C.J. Cron | Prospect Profile

How's this for an intro. In just 163 Minor League Games, C.J. Cron has put up a .296 BA, .877 OPS, 361 total bases, including 40 home runs, 37 doubles and 164 RBI.


After a solid start to his professional career in 2011, ranking atop the pioneer league's crop of prospects, Maronde was one of four players to make it to the big leagues from the 2011 draft class..


Kaleb Cowart's first full professional season with Angels, split between two levels (Cedar Rapids, IE 66ers), was a good one.


Nobody would ever describe Jarrod Washburn as a dominant pitcher. His stuff was not over powering and his success was never over whelming.


Yesterday I met with Jerry Dipoto, the General Manager for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

By Ellen Bell - AngelsWin.com Columnist

I’m a Spring Training Veteran. For the past 11 years, I haven’t missed a March in Tempe. Every year holds special memories, but last year was different. 

Last year was epic.

It was no longer the lazy, laid-back collection of afternoon games in the desert sunshine.    

Albert Pujols was was in town and the stakes had gone through the roof. Major League Baseball focused its attention on little Tempe Diablo Stadium with expectations that even the most optimistic fan couldn’t fathom. 

A lock to win the AL West? We’re used to that. Best rotation in the game? That’s a little less familiar. But heavy favorites to win the World Series before a single pitch had been thrown? That’s rarified air, even for Halo fans. 

The result was a spring season that was off-the charts. Opening Day in Tempe had all the excitement of the first game at Anaheim. Seats were packed. Fans were grinning. I’ve seen a lot of baseball and I’ve never been around more fans anxious to start a season that the Angels fans were last spring.

The AngelsWin.com FanFest was so popular that they had to change venues to make room for everybody. And when Arte Moreno agreed to stop by and spend an hour talking with fans of his team, I thought we had all the good karma we needed.  For an entire month, we basked in the warm glow of our own World Series dreams.

Then the season started, and you know the rest of the story.

But, my friends, that’s the beauty of baseball. After an off-season haunting by the Ghosts of Season Past, along comes Spring Training to make everything new again. 

For a few precious weeks in the spring, all fans share the same wish. Whether they live in New York or Kansas City, all baseball fans dream that this will be their year. Some are safe bets. Some are long-shots to make the playoffs. In the spring, all baseball teams have a chance.

There are no sure things in baseball. Last year’s season is a prime example of how teams that look good on paper don’t necessarily materialize on the field. But here comes March with its merciful clean slate ready to wash away any residue from last year’s disappointments. 

This year I’m doing what I always do at the beginning of February; I’m buying baseball tickets and making travel plans. Maybe I don’t have the wide-eyed optimism of last season, but I’m ready to see what Josh Hamilton and our recharged Angels will do this year. And I’m ready to be there at the very beginning.

You can do it. You can make it to Arizona this year, even if it’s only for a day or two. Hop on a plane or pack up the car. Tickets are still available and there are no bad seats at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The hotels are affordable, hot dogs are cheap, and Angels fans are everywhere.

The Angels are back in business. Don’t you want to have a front row seat?

Follow Ellen Bell on Twitter @AfternoonAngel

Monday, February 4, 2013

By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer

How do you know if you are raising your children right? It’s a difficult question, one that every parent struggles with from the moment of childbirth.

Last year, my eldest, Michael, entered Kindergarten. When he started school, he could recognize all of his letters, which as a parent, made me proud, but he could not write all of them.

The first letter that he could recognize was a capital “A” because every time we drove by Angels Stadium he would shout out “I see the Big ‘A’ daddy”. It was the first landmark and the first letter that he knew. From birth, I have raised him to be an Angels fan, like his daddy, and every “A” was an “A” for Angels.

One of the requirements for Kindergarteners is that they are able to write their names. It’s an important skill—one can’t go far in life without knowing how to write one’s name.

As Michael learned to write his name, he always wrote it uniquely. Instead of Michael, he wrote MichAel. This left my wife and me perplexed. At first we thought it was because he was learning to write both his upper and lower case letters and that he was using them interchangeably. His name wasn’t the only word where he mixed capital and lower case letters.

But, as the year went on, the way he wrote his name never changed, even though he stopped making that mistake with other words. He even mastered using capital letters at the start of sentences. And yet, he always wrote his name as MichAel.

Try as we could, my wife and I could not break this habit in him. By the end of the year, this was becoming a concern for my wife and me. We were wondering if he was having trouble with his name or on the correct use of the upper and lower case “a”. No matter what we did, he always kept writing his name as MichAel.

Finally, for his birthday in April, I took Michael to an Angels game—his first game of the season. As we drove to the stadium, I expected to hear Michael shout out that he saw the Big “A” from the freeway like usual. However, this time, as I took him to the ballpark, he said something different. Instead of yelling “I see the Big ‘A’ daddy!” he shouted out “I see the Big ‘A’ Daddy, and it’s just like the one in my name!”

And then it all made sense. My son is an Angel.

I think I’m raising him right.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Prospect Profile - C.J. Cron
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’4” 235 lbs. DOB: 1/5/90
Inland Empire 66ers: .293/.327/.516 with 27 HRs and 123 RBI

How's this for an intro. In just 163 Minor League Games, C.J. Cron has put up a .296 BA, .877 OPS, 361 total bases, including 40 home runs, 37 doubles and 164 RBI. That's more than an RBI per game and he did it all with a torn labrum, an injury he suffered in his last season at Utah. Not a bad start to C.J.'s professional career after the Angels selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft.

C.J. has plus raw power, with the ball sounding loud coming off his bat. C.J. was well on the way to setting a Pioneer League record for the most home runs in short season play until he injured his knee, costing him a shot at the home run record. While his bat will carry him to the big leagues, C.J. needs to calm his aggressive approach at the plate, as he walked just 17 times in 557 plate appearances. Cron will  never be a gold glove first baseman, but he's not a liability there either, though his range is limited around the bag. Cron has below average speed.

Cron has Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales blocking him at first base so there's a good chance he ends up going the route of Billy Butler at the designated hitter spot if he crushes pitching at higher levels and improves his plate discipline. Cron will begin the season in Double-A Arkansas, though his 2013 debut may be delayed if the surgery he had on his torn labrum in August isn't fully healed.

C.J. Cron Interviews with AngelsWin.com from AngelsWin.com on Vimeo.
Pittsburgh Steelers Brett "Da Beard" Keisel took a "whiff" of new Head & Shoulders "Mane Man'' L.A. Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson's hair during a media event surrounding Super Bowl XLVII, as the brand launches new Head & Shoulders with the scent of Old Spice, on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber/Invision for Head & Shoulders/AP Images)

MLB Pitcher and Iconic Brand Join Forces with Old Spice to Guarantee a Double Dose of Confidence

CINCINNATI, OH (January 30, 2013) – Head & Shoulders®, the official shampoo of Major League Baseball (MLB), today announced that All-Star pitcher C.J. Wilson of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is the newest athlete to join the brand’s “Mane Man” ambassador team, a roster that includes Troy Polamalu and Brett Keisel of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Olympian Michael Phelps.

With incredible talent on the mound, a diverse portfolio of hobbies including one of the most popular Twitter accounts in baseball (@str8edgeracer), and not to mention, great looking hair, C.J. was an ideal choice for Head & Shoulders as the brand marks its third year as Major League Baseball’s official shampoo. “Head & Shoulders is an iconic brand that I trust to take care of my hair and scalp so I can concentrate 100 percent on and off the mound,” said Wilson.

During an event in New Orleans surrounding Super Bowl XLVII on Wednesday, Keisel passed the baton – or shampoo bottle – to Wilson, marking the handoff from football season to baseball season.

Representing the brand throughout the 2013 MLB season, C.J. is declaring it’s the Season of the Whiff as he introduces guys to Head & Shoulders’ latest product in its “for men” portfolio – new Head & Shoulders with the handsome scent of Old Spice.

“We are excited to bring these two iconic brands together, giving guys a double dose of confidence by not having to worry about flakes and having the handsome scent of Old Spice,” said Michael Sabbia, Brand Manager for Head & Shoulders, North America, Procter & Gamble. “Having a guy like C.J., who shows confidence both on and off the field, is a great way to bring scalp and hair care to the forefront for guys everywhere.”

C.J. will be featured in an exciting and integrated campaign that will include traditional advertising, public relations, in-store displays at major retailers and a consumer engagement movement set to launch in March of 2013.

With over 50 years of proven technology and success, Head & Shoulders is a trusted daily grooming staple of professional athletes as the official shampoo of MLB and the National Football League. To learn more about Head & Shoulders and how to achieve great looking hair like C.J. Wilson, visit the Head & Shoulders for Men Facebook fan page at https://www.facebook.com/HeadandShouldersForMen.

About P&G Beauty & Grooming
P&G Beauty & Grooming products help make beauty dreams real for women and help men look, feel and be their best every day. With 8 billion dollar brands and products available in nearly 130 countries, P&G’s beauty and grooming products delivered sales of over $27 billion in fiscal year 2009/10, making it one of the world’s largest beauty and grooming companies. P&G Beauty & Grooming offers trusted brands with leading technology to meet the full complement of beauty and grooming needs, including Pantene®, Olay®, Head & Shoulders®, Max Factor®, Cover Girl®, DDF®, Frederic Fekkai®, Wellaflex®, Rejoice®, Sebastian Professional®, Herbal Essences®, Koleston®, Clairol Professional®, Nice ’n Easy®, Venus®, Gillette®, SK-II®, Wella Professionals®, Braun® and a leading Prestige Fragrance division that spans from point of market entry consumers to high end luxury with global brands such as Hugo Boss®, Lacoste®, and Christina Aguilera®. Please visit http://www.pg.com for the latest news and in-depth information about P&G (NYSE: PG) and its brands.

About Major League Baseball Properties

The Major League Baseball Clubs formed Major League Baseball Properties (MLBP) in 1966 as the Clubs’ agent for marketing and trademark licensing and protection. Major League Baseball Properties is responsible for managing consumer licensing activities, developing national advertising campaigns, cultivating sponsorship opportunities with major consumer brands and corporations, growing the game and the business of baseball outside the United States and creating national marketing programs in conjunction with Clubs, broadcast rights holders and national sponsors. MLBP also operates a full-service video and audio production unit (Major League Baseball Productions), a publishing division and stock photo licensing agency, and manages logistics for the All-Star Game and World Series as well as all other special events. For more information on Major League Baseball, log on to www.MLB.com.


By Jessica Grey - AngelsWin.com Feature Writer

Although I consider watching baseball a full time job my actual day job is writing stuff.  Okay, not quite. My actual day job is running around after two preschoolers and a hyperactive puppy.  My writing stuff job gets done at night.

This may come as a shock to you, but most baseball games happen at night.  I like to say there are two seasons: baseball season and the season I actually get work done.  I’ve tried to write and watch Angels games at the same time - this could partially explain why so many baseball players show up in my novels. What usually happens is I end up on Twitter talking about the game with fellow fans.  And sometimes finding baseball commonality with other writers.  Which is how I was challenged by a tweep to write a haiku about Mark Trumbo’s home run power. 

So I did.

And I liked it. So I took some requests and wrote a few more about other Angels players.  I like to pretend that I’m stretching my writerly brain, so it’s beneficial to be writing Japanese style poetry about ball players.  In reality, it’s just tons of fun.

What is a haiku you ask?  Well, You, I’m thrilled you want to know.  Haiku is a very short form of Japanese poetry with a restricted number of syllables.  It’s most traditionally done in three lines arranged like this: 5 syllables / 7 syllables / 5 syllables - and by most traditionally I mean this is how it gets taught in high school English.  For more on traditional haiku check out this hand dandy Wikipedia article. I completely geek out over this stuff, but I’ll sum up by saying: haikus are awesome.

But don’t take my word for it!  Let’s unveil some Angels baseball haikus, shall we?

sharp crack of the bat
the crowd roars: the outfield gapes
softly the pitcher cries

Those of you with sharp eyes and killer syllable counting skills will note I used six syllables on that last line instead of five. Le gasp!  This is what happens when you write poetry on Twitter, people! However, I like the line. Therefore, it stays as is.

So after my Trumbo haiku I got a request for a Haren and Trout ones.

Haren (or maybe I should call it “In Memoriam”)
steel eyed gun slinger
hurling white leather bullets
slaying our rivals

infield sentinels
guarding the bases: he laughs
and steals them anyway

Here’s the thing about haiku: it’s only seventeen syllables! You really have to narrow down what you want to focus on.  In Trout’s case I picked stealing bases but I could have picked a bazillion and one other things (this is not an exaggeration).  And this is where you come in! 

Chuck here at AngelsWin.com has challenged me to do haikus for the entire starting line up!  That’s a lot of poems (short though they are)!  I’d like your help picking attributes to focus on for each player.  It was a really good thing I got specific instructions for my first one, or my Trumbo haiku might have looked like this:

Forty-four: fangirl.
I fangirl. Fangirl so hard
And now I am dead.

Okay, it might have been slightly more coherent than that.  Slightly.  Maybe.

So here is your starting line up:

1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Howie Kendrick
SS: Erick Aybar
3B: Alberto Callaspo
LF: Mike Trout
CF: Peter Bourjos
RF: Josh Hamilton
C:   Chris Iannetta
DH: Mark Trumbo

SP: Jered Weaver
SP: C.J. Wilson
SP: Jason Vargas
SP: Tommy Hanson
SP: Joe Blanton

RP: Ryan Madson
RP: Ernesto Frieri
RP: Scott Downs

Manager: Mike Scioscia

Tell me how you’d like your favorites immortalized in short form Japanese style poetry OR try your hand at haiku yourself!  Leave your suggestions in the Facebook comments or on the forum.

I look forward to writing some more Angels haiku!

You can find Jessica online at www.authorjessicagrey.com

By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer

One of the things that I most enjoy about AngelsWin.com is the entire community that we have developed. When Chuck Richter started the website in 2004, I doubt he had any idea of what it would become—a vibrant community that supports and cares for one another. It’s that community that makes AngelsWin.com special.

In our community, there are many angels—people who have gone above and beyond to help someone else in need. These angels can do things ranging from praying for someone who is sick to comforting someone through the loss of a loved one. I know many who have given others free tickets to games to actually driving out, getting someone, and bringing that person to a game. And, all of this happens because of our love for our team and our connection through the website.

Besides those who have been generous and kind with their time and work, there are other angels on our website. These are real Angels, many of whom come here to see what we are saying about them and how the fans are responding to the team. Everyone from the newest players to Arte Moreno and the front office comes onto AngelsWin.com to see what we are saying. Because we go out and interview players in Rookie ball and Single-A, we are often their first exposure to the media, and often the first chance that they have for their family and friends to learn more about their successes. They may not post much, but, they are on here nonetheless.

As one of the writers for the website, I have been fortunate to meet many of the players, especially the Minor Leaguers. They are men working hard to make their dreams come true on the baseball field so that we, the fans, can see our dreams come true with a championship. They put in long hours in far away places just to get a shot at the Major Leagues. They are good guys. Even the guys who are spending most of their time on the bench in the Major Leagues are still putting in long hours to be ready just in case they are needed.

When I interviewed Jerry Dipoto, there’s one thing that he said to me about players that I find particularly important for all fans to remember. “If a player makes it to the Major Leagues, even for 1 at-bat, or one inning, that means he is one of the top 1,000 people at his job in the world.” Think about that. Most of us work in jobs with hundreds of thousands or millions of people doing the same thing. Not all of us will make it into the top 1,000 people in our professions. Nor, will we have so many metrics used by so many fans of our work to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses, or the passion to do so with such intensity.

Part of why AngelsWin.com works so hard to make a Top-50 Angels Prospect List is to give as much praise to as many prospects in the organization as we can. We want to expose and educate the fans about as much that is happening in the organization as possible.

Nothing gives me or Chuck as much joy as when we receive an email from a player or a player’s family member thanking us for allowing them to see themselves or their loved one being celebrated on our website. And nothing pains us more than to hear the opposite.

As AngelsWin.com continues to grow, we are becoming the premiere destination for the Angels community to come and talk baseball. Healthy, vibrant, and even contentious discussion is one of the hallmarks of the website. With that growth comes more responsibility from all of us to continue to make the AngelsWin.com community the best Angels community on the internet.

So, in the spirit of the community that exists on this site, please remember, that when we are talking about players and performances on the field, ultimately, we are talking about real people who have real feelings. While we might not always be pleased with their play or all of their choices in life, they are entitled to be treated with the dignity and respect that every other member of this community has. While it might appear cute or fun to get a dig in on a player, or to come up with a term to describe him, in the end, it only weakens our community. None of us has the right to cast the first stone.

I can assure you that this website is read by many of the players, their families, and members of the Angels Front Office. They all recognize that fans have passions and strong opinions to support them. It is okay to criticize poor performance and other issues. Being critical, though, is not a license to become offensive or a bully. While the temptation to post something spiteful is strong, it’s better to take a pause before posting so as to avoid any problems.

Here’s one tip that I would recommend before posting: Ask yourself, would I say that directly to the player’s face, or if I knew that he would read it? If the answer is no, then don’t post it. Because most likely, that player will read it, or his parents, wife, or children will read it, and it will get back to him. Not only is that rude to that player, it also hurts this website, as it makes that player less likely to want to talk with us, do interviews, or attend our functions.

Like many of you, I can hardly wait for the 2013 season to get underway. There will be plenty to talk about over the next 8 months. There will be thrills and joys, dramatic wins and spectacular performances. And, as with every season, there will be heartbreaking losses, slumps, and miscues, all of which will confound us as fans. That’s all part of the game.

But, as I think about writing about the upcoming season, I will remember what truly makes this site the best Angels fansite on the internet, the community. A great community is one that welcomes all, and treats all members with dignity and respect. In an online community, the person reading the posts could become an angel to you in a time of distress, or a real Angel coming onto our website to see out what we’re saying. So, as 2013 gets underway, remember, there are Angels amongst us.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


A guest room rate of $129.00 plus tax is available to ALL AngelsWin.com Fanfest Attendees. Each individual guest must make their own reservations by calling our toll-free number 800-528-6481by Friday, March 1, 2013. They must identify themselves as members of the Group. All reservations must be guaranteed and accompanied by a first night room deposit or guaranteed with a major credit card. The discounted rate is subject to availability.

The AngelsWin.com 2013 Spring Fanfest is located at the Fiesta Conference Center in Tempe on March 16th (Saturday). This will be AngelsWin.com's 7th annual spring event and it's sure to be one of the best with the excitement following Mike Trout 2012 campaign, a revamped bullpen and the recent addition of Josh Hamilton to an already good ballclub that boasts two former MVP's in the middle of the order.

Our special guest is once again Angels owner Arte Moreno, along with GM Jerry Dipoto, Victor Rojas, Tim Mead, Kole Calhoun, Randal Grichuk, Travis Witherspoon and the following members of the Angels media: Alden Gonzalez, Mike DiGiovanna, Jeff Fletcher and Joe McDonnell. There's also a little surprise we're working on for all Angels fans that attend. Shhhhh

If you missed out on our AngelsWin.com Fanfest last spring, here's a video of Arte Moreno speaking to the group of 125 in attendance. Jerome Williams and several other prospects attended and spoke as well. 

  • Doors open for our event at 4pm and will go until 11pm.
  • The cost per adult will be $30 per person
  • Dinner options will be Blackened Fish Tacos or Chicken Enchiladas complete with salad and desert, with vegetarian meals on request.
  • Kids menu would be Chicken tenders, salad, dessert for $15.
  • Coffee, water and iced tea complimentary.
  • Cash bar on the outdoor patio will provide mixed drinks, beer, wine and sodas. Note: There is no ATM on the premises.
  • There will be a raffle with many Angels related giveaways.
  • Guest Speaker & Guests: Angels Owner Arte Moreno. GM Jerry Dipoto. Victor Rojas. Tim Mead. Kole Calhoun. Randal Grichuk. Travis Witherspoon. Mike DiGiovanna. Alden Gonzalez. Jeff Fletcher. Joe McDonnell.
Send payment to reserve a table in the ballroom for dinner and for our main event in which our feature guest Arte Moreno will speak and have a Q & A with the fans.

Send payments before Feb 15th, 2013 to: angelswinevents@gmail.com

Note: Everyone who attends our event on March 16th at the Fiesta Resorts Conference Center also gets to join us for early Angels batting practice the next morning at Tempe Diablo Stadium for our annual time with Tim Mead where he'll give annual state of the organization speech & Q & A.

Additionally, we will have a group dinner on Friday night, usually at PF Changs, but last spring we went to Cooperstown in Phoenix where some deposited 22 inches of "The Big Unit". We'll keep you all posted on our dinner destination for Friday night sometime in March and at least a week before our event.

Be sure to RSVP here or on our Facebook page here

Again, all payments need to be in by February 15th, 2013. Be sure to book your hotel room and airfare sooner than later as the prices go up as the dates to our event draw closer. With the WBC going on in Arionza the same time as our event, hotel availability will be an issue also.



By Brian Waller - AngelsWin.com Columnist

It’s that time again folks, time for the World Baseball Classic (WBC). The global tournament always gets mixed reactions here in the states. I personally love the WBC. I always enjoyed watching Olympic baseball prior to its dissolution in 2008; players were not only playing to win for themselves or for their teammates, they were playing for their countries. Anytime you factor in that element you are bound to make things a bit more interesting. The one drawback I found with Olympic baseball was that no professional ball players were included. That’s the beautiful thing about the WBC, as fans we get to see superstars from Major League Baseball play for their home countries, specifically the US.

For those completely unaware of what the heck I’m talking about, the World Baseball Classic is an international baseball tournament that is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation and was created by Major League Baseball. The tournament is the first of its kind to have national baseball teams feature professional players from the major leagues around the world including Major League baseball.  

The WBC was organized in large part as a response to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to remove baseball as an Olympic sport in 2005. Although the WBC has not gained the large fan fare it was originally thought to attract here in the US; globally, it is very popular. In fact, the final series in 2006 and 2009 rank among the highest-rated sporting events of all time in Japanese television history (I’m sure it helps when your home country is playing in the finals). 

The 2006 and 2009 editions of the WBC were contested by the same pre-selected field of 16 teams. Things are a bit different for the 2013 tournament however; this time only the 12 teams that won at least one game in 2009 were guaranteed a birth in the main tournament. The other four spots were contested in a qualifying round at the end of 2012 by 12 additional teams. As a result, two new teams will compete for the first time in the tournament; Brazil and Spain will be replacing Panama and South Africa. For those wondering, Panama and South Africa are a combined 0-10 in WBC play. 

During the month of February we will be previewing each team in the 2013 WBC tournament. There are 16 teams divided into 4 separate pools. We will preview each pool weekly until the WBC begins on March 2nd. This week we will focus on Pool A which includes Brazil, China, Cuba, and the defending 2 time champions Japan. What better way to kick off the preview then to take a look at the champs.


Japan is the defending 2-time WBC champion and is currently ranked 3rd in the world by the International Baseball Federation. In 2009, there were 12 players that played for Japan signed to professional contracts in the United States including Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish and New York Yankees Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. Japan’s defensive finesse, quality pitching, and smart base running have been the key ingredients to their dominating run in WBC play.

Some good news for the rest of the world is that Ichiro Suzuki and Norichika Aoki will be sitting out the 2013 tournament. Suzuki and Aoki tied for the most hits (12) in the 2009 WBC and have informed their respective teams (Yankees/Brewers) they will not be participating in this year’s installment. 

In addition to Suzuki and Aoki, pitchers Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakumna will not be playing either. This will definitely be a new look Japanese squad this year as fresh faces look to push Japan’s winning streak to 3. The provisional roster submitted by Japan indicates that 2-time WBC Most Valuable Player Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be participating either. Japanese news outlets have stated Matsuzaka is currently focusing on preparing for the 2013 MLB season and is currently weighing minor league contract offers from the Indians, Marlins, and Mets.

Players to Watch

Takuya Asao is a 28 year old right handed pitcher. Asao currently pitches for the Chunichi Dragons in the Nippon Professional Baseball league and has a career 34-16 record with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. 

Tadashi Settsu is another pitcher to keep an eye out for. Settsu is a 30 year old right handed pitcher who currently plays for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Settsu is a combined 31-13 the last 2 seasons with a 2.35 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.  Asao and Settsu should be a very formidable 1-2 punch for Japan throughout the tournament. 

A familiar face to US viewers will be infielder Kazuo “Kaz” Matsui. Matsui signed with the New York Mets in 2003, becoming the first Japanese infielder to sign with a Major League Baseball team. Matsui last played in the US in 2010 with the Houston Astros. Matsui played 7 in the states, hitting .267 with 32 career home runs, 211 RBI’s, 102 sb’s, and a career OPS of .701. Matsui currently plays second base for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. 

Third baseman Shuichi Murata will be relied upon to provide the offense for the Japanese team. Murata is 32 years old and is the third baseman for the Yomiuri Giants. Murata led the Central League in home runs in both 2007 (36) and 2008 (46) and despite his production declining the last 3 seasons he is considered one of the few pure home run hitters in Japanese professional baseball today.

201026 hr’s.762 OPS

201120 hr’s.744 OPS

201212 hr’s.690 OPS 

Yomiuri Giants shortstop, Hayato Sakamoto is widely regarded as one of the most promising young stars in all of Japanese professional baseball today. The 24 year old is coming off a very solid season where he hit .311 with an .815 OPS, 14 hr’s, 69 RBI’s, and 16 sb’s.  

Why You Should Care

Why wouldn’t you care!?! Japan has dominated the WBC tournament since its inception. Will this be the year South Korea or another contender finally beats Japan? With veterans such as Suzuki, Aoki, and Matsuzaka not participating, the time might be right for the kings of the WBC to be dethroned. 

The last 2 tournaments have given the world a taste of the stars like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish. What future major league star will be on display this year? I think Sakamoto will have a breakout WBC; he’s young, talented and has been compared to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. 

Interesting Facts

Although Japan is the only team to have been crowned champion, earning the title in 2006 and 2009; South Korea owns the best win-loss record at 12-4, with all four of its losses coming at the hands of Japan. Japan’s win-loss record is 12-5, with four of its five losses coming at the hands of South Korea.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was named the Most Valuable Player in both the 2006 and the 2009 WBC tournaments going 3-0 in 2006 and 3-0 in the 2009.

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