The Swallows have played 82 games prior to the All Star break. The Swallows find themselves in last place at the break for the first time since 1986. What follows is a disjointed list of stats and trivia from the team’s first 82 games.
- The team’s 32-49-1 record puts them 2 games out of fifth place, and 4 games out of a playoff spot.
- Lastings Milledge is the only Swallow to play in all 82 games. Milledge started all 82 of those games at left field, he’s only been replaced late in the game 8 times so far this season. Kazuhiro Hatakeyama is second the team with 72 games played (69 starts). Only Milledge, Hatake, and Wladimir Balentien have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.
- On the pitching side, Tetsuya Yamamoto leads the pen with 32 appearances, followed closely by Taichi Ishiyama with 31 appearances. Among the starters, Yasuhiro Ogawa and Ryosuke Yagi lead the team with 15 starts.
- 28 different pitchers have taken the mound for the Swallows this season. 12 different pitchers have taken the mound as a starter.
- Kyohei Muranaka, Orlando Roman, Kenichi Matsuoka, and Masato Furuno have both started and come out of the pen this season.
- The Swallows have a total of 35 pitchers listed on their 70-man roster. Yoshinori, Yuya Ota, Kengo Tagawa, Yuji Nakane, Hitoshi Yamamoto, Rafael Fernandes, and Hugo Kanabushi are the only pitchers that have yet to make a first team appearance this year.
- We all know that rookie Yasuhiro Ogawa is the bomb, but let’s quantify his awesomeness. Ogawa leads the team in the Triple Crown categories (10W, 2.62 ERA, 69 K). He also leads Swallows’ starters in various stats, including WHIP (1.16), quality starts (11), quality start % (73.3%), K/BB ratio (2.38), HR/9 (0.27), BAA (.233), and BABIP (.271). His high win rate can be attributed to his high run support. Ogawa boasts a 4.72 run support rate as calculated by NulData. Ogawa is the only regular starter (10+ starts) that has a run support rate above the team average of 3.79. It will be interesting to see if Ogawa can continue his great rookie campaign, or whether more scouting and/or fatigue will take their toll on the rookie.
- Sophomore southpaw Ryosuke Yagi is the only other starter that has shown any consistency. Yagi has a 2-6 record despite having a 60% quality start rate. His 3.05 ERA has not lead to wins thanks in part to his 2.48 run support rate. Yagi has lost or has not gotten a no decision in 3 games in which he has pitched 7 inning and held the opposition to 1 run or less.
- Among offensive players, Wladimir Balentien’s numbers have been the only ones that have been impressive. In just 70 games Balentien has already beaten his NPB career high of 31 homeruns with 32. His impressive homerun totals come with a higher walk rate (5.57 PA/BB) and a lower strikeout rate (5.57 PA/K), he has an equal numer of walks and strikeouts at the break. Coco leads the league in both OBP (.435) and SLG% (.740), which means he leads the league in OPS with 1.175. Coco has had 6 multi-homer games, 12 multi-walk games, and only 3 three-plus K games. Unfortunately unlike last season when a Coco homer was a harbinger for a win (20-5 record when he homered), the team is only 13-12 when he hits a homerun.
- Lastings Milledge has put up OK numbers that look exceptional within a a team that has underperformed offensively. However, his overall numbers have all taken a dip as we can see by comparing his rate numbers from last season (.252 vs .300 BA, .379 vs. .327 OBP, and .419 vs. .487 SLG%).
- Despite the crazy number of call ups to the top team, the ni-gun Swallows actually lead the Eastern League with a 41-25-5 record.
This is just a snippet of stats that caught my fancy. It goes without saying that the team needs to play much better in its last 62 games to have a shot at a playoff spot. The offense may finally be gelling with the return of Kawabata and the emergence of young players like Yamada. The big question mark remains in the starting rotation. After the All Star break the team will play 6 games a week with little exception, and the team will need to figure out some sort of rotation that can give the bullpen some rest. The team has tried almost every possibility and needs to settle on something.