Friday, March 31, 2023

Oldest BBM Set With An Active NPB Player - 2023 Edition

I wanted to do a quick post for my OTHER Opening Day tradition - identifying which is the oldest BBM set that contains a card of an active NPB player.  With the retirement of Kosuke Fukudome, the last player who appeared in the 1999 and 2000 sets, that honor now falls on the 2001 set due to the appearance of Hiroyuki Nakajima, the Lions fifth pick in the 2000 draft:

2001 BBM #426

Nakajima is the last active NPB player from the 2001 set (although Seiichi Uchikawa is still playing in indy ball).  There are three active players who were rookies in 2002 (Masanori Ishikawa, Takumi Kuriyama and Takeya Nakamura), one from 2003 (Tsuyoshi Wada) and one from 2004 (Norichika Aoki) so if Nakajima retires this season it's likely that one of those three sets will be the next in line.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Play Ball (2023)

I'm continuing my Opening Day tradition of doing a post showing a baseball card from the last year that each of the 12 NPB teams won the Nippon Series which was inspired by (or stolen from) the series of posts that Night Owl Cards has been doing for a while now for MLB teams. 

The last time the BUFFALOES won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2022 Topps NPB #27

The last time the SWALLOWS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2021 Konami Baseball Collection #202100-R-S055-00

The last time the HAWKS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2020 Epoch Hawks Rookies & Stars #12

The last time the FIGHTERS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2016 BBM Classic #007

The last time the EAGLES won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2013 BBM 2nd Version #608

The last time the GIANTS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2012 BBM Giants #G016

The last time the MARINES won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2010 BBM 2nd Version #706

The last time the LIONS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2008 Calbee #081

The last time the DRAGONS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2007 Shukan Baseball #8-4/4

The last time the BAYSTARS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

1998 BBM Baystars Get The Flag! II #YB62

The last time the TIGERS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

1985 Calbee #176 (Katsuo Hirata)

The last time the CARP won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

1984 Mizuno #34 (Kazuhisa Kawaguchi)

All 12 current NPB teams have won the Series at least once so there are no "Photo Not Found" teams.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Upcoming Milestones

With the first official game of the 2023 NPB season less than 36 hours away, I thought I'd revisit a topic I last touched on two years ago - which players are approaching the milestones that would put them into the Meikyukai or Golden Player's Club.  The requirements are for a player to have been born in the Showa Era or later* and to have accumulated 2000 hits, 200 wins or 250 saves.  Statistics from MLB count but only if the NPB stats came first - which is why Alfonso Soriano belongs but Adam Jones doesn't.

* The Showa Era requirement was included when Masaichi Kaneda founded the club in the late 70's to exclude the only player in JBL/NPB history with more than 2000 hits who was born prior to it - Tetsuharu Kawakami.  The restriction had the side effect of excluding seven or so pitchers including Victor Staffin and Shigeru Sugishita

Two years ago I did separate posts for the players approaching 2000 hits and 200 wins but I decided to combine the lists into one post this time and add the players approaching 250 saves as well.  First up are the hitters.  Keep in mind that there are three active Meikyukai members in NPB right now - Hayato Sakamoto, Takumi Kuriyama and Norichika Aoki.  Aoki "only" has 1874 hits in NPB but his 774 MLB hits gives him a total of 2648 which is the most for any active NPB player (with Sakamoto in second with 2205.  Here are the top six batters with more than 1500 hits and less than 2000 hits:

1. Hiroyuki Nakajima, 1923 hits

2022 BBM Giants #G45

2. Yohei Ohshima, 1885 hits

2022 BBM Dragons #D57

3. Nobuhiro Matsuda, 1831 hits

2022 BBM Hawks #H40

4. Hideto Asamura, 1702 hits

2022 BBM Eagles #E45

5. Takeya Nakamura, 1698 hits

2022 BBM Lions #L51

6. Yoshihiro Maru, 1602 hits

2022 BBM Giants #G58

I'm pretty comfortable in predicting that Ohshima will get the 115 hits he needs this season.  It's going to tough for Nakajima to get the 77 hits he needs this season since he's only had 73 hits in the past two seasons combined.  I don't think either Matsuda or Nakamura are going to ever reach 2000 hits which in Nakamura's case makes me very sad since he's one of my favorite players.  Asamura will probably reach the milestone in 2024 or 2025 and Maru will do the same in 2025.  Whichever of those two do it first will be the first batter born in the Heisei Era to join the Meikyukai.

Next up is the victory leaders.  There are no active Meikyukai pitchers in NPB or MLB right now - the last one with 200 or more victories was Hiroki Kuroda who retired in 2016.  Here's everyone with 149 or more combined NPB-MLB wins (I was going to go with 150 or more but Takayuki Kishi was so close...):

1. Masahiro Tanaka, 190 wins (112 NPB, 78 MLB)

2022 BBM Eagles #E08

2. Yu Darvish, 188 wins (93 NPB, 95 MLB)

2008 BBM Fighters #F02

3. Masanori Ishikawa, 183 wins

2022 BBM Swallows #S09

4. Kenta Maeda, 156 wins (97 NPB, 59 MLB)

2015 BBM Carp #C07

5. Tsuyoshi Wada, 155 wins (150 NPB, 5 MLB)

2022 BBM Hawks #F10

6. Hideaki Wakui, 154 wins

2022 BBM Eagles #E06
7. Takayuki Kishi, 149 wins

2022 BBM Eagles #E03

I think there's a very good chance Darvish will reach 200 wins this season.  Tanaka has a shot at it but if he doesn't make it this season, he'll reach it in 2024.  It'll probably take Maeda three or four seasons to reach the milestone if or when he's healthy again.  I don't think the other four are likely to ever reach 200 wins due to their ages (Ishikawa is 43, Wada is 42, Kishi is 38 and Wakui is 36).

Last up is saves.  The last player to reach 250 saves was Hitoki Iwase in 2010.  Iwase retired in 2018.  Here are the top three active saves leaders in NPB:

1. Yoshihisa Hirano, 221 saves (213 NPB, 8 MLB)

2022 BBM Buffaloes #B06

2. Yasuaki Yamasaki, 207 saves

2022 BBM Baystars #DB10

3. Yuki Matsui, 197 saves

2022 BBM Eagles #E02

It's unlikely but it's possible that any of these three could reach 250 saves this season, although it would take a near record effort from Matsui.  That said, I think it's very likely that all three reach the milestone by the end of next season.  Matsui or Yamasaki is also likely to become the first Heisei-born player in the Meikyukai as I expect they'll do it before Asamura or Maru reach 2000 hits.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

2022 BBM Team Sets

As usual the bulk of that big package I got from Ryan recently consisted of the twelve "comprehensive" team sets from BBM for last year and as usual it's taken me about a month to get them all inputted into my database.  Now what I mean by a "comprehensive" team set is one that has all the players on the team's 70 man roster at the time it was printed (which is usually less than 70 players).  The team sets were all released between April and July of last year.

Each set had a base set of 81 cards which included 63 to 70 "regular" cards featuring the players on the 70 man roster plus the team's manager.  Each set also had a single card dedicated to its mascot or mascots and then the remainder of the set was made up of three or four subsets containing two to six cards.  Some of the mascot cards double as a checklist for the set.  Here's the break down for each set:

Team Player/Manager Cards Mascot Cards Subsets
Chiba Lotte Marines 68 1 Newcomer (2), Young & Fine (2), Title Holder (5), Uniform Number Geneology (3)
Chunichi Dragons 66 1 Heart & Soul (3), Flame Ball (4), Power Plant (3), Veolcity (4)
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 65 1 Newcomer (2), Shutout (4), Get Over (4), Charge! (5)
Hanshin Tigers 69 1 First Pick (3), Smart & Smooth (3), No Mercy (5)
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 67 1 Newcomer (4), Bring It On (5), Awesome Guys (4)
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 68 1 Tough Enough (3), Blast Off (3), Homegrown (3), High Intensity (3)
Orix Buffaloes 63 1 2020 Orix Buffaloes Topiocs (4), Brilliant Achievement 2021 (4), Golden Age (6), Pedigree (3)
Saitama Seibu Lions 64 1 Young Lion (6), Bring Change (5), Nice (5)
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 70 1 Big Bolt (3), Stand Out (3), Fresh Breeze (4)
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 66 1 Milestone (2), New Phase (5), Check it Out (7)
Yokohama DeNA Baystars 67 1 Revival (3), Uplift (3), Future Is Here (4), Expertise (3)
Yomiuri Giants 67 1 Great Comeback (3), Generations (3), Get The Chance (3), Supreme Diamond (4)

Each team set includes 30 to 35 players who do not appear in BBM's 2022 "flagship" sets (1st & 2nd Versions and Fusion).  As usual these include an interesting mix of Westerners (Carter Stewart, Robert Cornier, Geronimo Franzua, Bryan Rodriguez, Cesar Vargas, Alan Busenitz, Cy Sneed, Michael Peoples and Rubby De La Rosa) and somewhat big name veterans (Seiya Inoue, Shota Ohno, Seiji Uebayashi, Wei-Yin Chen, Chihiro Kaneko, Tomotaka Sakaguchi, Seiichi Uchikawa and Seiji Kobayashi).  There's are five Westerners who have their first ever (and possibly only) NPB card in these sets - Kyle Keller, John Gant, Rangel Ravel, Chris Gittens and Matt Andriese.

Here's a card of a player from each set who was not in any of BBM's flagship sets:

2022 BBM Marines #M52

2022 BBM Dragons #D22

2022 BBM Hawks #H03

2022 BBM Tigers #T08

2022 BBM Carp #C46

2022 BBM Fighters #F42

2022 BBM Buffaloes #B03

2022 BBM Lions #L50

2022 BBM Eagles #E63

2022 BBM Swallows #S27

2022 BBM Baystars #DB50

2022 BBM Giants #G03

Card Of The Week March 26

When Topps put out their NPB Bowman set back in December, I was intrigued that one of the inserts was "Bowman In 3D".  There really haven't been a lot of lenticular cards in Japan so I happily took advantage of an opportunity to pick one up on Ebay a little while ago.  Imagine my surprise when I got the card and noticed something significant about it.

It wasn't lenticular.  Or really 3D.

The card had the player's image superimposed over a set of rectangles that decrease in size to create the illusion of depth.  I'm extremely underwhelmed by it.  To be fair, Topps did inserts with the same name and design for their MLB Bowman set so I would have known what to expect if I'd paid any attention to MLB issues.

Of course, given what I've seen from Topps' NPB products, I shouldn't have been expecting too much.  Anyway, here's the card I got - Hiroya Miyagi (#3DB-14):

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Calbee Update And More New Sets

Thought I'd do a quick post on some new sets that have been announced lately plus give an update on Calbee's Series One set.

- First the update:  Calbee released the checklist for their Series One set in advance of the set being released next Monday (well, officially, it'll probably be in card shops this weekend).  A month ago I predicted that the base set would "contain 72 'regular' player cards (six per team), either a 20-ish card "Title Holder" subset or a 12 card subset with some theme that ends up working out to one card per team, and four checklist cards along with a 24 card "Star" insert set".  I was close - there's actually only 60 "regular" player cards (five per team), an 18 card "Title Holder" subset and four checklist cards plus two insert sets - "Star" (24 cards) and "Legend" (8 cards for guys who retired at the end of last season).  The total size of the base set is only 82 cards, the smallest in quite a long time.  

- BBM's announced two more of their annual "comprehensive" team sets.  I'm going to continue what I did last time and put the details for these in a table again.  Each set has a base set of 81 cards, most of which are "regular" player cards featuring the manager and the players on the 70 man roster plus a couple subsets (which may not be fully defined yet) to fill out the set.  Each set also has 18 non-premium insert cards split into a variety of sets which also may not be fully defined yet.  The Treasure, Esperanza and Antique inserts are all serially numbered.  (If it's not obvious, the "Regular Cards", "Treasure", "Esperanza" and "Antique" columns are the total number of those type of cards in each set)

Release Date Team Regular Cards Subsets Non-Premium Inserts Treasure Esperanza Antique Other
Mid May Hawks 69 Newcomer (4), Starting Pitchers (4), Strong Batting Line (4) Main Players (9), Task Forces (5), Big Comeback (2), Expected Cannon (2) 16 15 Autograph cards, jersey cards for Isami Nomura, Tomoya Masaki
Late May Lions 68 Leap Year Man (5), Newcomer (4), Starting Quartet (4) Main Players (9), Rookies (3), Breakout Candidates (3), 20 Year Combination (3) 16 15 Autograph cards

- The first of Epoch's "Premier Edition" team sets has been announced and it's for the Baystars.  It'll have a a 30 card base set and each card will have a hologram parallel.  The set has a somewhat bewildering amount of inserts - "Regular Printed Signature (Silver)" (18 cards), "Regular Printed Signature (Gold)" (18 cards), "Regular Printed Signature (Hologram A: Silver)" (18 cards), "Regular Printed Signature (Hologram A: Gold)" (18 cards), "Regular Printed Signature Variation (Hologram A: Silver)" (9 cards), "Regular Printed Signature Variation (Hologram A: Gold)" (9 cards), "Regular Printed Signature Variation (Hologram B: Silver)" (9 cards), "Regular Printed Signature Variation (Hologram B: Gold)" (9 cards), "Metal Power (Silver)" (18 cards), "Metal Power (Gold)" (18 cards), "Metal Power (Hologram A: Silver)" (18 cards), "Metal Power (Hologram A: Gold)" (18 cards), "Metal Power (Hologram B: Silver)" (18 cards), "Metal Power (Hologram B: Gold)" (18 cards), "Time To Shine (Hologram A)" (6 cards), "Time To Shine (Hologram B)" (6 cards), "Time To Shine (Hologram C)" (6 cards), "Decomori Signature (Gold) (6 cards), "Decomori Signature (Green) (6 cards), "Decomori Signature (Hologram) (6 cards), "Gem" (6 cards) and "Black Gem" (6 cards).  I think every player in the set has an "Authentic" and "1 of 1" autograph card and there's also five "Rookie", four "Star" and five "Baseball" autograph cards.  The set will be released on May 13th.

- 216 Co. Ltd (or whatever their name is) is also releasing the "Swallows Used Ball" set on June 10th.  The base set will contain 81 cards although the set only features 16 players.  There's also a variety of special and rare cards available in the packs including real and facsimile autographs and "used ball" and "ball patch" memorabilia cards.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Showing Off Some Vintage Calbees

I discovered about a month ago that COMC had a bunch of mid-70's Calbees at very reasonable prices.  I've really been cutting back on vintage cards lately but I couldn't resist picking some up.  I thought I'd do a quick post to show off what I got (partly because Sean asked me to).  So without further ado, here they are:

1974/75 #30 Yutaka Enatsu

1974/75 #31 Yutaka Enatsu

1974/75 #51 Sachio Kinugasa

1974/75 #212 Isao Harimoto/Katsuo Ohsugi (#51)

1975/76/77 #439 Yakult Swallows

1975/76/77 #854 Sachio Kinugasa

1975/76/77 #1213 Isao Harimoto

1978 Regular Type I Charlie Manuel

1978 Regular Type I Jim Lyttle

1978 Regular Type I Hisaaki Fukushima

Some comments about the cards:
  • I was amused that the 1974/75 card of Kinugasa has him wearing number 28 while the 1975/76/77 card has him wearing the more familiar number 3 (which the Carp retired for him)
  • From left to right on the Swallows card - top row is manager Hiroshi Arakawa, Tetsuo Nishii, Hiromu Matsuoka and Keishi Asano; middle row is Takeshi Yasuda, Akihiro Ohya, Katsuo Ohsugi and Keitoku Yamashita, bottom row is Tsutomu Wakamatsu, Charlie Manuel, Roger Repoz and Kunio Fukutomi
  • I almost bought a Hal Breeden card from COMC so I was happy to see him making a cameo appearance on Harimoto's card
  • Not positive but I think that's Felix Millan on Jim Lyttle's card