Fantasy Baseball Returns

Yes, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Last season, if you’ll recall, I did an informal “Fantasy Tigers” league with two of my friends. We drafted almost all the Tigers players, and kept track of first squad and farm stats to determine a winning manager. It was a little too simplistic, and lost its excitement when someone took a huge lead after a couple of months.

Well, I got asked to join an all-NPB fantasy league by someone, and so we did our draft over the past week. The rules are pretty complicated, but I’ll do my best to explain them briefly.

  1. Everyone has to draft a hitter at every position, including DH. So, 9 hitters total. Also, everyone has to draft 4 starting pitchers and 2 relievers. The roster size is 15.
  2. The first round of the hitters and pitchers draft (they were done separately) is by lottery, much like the NPB draft. So if two people try to get Shunsuke with their first pick, a random draw determines who gets to keep him and who has to pick another player. The rounds after that were done in a pre-determined order. Third and fourth round picks (both in the hitters and pitchers draft) get “protected” status. (More about that later.)
  3. The player with the best total in each of the major hitting and pitching categories (for example, home runs, RBIs, wins, ERA, etc.) earns his fantasy team a point. It must be the best number in NPB, not just the Central or Pacific League. Similarly, the player with the worst numbers in the “bad” categories (strikeouts for hitters, errors, walks for pitchers, etc.) earns his fantasy team a negative point.
  4. The positive and negative points get added up to give that fantasy team a total score. Each week, the two teams with the highest totals are left vulnerable. The fifth and fourth place teams get to force a trade with those leaders – one player for one player, position for position. (So for example, if T-Ray is in the lead after week 1, and Arnaud is in last place, he can swap his second baseman, Asamura, for mine, Yamada.) The exceptions, of course, are the protected players.
  5. Also, at the end of the week, managers are allowed to make one add/drop. For example, if I do not like how Scott Mathieson is doing for me, I can drop him and pick up another reliever. (However, in doing so, Mathieson – one of my protected players – loses that status, and the new guy I pick up does not gain that status… which leaves me more vulnerable in future weeks.)
  6. The weekly point totals get added up and at the end of the year, the team with the most points wins. What do they win? Bragging rights. And maybe a merchandise package from me. Not sure yet.

So without further ado, here are the draft results, as well as comments from the fantasy team owners. Protected players are in bold.

Arnaud (League Founder)

Catcher M. Shima (Rakuten)
First Base J. Lopez (DeNA)
Second Base H. Asamura (Seibu)
Third Base T. Toritani (Hanshin)
Shortstop H. Sakamoto (Y*miuri)
Left Field S. Takayama (Hanshin)
Center Field Y. Itoi (Hanshin)
Right Field T. Kajitani (DeNA)
Designated Hitter Y. Tsutsugoh (DeNA)


Starter 1 T. Sugano (Y*miuri)
Starter 2 S. Otani (Nippon Ham)
Starter 3 Y. Iwasada (Hanshin)
Starter 4 C. Kaneko (Orix)
Closer/Reliever 1 N. Miyanishi (Nippon Ham)
Closer/Reliever 2 D. Sarfate (SoftBank)

Comments: Hello, I’m Arnaud from France, I decide to start this Fantasy league with friends because nothing exist like this for foreign people following NPB. I’m pretty satisfied of my whole team and I had the chance to draft Tsutsugoh and Sugano for first round without any lottery. What makes me the most proud is that I got more Hanshin Tigers players than others, which makes me the Best Hanshin Fan here … and maybe the crazyest player…No there’s Philippe. March is the betting month, I already bet that R.Arai will do 15 HR/bat flip this year to win a Jersey. Now it’s time to be serious. I think I have a pretty solid and polyvalent team. S.Takayama and Y.Iwasada are secured on my team and my favorite T.Toritani too. I hope to see him better than last year. But even with bad stats there will always be a place for him in my team. Win with Losers is even more delightful. So prepare yourself to lose against “l’oiseau de la vallée”.

Mathieu (Arnaud’s Brother)

Catcher F. Haraguchi (Hanshin)
First Base S. Nakata (Nippon Ham)
Second Base Y. Honda (SoftBank)
Third Base S. Kawabata (Yakult)
Shortstop K. Tanaka (Hiroshima)
Left Field D. Yoh (Y*miuri)
Center Field Y. Yanagita (SoftBank)
Right Field T. Sakaguchi (Yakult)
Designated Hitter D. Viciedo (Chunichi)


Starter 1 Y. Nomura (Hiroshima)
Starter 2 S. Takeda (SoftBank)
Starter 3 T. Wada (SoftBank)
Starter 4 R. Ogawa (Yakult)
Closer/Reliever 1 S. Nakazaki (Hiroshima)
Closer/Reliever 2 Y. Hirano (Orix)

Comments: I tried to mix between obvious picks like Takeda, Nakata or Yanagita and Swallows players. My biggest disappointment is of course Yamada Tetsuto who has chosen to abandon me. I also wanted to add Akiyama Shogo, and Akiyoshi Ryo, who was the only successful pitcher for my Swallows last year. My biggest hope: Yanagita Yuki. He has to do better than last year, especially when you think about what he did in 2015. My biggest fear: Dayan Viciedo. The dutch monster had already been picked, and so were a lot of potential DHs. I had to make a choice. My favourite player: Kawabata Shingo. I will keep him in my roster all season long, even if he has a .150 avg

Philippe (Carp Fan)

Catcher S. Ono (SoftBank)
First Base E. Mejia (Seibu)
Second Base R. Kikuchi (Hiroshima)
Third Base N. Matsuda (SoftBank)
Shortstop R. Adachi (Orix)
Left Field R. Hirata (Chunichi)
Center Field H. Nishikawa (Nippon Ham)
Right Field Y. Maru (Hiroshima)
Designated Hitter R. Wada (Y*miuri)


Starter 1 K. Johnson (Hiroshima)
Starter 2 S. Fujinami (Hanshin)
Starter 3 T. Okada (Chunichi)
Starter 4  K. Taguchi (Y*miuri)
Closer/Reliever 1 H. Sawamura (Y*miuri)
Closer/Reliever 2 R. Akiyoshi (Yakult)

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Hi I’m Philippe! Although I was very confident, I couldn’t manage to pick only Carp players. But I think Kikuchi, Maru and Johnson are gonna get the job done! I picked Sawamura because he’s a killer and also because he shares his name with Ace of Diamond’s hero! Obviously all my hopes are for Wada because I’m a romantic guy! I spent two weeks in Japan during the WBC, watching games on TV every two nights in the Hanshin Tigers fan’s bar, so I’m pretty confident!!

Jimbo (from last year’s fantasy league)

Catcher S. Kobayashi (Y*miuri)
First Base S. Uchikawa (SoftBank)
Second Base D. Suzuki (Chiba Lotte)
Third Base B. Laird (Nippon Ham)
Shortstop E. Mogi (Rakuten)
Left Field K. Kakunaka (Chiba Lotte)
Center Field Y. Oshima (Chunichi)
Right Field S. Suzuki (Hiroshima)
Designated Hitter Z. Wheeler (Rakuten)


Starter 1 K. Senga (SoftBank)
Starter 2 A. Ishikawa (Chiba Lotte)
Starter 3 H. Wakui (Chiba Lotte)
Starter 4 K. Arihara (Nippon Ham)
Closer/Reliever 1 Y. Matsui (Rakuten)
Closer/Reliever 2 J. Jackson (Hiroshima)

Comments: I’m Jimbo. My fantasy draft started off poorly by losing Yamada Tetsuto to T-Ray. After that, I had to draft last for batters. I hadn’t prepared well, so I was choosing players quickly. All of that lead to my catcher, Kobayashi, who is probably my weakest pick. My pitching, on the other hand, is quite strong. I planned ahead and chose players based on specific stats and not necessarily the best pitcher available at the time. I honestly can’t believe I got Senga without a challenge. This is gonna be my year to lose.

T-Ray (that’s me)

Catcher T. Mori (Seibu)
First Base T. Arai (Hiroshima)
Second Base T. Yamada (Yakult)
Third Base A. Guerrero (Chunichi)
Shortstop Y. Kaneko (Seibu)
Left Field W. Balentien (Yakult)
Center Field S. Akiyama (Seibu)
Right Field A. Despaigne (SoftBank)
Designated Hitter S. Otani (Nippon Ham)


Starter 1 T. Norimoto (Rakuten)
Starter 2 R. Messenger (Hanshin)
Starter 3 Y. Kikuchi (Seibu)
Starter 4 Y. Ohno (Chunichi)
Closer/Reliever 1 S. Mathieson (Y*miuri)
Closer/Reliever 2 C. Martin (Nippon Ham)

Comments: I had a couple of strategies going in. First, do not draft too many players from the same team. I avoided that except somehow I ended up with a lot of Seibu Lions. Second, go PL-heavy. For one, the players in the PL are generally putting up better numbers than their CL counterparts. But also it means I can still cheer for Hanshin without thinking about how it will affect my fantasy team. I do have guys from every other CL team (except DeNA) but more than half my roster is PL. Third, get Tetsuto Yamada at all costs. (Unfortunately he’s unprotected. Can’t help that.) Fourth, the only room on my roster for a Giant is the Canadian. It’s time to put Jimbo back in his place, just like I did all last year!

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.