The Best Year of Cuban Players in Japan

The Best Year of Cuban Players in Japan
Fecha de publicación: 
6 October 2022
Imagen principal: 

This 2022 can be fairly considered the best year for Cuban baseball players in Japan in terms of the regular season, still pending what SoftBank does in the play-offs.

Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks lost the title of the Pacific League after falling in the last match against the Chiba Lotte Marines, but in any case they will be in the wild card duels, to later dispute the league throne against the Buffaloes of Orix, who are waiting for their rival.

When it seemed that it would be a bad year for veteran Alfredo Despaigne, the man from Granma closed in style, with an offensive average of .269, 14 home runs and 40 RBIs in 89 games, with 29 runs scored and a .444 slugging, something unthinkable in his farewell season, and because the injuries he has suffered in recent times.

His compatriot Yurisbel Gracial had also a splendid season, as he hit .271, with seven homers and 30 RBIs in 99 games.

However, the best Cuban in SoftBank was the pitcher Liván Moinelo from Pinar del Rio, who had 24 saved games after switching to closer this year, and also had an ERA of 1.03 per nine-inning game, with 87 strikeouts in just 52,2 innings.

The latter gave him a strikeout average per nine innings of 14.87, the highest among JLeague relievers.

But if we are talking about high performance, the highlights go to Raidel Martínez and Yariel Rodríguez, who despite an excellent season could not get the Chunichi Dragons out of the bottom places in the Central League.

Martínez finished with 39 games saved (best in this department), an ERA of 0.97 and 62 strikeouts in just 55.2 innings, with a WHIP of 0.75, figures all better than those of the leaders in those other departments, but not valid for not completing the corresponding innings.

The right-hand pitcher from Pinar del Río became the third Latino to win the saved-game title in Japan, after Dominican Rafael Dolis, who finished 37 in 2017, and Venezuelan Robert Suárez, who had 25 in 2020 and 42 in 2021.

For his part, Rodríguez was the best relief pitcher in the Central League with 45 holds, a statistic that determines the best intermediate relief pitcher of the year on the circuit, after participating in 56 games, like Raidel. In his case, he finished equal with the right-hand Atsuki Yuasa of the Hanshin Tigers.

The man from Camagüey thus becomes the fourth Hispanic pitcher to achieve the distinction, after Dominicans Marcos Mateo (43 in 2017) and Joely Rodríguez (44 in 2019), and his compatriot Moinelo (40 in 2022).

To put into perspective, he helped preserve 45 of the Dragons' 66 wins all season, in which he had an ERA of 1.15, 60 strikeouts in 54.2 innings, and a WHIP of 0.91.

On his own team, Dayán Viciedo finished as the fifth hitter (.294), with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs in 129 games, while catcher Ariel Martínez compiled for .276, eight homers and 28 RBIs in 82 games.

The League also saw the debut of the young Pedro Revilla and Guillermo García, although with discreet numbers, as expected.

Below were Adeiny Hechavarría, Leonys Martín and Rangel Ravelo, all below .250 average and less than 80 games played.

All these figures, I repeat, in terms of the regular season, we'll see if the HAWKS trio repeats excellent performances in the play-offs.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.