Chiba Lotte Marines beat Chicago White Sox in Game One

DMZ · January 5, 2006 at 12:12 pm · Filed Under General baseball 

Baseball Prospectus is using Diamond Mind Baseball and translated Japanese baseball statistics to simulate a  real World Series. It’s really quite interesting.

Here’s the preview which talks about what they’re doing, and why.

And in Game One, the Marines beat the White Sox 10-1.


23 Responses to “Chiba Lotte Marines beat Chicago White Sox in Game One”

  1. Deanna on January 5th, 2006 2:04 pm

    Well, in Game One of the actual Japan Series, the Marines beat the Tigers 10-1, though that was partially due to fog.

    I don’t think they would have started Watanabe in Game One of a series against the White Sox anyway, though. I’d expect Shimizu and Kobayashi to start the first two games. And despite how much I like Crede, I think Imae was his equal or better, especially in the postseason.

    But it *is* interesting.

  2. Smegmalicious on January 5th, 2006 2:43 pm

    It just seems strange to predict that a Japanese team would beat an American team given that all the Japanese players that have come to America seem to have had serious performance drops.

  3. Evan on January 5th, 2006 2:59 pm

    It’s unreasonable to conclude that the layers who come from Japan actually decline. It’s far more likely that we were simply bad at converting their skills (in statistical form) from one environment to the other.

    Clay seems to get better at it each year, but the lack of batted ball information from Japan makes that pretty difficult.

  4. C. Joseph on January 5th, 2006 3:13 pm

    Hey, if the Royals can win 56 games in a year, it doesn’t seem totally unlikely to me that the best the Japan League has to offer might defeat the best the major leagues has to offer once or twice out of seven. That said, if it turns out to be a sweep, I think maybe they need to jigger their numbers a little.

  5. Smegmalicious on January 5th, 2006 3:15 pm

    Of course they decline. Skills not translating from one environment to the other? Why do you think that is? These guys are professionals who have played up the ranks just like players here. The reason their numbers drop off when they come to the MLB is better competition, not some magical skill translating fairy.

  6. marc w on January 5th, 2006 3:23 pm

    Like 5, I don’t see what you mean, Evan. What could ‘we’ do better to get Japanese players’ SLG to translate here? Play in smaller parks?
    Clay will continue to improve as his n value gets above double digits, but I think you’ve got to say that their SLG DOES decline. It’s not a matter of translation per se, it’s that fewer hits leave the park. We can get better at knowing how much of a drop off to assume, but that’s not the same thing as saying that their slugging is just the same as it ever was, only different. If I’m misunderstanding you, sorry – it happens a lot in these threads…
    And that’s why skepticism of 10-1 drubbings is warranted. When the translation factors are all one-way (ie, take the Japanese player’s slugging, or BB/K, and reduce it by X%), then you’ve got to admit that it’s probably not an equivalent league. I know, I know – it’s only one (computer simulated) game.

  7. CCW on January 5th, 2006 3:42 pm

    If Pierzynski had caught that relay into home, it’d have a different ballgame.

  8. pinball1973 on January 5th, 2006 3:50 pm

    Although a huge NPB fan, and a Lotte supporter, it’s hard to believe that, other than in a short series like this, the Marines or anyone else over here would look other than competitive (but sometimes very competitive) against MLB’s truly world-wide top talent.
      Also, and I am definitely NOT hinting that they were unworthy Series’ champions, the White Sox type of talent and style of play might very well be especially vunerable to a team like Lotte in seven games. I don’t think they would fare as well against the Yankees or Red Sox.

    May I complement the comments made so far, which have been reasonable, rather than rudely dismissive, in critiquing this simulation.

  9. Deanna on January 5th, 2006 4:14 pm

    Well, the Marines had an amazing postseason. If closer Kobayashi hadn’t imploded in the third game of Second Stage against the Hawks, the Marines would have not only swept the entire postseason (both stages of the Pacific League Playoffs and the Japan Series) but also the Asia Series Konami Cup tournament held a few weeks later, where they swept the champion teams from Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the China all-stars.

    And when last the MLB All-Stars faced off against the NPB All-Stars, in 2004, the NPB actually did win three games out of the eight, so “once or twice out of seven” isn’t necessarily accurate, but not necessarily too far off. Though, that was without having any of their “foreigners” on the team; on Lotte, Matt Franco and Benny Agbayani were awesome this year, as was Seung-Yeop Lee. And Dan Serafini sort of ended up being their Derek Lowe, oddly enough.

    Anyway, I liked both the Chicago and Chiba teams this year a lot, and really would have enjoyed seeing an actual real-world matchup between them. Having the World Series and Japan Series winners play against each other would just be pretty entertaining in general, I think.

    (and, I do agree with #8… they were similarly built teams in many ways.)

  10. marc w on January 5th, 2006 4:36 pm

    Deanna, I just don’t know that we can put too much stock in MLB/NPB all-star games. The timing and the injury fears mean those things look like spring training games. I think we’ll learn more from the World Baseball Classic – though obviously it’ll depend on who shows up.
    Even as a NPB fan (Hanshin), I’ve got to say that the ‘foreign stars’ make the point that the competition is, er, different. If Benny Agbayani and Matt Franco are stars, then there’s a fairly large gap. Jim Paciorek, CL batting title holder? I will continue to tell myself that Randy Bass (who was Tacoma’s star for 3 years) just never got a shot in the US, however.

    The bigger issue is that anything can happen in a 7 game series. I’m quite confident that the White Sox have a better team, but the odds that they win this series are probably like 80-20, so it’s not a sure thing. As Mariner fans, we’re well aware of this – the 2001 M’s beat the 2001 yanks in a best of 7 about 65-70% of the time.

  11. Evan on January 5th, 2006 5:09 pm

    The original suggestion was the a Japanese team was unlikely to beat an American team because Japanese players get worse when they come to America.

    And they don’t. They’re just playing in a tougher environment. They only appear to get worse because we’re overrating their performance in Japan.

    Assuming Clay knows what he’s doing in translating their stats, this sim should be a fair test. But again, that translation isn’t as good without batted ball information.

  12. Smegmalicious on January 5th, 2006 5:40 pm

    So you don’t think they’d do worse playing against an MLB team, only when playing in the actual MLB? My point is Japanese players do worse against MLB level competition. Playing the White Sox would be playing MLB competition.

  13. Deanna on January 5th, 2006 6:53 pm

    I think there is a reasonable chance the 2005 Chiba Lotte Marines would win a series against the 2005 Chicago White Sox, yes. I don’t think they’d sweep. But I think they’d have a shot.

    I was also dead sure they’d beat the Hanshin Tigers in the Japan Series (sorry, Marc), and that was even before the epic chokage of Sheets, Kanemoto, and Imaoka.

    I think the generalization that “all NPB teams are worse than all MLB teams” isn’t really fair either. I’d bet the Marines could have beaten the Mariners in a series, easily 🙂

  14. Mike G. on January 5th, 2006 8:42 pm

    I’ve heard the NPB vs. MLB level of play debate ad nauseum on other forums. Obviously an actual world series would help settle this to an extent. However MLB, “the superior league”, will always oppose this. Most importantly MLB doesn’t want to de-value it’s own championship. Also most fans belong to the Joe Morgan “NPB is equivalent to AA” school of thinking but there has to be some fear that a team like the Marines could beat the White Sox.

    I do believe the MLB is the “more competitive league” but there’s a lot of of reasons why. One is the talent pool on which it draws from internationally. As long as the prestige and money is found in the MLB that’s where players are going to want to play. If an NPB Champion were to defeat an MLB one it could slowly erode the belief that there is no other real league other than the MLB.

  15. marc w on January 5th, 2006 9:54 pm

    Evan, I think we’re agreeing, we’re just using different terminology. People are saying that we have to account for the more difficult league in translating NPB stats to MLB – we have to apply a deflator to NPB slugging for example due to slightly larger parks and slightly better pitching. That’s basically the same as saying that their stats will get worse when they play here. No one’s arguing that their ‘worse’ in some metaphysical sense, or that they lose skill, or that they become worse people. I think #2 is just talking about the same sort of deflator that Clay and others apply to NPB stats…

    I’d say that basically every MLB team IS in fact better than every NPB team (with the possible exception of Kansas City, whose pitching wouldn’t have looked any better in Japan). However, you’re also right that in a series, the Marines could’ve beat the Mariners, or the Dragons the Dodgers, etc. The exact odds would depend on the matchups – a team willing to send Matsuzaka out there 3+ times in a 7 game series would probably stand a good chance.
    14, you’re right – a real world series won’t happen, and that’s sad. I’d love to see the winner of the asian championship take on the US. And add Australia into the asian cup, too. It’d probably do wonders for the game over there.

  16. Vlad on January 6th, 2006 2:54 am

    Hi from the Czech Republic to everyone. Dont you think its just amazing you can talk that seriously about game that never took place? What I think it has some magic but when it comes to actual game how precisly can you predict a game when one small error can change the outcome that much?
    But it would be fun if some software company would come up with actual computer made footage of the game, wouldnt it?

  17. pinball1973 on January 6th, 2006 4:27 am

    Vlad – I think I pick up your tone correctly, so I say this not to be critical, but what’s amazing about this, since these games at least COULD have happened, and since a similar match-up may happen, well, some day?

    We “seriously” discuss questions about what was the greatest team of all time – the ’27 Yankees or the Dimaggio bunch or maybe the great early Cubs dynasty? We speculate on the real level of the best of the Negro Leagues.
    For me it’s fun, not at all serious (and people who are serious, as in serious, about baseball deserve to be sentenced to do penance on Joe Morgan’s staff), to see how the questions get very sharp people to marshal evidence to answer an entirely hypothetical question.
    For me the final answer to these simulations, like the final score of a game, isn’t the most important point. I want to see the game (and its history) from new angles, in order to enjoy its story the better.

  18. CCW on January 6th, 2006 4:52 am

    Clay Davenport concluded that the Japanese leagues are well above AAA level here: If he’s correct, then a championship-calibur Japanese team would certainly be better than a bad US team like Kansas City. Kansas City last year was a good AAA team and not much more.

  19. DMZ on January 6th, 2006 7:49 am

    That was 2002. The level’s been adjusted down a lot since then.

  20. CCW on January 6th, 2006 12:32 pm

    So, the White Sox just won game 2 on a 9th inning grand slam by Iguchi…

  21. Paul B on January 6th, 2006 2:06 pm

    #18, That seems reasonable to me. Last year, I thought that the Tacoma Rainiers would have beaten the Mariners in a 7 game series. and the Mariners were better than the Royals, of course.

  22. Deanna on January 6th, 2006 4:05 pm

    20 — That’s to be expected as well. Masahide Kobayashi, arguably one of the best closers in Japan in 2005, blew what should have been the last game of the PL playoffs (similarly — Marines were up 4-0 in the 9th when Kobayashi came in to close — and he immediately gave up a single to Jolbert Cabrera, sparking a Hawks rally that ended the inning tied 4-4, and Kawasaki batted in Tony Batista in the 10th for the win). If they didn’t have him spectacularly blow one or two games in this series too, it wouldn’t be proper 🙂

    Hell, if it wasn’t for Imae making one of the coolest plays I’ve ever seen in my life, fielding Yano’s bunt for a double play, Kobayashi might have imploded and lost game 4 of the real Japan Series as well. And yet he’s seeking more money next year anyway, but “team executives pointed to his shaky outings in the postseason” and refused to give him a raise. No kidding.

  23. ray on January 6th, 2006 8:08 pm

    Go Lotte! Their candies and chocolates are quite good.

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