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03/09/2006 Archived Entry: "Japanese Baseball: Yokohama Bay Stars Team Preview 2006"

Japanese Baseball: Yokohama Bay Stars Team Preview 2006
Glenn Davies, Tokyo

The Bay Stars finished third in 2005, the clubs best season since 2001 and in fact this was the first time it had not finished last since 2001. Manager Kazuhiko Ushijima will however be well aware that it was not a winning record and that will most likely be the target for the Bay Stars in 2006. The pitching rotation looks strong enough to make that possible but more selective hitting and productive at bats will need to be the batting mantra. Too often in '05 the Bay Stars wasted at bats with hitters swinging from the heels at balls. If the hitting develops and the pitching holds the Bay Stars may get that winning season.

Probable Lineup 2006:
Pos. Name Avg. HR RBI SB
1. SS Takuro Ishii .255 8 40 18
2. LF Masaki Koike .243 20 53 0
3. RF Tatsuhiro Kinjyo .324 12 87 1
4. 1B Takahiro Saeki .272 19 88 5
5. CF Shuichi Tamura .304 31 79 2
6. 3B Shuichi Murata .252 28 82 1
7. 2B Hitoshi Taneda .310 9 61 7
8. C Ryoji Aikawa .259 8 46 0
PH OF Takanori Suzuki .215 0 9 0

Baystars batting combined for a .265 average in '05, second worst in the Central league. An improvement would clearly improve the fortunes of the Bay Stars as they went a league worst 19-25 in one run games. Ishii leads off and although he has lost a step he has excellent base running instincts that help him to steal 20 a year, the only concern would be any further drop off in his on base percentage. Kinjyo hit .300 for the third season in a row and Tamura has excellent power to all fields, he looks ready for a monster season if his WBC form is any indication. Saeki will provide some pop in the middle and free swinging Murata could have a great season if he could be a little more selective. Aikawa calls a good game and just needs to make better contact to join the catching elite. Suzuki is penciled in here as the most likely to be first off the bench but has been playing well in spring training and may well find a spot in the lineup. Suzuki has had poor seasons over the past few years and will be keen to regain form.

Probable Rotation 2006:
Name Games W L Sv ERA
SP Daisuke Miura 28 12 9 0 2.52
SP Ken Kadokura 29 11 8 0 3.37
SP Yoshiro Doi 26 10 11 0 3.83
SP Yuji Yoshimi 12 4 2 0 4.22
SP Jason Beverlin - - - - -
SU Takeo Kawamura 56 6 6 0 2.31
CP Marc Kroon 55 3 2 26 2.70

The Bay Stars rotation has Miura penciled in as its ace and will be hoping that last years win total, his best in 5 seasons, was not an aberration. Miura has become quite a crafty pitcher and entices the groundball well. Kadokura also had a career year and it will be vital for them both to duplicate their win totals for the Bay Stars to place in the top three again. Doi made great strides in '05 as a starter after years of bullpen work. Beverlin won nine games with Yakult in 2004 and the Stars will be hoping for a return to starting form for him. Yoshimi hasn't pitched more than 110 innings since 2002 and will likely wear down through the year. Kroon was undoubtedly the success for the Bay Stars in 2005 and he filled the shoes of the retiring Kauhiro Sasaki well. Kroon clocked a record speed of 161km/hr with a pitch last year and he locates his fastball well at an average of 159km/hr, not too many batters enjoy digging in against him.

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