Naha, Hit City

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Updated: April 28, 2016

Shiba Taguchi, Ryukyu Sports News

Naha, OkinawaJuly 10, 2023: Going into the all-star break, no team in the PEBA has tallied more hits than the 836 posted by the Shisa. With second most in the alliance after Okinawa are the Knights (who have played 2 fewer games than the Shisa) with 825. Evas batters have hit safely 822 times, good enough for third best in the PEBA. The Borealis have fourth highest team hit total with 814. Rounding out the top five are the Wind Dancers with 812. All of the top five teams in hits are in the Sovereign League, and three of those teams are in the Rising Sun Division.

If home runs are more your thing, then Shin Seiki is your team. The Evas (the only team to be in the top five in both hits and home runs) have clubbed 123 so far in 2023. Hartford is close behind Shin Seiki with 121 dingers. Both Florida and New Orleans have 116, putting them in a tie for third most. With the fifth most home runs is Bakersfield, who has hit 110.

With respect to team OPS, the rest of the alliance is, not surprisingly, chasing Shin Seiki’s .789 mark. Second best is Crystal Lake with a .764 team OPS. Florida is next with a .758 team OPS. Fourth place is a two-way tie between Bakersfield and Okinawa, who both have a .751 team OPS. Shin Seiki leads the Rising Sun by four games. Crytal Lake is just a half game out of first in the Great Lakes. Florida is tied for the division lead in the Dixie. Bakersfield is one game back in the Desert Hills. Okinawa (44-45) is the only one of these teams with a losing record, and trails Shin Seiki by a daunting 13 ½ games.

Longoria

Breaking down the Shisa’s team offensive performance month-by-month shows an encouraging trend. After starting the season with a fairly dismal team OPS of .697 in April (over the course of 25 games), Okinawa improved to tally an OPS of .755 in 29 games in May. The team kept getting better in the 27 games it played in June (.771 OPS), and in the 8 games they’ve played thus far in July, the Shisa have a blistering .829 team OPS, though the usual sample size disclaimers apply to this figure.

Offensively, the team is led by left fielder/designated hitter Ricardo Longoria (.280/.356/.513), who will be appearing in his fourth all-star game tomorrow. Red Hook (.278/.350/.440), in his first full season with the team, has been getting better as the season goes along over at first base. Third baseman Scott Morris has been putting together another solid, if unsung, season (.276/.358/.426). Bobby Watson (.367/.422/.627) has been a real catalyst for Okinawa, though he was underused in first few weeks of the season. Joining this group is rookie right fielder Mike Clarke (.467/.500/.667), who has show some real promise in his first few games.

Manager Kijuro Yoshida likes his players’ ability to pressure opposing teams by putting the ball in play. “We often hear about the importance of protecting batters with the guy hitting behind them, but the truth is that getting guys on base in front of a hitter is perhaps more important. It also opens up other tactics, like the hit and run, that can help move runners along. When you have batters who can reliably make contact, you can do these things more often.”

Whether the Shisa’s offense can keep up its production, and whether Okinawa can score more runs than its pitching will give up over the second half of the season is an open question. They are, at least at present, a fun team to watch.