What can you tell me about Japanese baseball?

Small Baseball

A key point that differentiates Japanese baseball from baseball in the States is the style called small baseball. In small baseball, teams tend to score points through consecutive hits rather than hitting large home-runs. Although home-runs are a more elaborate, and perhaps more exciting, way to score points, small baseball is interesting too. Since Japanese batters tend to be slimmer and fast runners, they tend to be very good at getting on base. Players have great technique to carry the ball just over the infield for a single hit. They are also good at choosing balls to reduce the number of strikes and walk to first base. Since batters are fast runners, Japanese teams often use strategic plays such as hit-and-runs and stealing bases (even home base!). My favourite team, the Softbank Hawks, actually has 6 players on its starting lineup who can steal bases. This is very unique to Japan.

One of the players, Matsuda, is a very interesting one. Although he is not at all the biggest player in the league, he is great at hitting the ball right where its supposed to be hit to carry it to the stands with minimum forced. Because he is not so big, he is also very good at stealing bases. What makes him interesting is that until a pitcher gets two strikes from him, he holds the bottom of the bat like a slugger. After two strikes, though, he holds the bat an inch or so higher to gain more control of the bat and aim for a single hit. Matsuda is a 4th batsmen who can steal bases! Thats is definitely something you rarely see in the States.

Superficially, Japanese baseball may lack the excitement of multiple home-runs in one game. Japanese baseball has its unique attractive points though! Definitely go to a baseball game during your visit to Japan. Going to a Hawks game would be even better!

by AustinA

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