Sunday, June 30, 2013

Latinos Leading the NPB Central League in Batting and Homers

Every so often I like to look across the big pond known as the Pacific Ocean to take a look at the progress of the Latinos that play over in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB). As in years past, I have spent extensive time looking at Alex "Rami-Chan" Ramirez. Though Ramirez made history earlier this season when he became the first foreign player to reach the 2000 hit plateau (which I profiled in my blogpost Rami-Chan First Foreign Player in NPB to Reach 2000 Hits), there have been a new crop of Latino players to make their mark in Japan.

As of Saturday June 29th, three of the top six hitters in the Central League are from Latin-American countries with a fourth player being from Curaçao. Take a look at the batting race below (courtesy of the NPB Batting title statistics website):

Saturday, June 29, 2013
Minimum plate appearances equal to 3.1 times the number of games played by that player's club
1Luna, Hector
2Murton, Matt
3Blanco, Tony.33167284236417870251606700014067623.678.440
4Nakamura, Norihiro.31162247222226991910733000121033312.482.377
5Balentien, Wladimir.31055239200406280251455600013820465.725.418
6Lopez, Jose.310652592423075160111242910101105326.512.353

In at the top is Dominican Hector Luna who is leading the Central League with a .377 average in his first season playing in Japan for the Chunichi Dragons. Luna has 101 hits (22 2B/3 3B/8 HR) with 45 RBI, 26 walks, 44 strikeouts and an OPS of 1.005 (.434 OBP/.571 SLG). For those of you who aren't familiar with Luna, he last played in MLB for the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2012 season.

Third in the batting race is Dominican Tony Blanco who is not only batting .331 but is tied for the Central League Home Run race with 25 homers (with Wladimir Balentien of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows) in his first season with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars (he played the last four seasons with the Chunichi Dragons). Blanco has 78 hits (7 2B/0 3B/25 HR) with a league leading 67 RBI, 40 walks, 62 strikeouts and an OPS of 1.118 (.440 OBP/.678 SLG). Blanco last played in MLB in 2005 for the Washington Nationals.

Tied for fifth in the batting race is Venezuelan Jose Lopez who is batting .310 in his first season playing in Japan for the Yomiyuri Giants. Lopez has 75 hits (16 2B/0 3B/11 HR) with 29 RBI, 11 walks, 32 strikeouts and an OPS of .865 (.353 OBP/.512 SLG). Lopez is a veteran of MLB having played the majority of his career with the Seattle Mariners and last played in the league last season with the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. 

I'm going to give a special mention to Wladimir Balentien who is from Curaçao. Balentien is tied fifth in the league with a .310 average and tied for the league lead in home runs with the aforementioned Tony Blanco. 

So there you have it. I'll make sure to check in on the progress of these and other Latinos that might be playing in Asia. 幸運の兄弟。(Buena suerte hermanos).

Baseball Sisco

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