World Baseball Classic (WBC) 7 wins. Japanese baseball was strong. They passed the group stage with an overwhelming margin. In the semifinal match against Mexico, he achieved a dramatic end-game victory, and in the final held at Londippo Park in Miami, Florida, USA on the 22nd, he defeated the United States, which was filled with major league superstars, 3-2. It was the third championship in 14 years since the 2009 tournament.
Japan’s performance in this tournament was worthy of being called ‘Japanese Baseball 2.0’. He played baseball that was different from his previous image, imprinted with small swings, detailed strategies, and tight defense. He was more faithful to the basics of modern baseball, ‘the pitcher strikes out with the fastest ball possible, and the hitter aims for a long hit with the strongest blow’.
In the final, Japan put seven pitchers on the mound, from starter Shota Imana to closer Shohei Ohtani. Not only major leaguers Otani and Yu Darvish, but also pitchers active in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) all recorded more than 150km of maximum speed. Overwhelmed the United States in redemption.
The average velocity of fastballs last season by NPB pitchers reached 146.1 km. Compared to 141.7 km in 2014, it has increased by 4.4 km over the past eight years. Combining scientific training methods with an overflowing talent pool led to explosive improvement in skills. During the same period, the Major League Baseball jumped 1.8 km from 149.3 km to 151.1 km. The gap remains, but the increase was greater in Japan. Pitchers easily throw 150 km fastballs, so batters who deal with them every day are not intimidated by fastballs. Spin the bat without hesitation. Japan’s victory in the final also came from home runs by Munetaka Murakami and Kazuma Okamoto.
The fact that they were able to build the strongest military power also worked in Japan’s favor. Except for Seiya Suzuki, who left due to a side injury, and Kodai Senga, who is facing his first season in the major leagues, he has gathered all the players he can offer. In order to win the tournament, he even attracted Lars Nutba of American nationality.
The United States, the final opponent, did not. The fielders were filled with superstars, but the pitching staff was relatively weak. The best pitchers in the league refused to participate in the national team, saying they would focus on the season. Merrill Kelly, who started this day, is the 16th among American starting pitchers based on last season’s WAR (contribution to win vs. replacement). American coach Mark DeRosa had to experience what an ‘extreme job’ was while accepting various demands from clubs. CBS Sports in the US said, “It is not wrong to prioritize your career. However, it is true that Japanese players showed a much stronger will than major leaguers.”
The best players participated in the competition more sincerely than anyone else. Darvish, the oldest, was the only major leaguer in each country to join the national team camp early and served as a mental support for the players. Although he was disappointing in the tournament performance, he cannot ignore the role. Ohtani, who won MVP of the tournament, became a firm center of the team both on and off the field. In the game against Mexico in the semifinals the previous day, Ohtani came out as the lead batter in the bottom of the 9th inning, where he was trailing, and threw his helmet and ran to second base. “If a player as calm as Ohtani is so passionate, everyone can’t help but catch fire,” Nuthba said.
Even ahead of the final match, Ohtani said to his teammates, “Let’s not long for (the major league superstars) for today. If you long for it, you cannot overcome it,” he said, awakening his fighting spirit. From the middle of the game, he was busy going back and forth between the bullpen and the dugout to finish. He did everything he could to win the team. And in the bottom of the ninth inning, he struck out teammate Mike Trout, who came out as the last batter for the U.S. team, clearly showing who is the main character of this tournament. 먹튀검증
He had the best power and perfect team chemistry. That is Japan for this tournament. It was no coincidence that they won their second all-time victory in the tournament following the Dominican Republic in 2013.