News and Standings from across the wide world of baseball (THIS IS A BIG POST SO THERE IS A JUMP AFTER THE FIRST FEW PARAGRAPHS):
In Asia, baseball season is now in full swing, with Japan, Korea and Taiwan all in motion.
In Japan, home of Nippon Pro Baseball, the standings currently look like this (from Yakyu Baka):
As you can see, the teams have already started to spread out a bit, forming into de-facto groups of great, good and bad. The cream of the crop in the NPB, once again, seems to be the Yomiuri Giants, who have 14 wins, 4 losses, and two ties (there are ties in NPB). Only two teams are within five games of them. The Giants, winners of 22 Japan Series and the current defending champions, have several names that would be familiar to baseball fans in North America. Shinnosuke Abe, the team’s captain, is a long-time mainstay of the Japanese national team at the WBC, and former Major Leaguers like John Bowker, Jose Lopez, D.J. Houlton and Scott Mathieson have played for the Giants this season as well. Hayato Sakamoto (another member of the 2013 WBC team) and Shuichi Murata are among the Central League’s HR leaders.
It’s a bit closer over in the Pacific League, but like in the Central League, one team has clearly gotten off to a very good start: The Seibu Lions. Based out of Torozawa, the Lions are being paced at the plate by former MLBer Esteban German, 22-year-olds Hideto Asamura and Yuji Kaneko, and outfielder Takumi Kuriyama. The pitching has also been excellent, and features 2013 WBC pitcher Hideaki Wakui and a young lefty named Yusei Kikuchi, who is 2-1 with a 1.03 ERA in 4 starts.
Also, some interesting news: NPB will open the 2014 season with games in the LA area.
(JUMP FOR MORE)