3 times and was in the top 10 in that category 8 times. He was a true workhorse, pitching 300 or more innings in 14 consecutive years on his way to the most innings pitched in NPB at 5526.2 innings. He served the Swallows as an ace starter/relief ace, pitching in at least 1/3 of his team’s games every year from 1951 to 1963, occasionally as many as half his team's games. He also pitched two no hitters in his career, one of them a perfect game. His 82 shutouts are second most in Japanese baseball history. He had 103 games of 10 or more strikeouts and a 64.1 inning streak without a run scored against him.
            From 1955 through 1958, he pitched at least 332 innings each year, and his ERA never exceeded 1.78!

            14) Hiromitsu Ochiai 1b-3b-2b 196.3
            The only man to win three Triple Crowns in NPB was also a rebel against NPB's Japanese baseball traditions. He refused to follow the rigorous training, deference to authority, and other traditional aspects of Japanese baseball. He started out as a second baseman, was shuttled between first and third during his peak years, and ended his career as a first baseman. If one regards the outfield as one position, he's the only man to win Best Nine Awards at three different position
            13) Takehiko Bessho p 201.7
            Although he started his career in 1942. he didn't emerge as a star until after the war. After three excellent seasons with the Hawks, he was traded to the Giants, where he experienced even greater success. He was also a strong hitter for the era, playing over 60 games at first or in the outfield.
            12) Ichiro Suzuki of 205.5
            He won 3 MVPs in NPB, one in the majors. He won two batting titles in the majors, seven in NPB. He won a stolen base crown in both NPB and MLB. He won an RBI title in NPB. He was a ten time all-star in MLB, seven in NPB. He won 10 Gold Gloves in MLB, seven in NPB. He accumulated over 3000 career hits in the majors, and another 1270+ in NPB. He won 7 Best Nines in Japan.
            11) Shinnosuke Abe c 206.0
            He’s 39 now and playing first rather than catching. He enters 2019 with 399 homers and over 2000 hits, having won a MVP, nine Best Nines at catcher, and four Gold Gloves at the position. His current career slash line is ..283/ .367/ .496
            10) Kazuhiro Yamauchi, of 206.8
            A high average hitter with power despite being only 5 feet, 9 1/2 inches tall and 167 pounds, After twelve years with the Pacific League Orions, he was traded to the Central League's Tigers before ending his career with the Central League Carp.

            9) Kazuhisa Inao, p 211.3

            If you're looking for the NPB picher who had the highest peak performance, he's probably your guy, with four seasons of 11.5 or more estimated WAR. He might rank even higher if we went back and figured out how many games he saved. However, at least by using the games finished statistic, we've got some sense of the impact of this aspect of his play.

            8) Hideki Matsui, of 211.4
            From Wikipedia:

            \Following high school Matsui was drafted by the Yomiuri Giants in the first round. He was given the uniform number 55, which was the single-season home run record held by Sadaharu Oh.[4]
            Matsui's first three seasons were unspectacular. His breakout season came in 1996, when he batted .314 with 38 home runs and 99 RBIs.[5] A three-time MVP in the Japanese Central League (1996, 2000, and 2002), Matsui led his team into four Japan Series and winning three titles (1994, 2000 and 2002). He also made nine consecutive all-star games and led the league in home runs and RBIs three times (1998, 2000, and 2002). His single season mark for home runs was 50 in 2002, his final season in Japan. In the ten seasons he played in Japan, Matsui totalled 1268 games played, 4572 AB, 1390 hits, 901 runs, 332 home runs, 889 RBIs, a .304 batting average, and a .582 slugging percentage. His streak of 1,250 consecutive games played was the second longest in Japan.[6]

            In Japan, Matsui earned the popular nickname "Godzilla." The origin of the name is derisive in nature, in reference to Matsui's skin problems early on in his career, but has since come to represent his powerful hitting …
            In 2001, Matsui turned down a $64 million, six-year offer from the Yomiuri Giants, the highest in NPB history.[9]


            7) Jiro Noguchi p 216.8
            Noguchi is actually solid competition for Inao at his peak, with four seasons over 10 estimated WAR. Two of his seasons were below Inao’s lowest, but his two best were the best two for these men. The only thing is that what Inao did was rarer in his time than what Noguchi did in his.

            A superb pitcher for the early Senators, which is one of the franchises which went out of existence without leaving a modern ancestor. Noguchi was quite capable with the bat, peaking with a 31 game hitting streak in 1946. He was an iron man, especially before the end of WW II, including a 527 inning season in 1942. A key component of his success was his control, as he was frequently among the league's best at giving up the least walks per nine innings pitched.

            6) Koji Yamamoto, of 218.1

            In addition to being a ten time Gold Glove right fielder who had enough power to be one of the very few NPB players to amass 500 career homers, he was a base stealing threat and durable as well. He won 2 MVPs and 10 Best Nine Awards while leading the Carp to five pennants and three Japan Series titles.

            5) Isao Harimoto, of 223.4

            NPB's only player to record 3000 career hits, and only of only 6 NPB players to reach 500 homers. His career average of .319 is now third in that category. He is third in the most walks taken in a career. Obviously, he has to rank among the very best in Japan as a result. The fact Nagashima beats him out proves a player with a higher peak performance can do well in this rating system, given that Harimoto had a higher average in 1572 more at bats, 614 more hits, 60 more homers. 154 more RBI, and 253 more runs scored. However, Harimoto never had a season of 10 or more estimated WAR (his best was 9.6), while Nagashima had six. Also, Nagashima collected more awards than Harimoto, and those two factors put him ahead in my view.

            4) Victor Starffin, p 234.2

            He was born in Russia, the son of a officer for the czarist armies. When the Bolsheviks came to power, the family narrowly managed to escape to Japan. Victor was 6 feet 3 inches tall, so he towered over the Japanese of the day. He was a durable power pitcher for the Giants, but in 1944, Japanese wartime paranoia led to his being placed in a detention camp. He did contract pleurisy, an inflammation of the long tissue which results in painful breathing while in that detention camp. After that doubtlessly unpleasant experience, he primarily pitched for the Stars. He’s my rating system’s choice for the greatest pitcher in NPB history.

            3) Shigeo Nagashima, 3b 301.7
            Nagashima was renowned for his glovework in addition to his potent bat, and nothing I said in comparing him to Nomura should be construed to mean he was anything but a truly great player in Japan. It is certainly possible that with better defensive data he might be able to move into second ahead of Nomura. He won a Best Nine in every season he played plus 5 MVPs, 6 batting titles, and 5 RBI crowns. He also collected the only 2 Gold Gloves at third awarded during his career.

            2) Katsuya Nomura, c, 312.2

            I'm ranking Nomura second all time, over Japan's most popular player, Shigeo Nagashima. It is clear that Nagashima at his best was more brilliant than Nomura at his best. However, Nomura played in 931 more games, had 2378 more at bats, 430 more hits, 213 more homers. 466 more RBI and scored 239 more runs. Furthermore, he did all this at a more demanding defensive position. Therefore, in my opinion, Nomura's the clear superiority in available data in career accomplishments outweighs Nagashima's advantage in peak performance.
            1. Sadaharu Oh, 1b 438.6

            As good as Nomura and Nagashima were, they cannot seriously challenge Oh for the top spot. No one can mount a serious challenge to them as the second and third best NPB players in the history of the league, either.

            I've written so much about him elsewhere that it's difficult to find something new to say about him. On top of what he accomplished as a player, he's already turned in a managing career which is as good or better than many guys who the Japanese Hall of Fame inducted solely for their managing.

            There aren’t many guys who had three or more years of at least 10 Estimated WAR in NPB that I found. Starffin and Fujimoto each had three; Inao, Noguchi and Katsuya Nomura each had four, and Nagashima had six. Oh had more than the second and two of the three third place finishers in number of years with at least 10 WAR combinedfifteen. He did this in period of sixteen seasons, and the one he failed to reach that mark, he missed by 0.1 WAR (about 1 run) with 9.9. The year after his last 10 WAR season, he had a 9.7. With more complete data, he could well wind up with 17 consecutive seasons at that level. The bottom line is that Oh was able to much more consistently perform at an extremely high level far more consistently than anyone else.


            Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
            Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
            A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

            Comment


            • #7
              Evaluating the Success Level of NPB Managers Throughout History by Jim Albright

              We know managers are important in determining how much success a team experiences. It’s a lot harder to determine whether these men are “good” at their job or not, largely because they work through the players they have. If a player has a terribly unlucky injury, good coaching may be neutralized due to the bad luck that led to the injury. However, we can start the process of figuring out who the good or great managers are by determining how successful they are. Success or failure may still have a healthy element of luck involved, but it’s hard to be very successful if you’re an idiot or otherwise poor in the job. If a guy is truly special as a manager, it’s highly likely he will have at least some success. Also, we can rather objectively determine who was successful and who was not.

              I suggest that there are two broad categories to determine success: wins and losses being the first, and stuff related to the postseason (times in the playoffs, pennants or World Series won) being the second. I wanted to somehow place those two different elements on the same plane to describe how much success the manager had. I chose to start with the second category first, since it’s easier to define the right measure to use. Since I was going across all eras, using playoffs would have a serious risk of being skewed toward the time when there are more playoff games. The World Series won is a subset of pennants won, and is highly subject to the the influence of luck in a short series. Thus, I settled on pennants won as the first measuring point. Managers in the playoff era may have to deal with the gauntlet of short series to win a pennant, but the playoffs do provide some compensation in the form of more opportunities to have that success. The second step was to find a regression of some measure(s) of wins to pennants won. I tried the raw total of wins, winning percentage for guys over 800 games managed, wins minus losses, wins times winning percentage, and what Bill James has termed the Fibonacci number, which is adding the prior two categories together.

              I limited my regression to managers with at least 800 games managed, as I wanted to only look at guys with a significant managerial career, plus a few guys who are in the Japanese Hall whose inclusion is at least hard to explain based upon their NPB playing careers. I am writing this during the 2017 season, so I am ending the data before the start of the 2017 season, as I need it to go all the way through the start of the Japan Series to have the pennant winners. For the Fall seasons of 1936-1938 and the Spring seasons of 1937 and 1938, I counted a league leading finish as half a pennant to keep the number of games relative to a pennant more in line. After a process of eliminating measures which did not have good predictive value, the only measure remaining from this group was James “Fibonacci number”. This measure had a p value expressed in terms of 10 -18th power, with a coefficient of .007166 and an intercept of -0.6556, the r squared value is just over .788 and the standard error is just under 1.39. Just for clarity, the formula is:

              (0.007166 * (( W * W/ (W+L)) + W - L) -0.6556 = pennants or
              (0.007166 * (( 2w2 -L2)/ (W + L))) – 0.6556 = pennants

              If we exclude the four men who are likely too recent to have been eligible for the Japanese Hall, all of the managers scoring at least 3.0 in this measure are included. Those four are Ochiai, Hara, Okada and Nishida. The first two were superb players as well, so it’s hard to see them not making it. Nishida was a three time Best Nine, so he’s at least close on that level, and since he’s currently managing, we don’t know what his final record will be. Okada was a one time Best Nine winner, and probably needs to rely heavily on his managing success to make it. The first exclusion in the managers I looked at would seem to be Keiji Osawa, who died in 2010.
              I’ll publish the whole list of managers I used for the regression, with many thanks to Michael Westbay for finding the following site with all managers through 2014: http://www.din.or.jp/~nakatomi/recor.../index_ka.html and then providing translation help so I could use it.
              manager wins losses w - l w% w * w% fib pen wins reg rating
              Kazuto Tsuruoka 1773 1140 633 0.609 1079.1 1712.1 11 11.6 22.6
              Shigeru Mizuhara 1586 1123 463 0.585 928.5 1391.5 10 9.3 19.3
              T Kawakami 1066 739 327 0.591 629.6 956.6 11 6.2 17.2
              Sadayoshi Fujimoto 1655 1445 210 0.534 883.6 1093.6 7.5 7.2 14.7
              Yukio Nishimoto 1384 1163 221 0.543 752.0 973.0 8 6.3 14.3
              Osamu Mihara 1687 1453 234 0.537 906.4 1140.4 6 7.5 13.5
              Masahiko Mori 785 583 202 0.574 450.5 652.5 8 4.0 12.0
              Toshiharu Ueda 1322 1136 186 0.538 711.0 897.0 5 5.8 10.8
              Katsuya Nomura 1565 1563 2 0.500 783.0 785.0 5 5.0 10.0
              Tatsunori Hara 952 713 239 0.572 544.3 783.3 5 5.0 10.0
              Sadaharu Oh 1315 1119 196 0.540 710.4 906.4 4 5.8 9.8
              Shigeo Nagashima 1033 889 144 0.537 555.2 699.2 5 4.4 9.4
              Senichi Hoshino 1181 1043 138 0.531 627.1 765.1 4 4.8 8.8
              Akira Ogi 988 815 173 0.548 541.4 714.4 3 4.5 7.5
              Takeshi Koba 873 781 92 0.528 460.8 552.8 4 3.3 7.3
              Hiromitsu Ochiai 629 491 138 0.562 353.3 491.3 4 2.9 6.9
              Motoshi Fujita 516 361 155 0.588 303.6 458.6 4 2.6 6.6
              Tatsuro Hirooka 498 406 92 0.551 274.3 366.3 4 2.0 6.0
              Kaoru Betto 1237 1156 81 0.517 639.4 720.4 0 4.5 4.5
              Masataka Nishida 707 672 35 0.513 362.5 397.5 2 2.2 4.2
              Osamu Higashio 489 424 65 0.536 261.9 326.9 2 1.7 3.7
              T Wakabayashi 390 324 66 0.546 213.0 279.0 2 1.3 3.3
              Hideki Kuriyama* 377 319 58 0.542 204.2 262.2 2 1.2 3.2
              Shunichi Amachi 439 316 123 0.581 255.3 378.3 1 2.1 3.1
              Akinobu Okada 588 523 65 0.529 311.2 376.2 1 2.0 3.0
              Keiji Osawa 725 723 2 0.501 363.0 365.0 1 2.0 3.0
              Bobby Valentine 513 429 84 0.545 279.4 363.4 1 1.9 2.9
              Wataru Nonin 442 343 99 0.563 248.9 347.9 1 1.8 2.8
              Koji Akiyama 456 368 88 0.553 252.3 340.3 1 1.8 2.8
              Tsutomi Ito 572 538 34 0.515 294.8 328.8 1 1.7 2.7
              Futoshi Nakanishi 748 811 -63 0.480 358.9 295.9 1 1.5 2.5
              Koji Yamamoto 649 681 -32 0.488 316.7 284.7 1 1.4 2.4
              T Wakamatsu 491 461 30 0.516 253.2 283.2 1 1.4 2.4
              Haruyasu Nakajima 169 127 42 0.571 96.5 138.5 2 0.3 2.3
              Hisanobu Watanabe 438 395 43 0.526 230.3 273.3 1 1.3 2.3
              Masaichi Kaneda 471 468 3 0.502 236.3 239.3 1 1.1 2.1
              Shuichi Ishimoto 528 553 -25 0.488 257.9 232.9 1 1.0 2.0
              Yoshio Yoshida 484 511 -27 0.486 235.4 208.4 1 0.8 1.8
              Kenjiro Matsuki 628 602 26 0.511 320.6 346.6 0 1.8 1.8
              Tokuru Koinishi 359 359 0 0.500 179.5 179.5 1 0.6 1.6
              Sadao Kondo 470 521 -51 0.474 222.9 171.9 1 0.6 1.6
              Rikuo Nemoto 598 687 -89 0.465 278.3 189.3 0 0.7 0.7
              Mitsuo Uno 426 474 -48 0.473 201.6 153.6 0 0.4 0.4
              Shinji Hamazaki 535 639 -104 0.456 243.8 139.8 0 0.3 0.4
              Shigeru Takada 385 433 -48 0.471 181.2 133.2 0 0.3 0.3
              Hisanori Karita 287 299 -12 0.490 140.6 128.6 0 0.3 0.3
              Michinori Tsubouchi 241 256 -15 0.485 116.9 101.9 0 0.1 0.1
              Katsumi Shiraishi 581 736 -155 0.441 256.3 101.3 0 0.1 0.1
              Kazuhisa Inao 431 545 -114 0.442 190.3 76.3 0 -0.1 0.0
              K Nakamura 373 487 -114 0.434 161.8 47.8 0 -0.3 0.0
              Yoshiyuki Iwamoto 370 532 -162 0.410 151.8 -10.2 0 -0.7 0.0
              Shigeo Mori 150 225 -75 0.400 60.0 -15.0 0 -0.8 0.0
              I zeroed out the scores of the last four men, as there is no way to have less than zero pennants.
              We can debate exactly where the line should be drawn for the Hall of Fame, but I submit this metric does an excellent job of identifying the most successful managers in baseball history. One can also quibble with the exact rankings of the managers, but I submit it’s a reasonable ordering of the degree of success of these managers.
              Now let’s look at the individual managers in the Hall or with at least 3.1 (rounded) points in the system:
              Kazuto Tsuruoka 22.6 points
              He managed the Hawks for 23 seasons, and was over .500 in 21 of them. He won 11 pennants despite having to compete against the 1950's Lions dynasty. He won only 2 Japan Series, but two of his pennants came in the one league era, before the series existed. Most of the other losses were at the hands of the Giant powerhouses of the 50's and 60's. He has the most wins, the highest winning percentage of managers with at least 800 games, and is tied for the most pennants won. He has to rank first in this system.
              Shigeru Mizuhara 19.3 points
              He led the Giants in the 1950's, which meant the manager he faced quite often in the Japan Series was the man he replaced as the Giant head man, Osamu Mihara. His tenure with the Giants ended when he was replaced by Kawakami. He went to the Flyers, and led them to a Japan series win in 1962. He had only one less pennant than Kawakami and had a winning percentage only .006 lower, but in 520 more games. The longevity and the high winning percentage overcome the one less pennant in this system.
              Tetsuahru Kawakami 17.2 points
              Kawakami was an outspoken advocate of keeping NPB all-Asian, and put his money where his mouth was. His "V-9" squads were composed exclusively of Asian players. Of course, when you have Oh and Nagashima, no draft of players, and the Giant mystique and money to help sign players, it's a little easier to make such an approach work. His managing style not only worked his players hard, but extensively controlled their behavior on and off the field. His approach was called "controlled baseball". You can argue for placing him even higher as the leader of the greatest dynasty ever in Japan, and having so much success in only 14 years, including never having a season below .500 as manager. However, that would involve a different rating system.
              Sadayoshi Fujimoto 14.7 points
              He led the Giants at the beginning of NPB, won one of the two split season titles in each of 1937 and 1938, and then led them to four consecutive titles. In 1943, he resigned as manager to enter Japan's military during WWII. He returned to managing after the war, but the Giant job was held by others, so he toiled for lesser teams, without notable success in the 1950's. Then in the 1960's he got the Tiger job and led them to two pennants, but lost in the Japan Series each time.
              Yukio Nishimoto 14.3 points
              Nishimoto was able win 8 Pacific League pennants, 1 for the Orions, 5 for the Braves, and 2 for the Buffaloes. Unfortunately, he met the "V-9" Giants in five Japan Series, and in the two for the Buffaloes, twice lost seven game series to the Carp juggernaut of the late 1970's.
              Osamu Mihara 13.5 points
              He won a pennant managing the Giants in the last one league era season of 1949, but was replaced by Mizuhara. He went to the Lions, and helped build their 1950's dynasty. He left the Lions after a 4th place finish in 1959. He went to the Whales and immediately led them to a Japan Series win. He managed 13 more seasons, but that was his last title. He was a rare Japanese manager of his time in that he refused to strike his players. He also preferred to manage for big innings far more than other managers and used the bunt far less than his managing peers, according to Robert Whiting's The Meaning of Ichiro.
              Masaaki Mori 12.0 points
              Jim Allen's 1995 Guide says this about him: "He didn't make wholesale changes. There wasn't any year when he brought in more than two new key players. . . . He always worked to field a strong defensive team. If his veterans could play defense and contribute at the plate, they knew they would have a job. This policy was a wise one considering the talent of the veterans on hand from day one. . . . Mori appreciates what a veteran can contribute. . . [H]e showed far more patience with veteran players than he did with . . . younger players. As Mori's team aged, his disposition to play veterans and ignore younger position players cost the Lions."
              Toshiharu Ueda 10.8 points
              According to You Gotta Have Wa, he "was one of the toughest managers in Japan. He tended to treat his charges like inmates on a Georgia chain gang. In spring camp, he would stand on the field with a megaphone, berating his players . . . . When [his] catcher dropped a throw in an intrasquad game, Ueda kicked him in the rear end, in front of several photographers. The . . . [picture of the] kick was prominently featured in the papers the next day."
              Katsuya Nomura 10.0 points
              Jim Allen says that with the Swallows, Nomura developed power pitchers and position players with high on base percentages. He also improved the team defense. He was able to take many pitchers and make them more effective, with his greatest successes coming with veteran pitchers and relievers. He tended to use his most effective pitchers hard, which may have caused difficulties in the long term development of young pitchers. He had good success in getting high levels of production from his bench and bullpen.
              Tatsunori Hara 10.0 points
              He was a tremendous player, as an MVP award and 5 Best Nines would indicate. That alone is enough to get him into the Japanese Hall of Fame. As a manager, he’d belong, too. He’s won five pennants, one of only twelve managers to do so. His winning percentage of .572 is sixth among those who managed at least 800 games. The Japanese Hall has inducted around 25 managers, depending on how one deals with the men who have arguments as both great players and great managers.
              Sadaharu Oh 9.8 points
              Warren Cromartie was a great admirer of Oh when he played for him, going so far as to give his one son the middle name of Oh (Cody Oh Cromartie). However, he paints a picture of a man learning the job of managing under the pressure of the high expectations that come with the Giants. Also, Cromartie feels Oh was under extra pressure because he replaced the popular Shigeo Nagashima. Cromartie says Oh didn't trust young players and seemed to want to follow the advice of others rather than to set his own course. I get the feeling that once Oh developed the Hawks into a powerhouse, he found his own way as a manager. He even was publicly critical of Hawk management in the Kokubo trade fiasco.
              Shigeo Nagashima 9.4 points
              Jim Allen's Guides provide many of the following observations: Nagashima loved unpredictable in-game strategies. He often chose leadoff men with poor on base percentages. In his first two years in the 1990's, Nagashima accomodated the Giant's organizational preference for veteran players. After he won the title in 1994, he began to work more with younger and less experienced players.
              Senichi Hoshino 8.8 points
              Rebuilt the Tigers into the 2003 pennant winners to go along with the two pennants he won managing the Dragons. Eight of his winning seasons came for the Dragons. According to The Meaning of Ichiro, Hoshino was tough on his own men, but was also quite devoted to them, giving expensive gifts to player's wives and mothers on their birthdays. He also had a knack for helping troubled young athletes, says that book.
              Akira Ogi 7.5 points
              According to The Meaning of Ichiro, Ogi's personal motto was "drink hard and play hard", and apparently he followed it. He won a pennant for the Buffaloes, and never finished below third in five seasons with that club. In 1994, he came to the Blue Wave, and helped bring along Ichiro. He won two pennants and one Japan Series for them. Jim Allen's 1996 Guide discussed the 1995 pennant and said: "Ogi let everybody play and did not give up on players for making a few mistakes. . . . [A player who screwed up] wouldn't press too hard because he'd get another chance. . . ; Every player on the team could focus on the job at hand and not on whether his job was on the line. . . . Ogi's use of his roster . . . helped Orix overcome injuries to key players. It helped them get the most out of their talent, because it created new options and possibilities." He also accepted Nomo's unorthodox pitching style and desire for several days' rest between starts.
              Takeshi Koba 7.3 points
              He got the Carp job in 1975 when first-season American manager Joe Lutz was fired because he frequently was publicly critical of management. Koba immediately led the Carp to a Japan Series triumph. He has been called the "modernizer of Japanese baseball". He retained the traditional dedication to practice with a looser on field playing style, according to Fitts and Engels' book. One innovation he brought to Japanese baseball was the development of switch hitting, which was rare before Koba came along. He directed that many young Carp prospects be taught to switch hit.
              Hiromitsu Ochiai 6.9 points
              He was a truly great player, so he belongs in the Japanese Hall just for that. He was also a quite successful manager, winning four pennants and over .500 in all eight seasons he managed.
              Motoshi Fujita 6.6 points
              Cromartie's autobiography credits Fujita's 1989 success to using more young players, and showing confidence in them, especially Masaki Saito. Cromartie also felt the change of managers from Oh to Fujita changed the mood in the clubhouse, as managerial changes will tend to do. Fujita was over .500 in all seven seasons he managed, and won four pennants and two Japan series in his brief opportunities at managing.
              Tatsuro Hirooka 6.0 points
              According to Fitts and Engel, he was called the "Iron Shogun" during his managing career. He managed in only seven seasons, had a winning record in six of them, won four pennants, and three Japan Series. He won one J-Series in three years with the Swallows and two in four years with the Lions. Hirooka made even Kawakami (much less any American manager ever) look easy-going and laid back by comparison. He was a serious student of the game and had an ability to make the right move at the right time. Also, he was never one to get flustered, no matter how great the pressure. According to You Gotta Have Wa, he was an excellent teacher who could rectify whatever was wrong (except, of course, a lack of talent). However, his approach was one of constantly harping on negatives. He also frequently used the press to do this as well. His teams rarely beat themselves and were prepared for virtually every possible situation. He went well beyond hard practices and other on the field activiites. He put his teams on natural foods diets and went so far as to counsel players on all manner of private matters (including their sex lives) if he felt it would help their ballplaying. Of course, his practices were even longer, more frequent and more demanding than even the strict standards of more ordinary Japanese practices. The fact his managerial tenures were so short despite the high degree of success he experienced seems to have been a result of his prickly personality.
              Kaoru Betto 4.5 points
              He managed for 17 seasons without ever winning a pennant. He did have 11 winning seasons, however. It is important to note that he had to compete with Tsuruoka's Hawks, Kawakami's Giants, and Mihara's Lions to win a pennant.
              Masataki Nishida 4.2 points
              Still active, but he’s having a tough season in 2017 as I write. He has won two pennants to date.
              Osamu Higashio 3.7 points
              He won two pennants, but perhaps just as important is he was over .500 in seven of his eight seasons, and the one he wasn’t would have been .500 had just a single loss been turned into a win.
              Tadashi Wakabayashi 3.3 points
              He deserves his spot in the Japanese Hall if all we considered was his pitching. He does fairly well in this system due to two pennants for the Tigers in the 1940s.
              Hideki Kuriyama 3.2 points
              He’s still active, though his 2017 season isn’t going well. He has won two pennants for the Fighters, the only team he’s manager for to this point.
              Shunichi Amachi 3.1 points
              He had a .581 winning percentage in his six seasons of managing, and never finished lower than third. He piloted the Dragons to their Japan Series win in 1954 behind Sugishita's pitching.
              Akinobu Okada 3.0 points
              I’d say it’s fair to say he was a good, but not great player, having won only one Best Nine. He did win a pennant and more games than he lost, but that’s not a very exclusive club, either. He might make the JHOF because he combines those two things, but I wouldn’t count on it.
              Tsutomu Ito 2.7 points
              He’s a mere two games under .500 for his managing career, but is in the JHOF. He’s active with Chiba Lotte but has announced he is resigning at the end of the 2017 season. However, his 9 Best Nines at catcher and 11 Gold Gloves are why he’s in the Hall.
              Haruyasu Nakajima 2.3 points
              He led the Giants to the 1943 pennant, and had a winning season as the Giants' skipper in 1946. He managed the Giants in 1947 and the Whales in 1951, both to losing records. The combination of his NPB playing and managing careers aren't enough to support his induction to Japan's Hall of Fame in my opinion. However, he did earn notoriety for his career prior to the existence of NPB, and maybe that is enough to do the trick. I really don't know.
              Shuichi Ishimoto 2.0 points
              He led the Tigers from 1937 to 1939, and that stretch accounts for hia only two titles, the split season crowns from the Fall 1937 season and the Spring 1938 campaign. He had one other campaign over .500 for another team, Nishitetsu in 1943, but he just barely made it at 39-37.
              Kenjiro Matsuki 1.8 points
              I looked at him mainly to see if I thought his managing career justified his selection to Japan's Hall of Fame, whether by itself or in combination with his playing career. I do not believe his playing career alone is sufficient, and this review convinces me that even the combination of his playing and managing careers isn't enough.
              Tokuru Konishi 1.6 points
              He had a good year managing the Dragons in 1940, and then didn't manage again until 1950, when he led the Robins to the first Japan Series, which they lost in six games. They had a .737 winning percentage that year. Unfortunately, this was the second and last winning season of Konishi's managerial career. He was a popular radio commentator later on, which may be the main reason he is in Japan's Hall.
              Sadao Kondo 1.6 points
              He won a pennant in 1982 for the Dragons, but his main claim to fame is that he's the first Japanese coach to divide his pitchers into starters and relievers. Fitts and Engels' book credits this NPB "innovation" as the main reason for his induction to the Japanese Hall of Fame. I believe them, but what I find curious in using that as justification for inducting a man into Japan's Hall is the fact that American managers started doing this after WWII, and every manager was doing it by 1960 or so. Maybe breaking the mold in Japan is that big a deal, but that's the only justification I can see for putting him in Japan's Hall.
              Shinji Hamazaki 0.4 points
              He's the answer to a trivia question: who is the oldest pitcher ever to win a game in NPB? His fifth and last NPB win came in 1950, and he was born in 1901. His NPB career, even combining managing and playing, isn't of JHOF caliber. He had a significant career before NPB existed, and that may well support his induction.
              Hisanori Karita 0.3 points
              This is another case of a guy for whom even the combination of his NPB playing and manging careers do not justify his selection to the Japanese Hall of Fame in my opinion. In his case, though, one must take into account that in 1934 and 1935, before NPB existed, he was good enough to make the All-Japanese Star teams as a starter that faced major leaguers and toured the US. He also was involved in the industrial leagues after WWII. Whether or not these other aspects of his baseball career are sufficient to justify his induction, I have no idea.
              Michinori Tsubouchi 0.1 points
              I checked him out as a manager to see if his managing career could have pushed what I see as a less than JHOF quality playing career over the top. Since he had a mere two winning years with no titles, I can't see how.
              Shigeo Mori Zero points
              In terms of the Japanese Hall of Fame, he is actually famous for managing at the amateur level,



              Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
              Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
              A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

              Comment


              • #8
                Code:
                 
                .. The List v2 .. .. ..
                .. .. .. .. ..
                rank Pitcher .. rank shortstop
                4 Victor Starffin .. 16 Yasumitsu Toyoda
                7 Jiro Noguchi .. 20 Kazuo Matsui
                9 Kazuhisa Inao .. 22 Takashi Toritani
                13 Takehiko Bessho .. 47 Taira Fujita
                15 Masaichi Kaneda .. 56 Yoshio Yoshida
                18 Hideo Fujimoto .. 58 Hayato Sakamoto
                31 Shigeo Sugishita .. 65 Hiroyuki Nakajima
                33 Tadashi Wakabayashi .. 82 Takuro Ishii
                44 Hisashi Yamada .. 91 Hirokazu Ibata
                51 Yu Darvish .. 100 Michio Nishizawa
                54 Keishi Suzuki .. 106 Takahiro Ikeyama
                55 Tadashi Sugiura .. 108 Yukio Tanaka
                61 Takumi Otomo .. 112 Yoshihiko Takahashi
                64 Masaaki Koyama .. 118 Katsumi Shiraishi
                67 Juzo Sanada .. .. ..
                76 Mitsuo Minagawa .. third baseman
                83 Minoru Murayama .. 3 Shigeo Nagashim
                84 Ryohei Hasegawa .. 17 Masayuki Kakefu
                88 Hiroshi Nakao .. 24 Futoshi Nakanishi
                90 Yutaka Enatsu .. 34 Hiromichi Ishige
                92 Atsushi Aramaki .. 35 Fumio Fujimura
                99 Masaki Saito .. 36 Norihiro Nakamura
                101 Kyuji Fujikawa .. 46 Sachio Kinugasa
                102 Takao Misonoo .. 48 Akinori Iwamura
                114 Daisuke Matsuzaka .. 49 Tatsunori Hara
                119 Choji Murata .. 57 Michio Arito
                .. .. .. 59 Shuichi Murata
                rank catcher .. 66 Hiromi Matsunaga
                2 Katsuya Nomura .. 69 Akira Eto
                11 Shinnosuke Abe .. 80 Takeshi Kuwata
                19 Koichi Tabuchi .. 95 Hiroki Kokubo
                32 Atsuya Furuta .. 98 Masahiko Morino
                45 Toshihiko Kimata .. 107 Kazuto Tsuruoka
                87 Kenji Johjima .. 109 Kinji Shimatani
                .. .. .. 111 Hideshi Miyake
                rank first baseman .. 117 Takeya Nakamura
                1 Sadaharu Oh .. .. ..
                14 Hiromitsu Ochiai .. rank outfielder
                26 Michihiro Ogasawara .. 5 Isao Harimoto
                27 Roberto Petagine .. 6 Koji Yamamoto
                29 Tetsuharu Kawakami .. 8 Hideki Matsui
                30 Kihachi Enomoto .. 10 Kazuhiro Yamauchi
                41 Kazuhiro Kiyohara .. 12 Ichiro Suzuki
                50 Alex Cabrera .. 21 Kosuke Fukudome
                74 Hideji Kato .. 23 Yutaka Fukumoto
                81 Randy Bass .. 25 Tomoaki Kanemoto
                86 Tokuji Iida .. 28 Koji Akiyama
                89 Tom O'Malley .. 36 Norichika Aoki
                104 Kenichi Yazawa .. 37 Yuki Yanagita
                110 Katsuo Osuji .. 39 Yoshio Itoi
                .. .. .. 40 Kazuhiro Wada
                rank second baseman .. 42 Shinichi Eto
                62 Bobby Rose .. 45 Masahiro Doi
                68 Kazuyoshi Tatsunami .. 52 Hiromitsu Kadota
                73 Shigeru Chiba .. 53 Yoshitomu Tsutsugo
                93 Tetsuto Yamada .. 60 Yoshinori Hirose
                97 Morimichi Takagi .. 70 Hiroshi Oshita
                103 Mitsuo Motoi .. 71 Makoto Kozuru
                113 Daryl Spencer .. 72 Isao Shibata
                116 Yutaka Takagi .. 75 Atsushi Nagaki
                120 Tadahito Iguchi .. 77 Wally Yonamine
                .. .. .. 78 Kenjiro Tamiya
                .. .. .. 79 Tuffy Rhodes
                .. .. .. 85 Shosei Go
                .. .. .. 94 Atsunori Inaba
                .. .. .. 96 Alex Ramirez
                .. .. .. 115 Yoshihiro Maru
                Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Pulling from the Single Ballot HOF, your last update had the following guys:

                  Bessho - 13
                  Enatsu - 90
                  Harimoto - 5
                  Inao - 9
                  Kaneda - 15
                  Koyama - 64
                  Nagashima - 3
                  Nomura - 2
                  Ochiai - 14
                  Oh - 1
                  Starffin - 4
                  Sugishita - 31
                  Yoneda - 102

                  Kawakami - 29 - contributor - 3rd manager
                  Mihara - 6
                  Mizhuara - 2
                  Mori - 7
                  Nishimoto - 5
                  Tsuruoka - 1


                  Top guys from new analysis unelected:
                  Yamamoto - 6
                  Noguchi - 7
                  H Matsui - 8
                  Yamuachi - 10
                  Abe - 11 - exciting candidate
                  Suzuki - 12 - was still active
                  ...
                  Toyoda - 16
                  Kakefu - 17
                  H Fujimoto - 18
                  Tabuchi - 19
                  K Matsui - 20
                  K Fukudome - 21


                  S Fujimoto - 4th manager


                  When I see Kaz Matsui and Kosuke Fukudome do so well here and struggle in the US, it gives me pause in how many players to elect from the Japan leagues, and Hideki Matsui here + MLB leagues means you have to see him as a HOFer.

                  From the numbers, I should be adding Noguchi, H Matsui, Yamuachi, and Abe, and removing Koyama, move Kawakami to a contributor, and consider dropping Kaneda and Ochiai. Bessho is saved by a WWII bump.

                  Thanks for the new postings and appreciate your thoughts on my discussion here.
                  Jacquelyn Eva Marchand (1983-2017)
                  http://www.tezakfuneralhome.com/noti...uelyn-Marchand

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Kaz Matsui had an injury plagued time in his 30s, which is when he came to the majors. He shares that trait with MLB guys like Charlie Keller or Andruw Jones. It happens, unfortunately. I haven't pushed the guys who came over and didn't play at a HOF level. Hideki Matsui is one case. It may be that the data I don't have (better park adjustments chief among them) are part of the problem. I can only make do with what I've got to use. So, we've got the age coming to the majors issue, and the data I don't have issue.

                    The third issue is working from the Japanese rankings instead of going off of MLEs is dangerous, because the adjustment in home runs is so much more significant than in other categories. Matsui's homers helped him outpace Ichiro in Japan. However, Ichiro was the better major leaguer, because he didn't lose nearly as much power as Matsui did because of things like park size. The MLEs are the next item on the agenda. I have to do the Japanese rankings to have a better idea of which guys to target for MLEs. Power hitters and pitchers who give up a lot of homers are guys who will translate as far lesser players in the majors than they may appear from looking at their Japanese data.

                    I've tried only to push guys who I feel clear the bar with a fair amount to spare given the issues above. I've taken the position that Ochiai is one such player in the past, and though I can't be absolutely certain until I run the MLEs, I think he'll be one when all is said and done in this round. I'd say the same about Kaneda.

                    Toyoda scares me, as he made the Ernie Banks transition to first from shortstop. That creates some questions about his fielding and/or his health. I'd say once I'm done with the MLEs, if you wonder why I'm not supporting a guy, by all means, ask. I do make errors, and I can't explain everyone who doesn't make it. I will cover all those I will endorse.
                    Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                    Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                    A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jalbright View Post
                      Kaz Matsui had an injury plagued time in his 30s, which is when he came to the majors. He shares that trait with MLB guys like Charlie Keller or Andruw Jones. It happens, unfortunately. I haven't pushed the guys who came over and didn't play at a HOF level. Hideki Matsui is one case. It may be that the data I don't have (better park adjustments chief among them) are part of the problem. I can only make do with what I've got to use. So, we've got the age coming to the majors issue, and the data I don't have issue.

                      The third issue is working from the Japanese rankings instead of going off of MLEs is dangerous, because the adjustment in home runs is so much more significant than in other categories. Matsui's homers helped him outpace Ichiro in Japan. However, Ichiro was the better major leaguer, because he didn't lose nearly as much power as Matsui did because of things like park size. The MLEs are the next item on the agenda. I have to do the Japanese rankings to have a better idea of which guys to target for MLEs. Power hitters and pitchers who give up a lot of homers are guys who will translate as far lesser players in the majors than they may appear from looking at their Japanese data.

                      I've tried only to push guys who I feel clear the bar with a fair amount to spare given the issues above. I've taken the position that Ochiai is one such player in the past, and though I can't be absolutely certain until I run the MLEs, I think he'll be one when all is said and done in this round. I'd say the same about Kaneda.

                      Toyoda scares me, as he made the Ernie Banks transition to first from shortstop. That creates some questions about his fielding and/or his health. I'd say once I'm done with the MLEs, if you wonder why I'm not supporting a guy, by all means, ask. I do make errors, and I can't explain everyone who doesn't make it. I will cover all those I will endorse.
                      Thanks for the updates, with him being a modern candidate, how do you feel about Shinnosuke Abe, a high quality catcher?
                      Jacquelyn Eva Marchand (1983-2017)
                      http://www.tezakfuneralhome.com/noti...uelyn-Marchand

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Jalbright, that's a lot of work. Thanks for putting it together!
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                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm sure catchers have a harder learning curve in transitioning between leagues. I say this because communication between pitcher and catcher is such a large part of the job. I think he could have learned, but Johjima had some struggles in that regard.

                          Japanese players typically are sound in defensive technique due to their incessant drilling. I'd expect that part of his game to be fine. He wasn't a huge power hitter, which would mean more of his talent would be retained at the major league level. I don't want to commit to a final answer until I do the MLE,, but I'm optimistic.

                          Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                          Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                          A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Jim - Fantastic work as always. Really look forward to the MLEs....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I suppose that, based on his MLB success (in his thirties), I'm surprised that Hiroki Kuroda did not make your top 120. Could you discuss him a bit please?

                              Incidentally, this is a first-rate update and I'm really looking forward to what else you have cooking!
                              "It is a simple matter to erect a Hall of Fame, but difficult to select the tenants." -- Ken Smith
                              "I am led to suspect that some of the electorate is very dumb." -- Henry P. Edwards
                              "You have a Hall of Fame to put people in, not keep people out." -- Brian Kenny
                              "There's no such thing as a perfect ballot." -- Jay Jaffe

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