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Best Japanese Clubs by Season - Help Needed

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Best Japanese Clubs by Season - Help Needed
My name is Patrick Gordon and I manage the Philadelphia Baseball Review. In addition to writing, I also teach an upper level sports journalism course at Temple University and do freelance work for, Baseball America, and other similar publications. I'm writing in hopes of some assistance regarding Japanese baseball.

I'm not a novice on the sport in Japan, by any means. I'm familiar with the nuances and how the game differs from that here in America. Over the past two years I have been working on perfecting a mathematical formula to determine how good a baseball team actually is. I've statistically analyzed every MLB team dating back to 1900 and found three categories to be the most closely correlated to winning: OPS, Run Differential, and WHIP. Using regression, I've developed a formula that actually correlates better to winning percentage than the Pythagorean Theorem.

The model: (.503+(OPS*.097)+(RDiff*.006)+(WHIP*-.053). | Link to read reasoning behind it.

I've used this formula to rank every club in MLB dating to 1900 and I want to do the same for Japan, so that's where I'm seeking some guidance from Japanese baseball experts (if you know statistics, that's even better).

Right now, to acquire data, I've been getting data from Baseball Reference, however, the process is tedious because I have to create a new Excel sheet for every season and league. By chance, do you have access to data in Excel format that would contain yearly team data for OPS, Run Differential, and WHIP? This would save significant time and I'm sure something exists that I'm just not aware of.

Also, I've completed the data looking just at the decade of 1950-1959 in the Pacific League and found the following results - knowing what you do about the history and greatest teams, would this list fit with what you would expect?

Top 5 PL between 1950 - 1959
1956 Nishitetsu Lions
1954 Nishitetsu Lions
1950 Mainichi Orions
1955 Nishitetsu Lions
1951 Nankai Hawks

Bottom 5 PL between 1950 - 1959
1957 Daiei Unions
1956 Takahashi Unions
1952 Kintetsu Pearls
1955 Tombo Unions
1958 Kintetsu Pearls

Lastly, plenty of books exists regarding the best MLB teams of all time, but do any exist about Japan's greatest clubs (in English or Japanese), are there any reputable articles out there, either in the Web, scholarly journals, or anything else that you can point me towards?

Thank you so much for your time. Any help or guidance would be great.
Re: Best Japanese Clubs by Season - Help Needed
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Jun 10, 2013 5:06 PM | YBS Fan ]

That's a lot you're looking for. And I look forward to going through the article about how you came up with your formula, as many constants for MLB formulas need some tweaking to apply to NPB, yet I can never seem to find how the constants were arrived at.

I have a way to get OPS, RDiff, and WHIP for all of the teams going back to 1936, but it's not in digital format. It's in "The Official Baseball Encyclopedia 2004 Fourth Edition" by Baseball Magazine Sha (ISBN 4-583-03804-6 C2075). I then have year books for the more recent years. Unfortunately, digitizing all of that is not something I have time to do. You may be able to find a used one reasonably cheap, but shipping it over there may cost more than the book itself.

Thumbing through another wonderful book, プロ野球記録大鑑 ("Pro Yakyu Record Registry" - for lack of a better translation) by Tetsuya Usami, shows the 1951 Nankai Hawks as having a huge spread over the rest of the Pacific League. The same goes for the 1950 Mainichi Orions. On the other hand, the 1954 Nishitetsu Lions just barely finished above the Nankai Hawks, as it came down to the wire again in 1956. Yet you have the latter teams ranked above the former in your top 5. It just doesn't seem to me that they were that dominating based on their overall records for the later years.

The topic of best historical team sounds like something that has been covered in 週間ベースボール (Shukan Baseball), but locating such an issue from my unindexed boxes of magazines is not an easy task. And I was unable to find such a mook (magazine/book) by BBM社 (Baseball Magazine Sha) online that fits that description, but they only show mooks from within the last year.

Searches for "伝説 プロ野球 最強のチーム" yield a lot of video game results, but this discussion also came up. (The 1950 Giants and Nishitetsu Lions was the best answer to the strongest teams in history.)

Well, I hope some of this leads you somewhere useful.
Re: Best Japanese Clubs by Season - Help Needed
[ Author: Guest: Patrick Gordon | Posted: Jun 10, 2013 11:07 PM ]

Thanks for the info, it is a start.

As for your comments about the '51 Hawks - true, they had a much better winning percentage than the '56 Lions (.750 vs.653), but the Lions had a significantly larger run differential total (239 vs 174 for a +65 difference).

With that said, you brought up a good point. According to the data I'm working with, the 1951 PL season was just 96 games long whereas the 1956 season was 147 games.

If you look at the run differential and divide by games played you see the '51 Hawks had an average +1.8 run differential per game while the '56 Lions had a +1.6 average run differential.

At what point did the length of seasons in Japan become consistent? The longer season(s) may mean the Run Differentials will vary unfairly for some clubs compared to others.
Re: Best Japanese Clubs by Season - Help Needed
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Jun 10, 2013 11:43 PM | YBS Fan ]

For getting the yearly games played you can start at the 1950年の野球 (1950 Baseball Japanese Wikipedia page) and calculate the number of games for each team in each league based on their wins, losses, and ties. Increment the year in the URL to go to the next one.

Also, please note that some years have uneven numbers of games for some teams due to replaying tied games. I don't think that the number of games have even been constant between the two leagues over the past 10 years, so there is no point in time where it has stabled off.

Clearly, that will have to be another variable in your ever more complex function.
Re: Best Japanese Clubs by Season - Help Needed
[ Author: Guest: Patrick Gordon | Posted: Jun 11, 2013 12:29 AM ]

This has already been a huge help as it uncovered a small but significant flaw in my original study. Previously, I was looking simply at Run Differential and not taking games played into consideration. Obviously, that will dictate how high or low the differential can actually go, so it is an important figure.

To compensate, I went ahead an re-ran my regression analysis of every MLB club since 1900 and found the following coefficients - this time using Run Differential per game (RDiffpg) instead of season Run Differential.

Formula: .503 + (OPS*.0909) + (WHIP*-.0505) + (RDiffpg*.0956).

These appear to be the top five PL clubs from the 1950's according to the new formula:

1951 Nankai Hawks
1950 Mainichi Orions
1956 Nishitetsu Lions
1954 Nishitetsu Lions
1952 Nankai Hawks

Again, this is using the regression formula I've founded using MLB data dating back to 1900. Once I have all the data easily accessible from Japan I'll find another full formula just for Japan.

Ideally, I'd like to find the best clubs from each decade and complete a simulation of some sort. For now, though, I'm focused on confirming my findings with the regression formula.
Re: Best Japanese Clubs by Season - Help Needed
[ Author: Guest: Patrick Gordon | Posted: Jun 11, 2013 9:45 AM ]

So, I've gone ahead and included data from the 1950's of the Central League and came up with the following as the top 5 of the decade:

CL 1951 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1950 Shochiku Robins
CL 1955 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1953 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1952 Yomiuri Giants

The bottom 5 of the 1950's from the Central League:

CL 1954 Taiyo-Shochiku Robins
CL 1952 Shochiku Robins
CL 1955 Taiyo Whales
CL 1950 Kokutetsu Swallows
CL 1950 Hiroshima Carp

Now that I have the CL and PL data for the entire decade, I've come up with the final ranking of the decade:

CL 1951 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1950 Shochiku Robins
CL 1955 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1953 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1952 Yomiuri Giants
PL 1951 Nankai Hawks
CL 1954 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1956 Yomiuri Giants
PL 1950 Mainichi Orions
PL 1956 Nishitetsu Lions

I'm in the midst of putting together a full article explaining and analyzing the numbers that led to this final ranking, but I wanted to share the actual list.

To those that remember or know a fair amount about these teams, does the seeding seem plausible?

I'll be posting a small article about my 1950's findings within the next day or so and I'll include a link.

Moving forward, what is the next decade you would like to see this done with? I'm going to be doing them all, so jumping around isn't a problem. I figure there are some fanatics that hopefully enjoy this type of stuff.
Re: Best Japanese Clubs by Season - Help Needed
[ Author: Guest: Patrick Gordon | Posted: Jun 12, 2013 9:32 AM ]

Today I went ahead and compiled the data for the 1960s in the Central League. According to the formula, here is the top 5 of the decade in the CL:

League YR TEAM
CL 1966 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1963 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1967 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1968 Yomiuri Giants
CL 1969 Yomiuri Giants

Bottom five of the 1960s in the CL:

CL 1962 Kokutetsu Swallows
CL 1966 Sankei Atoms
CL 1967 Hiroshima Carp
CL 1966 Taiyo Whales
CL 1965 Sankei Swallows

I'll likely have the Pacific League in the 1960s complete on Wednesday afternoon and I'll post those findings then.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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