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03/20/2008 Archived Entry: "Japanese Baseball Team Preview 2008: Fukuoka Softbank Hawks"

Japanese Baseball Team Preview 2008: Fukuoka Softbank Hawks
Glenn Davies, Tokyo Japan


CHUNICHI DRAGONS                                                                                          2008 SEASON TEAM PREVIEW

FUKUOKA SOFTBANK HAWKS TEAM PREVIEW 2008 SEASON 

Sadaharu Oh returns to manage the Hawks for his 13th year in 2008 and will again lead a club stocked with pitching talent and offensive promise. The rotation is unchanged from last year and was 1st in ERA (3.18) and saves in 2007 (48). The hitting took a bit of a HR dip last year but still finished 1st in average at .267 and looks likely to be very competitive again in 2008. The Hawks have finished 1-3rd every year for the last 10 years and have won 2 Japan Series championships in that period, Oh will be looking to retire soon and with 5 years since their last championship 2008 may be his push to end on that high note.

PREDICTION: 2nd in the Pacific League

PROBABLE LINEUP                                                                       

Avg

HR

RBI

2B

Honda

.275

2

42

SS

Kawasaki

.329

4

43

LF

Tamura

.271

13

68

1B

Matsunaka

.266

15

68

3B

Kokubo

.277

25

82

DH

Restovich

.143

0

1

CF

Omura

.319

1

31

C

Tanoue

.264

9

26

RF

Shibahara

.273

6

40

PH

Ide

.235

2

16

Honda and Kawasaki set the table well at the top of the order and provided 34 and 23 stolen bases each in 2008. Tamura came over form the Bay Stars last year but couldn't replicate his 2005 form of 31HRs, hell be looking to improve on last years numbers. Matsunaka had his worst career year for HR/RBI and average and took a lot of criticism in 2007, he will also be looking to prove he can still do it. Kokubo is 37 this year and still looks capable of 30-100, Restovich was a bench player for the Washington Nationals in 2007 and is the unproven quantity  for the Hawks after Buchanan went back to the majors. 

PITCHING

 

 

W

L

ERA

SV

SP

Saito

6

3

2.74

 

SP

Sugiuchi

15

6

2.46

 

SP

Wada

12

10

2.82

SP

Arakaki

7

10

3.60

SP

Guttormson

5

7

3.52

CL

Mahara

2

4

1.47

38

The Hawks win with pitching and suffered a little through injuries last year. When healthy, Saito - Sugiuchi- Wada are unbeatable and are the kind of trio that get you to the Japan Series. Saito has won 16-20 in each of the 4 years before 2007 and looks strong in spring training. Sugiuchi continues to impress with almost 1 strikeout per inning pitched. Wada is 65-32 in his 6 year career and would be an ace on any other team. Arakaki suffered his first losing record and will also be looking to bounce back to his average of roughly 10-5 a season. Guttormson was a spot starter in 07 after coming over form the Swallows and will play the same role this season. Mahara completed his 3rd solid season as closer, having amassed 89 saves in 3 seasons now.

 

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