(photo courtesy of Asahi)
So the reviews are done (see the prior posts), the field is set. Where do we stand on all the teams?
Grade Range (Pitching & Defense/Hitting)
- A – Powerhouse, talent up and down in lineup or on mound, possible draft talent
- B – Above average, should defeat average team but still struggle against powerhouse
- C – Average, expected to hold their own against a vanilla team
- D – Expected to struggle regardless of opponent
Team Summary (Pitching & Defense/Hitting)
Sapporo Dai-ichi : C/C
- Not much has improved from last year and could actually take a step back on the mound with their defense hurting their grades. That said, the offense may be good enough that they have a better than 50/50 chance against the average team, but not enough to move the needle gradewise.
Sendai Ikuei : B/C+
- Hasegawa certainly appears to be more than the average pitcher and should lift Ikuei above the fray. The offense may be a tick better than average, but the holes in the lineup prevent them from getting a B grade.
Moriokadai Fuzoku : C/C
- Using the same template as last year has gotten them one step further than last year, but I’m still not convinced the team is any better than last year where they were basically a coin flip – especially on the mound.
Sakushin Gakuin : C+/B-
- All credit to Kobari-kantoku for reloading as quick as he has. What’s surprising is that since taking over the team in fall of 2006 he has been to Haru Koushien just once before. He has had a dream of giving his school the famed haru-natsu renzoku yuushou. But as for holding both titles at once, it may not be possible this time around. He’ll probably have to wait another year before going for it. The spring will pave the way for the summer.
Toukaidai Ichihara Bouyou : C-/C+
- Kanekubo’s walk numbers are a bit alarming and could be a major red flag in their bid to advance at Koushien. The offense is passable, but still average. Good enough though to warrant a slight upgrade.
Kendai Takasaki : C/C-
- The always blue-collar team continues to make more out of less, but there seems to be a lot less this time around, even more so than usual on the offensive front.
Maebashi Ikuei : C±/C+
- What advantage they may have in a solid 1-9 is lost on the mound. The reason why the grade for the pitching is C± and not just a flat C is that it’s not like their pitching duo can’t strike out batters. The problem is that as well as they can strike them out, the opposition can square up the ball. So it’s a bit of a double edged sword.
Waseda Jitsugyou : C-/A-
- Waseda trying to be like Shuugakukan – 4 pitchers, but in their case none of which are good. In order for them to win the title they may have to survive high-scoring games because unlike the formula for most champions, the offense will have to fully carry the load.
Nichidai-san : B+/B
- If you strike out Kiyomiya 5 times in 1 game, you have to be doing something right, and that’s where Sakurai falls into, and yet he still lost to Waseda Jitsugyou. Their offense never really slowed down during their run either, but the barometer of the Waseda game means very little. It could be very easy to move both grades down a tick.
Fukui Koudai Fukui : B-/C+
- I’ve decided to give Fukui Koudai Fukui the benefit of the doubt. Despite playing against Riseisha’s relief staff, you still can’t deny that giving up 4 runs to the eventual Meiji Jingu champions doesn’t warrant some credit. I’m not sure I can necessarily do the same on offense, so I’m giving them the more conservative grade here.
Takaoka Shougyou : C/C-
- I can’t really give credit to the team for much right now. Both sides of the ball seem suspect, the offense even more so which is why they were downgraded. It’s possible the pitching could be downgraded as well, but with their ace not pitching until later, it prevents me from doing so.
Shizuoka : B+/C+
- Shizuoka’s Ikeya will more than likely be one of the better pitchers in the field. The question will be if the offense will be enough to give them enough runs to move on each round. The low output versus Waseda Jitsugyou makes it that much more questionable.
Shigakukan (至学館) : C-(=)/C-(=)
- On the overall the team should be below average. But because of their ability to hang in games, I think it’s possible that they can play up in any given game and make them competitive.
Riseisha : A-/B(+)
- Takeda Yuu is in all likelihood the real deal. He may have not shut down completely the Waseda offense, but he certainly looked like a higher round draft pick (plus he won’t have to pitch consecutive days). The offense should beat every average team out there, but with the offense being centered around a couple of players, it’s possible a road bump could derail them.
Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku : B-/B-
- Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku should be able to advance out of any riff-raff they experience, but I still have questions about their pitching overall and we’ll have to see at Koushien how they perform.
Shiga Gakuen : B-/C
- Pretty much where they were before. Better than average pitching, average hitting (at best). Any stumbling of the offense in their games could spell an early exit.
Osaka Touin : B-/B-
- Certainly not the best team Nishitani-kantoku has put out there, but should still be better than most teams. Pitching is not their forte and the offense isn’t firing on all cylinders.
Houtoku Gakuen : C-/C-
- Houtoku Gakuen reminds me of Shigakukan, but with less upside. The “no-game” against Shiga Gakuen really hurts them in my opinion.
Chiben Gakuen : C+/C+
- The pitching will probably be enough to beat an average team, but the offense may not be enough to carry the team to 2nd consecutive title.
Takada Shougyou : C+/C-
- The offense is to put it nicely anemic and could easily be downgraded to a D+ if not for their performance against Chiben Gakuen. But it will cost them in the end
Ube Koujyou : C/C
- A narrow defeat to Sapporo Dai-ichi at Meiji Jingu reflects the averageness of the team. Nothing on either side of the ball really stands out.
Shiritsu Kure: C-/C-
- The team still looks like a Tier 3 school despite qualifying for Koushien and as a result their grades reflect as such.
Soushi Gakuen : C/C
- Soushi Gakuen and Ube Koujyou could have easily switched places had Soushi Gakuen won the semifinal game. We won’t know how good the offense is outside of Chuugoku, which is why they share the same grade.
Meitoku Gijyuku : B-/C+
- The win over Sakushin Gakuin is a big plus, and the B- goes more for the defense than the pitching which is necessary given their ace. But if Kitamoto gets squared up, there’s no defense that can save him.
Teikyou Dai-go : D+/C-
- Another Tier 3 school with a makeup that still profiles like one, but got breaks their way. Some good wins against named competition mean that they’re not made completely hopeless. Probably.
Fukuokadai Oohori : A-/B-(C+)
- Miura also can be considered one of the best pitchers coming into Koushien, maybe even the best. The offense could good enough to hold their own against mid-level competition, but it’s borderline at best.
Toukaidai Fukuoka : C+(B-)/C(+)
- It probably will require more than the revenge meetup between them and Fukuokadai Oohori to prove the team is better on both sides of the ball. They have the potential to, but it’s going to have be a “show me” kind of situation.
Kumamoto Kougyou : B/C+
- There is more upside to ace Yamaguchi than Toukaidai Fukuoka’s Yasuda. The only question is if the upside down lineup is just an aberration or there’s something more there.
Shuugakukan : B+/C+
- They may be down to 2 aces, but they have one more (if not two more) than most teams have which earns them the + grade. The offense is where they can falter still, and it will take a master effort to convince me that Kajisha-kantoku won’t screw things up.
Kozukata : D+/D-
- For as much of a Cinderella story they are, there is no beating around the bush that they will certainly struggle once they take the field. Kohiruimaki will do his best to keep his team competitive, but the offense will make that awfully difficult.
Tajimi : C-/D+
- Tajimi’s offense is certainly better off than Kozukata, but the low offensive output means their ceiling is still low. Kawachi won’t be as hard pressed as Kohiruimaki, and perhaps the Shigakukan game will give them some confidence going in. The projected ouen-dan can’t hurt either.
Nakamura : C-/C-
- Nakamura’s resume is better than the other two, but still questionable. The win against Meitoku Gijyuku is good but the fact the game didn’t matter plus the collapse against Eimei means the team is probably still below average.