When last we visited our heroes, it was just after Week 6 of the season, and there was this complex dependency chart of who had to win what to win. If Rikkio went 2-0, which they did, then Keio had to win Soukeisen to win the league, which they did.
It never gets old seeing Keio pound Waseda, even though I know that right now Waseda is pathetically bad. I caught the final game over justin.tv; Daisuke Takeuchi was Keio's starter. Just as I was watching in the 3rd, Keio got a few runners on, captain Hayata Itoh came up to bat, and I'm like "He's gonna knock one, just watch" and sure enough, BLAM, liner to right field, 2-RBI double. Waseda did threaten to catch up a little, and made it all the way to 4-3, but Koji Fukutani came in and pitched the last half of the game and was AMAZING! He even hit 155 km/h on the Jingu guns a few times -- the only other recent Big 6 guy to do that was Ohishi and I keep saying Fukutani is BETTER, and god knows I used to talk about how awesome Ohishi was all the damn time.
Keio won the league, Daisuke was crying, Itoh was smiling up a storm, etc, they had a doage, and my three favorite boys were the game heroes as well. And in Itoh's interview, when they mentioned he was one hit short of the triple crown (17-for-42 .405 to Yuji Naka's 23-for-55 .418), he's like "Oh man. Well, we won the league, that's what really counts, right?" But then he admitted something like "One more hit? Only one? Yeah... I guess I suck for being that close..." Either way, Itoh had the most RBIs in the league with 17, homers with 4, and then he also walked 12 times to Naka's 4.
Anyway, on that note, let me post some season-summarizing stuff:
Pos Name College Yr. Votes Times High School
P Masato Komuro Rikkio 3 18 1 Hino
C Naoki Harada Hosei 4 16 1 Ube Shogyo
1B Ikuhiro Takeda Meiji 4 10 1 Hotoku Gakuen
2B Keisuke Okazaki Rikkio 4 16 1 PL Gakuen
3B Ren Yamasaki Keio 3 21 1 Keio
SS Koichiro Matsumoto Rikkio 2 17 2 Yokohama
OF Hayata Itoh Keio 4 22 3 Chukyodai Chukyo
OF Yuji Naka Rikkio 4 22 1 Osaka Toin
OF Hiroaki Shimauchi Meiji 4 17 1 Seiryo
Full vote is 22, and it's clear that big-hitting outfielders are everyone's favorites. I'm guessing Hosei's Hiroshi Taki took the other 1B votes that Takeda didn't (they were both up there on the batting, but Taki made 2 errors). It's also awesome to see Naoki Harada get a Best Nine -- he's a really great guy who was mostly just a random baseball club member for 3 years, and kind of had to be a backup catcher behind Ishikawa and then Hiromoto and Doi, but now as a senior and co-captain of the Hosei team got a decent chunk of playing time and really put it to good use. It's a little funny because I was positive that Meiji's Kawabe and Waseda's Ichimaru would be the ones vying for the catcher Best Nine this semester, and both of them had pretty lousy results.
I'm happy to see Komuro get a Best Nine, because he literally carried his team on his back this semester -- he led the league in IP at 66.2, and appeared in 10 out of 14 of the games his team played. The only person even close to logging that much time was Yusuke Nomura, who pitched 65 innings in 9 games, the difference being that Komuro made multiple appearances every weekend except vs. Todai. He also led the league in wins -- here are the top 4 in innings logged (and, of course, wins -- nobody else had more than 45 IP or 4 wins):
Pitcher College Games W L IP ERA WHIP
Komuro Rikkio 10/14 6 2 66.2 1.35 1.11
Nomura Meiji 9/14 5 3 65 2.07 0.78
Mikami Hosei 8/13 4 2 47.2 2.26 1.32
Takeuchi Keio 11/13 5 2 46.1 2.13 1.19
Also, I stalked Komuro briefly outside Jingu during opening weekend and told him I'd cheer for him this semester, so I feel like I had to stick to that. :)
As an aside, after last semester I compared Yusuke Nomura to Koji Fukutani as a case for the Best Nine, and noted that Nomura's peripherals were far superior to Fukutani's in terms of strikeout and walk rates. I'm proud to note that it's no longer the case, but this is largely because Fukutani became Keio's closer, and still put in 30 innings for the semester, just that this time they were all the last 2-3 innings of every Keio game. He didn't even give up a run at all until 3/4 of the way through the season, though...
Here's Spring 2010 Nomura vs. Fukutani:
IP H HR BBH WHIP BF K/BF BB/BF H/BF
Fukutani 61.1 43 0 19 1.01 237 18.1% 8.0% 18.1%
Nomura 55.1 48 0 8 1.01 216 25.0% 3.7% 22.2%
And here's Spring 2011 Nomura vs. Fukutani:
IP H HR BBH WHIP BF K/BF BB/BF H/BF
Fukutani 30.1 17 0 5 0.73 107 37.4% 4.6% 15.89%
Nomura 65 44 1 7 0.78 243 28.0% 2.9% 18.11%
Seriously, these two are the best pitchers in Big 6 right now, at least when it comes to control. Nomura simply does not walk batters or give up home runs to them. Infact, his only home run was given up to Hosei's Ryosuke Itoh, the kid from Shinko Gakuen who hit 94 homeruns in his high school career.
Also, the craziest thing is that despite being the 9th highest in the league in terms of IP, Fukutani was the 3rd highest in the league in terms of strikeouts (Nomura 68, Komuro 43, and Fukutani 40). Those are Ohishi-esque numbers if nothing else. Of course, I've been getting a little bit of flack for having been such a huge Tatsuya Ohishi fangirl when he's been struggling to adjust to the pros so far, so maybe it isn't in my better interest to point out how similar Fukutani is developing as a closer.
Another Yusuke Nomura tidbit, just repeating here from a few months ago: his 68 strikeouts put him above 300 strikeouts in his Big 6 career. It'd take a miracle for him to get to 30 wins too, I think -- he's currently at a 24-11 record. It wouldn't be impossible, just a lot longer shot than if he went in with 25.
Batting and ERA champs
Batting champion: Yuji Naka, Rikkio, .418/.450/.527
ERA champion: Koji Fukutani, Keio, 1-0, 0.59
I don't mean to be dissing Naka at all, because a .418 batting average is nothing to sneeze at. He only had 2 hitless games all semester, 8 multihit games (out of 14), and bizarrely, those multihit games were NOT against Todai (though Todai accounts for 2 of his 4 walks).
But well, I mentioned that I started running stats in order to show exactly how awesome Hayata Itoh was this semester, right...?
Other "Relevant" Stats
I realize that 11-13 games and 50ish plate appearances are not a huge sample size, but well, that's what you get in a season here.
Top 10 Batters by OPS:
(K4) Hayata Itoh .405/.527/.857 1.384
(R4) Yuji Naka .418/.450/.527 .977
(H3) Kento Tatebe .294/.390/.569 .958
(M4) Hiroaki Shimauchi .385/.467/.487 .954
(H3) Hiroshi Taki .320/.393/.500 .893
(M2) Hiroki Nakashima .270/.370/.486 .856
(R3) Koichiro Matsumoto .288/.377/.462 .839
(R4) Keisuke Okazaki .282/.396/.436 .832
(K3) Ren Yamasaki .269/.367/.462 .829
(K4) Masaki Miyamoto .278/.378/.417 .794
WTF? No, really, WTF? I think this is seriously the first time since I've been doing these that a guy made it into the top ten OPS with less than .800...
Also, if it's not clear, Itoh completely dominated the Big 6 league at the plate this year. He led the league with homeruns with 4 (Hosei's Kawai had 3 but he didn't have enough PA to make it into batting leaders with his .143/.314/.500 line in 35 PA), led the league in walks with 12 (the next highest two were Keio's Fukutomi and Meiji's Uemoto with 9 each), and nobody even remotely came close to him on OBP or SLG with enough plate appearances to count.
Meiji's co-captain and all-around-nice-guy Masataka Nakamura is the stolen base leader with 10.
HR SB E
Keio .265/.335/.397 .732 9 11 12
Hosei .256/.330/.402 .732 11 12 14
Rikkio .284/.333/.381 .714 5 19 12
Meiji .239/.305/.307 .612 2 22 8
Waseda .223/.277/.277 .554 1 9 8
Tokyo .203/.255/.237 .492 0 6 9
Despite Todai ostensibly sucking, they were actually much better than last semester. Truly impressive is the power numbers out of Keio and Hosei, IMO -- and how far Waseda has fallen.
ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
Keio 1.61 1.04 8.09 3.00
Meiji 2.10 0.99 8.49 2.03
Rikkio 2.20 1.28 5.90 3.27
Hosei 2.83 1.36 6.93 3.15
Waseda 4.61 1.52 8.92 5.50
Tokyo 5.10 1.74 3.90 5.57
Again, amusing to see how far Waseda has fallen now that they don't have their Big Three... and kind of sad with Hosei. I hope Kazuki Mishima has a better semester in the fall. It'd be nice to see him and Mikami as starters but also to have Funamoto and Yoshikoshi get some quality innings in...
I dunno. The one thing is that Rikkio really pushed forward a lot this semester in most ways. If Komuro can repeat his performance and one other pitcher can step up at all (Hayato Saitoh, I'm looking at you), it's going to be a pretty serious race in the fall. Basically, I think every team has improved in some way since last year except Waseda, which took a huge punch in the face. A lot of individuals will be looking towards their own personal goals, and of course the scouts will be out there looking particularly closely at Nomura and Itoh. Some of the Koshien hero 1st-years may get some more time out on the field as well.
On that note, almost every school has posted their summer camp and preseason info. Meiji is going to KOREA for a week! I wrote a birthday card to Tomoya Kumabe and told him to have a good trip (and to convince the team to visit the US next time...)
Rikkio: Miyazaki camp from Aug 2-13 and preseason game schedule
Meiji: Nagano camp from Aug 4-13, and Korea trip from Aug 16-22, and preseason game schedule
Hosei: preseason game schedule
Waseda: preseason game schedule
Tokyo: preseason game schedule
If anyone actually does want to venture out to any of these games and wants some tips on getting to their stadiums, let me know. I've been to Meiji and Hosei's grounds a whole bunch...
On that note, I'm still glued to Koshien qualifier scores, and I even managed to watch Hosei Dai-ni's game the other day over justin.tv -- it was really nice to see a Hosei game even if it wasn't *my* Hosei team. I won't be at Koshien this year, but I should be in Japan for some of the fall 2011 semester of college games!