Tokyo's offense since the break

Well, it’s been a rough start to the second half of the season, folks. The birds have only won four of their 12 games that they’ve played since the All-Star Break in late July.

The Tokyo Swallows are now 7.5 games behind the first place Giants.

A lot of things aren’t clicking at the moment: the starting pitching has had several glitches; the 24-7 small-ball strategy hasn’t been generating many runs; the relievers are beginning to show some signs of overuse; and Takada has returned to last year’s habit of meddling with the lineup when the game is close.

But rather than focus on all those problems, let’s take a moment to look at how the starting lineup has been performing offensively so far during the second half.

The fearless leader.

The starting lineup (excluding the pitcher) has generally looked something like this over the past 12 games:

1. Aoki
2. Tanaka
3. Fukuchi
4. D’Antona
5. Guiel
6. Miyamoto
7. Aikawa
8. Kawashima

Aoki has actually been moved back to third in the order recently, and he has split time at left and center (switching back and forth with Fukuchi). Otherwise, everyone else listed here has pretty much stayed in their normal spot both on the field and in the batting order.

With the exception of Miyamoto (due to injury), everyone has started in at least 10 of the 12 games played so far (the numbers discussed here only reflect at-bats from games that the players started). It’s pretty safe to say that these are the regular guys for Tokyo.

Lighting it up

D’Antona is leading the way on offense without a doubt. He’s had 18 hits, including two home runs, and tallied nine rbi’s since the break. He’s also added three walks to help him boast a .383 batting average (avg.) and .420 on base percentage (OBP).

Kawashima has had a nice run of late. He’s hitting .333/.378 while driving in five runs, drawing three walks, and collecting 14 hits (including one homer).

Aoki is also playing well right now. He’s had three rbi’s and six walks to complement his 15 hits (one home run). His .319 avg. and .396 OBP have been very helpful.

Productive

Guiel hasn’t been hitting the ball very often (only six hits), but he’s been getting on base. He has been beaned three times and walked five to help his OBP stay at .333. He’s also driven in six runs off of his six hits (one homer), so he’s obviously getting things done when guys are on base bespite his 12-game .176 avg.

Tanaka is way better than his numbers indicate, but he spends a disproportionate amount of time bunting and losing chances to collect hits compared to the other guys on the team (Tanaka leads the league with 31 sac bunts thus far). He had 10 hits and drove in four runs while compiling a .263 avg. His OBP is .333 thanks to the four walks that he drew. He is by far the most under-utilized bat in the order.

Miyamoto has been a steady contributor, as always, to the Tokyo offense. He’s had 10 hits (one home run), one walk, and three rbi’s. He’s also sporting .294/.314 vitals. Congratulations go out to the Miyamoto household as they celebrated the birth of their fourth child, a baby girl, on the eighth of this month!

Yikes!

Aikawa has been having a rough time at the plate. He’s had 10 hits, but at the same time he’s only drawn a single walk. His numbers, .200/.220, show that he might benefit from some more patience at the plate (ie. try to draw more walks).

Fukuchi has done almost nothing at the plate over the last 12 games. To illustrate: in the third game last week versus Yokohama, he struck out four times! He has reached base only eight times, seven hits and one plunking, and recorded only two rbi’s despite Kawashima, Aoki, and Tanaka’s rather decent OBP’s. Fukuchi has gone 0-12 in his last three starts and that is part of the reason why he has a .163 avg. and a .182 OBP.

Conclusion

So there you have it. A couple of guys are slumping at the moment, but the team as a whole isn’t in terribly bad shape. The weak links, Fukuchi and Aikawa, will hopefully pick it up a bit (especially Aikawa since the team doesn’t have a viable replacement), and the rest of the team will keep the team competitive so long as they generate a few extra runs and make sure that Takada stays in his seat.

The big worry is that Fukuchi has been hitting like a pitcher, and that’s basically why he lost his spot in the starting lineup during the first and third games versus Yomiuri.

However, if Fukuchi’s plate appearances have been so unproductive, then why was Tanaka continually asked to bunt? Why waste an out when Fukuchi’s OBP is sub-.200? This is perhaps more evidence that Takada neither cares for nor understands sabremetrics.

Moreso than in years past, we can be reasonably confident that the pitching coach will sort out some of the complications with the rotation and bullpen and help protect leads. This should take some of the pressure off of the offense and allow them to play the way that they did during the beginning of the season.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini