Thursday, November 12, 2020

Tokyo Big 6: The I-Lost-To-Todai Club, ten years later

I've been a giant fan of Japanese college baseball since 2007, and when I was living in Japan I pretty much spent every weekend at the Tokyo Big 6 games, sitting in the front row taking photos with some friends, going outside and chatting up players after the games, getting photos with them and getting the photos I took of them autographed, and also bringing snacks for the players and jokingly offering to be everyone's English teacher.  This resulted in things like several years in a row, I had actually been out drinking with guys who got drafted, and other shenanigans.

Somewhere along the line I became somewhat obsessed with actually being there in person for a Tokyo University win again.  (I was there when they won a game in 2008, and I was there for a few ties.)  So I started prioritizing those games, and somehow my allegiance shifted from being well-known as a Hosei/Keio fangirl to a Todai fangirl.  It means I am not buddy-buddy with guys in the pros so much anymore, but the Todai guys are always the nicest, smartest, and most interesting ones anyway. Plus, since I've been working for Google for over seven years now, and we have a LOT of Todai grads, it has also been a running joke with a lot of my coworkers in the Tokyo office.

So a decade ago I wrote a post on here called The I-Lost-To-Todai Club pointing out that, since Todai basically can go whole years without winning a game, when they DO actually win, it's a big deal (the slogan on the Fall 2016 posters literally said "We make the news just by winning one game") -- but the pitchers who lose to them aren't generally crappy pitchers -- they're the ones who often end up going into the pros.

Now, part of this is just the luck of the draw, but part of it is also the fact the guys who go pro are usually the ace pitchers who are just pitching more games anyway, so that makes it more likely for them to be up there when Todai happens to have a really good day (and they have a really bad day).  My post a decade ago looked at 2000-2010, so I'm going to take a second here and look at 2010-2020 since it's been a decade.  Here are the games Todai won in the past decade since:
            Win  Loss  Tie   Opponent   WP                 LP
2010 Autumn  1    10    0    Waseda     Shota Suzuki       Yuki Saitoh  
2011 Spring  0    10    1
2011 Autumn  0    10    0
2012 Spring  0    10    0
2012 Autumn  0    10    1
2013 Spring  0    10    0
2013 Autumn  0    10    0
2014 Spring  0    10    0
2014 Autumn  0    10    0
2015 Spring  1    10    0    Hosei      Akihiro Shibata    Shuya Kanno
2015 Autumn  1    10    0    Hosei      Kohei Miyadai      Takuya Kumagai
2016 Spring  3    10    0    Meiji      Akihiro Shibata    Hiromasa Saitoh
                             Rikkio     Kohei Miyadai      Keisuke Sawada
                             Hosei      Kohei Miyadai      Shoichi Tamakuma
2016 Autumn  1    10    0    Rikkio     Kohei Miyadai      Seiya Tanaka
2017 Spring  0    10    0
2017 Autumn  3     8    0    Keio       Kohei Miyadai      Yuki Takahashi
                             Hosei      Kohei Miyadai      Shuya Kanno
                             Hosei      Naoki Miyamoto     Yuya Hasegawa
2018 Spring  0    10    0
2018 Autumn  0    10    1
2019 Spring  0    10    0
2019 Autumn  0    10    0
2020 Spring  0     5    0
2020 Autumn  0     9    1

Total:       10  202    4
That is a slightly less impressive list of losers than the other one was, but not by much. Yuki Saitoh is now on the Fighters, Hiromasa Saitoh is now on the Lions, Keisuke Sawada is now on the Buffaloes.

And that 2010 game? Yuki Saitoh pitched 6 innings and lost and the closer after him was Tatsuya Ohishi who also went pro with the Lions.  The Meiji game in 2016, the starter was Tomoya Hoshi who now plays for the Yakult Swallows.  The Rikkio game in the fall of 2016, the starter was Ichiro Tamura who now plays for the Seibu Lions.

Another funny piece of trivia about the pitchers credited with the wins for Todai: Shota Suzuki was one of the rare Todai players to go on and play in the industrial leagues after graduation, playing for JR East, and now Akihiro Shibata, who won a handful of the 2015-2016 games, also plays for JR East.  (They didn't overlap; Suzuki was on the team for three years 2014-2016 and Shibata joined the team in 2018.)  

Naoki Miyamoto, who was credited with the win in the awesome Oct 8th 2017 game which got Todai their first season win point since 2002, quit baseball and went on to work for one of Japan's largest insurance firms.  

And Kohei Miyadai went on to be the 7th pro baseball player in history to come out of Tokyo University, and he's still playing for the Fighters, and he's currently my favorite Fighters player and definitely one of my all-time favorite Todai players.

Now, you might be wondering: what does this have to do with the draft?  Well, a few weeks ago I was watching the Keio-Todai game featuring Iizawa vs Kizawa -- the Kizawa that just got drafted in the first round by the Yakult Swallows.  And booooooy did he look like crap out there.  I mean, he still pitched 6 shutout innings, but that was mostly Todai shooting themselves in the foot.  At one point I'm pretty sure he'd thrown more balls than strikes.  And unfortunately this was the only game I saw him pitch this semester, so when Kozo asked me what I knew about Kizawa, I was like ... I think he's a fairly consistently good pitcher but he couldn't seem to throw a strike against Todai a few weeks ago!

And since he didn't actually lose a game to Todai, he doesn't actually get to join this club.

Also, last time I got to say that they won 15 games in the 2000-2010 decade.  This time they won only 10 in the following decade (9 if you don't count that I split up the 2010 season between posts).

You really have to understand the context under which Miyadai can be considered one of the greatest in his team's history with a 6-13, 4.26 ERA record.  Takahiro Matsuka (Baystars/Fighters) was 3-17 with a 4.64 ERA, and Ryohei Endoh, who is also one of my favorite people (and current assistant GM for the Fighters), was 8-32 with a 3.63 ERA during his time at Todai.  That 8 wins put him in a tie for 5th-most wins by a pitcher in Todai history.  Itaru Kobayashi managed to get drafted by the Chiba Lotte Marines and the team had a 70-game losing streak while he was playing for them, so he never even got a win.

Anyway, I guess it's been an interesting decade.  Who knows if I'll revisit this in 2030?


NPB Card Guy said...

It probably wasn't the first time but I saw Seiya Tanaka avenge himself for that loss by beating Todai 4-0 last year. He threw a complete game and struck out 11 batters.

Sean said...

This was a really interesting post, glad to see you are still writing them!

I've always loved the fact that Todai has such a terrible baseball team (I am a graduate from another national university which also has a terrible team).