Sapporo Dai-ichi - Pitching
So, the pitching gets downgraded because ace Kamide's peripherals are worse than expected with a K/9 sitting just above 7. And even in their win against Kanto Dai-ichi they still gave up 4 runs. The offense gets a bump up because the team is willing to take walks it seems, even when against better teams (this isn't generally the case). But there are still black holes in the lineup and the weak competition makes the stellar batting averages not so impressive.
Aomori Yamada - Pitching
The pitching grade takes a hit because the team seems to be teetering on the verge of destruction. The pitchers have control issues, don't strike out a lot of batters and allow quite a few baserunners. The offense also takes a hit because the team is pretty much a station to station team. And while they were able to defeat some well-known teams in the super-regionals there are holes in the lineup and the team doesn't seem to take their walks - hence the downgrade.
Hachinohe Gakuin Kousei - Pitching
The net grade is the same, but the pitching has been upgraded and the offense has been downgraded a tick. The pitching numbers at least in giving up baserunners is solid enough that even with regression, it's better than Aomori Yamada. As for the offense, the numbers are good 1 through 9, which is a positive, but the level of competition wasn't strong so when adjusted they could possibly be average to below average.
Kisaradzu Sougou - Pitching B+ (extra points for better depth), Offense C
No change. The tandem of Hayakawa and Takeda should suit the team well, but both are lefties. Their only serviceable righty, Ookuma, is barely usable. So facing a team with strong righties might be a problem. The offense, while they do take walks, struggle to bring the runners home.
Jyousou Gakuin - Pitching
If ace Suzuki Shouta could go 9 innings each time out, Jyousou might be a B or B+. But Sasaki-kantoku immediately sat him as soon as the team would default qualify for the next stage. This could be a problem if he cannot hold up as the rest between games disappears. The offense get a bump because of the level of competition faced, but don't expect too many XBH fromt he team as well.
Toukaidai Koufu - Pitching
The pitching gets a bump up because while the K numbers are not that stellar their walk rates are pretty small. And even with the implied contact this means, their WHIP figures are really good. The only negative, and this is why it's only a slight bump up is that their competition are borderline 2nd tier teams at best. Those balls hit for outs may fall in for base hits against better competition. The offense is left as is because while the team is a station-to-station squad, unlike Kisaradzu Sougou they can bring the runners in. That combined with the fact that they soundly defeated teams they should have means that the team plays pretty honestly.
Kiryuu Dai-ichi - Pitching
The team gets a downgrade on both accounts. If Uchiike could go the full 9, the grade would certainly be better. But Aoki shares the load and his numbers are anything but stellar. Offensively the team hits few extra base hits, doesn't walk much, and falling completely flat in their 2 losses is a concern.
Hanasaki Tokuharu - Pitching
Ace Takahashi is the real deal and was tested with short rest through the aki taikai. He didn't crater in his games, only giving up more than 2 runs to Waseda Honjyou. The downgrade is whether or not he can handle a full workload. (To be fair, this makes it sound like a team will only get an high grade if they have the standalone ace that I mentioned is very hard and shouldn't be done. This is true. But if you can put together a deeper staff that is above average, that also can earn you a high grade).
Kanto Dai-ichi - Pitching
The pitching gets one of more bigger downgrades. The team's ERA seems to hide a bad walk rate and an above average amount of baserunners. Yes, their competition was strong, but it actually wasn't in those games where their walk rates took a hit - and that is even more concerning. The offense will keep them in games, with a few holes but can certainly hit gappers.
Tsuruga Kehi - Pitching
Tsuruga Kehi gets downgraded on both accounts. First, While Yamazaki pitched 8 complete games, he never went 3 consecutive in the short rest situations except for the Meiji Jingu final where he fell completely flat against Takamatsu Shougyou. Nishimoto's peripherals are not great - doesn't mean he can't be a good reliever, but it's a big query.
The offense is great, but it's not top level. Yamazaki is a complete black hole, and there are other holes in the lineup meaning that opponents can have a breather. Yes, there are dangerous parts of the lineup, and an opposing pitcher will have to sweat it out more often than not but I think there are more cracks compared to last year.
Fukui Koudai Fukui - Pitching
The gap between Tsuruga Kehi and Fukui Koudai Fukui are basically night and day. They were completely outmatched in both of their matchups, outside of ace Tanaka the bullpen is unusable and Tanaka himself doesn't impress. Finally the offense hitting sub 0.300 against sub-par competition is the final nail in the coffin.
Touhou - Pitching
In looking at Fujishima's numbers as a whole, Touhou gets a bump up. Yes, there are issues with his stamina should they make a deep run, but that doesn't change the fact that he allows them to make a deep run in the first place. Matsuyama's numbers meanwhile look good, but in his relief appearance against Aomori Yamada it wasn't as gaudy so perhaps we have to scale that back. Doesn't mean he can serve as an effective reliever, it's just you can't believe the numbers at face value.
Offensively, the team isn't as bad as the grade showed before. Yes, they have gaudy numbers against no-name teams, but they also beat Chuukyoudai Chuukyou, Aikoudai Meiden and Mie. Not powerhouses at this point in time, but still brand name teams.
Inabe Sougou Gakuen - Pitching
While ISG was able to hold with Touhou in the final, the concerns for Touhou mean that ISG perhaps had a gift matchup. The pitching under ace Yamauchi Tomoki is not great, and is probably the reason why he is relieved. In fact, he's more like a pitcher who the manager uses to try and get to their short relievers. That's hard to stomach. No change in the offensive grades - despite playing some competition, there are holes in the lineup and the team doesn't go for extra bases or draws walks.
Osaka Touin - Pitching B-, Offense A-
No change. Looking at Osaka Touin in general you know what you're going to get more often than not. You're going to get a great offensive squad (there is a hole or two), and the pitching isn't great, but it does enough. Consider that of the 3 pitchers primarily used, only one has a BB/9 rate < 3 which means that a good chunk of their WIP is due to walks. As long as the offense can produce, Osaka Touin is fine.
Shiga Gakuen - Pitching B-, Offense
Slight upgrade for Shiga Gakuen. Despite the worse K rates for ace Kamimura compared to Osaka Touin, they've had harder competition, and Tanahara may prove to be a good reliever as opposed to the options Osaka Touin has. Offensively, the team hits well in general from top to bottom and gets some extra base hits to relieve the pressure of getting multiple hits in an inning.
Akashi Shougyou - Pitching
Yoshitaka gets a downgrade due to the lower quality of competition and the poor numbers against Osaka Touin. And while the offense is solid, the team is a station-to-station team, and that is hard to make work at Koushien.
Ryuukokudai Heian - Pitching
Heian's numbers have to be scaled back severely because their only competition was Fukuchiyama Seibi and Shiga Gakuen. So on the pitching side, Ichioka's high walk rate is a big concern, causing a downgrade in their pitching, while their offensive numbers stay as is despite a 0.259 ISO.
Chiben Gakuen - Pitching
Given the downgrades to the last 2 teams, Chiben Gakuen has to be downgraded based upon their numbers. Weak competition until Osaka Touin, but at least ace Murakami limits walks. Offensively, there are already holes in the lineup which will become chasms when they get to Koushien.
Shiritsu Wakayama - Pitching C-, Offense C-
No change. The pitching is worse than Chiben Gakuen due to the high walk rates (> 3 per 9) and low K rates and the offense while carrying a 0.205 ISO, again was versus lesser competition with 3 batters hitting below 0.300 though C Okamoto seems to trade BA for SLG.
Soushi Gakuen - Pitching
Ace Takada gets downgraded due to the lesser competition he faced but still gets a good grade due to his durability. Doesn't mean he can last all the way to the end should they survive and advance, but he's still more than serviceable.
The offense has holes at the bottom, and the lower BA along with just 1 run in their 2 losses is a red flag and thus the downgrade in their offensive grade.
Nanyou Kougyou - Pitching C-, Offense C (grade up for clutch in close games)
Despite some good wins, it's amazing how Nanyou Kougyou could survive with their K rate as a team hovering around 5. It's doubly impressive that they had a triple slash of 0.281/0.341/0.360 and scored 4 or more runs in all their victories. I have to leave the grades as is because the burden of proof is on them to show that success with their low K rates is possible and offensively there has to be something that is allowing them to score runs despite the poor numbers.
Kaisei (Shimane) - Pitching C-, Offense
I will give some credit to Kaisei for facing the teams they could have faced in-prefecture, but the big negator is their complete falling flat in their 2 losses hurting them on both sides of the ball. And even more so now that you see a line of 0.255/0.299/0.423 - very few walks, and XBH that may be negated against better defenses.
Takamatsu Shougyou - Pitching B+, Offense B+
Takamatsu Shougyou maintains their ranking as one of the top ranked pitching staffs in the tournament despite a low K rate that would normally give it a C/C+ ranking. This is because they faced top tier competition throughout. Eimei in the prefecturals, Ikeda, Imabari Nishi, Saibi and Meitoku Gijyuku in the super-regionals, and Sapporo Dai-ichi, Osaka Touin and Tsuruga Kehi in the Meiji Jingu tournament. So you can actually take the team's numbers at face value, and that 0.306/0.356/0.489 line looks good. The bottom of the lineup isn't world-beating, but at least you won't be counting outs like sheep.
You can call them contenders, but I think until they take down a major powerhouse at Koushien, you can't really go out and call them favorites.
Meitoku Gijyuku - Pitching C-, Offense C-
You may be wondering. How can you say Takamatsu Shougyou has a strong resume, when this school gets a poor grade?
It's all about brand name.
Schools that face powerhouses generally get away with more. Sure they have more talent, but even when behind all they have to do is start to mount a rally and the other team may fold thinking that this is the same thing, different year.
In addition, they get dinged because while they did face some named competition in prefecture, they wound up playing Tosa again in the super-regionals (which doesn't add to their resume), barely beat Nitta (who was a good team decades ago, but is now is above-average at best), and were soundly defeated by Takamatsu Shougyou. Ace Nakano walks as many batters as he strikes out, and offensively the team's 0.329 BA when adjusted for level of competition projects poorly.
Tosa - Pitching
It's a sad state of affairs when I had talked about Shikoku having the better teams for the floating bid compared to Chuugoku, and Tosa's numbers aren't very good. In fact, of their 7 games, their keys revolve around a defeat against the 21st century invitee Shoudoshima, and 2 losses to Meitoku Gijyuku...
Ace Osaki is the only serviceable pitcher, and the offense has 3 batters hitting under 0.200... and 2 close to 0.100...
Shuugakukan - Pitching B, Offense B
Shuugakukan depends on their pitching depth. While it's a small sample size, Arimura despite pitching the most innings as the ace is much more of a contact pitcher, whereas Taura, Horie and Nakai deliver the K's. But the extended depth should help them although Taura gives up way too many walks for his team's own good.
Offensively, the team does have a weak bottom of the lineup. But the rest of the lineup looks pretty strong, especially Kuki Ryuuhei (九鬼 隆平) who hit 0.511 with a ridiculous 0.711 ISO. The team itself had a 0.263 ISO.
Kaisei (Nagasaki) - Pitching
Kaisei has the same thing that Shuugakugan has - several usable pitchers that could be called upon. The only difference being that none of them sport high K rates, so it's really dependent on the defense. While even average depth is always a plus, the aforementioned K rates are a yellow flag.
Offensively the bottom of the lineup suffers though at least ace Haruta knows enough to draw a walk instead of trying to leverage his 0.133 BA.
Kagoshima Jitsugyou - Pitching C-, Offense C
Kajitsu's pitching appears on the verge of imminent collapse. What else can you say when the main reliever strikes out 17 and walks 15 in 19.2 innings? Ace Maruyama has an acceptable walk rate, but gives up way too many baserunners to ever feel comfortable.
Miyashita-kantoku utilizes more of his bench than others, so much so that there are times where both of his catchers are in the game! But they both hit well, so as long as the defense suffers I guess it's ok. And if Kuki's numbers were video game like, there's Wataya Itsuki (綿屋 樹) who hit 0.621 with a 0.793 ISO. It's hard to lockdown the weaknesses in the lineup because I think the lineup changes based upon the game, but there are batters who have gotten in work that are feckless at the dish.
Nichinan Gakuen - Pitching C, Offense C-
As you can see, these teams have weaknesses in different areas. Compared to the last 2 teams, the team offensively can't compare - 4 players batting under 0.300 is a problem despite an ISO of 0.234.
Pitching, the team is very, very stingy when giving up walks with ace Moriyama and Minoo just walking a shade above 1 per 9 innings. The defense will be put to work, though hopefully without being stressed to the max.
Kamaishi - Pitching
There just isn't much to say here. Ace Iwama doesn't even have a K rate of 3, and unless he has a trick up his sleeve there's no way he will be able to hold out against any team. The offense is even worse, hitting a 0.293/0.344/0.370 line as a team.
Nagata - Pitching B-, Offense
This team is probably in for ace Sonoda alone. A very high K rate (11.4) and a minuscule BB rate (1.56) is always a plus, even if you scale it back. He more than likely will hold his own. Trouble is the offense will probably do very little for him, so unless they can win 1-0 they're one-and-done.
Shoudoshima - Pitching C, Offense
I don't understand how this team could have given Takamatsu Shougyou their only loss in the prefectural final unless they got extremely lucky, because Takamatsu Shougyou appeared to take the game seriously starting their ace.
Shoudoshima's roster was short even for aki taikai purposes (17), and all but 7 ABs went to the front 9. Despite the heart of the order hitting 0.420/0.459/0.565, the rest of the team hit 0.150/0.213/0.188... with 2 batters hitting a minuscule 0.048.
I guess I have to give their ace credit? Hasegawa managed to keep Takamatsu Shougyou to just 1 run, but he's pretty much the opposite of a 3 true outcomes pitcher. He barely strikes out batters, almost never walks anyone, and the ball winds up in play. And yet he sports a 1.05 WHIP.