NPB leaderboards (June 6): Don’t count Messenger out

Among the highlights of the second week of interleague play in Nippon Professional Baseball was Saturday’s pitching duel at Koshien Stadium between the Nippon-Ham Fighters’ young ace Shohei Otani and Hanshin Tigers veteran and former MLBer Randy Messenger.

Otani struck out 11 batters in 7 innings pitched, but the one run he allowed on three singles in the fourth inning were all the Tigers needed to hand him his first loss of the season. Messenger threw eight shutout innings with 8 Ks, allowing just two hits and two walks before handing the ball over to closer Seung-Hwan¬†Oh. Facing the top of the Fighters’ batting order, the South Korean international struck out the side to end the game with NPB home run leader Sho Nakata on deck. It was Oh’s 16th save.

With Saturday’s performance, Messenger, a 33-year-old from Nevada, lowered his ERA from 5.14 to 4.50. It was his second-straight scoreless start. But through his first eight starts, Messenger’s ERA had climbed into the upper 5s and in mid-May he was demoted to Hanshin’s ni-gun (minor league) team in the Western League for one start.

The demotion was probably unnecessary. The right-hander’s earned run average in his sixth season in Japan is more than a run per nine innings higher than his NPB career ERA, but it doesn’t paint a complete picture of his performance. Messenger’s ERA is 1.79 runs per nine innings higher than his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), meaning he is likely a victim of some poor defense and/or bad luck. That 1.79 ERA-to-FIP differential is the highest among NPB pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched. The only other qualifying pitcher with an E-F differential greater than 1 is Kenji Tomura of the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Furthermore, Messenger has struck out 24.5% of the batters he’s faced this season, seventh best in NPB. That’s down from 25.9% last year, when he led the Japanese leagues with 226 Ks, but higher than the rate at which he struck out batters in his best season based on ERA (20.7% K% and 2.52 ERA in 2012). He’s also walking fewer batters (6.7% vs. 7.9% in 2014; 8.1% in 2012).

Shintaro Fujinami (2.17 FIP) is the Tigers’ ace, but Messenger’s ERA should rebound and he will remain a key part of a team very much in the hunt for the Climax Series.

Below are pitching and batting leaderboards for qualifying players through June 6.

 

NPB pitching leaderboard

Through games of June 6, 2015. Minimum 56 innings pitched.

Pitcher Team IP ERA FIP ERA- FIP- K% K/BB
Otani, Shohei Nippon-Ham Fighters 63.2 1.70 1.25 49 36 32.9% 4.2
Maeda, Kenta Hiroshima Carp 82.0 1.76 1.81 55 57 22.2% 4.9
Fujinami, Shintaro Hanshin Tigers 79.2 1.92 2.17 64 73 24.7% 3.7
Norimoto, Takahiro Rakuten Golden Eagles 72.0 3.00 2.23 85 63 25.1% 4.4
Nomi, Atsushi Hanshin Tigers 60.1 3.28 2.31 110 77 21.1% 4.1
Sugano, Tomoyuki Yomiuri Giants 73.0 1.36 2.35 43 75 17.1% 4.4
Dickson, Brandon Orix Buffaloes 76.2 1.29 2.50 36 70 19.5% 2.5
Osera, Daichi Hiroshima Carp 60.1 3.43 2.61 107 82 21.4% 3.7
Takagi, Hayato Yomiuri Giants 72.0 2.25 2.65 72 85 19.1% 3.0
Nishi, Yuki Orix Buffaloes 59.0 2.75 2.66 78 75 24.3% 3.6
Ono, Yudai Chunichi Dragons 86.0 1.78 2.69 59 89 15.3% 2.3
Ishikawa, Ayumu Chiba Lotte Marines 69.2 3.62 2.70 105 78 15.5% 6.4
Messenger, Randy Hanshin Tigers 64.0 4.50 2.71 150 91 24.5% 3.7
Wakui, Hideaki Chiba Lotte Marines 75.0 2.88 2.86 84 83 16.5% 2.4
Yamaguchi, Shun Yokohama BayStars 68.0 3.84 2.86 114 85 25.0% 3.3
Takeda, Shota SoftBank Hawks 69.0 3.65 2.91 105 83 23.3% 4.1
Valdes, Raul Chunichi Dragons 83.0 3.14 2.92 104 97 17.5% 2.8
Sugiuchi, Toshiya Yomiuri Giants 60.1 3.43 3.04 109 97 27.3% 2.5
Poreda, Aaron Yomiuri Giants 65.1 3.17 3.07 101 98 14.8% 2.5
Johnson, Kris Hiroshima Carp 75.0 2.28 3.07 71 96 16.4% 1.6
Kuroda, Hiroki Hiroshima Carp 64.1 2.94 3.12 92 98 13.7% 2.8
Ishikawa, Masanori Yakult Swallows 67.0 3.22 3.12 95 93 12.9% 2.8
Iwata, Minoru Hanshin Tigers 67.2 2.79 3.29 93 110 18.2% 2.3
Ogawa, Yasuhiro Yakult Swallows 64.1 2.80 3.41 83 101 15.5% 5.0
Makita, Kazuhisa Seibu Lions 72.0 2.13 3.48 58 95 10.9% 1.5
Ino, Shoichi Yokohama BayStars 66.0 2.73 3.50 81 104 16.4% 1.9
Standridge, Jason SoftBank Hawks 73.1 3.44 3.51 99 101 14.3% 1.8
Nakata, Kenichi SoftBank Hawks 58.1 3.09 3.53 89 101 19.6% 2.4
Shiomi, Takahiro Rakuten Golden Eagles 61.2 2.77 3.55 79 101 19.5% 4.1
Tomei, Daiki Orix Buffaloes 62.2 3.59 3.70 101 104 19.7% 3.1
Ray, Kenny Rakuten Golden Eagles 58.2 2.61 3.82 74 108 16.5% 3.0
Yoshikawa, Mitsuo Nippon-Ham Fighters 59.0 2.90 3.94 84 114 15.0% 2.2
Uwasawa, Naoyuki Nippon-Ham Fighters 57.0 3.79 3.99 110 115 11.6% 1.4
Yamai, Daisuke Chunichi Dragons 71.0 3.80 4.03 126 134 13.4% 1.6
Togame, Ken Seibu Lions 59.2 2.87 4.28 78 117 20.6% 2.4
Settsu, Tadashi SoftBank Hawks 73.0 3.95 4.38 114 126 16.8% 1.9
Kubo, Yasutomo Yokohama BayStars 58.0 3.88 4.47 115 133 18.5% 2.9
Otonari, Kenji SoftBank Hawks 65.1 2.89 4.64 83 133 10.7% 1.9

NPB batting leaderboard

Through games of June 6, 2015. Minimum 169 plate appearances.

Player Team PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG wRC+
Yanagita, Yuki SoftBank Hawks 254 12 1 13 .366 .457 .611 190
Tsutsugo, Yoshitomo Yokohama BayStars 217 10 1 11 .326 .396 .560 190
Kiyota, Ikuhiro Chiba Lotte Marines 179 15 0 7 .369 .436 .594 183
Lee, Dae-Ho SoftBank Hawks 221 14 0 15 .330 .403 .629 181
Hirata, Ryosuke Chunichi Dragons 200 10 1 5 .320 .402 .474 178
Luna, Hector Chunichi Dragons 211 8 1 3 .331 .422 .438 172
Hatakeyama, Kazuhiro Yakult Swallows 240 8 0 16 .265 .354 .531 166
Lopez, Jose Yokohama BayStars 234 13 0 10 .311 .368 .514 163
Arai, Takahiro Hiroshima Carp 172 9 2 2 .325 .390 .448 158
Kajitani, Takayuki Yokohama BayStars 218 17 1 3 .314 .382 .459 153
Yamada, Tetsuto Yakult Swallows 260 16 1 7 .288 .373 .459 151
Fukudome, Kosuke Hanshin Tigers 217 12 1 6 .261 .359 .435 149
Nakata, Sho Nippon-Ham Fighters 241 10 0 18 .259 .357 .571 147
Asamura, Hideto Seibu Lions 253 10 1 7 .322 .415 .479 141
Kondo, Kensuke Nippon-Ham Fighters 185 14 2 1 .321 .407 .453 138
Akiyama, Shogo Seibu Lions 265 13 3 5 .350 .394 .488 138
Tanaka, Kosuke Hiroshima Carp 237 16 4 3 .297 .340 .447 137
Gomez, Mauro Hanshin Tigers 235 12 0 5 .266 .353 .396 137
Nakamura, Takeya Seibu Lions 238 14 0 17 .262 .332 .565 137
Mori, Tomoya Seibu Lions 222 17 0 12 .293 .342 .551 135
Nishikawa, Haruki Nippon-Ham Fighters 249 9 8 3 .297 .394 .458 134
Caraballo, Francisco Orix Buffaloes 193 9 0 11 .290 .337 .528 131
Matsuda, Nobuhiro SoftBank Hawks 233 7 0 13 .295 .348 .514 131
Cruz, Luis Chiba Lotte Marines 217 11 1 13 .274 .318 .532 129
Oshima, Yohei Chunichi Dragons 269 7 3 3 .293 .351 .384 129
Kawabata, Shingo Yakult Swallows 253 13 0 2 .321 .364 .402 127
Kakunaka, Katsuya Chiba Lotte Marines 219 11 1 3 .318 .386 .432 126
Kamei, Yoshiyuki Yomiuri Giants 170 10 0 3 .276 .337 .401 124
Toritani, Takashi Hanshin Tigers 253 6 3 2 .269 .359 .352 124
Nishioka, Tsuyoshi Hanshin Tigers 190 8 0 2 .265 .353 .349 122
Pena, Wily Mo Rakuten Golden Eagles 190 11 1 2 .257 .405 .382 122
Sakamoto, Hayato Yomiuri Giants 204 7 2 4 .261 .337 .389 121
Nakamura, Akira SoftBank Hawks 234 9 0 1 .322 .409 .382 121
Uchikawa, Seiichi SoftBank Hawks 247 9 0 6 .311 .368 .432 117
Baldiris, Aarom Yokohama BayStars 216 8 0 7 .243 .324 .397 111
Uemoto, Hiroki Hanshin Tigers 232 9 1 2 .241 .335 .330 108
Maru, Yoshihiro Hiroshima Carp 246 6 1 6 .228 .335 .354 108
Hernandez, Anderson Chunichi Dragons 246 11 1 4 .277 .300 .385 108
Imae, Toshiaki Chiba Lotte Marines 227 9 3 1 .301 .352 .388 102
Akaminai, Ginji Rakuten Golden Eagles 193 5 0 0 .318 .379 .347 100
Ishikawa, Takehiro Yokohama BayStars 264 7 1 1 .296 .335 .346 98
Kataoka, Yasuyuki Yomiuri Giants 194 3 0 5 .245 .301 .356 98
Kikuchi, Ryosuke Hiroshima Carp 253 9 1 4 .260 .296 .367 95
Fujita, Kazuya Rakuten Golden Eagles 245 11 1 3 .290 .338 .393 95
Takai, Yuhei Yakult Swallows 231 16 0 3 .250 .307 .368 93
Tanaka, Kensuke Nippon-Ham Fighters 205 7 1 1 .267 .348 .333 90
Okada, Takahiro Orix Buffaloes 187 11 0 5 .257 .299 .406 88
Itoi, Yoshio Orix Buffaloes 252 12 0 5 .233 .329 .356 87
Mejia, Ernesto Seibu Lions 218 11 0 10 .210 .289 .421 86
Suzuki, Daichi Chiba Lotte Marines 217 11 0 1 .270 .332 .346 86
Nakashima, Takuya Nippon-Ham Fighters 228 4 0 0 .277 .359 .297 85
Ibata, Hirokazu Yomiuri Giants 192 6 0 0 .240 .328 .275 85
Shima, Motohiro Rakuten Golden Eagles 185 5 0 3 .225 .348 .318 84
Hermida, Jeremy Nippon-Ham Fighters 174 8 1 1 .221 .333 .309 81
Adachi, Ryoichi Orix Buffaloes 240 7 1 3 .236 .328 .327 79
Matsui, Kazuo Rakuten Golden Eagles 215 7 1 5 .234 .305 .359 79
Murton, Matt Hanshin Tigers 229 9 0 0 .245 .297 .288 78
Kuriyama, Takumi Seibu Lions 255 10 0 3 .249 .327 .333 78
Goto, Mitsutaka Rakuten Golden Eagles 209 10 0 4 .245 .273 .357 67
Laird, Brandon Nippon-Ham Fighters 221 8 0 8 .181 .262 .342 65
Nakamura, Yuhei Yakult Swallows 179 7 0 0 .222 .278 .265 51
Imamiya, Kenta SoftBank Hawks 224 9 0 2 .194 .233 .270 33
Sumitani, Ginjiro Seibu Lions 201 5 0 0 .209 .249 .236 25