Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Reviewing the field - Kinki semifinalist Naradai Fuzoku

Welcome Naradai Fuzoku to Koushien! It must have been tough trying to break through the duo of Tenri and Chiben Gakuen, but you've finally made it. Now, what type of team have you brought to the dance?

Unfortunately, looking at their road to the super-regional semifinals, their schedule looked extremely soft. Nara is weak to begin with, and with both of the powerhouses on the other side of the bracket, Naradai Fuzoku got a pass straight to the super-regionals despite losing 6-3 to Tenri in the final. In the super-regionals, They 2-hit Toba to start, then struggled to defeat Minoshima 3-2 before losing 4-1 to Ritsumeikan Uji.

Tanaka-kantoku primarily went with ace Sakaguchi Taisei (坂口 大誠). He throws in the upper-130s with a slider and changeup. He's very stingy with the walks (9 in 53.1 IP), but also doesn't strike out a ton of batters (6.4/9). He also has used Nakayama Reo (中山 怜央) and Keyakidani Tomonari (欅谷 智成), both of which Tanaka-kantoku has brought along with him, but neither appear to be servicable.

Offensively, the team batted 0.293 with an ISO of 0.116. 6 players batted over 0.300, but 3 of the 9 starting numbers batted less than 0.150. That's just plain awful. Of course with those extremes you also have hitters like leadoff CF Katou Kazuki (加藤 和希) who in his 10 hits had 5 doubles and 1 triple, and #5 batter RF Iino Keiji (飯野 圭史), who had 4 doubles in his 10 knocks.

But this profile for their offense is unprecedented. I've projected teams to be giving outs away at the bottom of the order before, but in this case they're already doing it! They have to be providing something defensively, otherwise there's no way they could stand doing that. The team did average just 1 error per game, but 3 were against Tenri where I have to figure there was some pressure despite already having a spot secured in the super-regionals. And now that they're playing at Koushien for their first time, I don't know if they return to that form.

Congrats to reaching the semifinals and getting to Senbatsu, but they have Tsuruga Kehi first up. To have any chance of winning that game, Hiranuma has to be injured and cannot pitch. Even then this is a very, very tough game to win.

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