Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My premature WBC roster

 Multiple sources reported this morning that Team Japan altered their thoughts of not going to participate in 2013 World Baseball Classic due to financial conflict between them and WBC Inc. and settled that they'll greet opponents as the two-time reining champion for the exciting tournament held in next spring. And as I'm never an expert either on law or economics and don't have deep knowledge on that convoluted monetary dispute to resolve, I'm going to consider upcoming Team Japan roster just for fun and my curiosity. I should also point out that I don't take into account whether each specific player has a will of joining the national team or can be permitted to play for the competition (due to injuries or team's decision to not abuse their players prior to the season). In other words, I'm going to construct the best possible team just by players' talent and role balance (like LOOGY or defensive replacement).

[Slam Dunk]
@Yu Darvish
@Masahiro Tanaka
@Hiroki Kuroda
@Shinnosuke Abe

These players are far, far better on their respective positions. Basically, you cannot take these players off the roster in order to win the game. While I won't show the numbers on this post (just for my inertia, and I also want to avoid trouble of converting Chinese character to Roman on a player's name), you would see how these players excel relative to their peers at each position without looking for numbers yourself, especially for Darvish and Kuroda.

[Starting Pitchers]
As I stated in the above paragraph, the rotation can consist of Darvish, Tanaka, and Kuroda. You can also nominate some other pitchers since NPB carries lots of good starters like Maeda or Sugiuchi, but they are still some steps behind the top three certainly. So I decide to put both Maeda and Sugiuchi on the bullpen and if some holes occur because of the schedule alignment, either the two can get the nod.

[Relief Pitchers]
 I appoint either Kyuji Fujikawa or Koji Uehara as a closer. Players who should pass the chaining baton to them are Takashi Saito, Hideki Okajima, Tetsuya Yamaguchi (lefty specialist), Hisashi Iwakuma, and Tetsuya Utsumi. Asao? Huh. Why you guys (mostly, casual fans) like him so much? Don't be deceived by his MVP as it was a result of hilarious convention of voters electing it only among players on a pennant winner and no candidate existed on last year's Chunichi Dragons.

 Nobody can give a starting mask to anyone other than Abe, since no catcher exists near on the same level as Abe is. Doesn't you write a lineup which lists Hector Sanchez as a catcher instead of Buster Posey on the very critical game?
 The two backup catchers I want to add are Motohiro Shima and Tomoya Satozaki. Shima has a good platoon splits against a lefty if I remember it correctly, but even accounting for the advantage, I don't think it comes to a degree of turning down Abe's use as a starter.

 Nobuhiro Matsuda as 3rd baseman, Takashi Toritani or Hayato Sakamoto as a shortstop, Kensuke Tanaka as 2nd baseman, and Takeya Nakamura as 1st baseman. You may be surprised to hear this, but Tsuyoshi Nishioka is also a good contender for the backup. However intensely you jeer at him, you shouldn't forget that he was one of the best infielder in NPB prior to coming to MLB. However, I hugely want to recommend Masahiko Morino to the team, as he is the best all-around, versatile player I've ever seen excluding only one player (Ben Zobrist, easily).

 Actually, I worried about whether Hisayoshi Chono should be on the 'Slam Dank' list, but keep him away since there are many other contenders both on MLB and NPB. Other than Chono, Yoshio Itoi is always a player you have to seriously consider to include. And next to them sit Takumi Kuriyama, Tomotaka Sakaguchi, and Seiichi Uchikawa. Also in MLB, you can get familiar names as Ichiro Suzuki, Norichika Aoki, Kosuke Fukudome, and Hideki Matsui has (or did?) provide a good amount of values to their own teams.
 But I cannot carry all those players. So I put Ichiro at RF, Itoi at CF, and Aoki at LF against right-handed starters, and Ichiro at RF, Chono at CF, and Uchikawa at LF against lefty starters with Fukudome as a late-inning pinch-hitter. And Uchikawa can play also at 1B.

So my suggested final roster is as follows:

@Yu Darvish
@Masahiro Tanaka
@Hiroki Kuroda

@Kenta Maeda
@Toshiya Sugiuchi

@Kyuji Fujikawa
@Koji Uehara
@Takashi Saito
@Tetsuya Yamaguchi
@Hisashi Iwakuma
@Tetsuya Utsumi
@Hideki Okajima

@Shinnosuke Abe
@Motohiro Shima
@Tomoya Satozaki

@Nobuhiko Matsuda
@Takashi Toritani
@Hayato Sakamoto
@Kensuke Tanaka
@Takeya Nakamura
@Seiichi Uchikawa

@Hisayoshi Chono
@Yoshio Itoi
@Ichiro Suzuki
@Norichika Aoki
@Kosuke Fukudome
@Seiichi Uchikawa

The number of players on each position is equal to that on last WBC. Actually, this list stems from just my brief thinking and it should be considered more carefully. With the appropriate time approached, I'll have a much deeper look at this again with some numbers scattered on your screen and possibly through simulated lineup (though I wonder I could finish my sim coding by the end of this year. It's too hard for my current skill as a programmer.).