Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 NPB Power Rankings: May edition


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With the month of April over, we here at Graveyard Baseball wanted to add a new Power Rankings segment on who are the best and worst teams in NPB by the month.  Keep in mind, there are several ground rules to this:

1. Standings do not always reflect the rankings. 

Even though one team may have more wins than another, some team could be listed higher based on other factors. Power Rankings based purely off standings and W-L record would be a terrible fallacy.

2. Being hot in the final week of a month could give a boost.

Power Rankings should be based on "What have you done for me lately?" While the work as a whole will be looked at, sometimes a surge could come and bump a team up/

3. Team stats definitely matter. 

Is a team hitting or poorly pitching? There will be factors to these rankings beyond just the usual wins and losses.

4. Rankings are based on the month that was. 

This ranking will only show what happened in March/April, not May.  Anything from May would be put in for the June Power Rankings edition.

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Without further introduction, here is how we rank the NPB teams after one month of baseball:

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1. Saitama Seibu Lions (19-5)

With no question, the Lions take the top spot to begin the season after doing all things right offensively. There are still plenty of flaws in the bullpen to look at, but the hitting and speed are looking effective through one month.

2. Hiroshima Carp (17-10) 

After a slow start to the year, the Carp bats have been on fire while the starting pitching has been decent, but like the Lions, their bullpen is still flawed. They're also going through some injuries, but this is a soft ranking given how inconsistent they are.


3. Yomiuri Giants (14-11) 

The Giants had a nasty stretch earlier this month, but they've rebounded well with an eight game winning streak and the offense is starting to click as Alex Guerrero is turning it up. It was very tempting to put them at the #2 spot, but the early Carp series loss keeps them just below.

They're getting quality starts from Shun Yamaguchi, who came off a forgettable 2017 season. While it's unsure what direction this team could be in, it's clear they're not going away anytime soon.

4. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (14-11)

An early surprise to the season, the Fighters starting pitching has been absolutely solid with Nick Martinez being a difference maker. Some of the younger pitchers like Naoyuki Uwasawa have stepped it up with the loss of Shohei Ohtani. If the rotation continues to be strong, they could easily finish in A-class.

5. Softbank Hawks (12-11)

The defending champions have dealt with some injuries, but they've weathered to the storm to remain competitive. This team isn't hungover, but they're finding out who can be the relievers for the long run as Dennis Sarfate and Sho Iwasaki are out for some time.

The good news is that Kodai Senga is back for May and the team's pitching will still be a work in progress with who is out. Don't expect them to fade given the talent in Fukuoka.

6. Yokohama DeNA Baystars (13-11)

What team is this? The Baystars dealt with pitching injuries to start the year and later went on an eight game win streak. They're pulling some wins with late magic, but they're very home run dependent for their offense, which remains inconsistent. Even with the injuries, the pitching has been solid, but it's unclear how to determine what this team is besides being consistently inconsistent.

7. Chiba Lotte Marines (12-12)

The Marines are not dead like last year, showing they can compete. Pitching is developing, while the hitting has improved from last year. Shakaijin  Yudai Fujioka has improved the team on defense while Shogo Nakamura is continuing his form from last year. With Ayumu Ishikawa off to a good start, there's a lot to like about this team competing in 2018 even though they lack some pop.

8. Orix Buffaloes (10-15-1) 

Controversial ranking? Yes. Both teams in Kansai have been hard to watch, but Orix has an edge when it comes to team rotation on being interesting with Daiki Tajima, Taisuke Yamaoka and more. They also have some offense behind the young Masataka Yoshida when he's healthy./They've been unlucky to start, but the talent is there.

9. Hanshin Tigers (11-12) 

Lack of speed and a lack of home runs at the ichi-gun have made this Tigers team hard to watch. Tomoaki Kanemoto makes head scratching moves, Yusuke Oyama has been a liability, which is why they're getting docked in this ranking. On paper, the pitching is there, but the dullness of the offense has become tiresome. Also, Shintaro Fujinami has been farmed indefinitely after still showing no control.

Crazy enough in their final game of the month, Willin Rosario hit a go-ahead home run and a stolen base made the difference to tie it. If the offense is clicking, maybe Kansai's main team will take a leap in next month's rankings.

10. Yakult Swallows (9-15)

Junji Ogawa has improved the team already, but it won't show in wins and losses. They're fighting tooth and nail while no longer being a cupcake. However, the pitching is still flawed as they miss Yasuhiro "Ryan" Ogawa. If anything, the offense has shown it can hit when healthy, something this team lacked in 2017.

11. Chunichi Dragons (10-15)

The Dragons continue to rebuild and all we're seeing is learning moments. Zolio Almonte looks like a good piece while Onelki Garcia is solid in the rotation, but the kids are still having their moments. Shinnosuke Ogasawara has been left in too long, Yuya Yanagi is still growing while the bullpen is a disaster.

Daisuke Matsuzaka's first NPB win in 12 years had to feel good, maybe he's not 100% washed up just yet despite the three year layover in Fukuoka. Even with that win, they have all the elements of a last place team, but one is still worse. Like the Swallows, at least they're competitive.

12. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (6-19-1)

The Eagles are an offensive disaster. At the bottom in on base percentage and runs scored (per game).  Rotation is still solid behind Takayuki Kishi and Takahiro Norimoto, but the bullpen is also a wreck. Home runs are lacking and the gaijin core of Japhet Amador, Carlos Peguero and Zelous Wheeler are all hitting under .240 to start.

They're the only team to not win a series of any kind with their closest being a 1-1-1 split against Orix from April 10-12. They also finished April with a seven game losing streak. It's not over, but this month was a dumpster fire to say the least.

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Any disagreements or agreements? Let us know!

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