Monday, July 2, 2018

Seven Lions named to 2018 NPB All-Star Series

A total of seven Saitama Seibu Lions were named to the 2018 NPB All-Star Series which will take place later this month. Six of them were voted in by the fans and/or players while one was selected by Softbank Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo.

Here are the Lions who made it in:

* Denotes fan vote
^ Denotes player vote
! Denotes first year player

All stats are reflective of games through July 1. Offensive numbers will show a slashline of AVG/OBP/SLG

P Yusei Kikuchi (8-1), 3.12 ERA*

This was not Kikuchi's best first half. However, he had enough popularity to win the fan vote despite missing a few weeks due to injury. In the first five games, he continued to get run support for the wins, but he's been hanging up more pitches than usual for what is supposed to be the Lions ace.


OF Shogo Akiyama .352/434/.567*^

Akiyama is a no-doubt All-Star putting in an MVP caliber season. He's in contention for the batting title while continuing to get on base and could even hit 20 home runs for the second time in his career as he currently has 12. He's been the most consistent player on the Lions.


SS Sosuke Genda .282/.337/.379*^

Genda's popularity shot up fast, having more votes than Kenta Imamiya both ways. It's rather impressive how his bat has found value and this year, his walk rate has improved to prevent an OPS being under .700. Defense is still there and he leads the team with 23 stolen bases. He also has seven triples on the year.


C Tomoya Mori .288/.370/.479*

Mori's popularity has been large before he even put on a Lions uniform as was a Koshien champion at Osaka Toin. It also helped that one of the two games will be in Osaka at Kyocera Dome.

However, he's done a decent job being the catcher of the Lions in his first full season taking majority of the games starting there. It's a good thing it isn't hindering his bat either, which was one of the first concerns with him as he's in a transition year.


2B Hideto Asamura .302/.384/.502*^

Asamura has better pop than other candidates in the Pacific League and like Akiyama, this was a no-doubt decision for players and fans alike. He could have a career high in home runs as he has 16 already on the year.


1B Hotaka Yamakawa .272/.403/.574*^

Yamakawa has lived off a monster April and cooled off in both May and June. However, his OPS is still above .900 and already has 20 home runs as we're halfway through the season. Based on home runs and batting average, he's still at the top among 1B candidates, but he's not this dominant force like he was in April.


OF/3B Shuta Tonosaki .291/.368/.463

Kudo selected Tonosaki as one of the last players to make the team. Tonosaki has continued momentum from last year by not only being fast on the base paths (19 stolen bases), but hitting above his own weight and continuing to get on base. He already experienced playing with Samurai Japan in the short Asia Professional Baseball Championship last fall and won a local award for being the best athlete of his home prefecture of Aomori. This All-Star appearance caps of a solid full year of work he's put in after initially starting his NPB career as an infielder.


Remaining Pacific League roster:

P Naoki Miyanishi (Fighters) (2-0), 1.86 ERA, 16 Holds*

P Naoyuki Uwasawa (Fighters) (7-2), 2.04 ERA

P Hirotoshi Masui (Buffaloes)* (1-0), 1.64 ERA, 21 Saves

P Takayuki Kishi (Eagles)^ (8-1), 1.80 ERA

P Andrew Albers (Buffaloes) (9-1), 2.55 ERA!

P Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Buffaloes) (3-0), 0.87 ERA, 21 Holds

P Ayumu Ishikawa (Marines) (9-3), 2.17 ERA

P Mike Bolsinger (Marines) (10-1), 2.20 ERA!

P Tatsuya Uchi (Marines), (1-3), 3.09 ERA, 19 Saves

P Yuito Mori (Hawks) (0-3), 4.03 ERA, 16 Saves

P Ren Kajiya (Hawks) (2-0), 1.83 ERA, 14 Holds


C Takuya Kai (Hawks) .230/.301/.365^


1B Sho Nakata (Fighters) .259/.310/.500

IF Toshiaki Imae (Eagles) .296/.342/.421

2B Shogo Nakamura (Marines) .313/.399/.419

3B Nobuhiro Matsuda (Hawks) .214/.288/.433*^


OF Yuki Yanagita (Hawks) .343/.407/.635*^

OF Masataka Yoshida (Buffaloes) .317/.389/.517*^

OF Takashi Ogino (Marines) .303/.343/.387

DH Kensuke Kondo (Fighters) .361/.466/.591*

DH Alfredo Despaigne (Hawks) .231/.337/.496^


Kimiyasu Kudo (Hawks)

Hatsuhiko Tsuji (Lions)

Yosuke Hiraishi (Eagles)


Matsuda is the only funny vote among the Pacific League players for a guy batting nearly .200. Atsuo popularity rules I suppose, but Brandon Laird hasn't been lighting it up either. It's also interesting how the players took Despaigne over Kondo.

Kudo's selection of his closer Y. Mori has its own humor given how Softbank's bullpen has had its struggles, but there hasn't been many closers who've been dominant outside of Masui and Uchi. Would've gone with a better middle reliever over Y. Mori.

As a whole, the Pacific League looks like they got it right as there aren't too many name recognition votes on the past outside of Matsuda. Kai's defense is All-Star worthy for the casual fan who may not watch a lot.


Central League All-Star roster:


Daisuke Matsuzaka (Dragons) (3-3), 2.41 ERA*

Tomoyuki Sugano (Giants) (8-5), 2.38 ERA^

Katsuki Azuma (Baystars) (6-4), 2.79 ERA!

Koji Uehara (Giants), (0-3), 4.50 ERA, 7 Holds*

Onelki Garcia (Dragons) (8-4), 2.66 ERA!

Randy Messenger (Tigers) (9-4), 2.45 ERA

Yuta Iwasada (Tigers) (3-3), 1.88 ERA

Taichi Ishiyama (Swallows) (2-0), 1.56 ERA, 13 Saves

Shota Nakazaki (Carp) (0-0), 2.37 ERA, 20 Saves

Daichi Osera (Carp) (10-3), 2.62 ERA

Yasuaki Yamasaki (Baystars) (2-2), 1.29 ERA, 16 Saves*


Seiji Kobayashi (Giants) .230/.319/.279*^

Yuhei Nakamura (Swallows) .196/.275/.253

Tsubasa Aizawa (Carp) .333/.417/.547


Kazuma Okamoto (Giants) .306/.377/.506*

Tetsuto Yamada (Swallows) .286/.413/.541*

Jose Lopez (Baystars) .326/.355/.632^

Ryosuke Kikuchi (Carp) .252/.305/.395^

Kosuke Tanaka (Carp) .261/.381/.368

Toshiro Miyazaki (Baystars) .321/.364/.545*^

Kento Itohara (Tigers) .296/.401/.372

Hayato Sakamoto (Giants) .331/.418/.502*^


Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (Baystars) .295/.393/.603*^

Norichika Aoki (Swallows) .306/.399/.459*

Seiya Suzuki (Carp) .301/.417/.565*^

Yoshio Itoi (Tigers) .301/.409/.484^

Ryosuke Hirata (Dragons) .332/.411/.461

Wladimir Balentien (Swallows) .246/.371/.500


Koichi Ogata (Carp)

Alex Ramirez (Baystars)

Tomoaki Kanemoto (Tigers)


Quite a few players got in by the fans off name recognition. Aoki, Uehara and Matsuzaka all got in based on their past and being loved for what the did well-before 2018. Among the three, Aoki can say he's done well enough to deserve a spot, but Uehara an Matuszaka is hilarious how many fans of the individual shot up the numbers.

Matsuzaka hasn't been bad, but he's mostly spot starting and it will be interesting to see if he plays or not given his injury. He will need to miss the next 10 games in the event he is too injured. Zolio Almonte of the Dragons might be the biggest snub given his offense, but have heard he's just average on defense.


The Home Run derby will be determined by fan vote from July 3-8. The winner will be announced on July 10.

The 2018 NPB All-Star Series will begin on Friday, July 13 from Kyocera Dome. Game 2 will happen on Saturday July 14 from Kumamoto prefecture.


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  1. A quick correction.
    Albers is a Buffalo, not an Eagle.

    1. Fixed. Probably rushed it when typing it on the fly, thanks!

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