(Photo courtesy of Sponichi, also sorry, that game was a bad memory)
It was brought up by one of my twitter friends during the Koushien tournament, and something that I had thought about for a while now.
Given that there are 49 teams in the tournament, and this obviously is not a exponent of 2, there are 34 teams that must play one extra game than the rest. Given that the schedule collapses at the end with teams possibly pitching 4 games in 5 days, having to burn through an extra game seems fatal.
Yet for instance those that draw the opening day, it is possible to pitch on Day 1, then Day 7, Day 10, Day 12, Day 14, and Day 15. So while you do play the extra game, there is 5 full days off for your pitchers to rest. Now, if you’re further up the schedule, yeah – in my opinion you’re probably screwed unless you have a pitching staff like Shuugakukan (and don’t mess it up – you had one job Kajisha-kantoku, ONE JOB!).
*Ahem* Anyways, instead of going with gut feeling, let’s see how many schools actually were able to take the long road. For purposes of this example, we’ll take a look at the Best 4.
- 2016 – None from 1st round
- 2015 – 2 from 1st round (Sendai Ikuei & Waseda Jitsugyou)
- 2014 – All 4 from 1st round
- 2013 – 1 from 1st round (Maebashi Ikuei)
- 2012 – None from 1st round
- 2011 – 2 from 1st round (Nichidai-san & Sakushin Gakuin)
- 2010 – 3 from 1st round (Toukaidai Sagami was the only exception)
That’s not all that conclusive. There isn’t a trend that teams who get that extra game are less likely to reach the Best 4. And if you were to look at the overall winners, we had 4 of the last 7 years (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014) where the eventual winner came from the opening round.
So does it matter what day the champions who played out of the 1st round came out of?
- 2010 – Kounan (started on Day 4)
- 2011 – Nichidai-san (Day 5)
- 2013 – Maebashi Ikuei (Day 5)
- 2014 – Osaka Touin (Day 5)
Huh? So these winners actually came from late in the 1st round! That’s not what I would have been expecting at all!
Now this is a bit of small sample size going back to 2010, but I think it’s good enough especially given that nowadays you are looking at more teams with deeper pitching staffs (and by deeper, I mean more than 1) compared to the past when Saga Kita’s duo was really the exception. And in all those 4 cases, there was 1 primary pitcher for all of them (Shimabukuro, Yoshinaga, Takahashi, Fukushima).
So, it doesn’t really look like it matters where you get drawn as long as you get to the title.