Sports Reference Blog

Japanese Baseball (1936-yesterday) –

Posted by admin on August 30, 2013

Japanese Baseball History -

We are very pleased to announce that we have added complete NPB stats back to the start of professional baseball in Japan in 1936. This work was compiled from existing sources by Ted Turocy (creator of the Chadwick Baseball Bureau). These stats are updated daily, so you can track Wladimir Balentien's chase of Sadaharu Oh.

This data was also incorporated into our MLB players pages. So if you go to Ichiro's page, you will now see a "Show NPB/Minors" link above his batting stats and clicking on that will show you his NPB stats along with his mlb stats.

14 Responses to “Japanese Baseball (1936-yesterday) –”

  1. neal Says:

    Dear Sir,
    I looked up several Japanese players. Ich Suzuki and two others. My question, why doesn't Mr. Suzuki have fielding stats? There's no fielding stats other than games. This is Japan not US. One of these other men Ken Suzuki was playing after 2000, 2004, 2005. So they did have fielding from 2004 onward. But before 2004, they didn't. He played in the 1990's too. This isn't 1960's, surely they should have fielding in the 1990's and 1980's. So that's my comment. thank you. N.dane

  2. Mark Says:

    Just glancing at the headline, I thought the Japanese league(s) had abruptly folded!!! But seriously, great work with all your sites guys -- an incredible resource!

  3. John H. Says:

    Nice to see you finally got this data posted. This data had already been available and posted for years on the Japan Baseball Data Warehouse website. But nice to see you finally got around to bringing it here after years of frustrating and ugly blank gaps on the records of Sadaharu Oh and others. But I don't like the fact that you now put the Japanese data on a separate page as the minors data, and you do not count it in a players "minors" total. This is wrong. The Japanese leagues are a minor league just like the Mexican League is a minor league.

    If Ichiro Suzuki's supporters want to claim that he now has 4000 hits by counting all his MINOR LEAGUE hits, then they must also recognize that Jigger Statz, Minnie Minoso, Jesus Sommers, Hector Espino, Julio Franco, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, and probably some other guys got over 4000 hits.

    In addition to that, Ichiro already had well over 4000 hits when they said he got his "4000th hit" Why were those wonky statisticians not counting his 35 hits from MLB playoff and all-star games? And what about his 156 hits from the Japan Western league (lower level) in 1992 & 1993? And what about his 24 hits from the World Baseball Classics? Also, Ichiro had about 200 total hits in his 13 MLB spring training seasons from 2001-2013. And what about his Japanese spring training and playoff stats? If you are going to count hits, then you have to count everything.

    So send the Japanese statistics back to the minors where they belong. Don't pander to these Ichiro jockers who try to claim that the Japanese leagues are somehow "major" when they are clearly not. Tuffy Rhodes, who was nothing but a scrub in the USA, tore up the Japanese leagues for 464 homers and a .559 slugging % in 13 seasons. In the Major Leagues, Rhodes had a paltry 13 homers and .349 SLg% in 6 years.

    Let's not make this like world soccer, where every country has a professional league and wants to call themselves major. The only major leagues in baseball are in the USA. Period. Everything else is minor league until further notice and I say so!

  4. Mischa Gelman Says:

    Four notes:

    1) I am glad that the NPB stats are not in the minor league section. The Mexican League is the only non-US league that is officially part of Minor League Baseball as an organization. The Korea Baseball Organization, Dutch Hoofdklasse, Italian Baseball League and Nippon Pro Baseball do not belong in the minor league section.

    2) As for Ichiro's postseason, All-Star and international tournament statistics, neither NPB nor MLB counts postseason, tournament or All-Star stats in their career leaderboards. Babe Ruth and Sadaharu Oh's World Series or Japan Series stats are not included in their career home run or walk totals. This is hardly an Ichiro-specific thing, rather a longstanding convention in pretty much all countries' baseball statistics. The only place where postseason stats are counted that I can think of is NCAA.

    3) By having NPB stats on a separate section, they are clearly NOT being lumped in with MLB stats. Yes, NPB is a step below the majors (around AAA according to the last studies I saw; Jim Albright is the expert on this), but using Tuffy Rhodes is an example hardly proves anything as an isolated case. Ryan Vogelsong has pitched better in MLB than he did in NPB. Joe Pepitone hit better in MLB than in NPB, just like Rob Deer or Mike Greenwell.

    4) I wish the BR Bullpen could be cross-listed with the new section but we have so much work still do on cross-listing the Bullpen with BR Minors or Olympics-Reference.

  5. Jonathan Frankel Says:

    Great that you have the Japanese stats.

    However, I did a search for Sadaharu Oh from the search field and it takes me to his Bullpen entry.

    I had to go through the Yomiuri Giants year page to link to his stats via the listing in the team stats.

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  7. Randy Hill Says:

    So send the Japanese statistics back to the minors where they belong. Don't pander to these Ichiro jockers who try to claim that the Japanese leagues are somehow "major" when they are clearly not.

    Ichiro averaged 147 hits per year and a .352 BA in 7 years in the "minors", then the very next year had 242 hits and a .350 BA in the "majors". Where is the difference?

    The difference is the NPB plays a max of 135 games a year. If Ichiro hadn't been prohibited from playing in the US by joint MLB-NPB agreement, he may have had more hits in the MLB given he was a MLB quality center fielder at age 20 (played RF in Seattle because of Mike Cameron).

    The great news is that BBRef just did another amazing job giving us access to more fascinating data, so you and I can argue about Hall of Fame minutia all day.

  8. John H. Says:

    I don't care what is officially part of "Minor League Baseball" as an organization. (Previously called the National Association, and commonly referred to as "organized baseball"). If you want to have a seperate line of totals for foreign leagues and USA minor leagues, that's fine. My issue is with the ease of use. I shouldn't have to click in 2 different pages to see a player's Japanese stats and his USA minor league stats. Can't you at least put it on the same page?

    Postseason, All-Star, Spring Training, Exhibition, Instructional League, Winter League, and Special Tournament statistics SHOULD count for everybody when evaluating a player's entire career. I understand why they don't normally lump them in with regular season major league stats. But by the same token then, you can't lump together Japanese regular season stats with MLB regular season stats.

    Tuffy Rhodes is NOT an isolated case. That just shows how ridiculously ignorant you are about Japanese Baseball history.

    Randy Bass was a total washout in the majors, batting .212/.284/.326 with only 9 HR in 130 MLB games from 1977-1982. He then went to the Japanese leagues and started hammering homers like King Kong, batting .337/.418/.660 in 6 seasons and hitting 54 homers in 1985.

    Leron Lee was a struggling journeyman in the Majors, batting just .250/.307/.375 in 614 games. He then went to Japan from 1977-87 and became one of the most dominant offensive forces in Japanese history, batting .320/.382/.542. He hit 30 or more HR in a season 5 times in Japan after having just 31 total in 8 years in the majors.

    Leron Lee's brother Leon Lee had an even worse career in the USA. He never even made it to the majors and hit only 62 homers in 7 USA minor league seasons. He followed his brother to Japan, however and instantly became a power-hitting machine, punishing japanese pitchers for a .308 AVG and 268 HR in 10 seasons.

    Warren Cromartie was a mediocre major league regular who never hit more than 14 HR in a MLB season. When he went to Japan in 1984 he instantly became a superstar, belting 35, 32, & 37 homers in his first 3 seasons in Japan. He hit .321/.372/.558 in Japan.

    Orestes Destrade was an expansion pick for the 1993 Florida Marlins and did have one good season for them, hitting 20 homers in 1993. But his career MLB line was only .241/.319/.383 in 237 games. In Japan, however, he had been a Monster Masher, leading the Japan Pacific Lg in homers 3 straight years with 42,39, & 41 from 1990-2.

    Tom O'Malley was a fairly competent journeyman who had bounced between AAA and the majors for many years. He had a decent line drive stroke, hitting .312 in 704 games in US AAA leagues, but had never hit more than 15 homers in a season. In Japan, he never hit FEWER than 15 homers in a season, slugging a robust .519 in 6 years.

    Ralph Bryant was a powerful slugger who once hit 31 homers in the Texas League, but didn't quite get a toehold in the majors after a brief trial. He went to Japan and mashed at least 34 homers 5 times in 8 seasons, including 49 in 1989.

    Jack Howell was a bland functionary infielder for the Angels in the 1980's & 90's. He batted a career .239/.318/.423 in 941 MLB games. He went to Japan in 1992 and immediately started pounding the Japan Central league to bits. He won the batting title at .331 and led in Homers with 38. He hit a total of 100 homers in 1365 AB in Japan.

    Charlie Manuel (the recently fired Phillies manager) hit a pathetic .198/.273/.260 with only 4 homers in 272 major league games from 1969-1975. He went to Japan from 1976-1981 and started drilling the ball like he was a superstar. He belted 42, 39, 37, & 48 homers in a 4 year period, leading the league twice, and batted .303 in 6 seasons.

    Alonzo Powell was a journeyman minor leaguer in the USA who had 2 brief cups of coffee in the majors. In the USA minor leagues he had hit a pedestrian .282 in 1196 games. In Japan, he won 3 straight batting titles from 1994-96, hitting .324, .355, & .340.

    Bobby Rose was a mediocre player in the USA, batting only .245 in the majors and .288 in the US minors. In Japan he became a superstar, hitting .325/.402/.531, and driving in a huge 153 RBI in 134 games in 1999.

    Boomer Wells was a pretty good minor league power hitter in the USA, hitting as many as 28 homers for Toledo in 1982. But in Japan he became a monster power hitter, batting .317 in 10 seasons, leading the Japan Pacific league in hits 4 times, and RBI 3 times while belting at least 40 homers 3 times.

    Tony Bernazard was a jorneyman major league 2nd baseman with a career MLB SLG% of .387. He went to Japan for 3 seasons and slugged .516. He blasted 34 homers in 1989, which was double his output in any season in the USA, major or minor.

    A waning Bob Horner hit 31 homers and slugged .683 in Japan in 1987. He had slugged .472 in the majors the year before and .354 in the majors the year after.

    So, NO! Tuffy Rhodes is not an isolated incident! Have I schooled you enough for today? Or are you going to keep making ignorant statement on subjects on which you have done no reasearch? Tuffy Rhodes proves everything. You were just too dumb to realize it and so I had to pound you with 14 more crushing examples.

    And don't try to give me your pathetic counter-examples of Rob Deer and Joe Pepitone. Rob Deer was totally washed up when he went to Japan, had more holes in his swing than swiss cheese and only played 70 games in Japan. Joe Pepitone hated Japanese culture and left the country after playing only 14 games. And those are your examples? Please!

    Every burly American hitter who is commited to play and in good shape goes over to Japan and instantly dominates because they can easily take advantage of the shorter fences and the balls which are just a fraction smaller. Most of the Japanese players in the old days were small and quick without much power, that's why they didn't think they needed long fences. But that's also why Sadaharu Oh and Katsuya Nomura were able to hit so many homers as well.

    In fairness, I'm not saying that the Japanese players aren't good. I think the Japanese leagues are about the equivalent of the PCL and the IL. Also in fairness, it's only the American power hitters who dominate, not pitchers. There never has been any American pitcher who went over to Japan and had a significant career there.

    For some reason, the Japanese pitchers may be closer in skill to major league counterparts than the hitters are. Possibly this is because the short fences make it too easy to hit home runs and distort batters' "true" skill.

    One example of a totally fraudulent Japanese power hitter was Akinori Iwamura. He totally fooled American scouts into thinking he could really hit by popping 44, 30, & 32 cheap homers in a 3 year period from 2004-2006. After hitting just 16 homers in 408 major league games, they discovered he was a total fraud and booted his butt back to Japan.

  9. KJOK Says:

    This is great news.

    Is there a way to get career leader boards for NPB? If there is I'm not seeing it.


  10. John H. Says:

    "Ichiro averaged 147 hits per year and a .352 BA in 7 years in the "minors", then the very next year had 242 hits and a .350 BA in the "majors". Where is the difference?"

    Uh, are you stupid? Ichiro Suzuki had an OPS of .943 in 9 seasons in the MINOR LEAGUE Japan Pacific league. In the MAJOR leagues, his highest OPS in any of his 13 seasons was only .869 and his career OPS is .777. So his OPS in the major leagues is about 20% lower than his OPS in the minor leagues. Even if you adjust for the fact that he was older when he played in the USA, he still had 4 prime years left when he came to Seattle and his OPS numbers never approached those that he put up in Japan.

    Sure, he's a hit machine, but his high batting averages in the USA are mostly empty and less valuable than you might think because his power is mediocre and he constantly refuses to draw walks, giving him only a lukewarm OBP.

    Tony Phillips, who batted .266 had a higher career OBP than Ichiro.

    Eddie Yost, who batted .254 had a higher career OBP than Ichiro.

    Gene Tenace, who batted .241 had a higher career OBP than Ichiro.

    If you adjust for league averages and ballpark factors, Ichiro has a career major league OPS+ of 111 with a career high of 130. That means that in his BEST major league season, he was only a 30% better hitter than league average. In Japan he was probably above 130% of the league OPS in several seasons.

    So THERE is the difference. Ichiro is certainly a HOF caliber player and one of the greats, but you have to admit he did better relative to league average in Japan and that the competition that he faced there was weaker.

    Furthermore, even though Ichiro's overall skills have helped his teams, Ichiro's selfish chase of hit milestones has badly hurt his teams over the long haul. He only wants to get hits and doesn't care about walks. To him, only a base hit has value becaue it pads his total. He doesn't give a shit that he can score more runs and help his team more if he just gets on base. He constantly swings at bad pitches to pad his hit total when he should be waiting out the pitcher for walks. I have seen him repeadly make outs by swinging at pitches far out of the strike zone on 3-1 and 2-0 counts. That is ridiculously poor strategy. Ichiro's OBP is incredibly low and sucky for someone who is a career .319 batter.

  11. Naveed Says:

    I love the new statistics. I would like to point out that there is a fairly obvious typo on Shosei Go's page:

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  13. fredf Says:

    remember no park factor which can make a difference and you cant negro lg statsnot fully complete and no park factor and a lot of teams played amature teams so players who played less than ten years ehodnt have been on regularballotts unfortunatly they couldnt fuully be compared to regularv players than even thou unfair and shoud have a seperete ection

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