On Kiyota

Happy Kiyota

Happy Kiyota

We’ve long been fans of Ikuhiro Kiyota ’round this site, and I’ve been a strong advocate for putting him in the starting lineup and letting him get comfortable, seeing what he can do with extended playing time. What’s not to like about Kiyota?

He joined the team via the draft after the 2009 season, and in his rookie season of 2010 Kiyota proved a key player in the run to the Nippon Series title, providing the decisive blow in game 3. His 6 RBIs in the series were the most ever for a rookie, and was awarded the excellence award for his contributions to the title.

Based on raw talent, one could argue that he’s a 5 tool guy. It’s indisputable that he is a superior defensive player, can play all three outfield positions, and to my eyes has the strongest arm on the team (it’s not a close competition, either). After 2010, though, he hasn’t really emerged as a force during the games, always playing solid D of course, but with the competition presented by guys like Kakunaka he hasn’t always been able to get consistent playing time.

That looked to change last year, as Kiyota earned a spot in the opening day starting lineup, smashed 4 homers, a pair of doubles and a triple in 47 at bats (for a career high .826 OPS) before being exiled to Urawa for the remainder of the season. Clearly Kantoku did not like the .170 BA but to my eyes the walks, defense, and the emergent power threat more than made him a viable candidate for staying at ichi-gun. And indeed, Kiyota flourished in Urawa, posting a .990 OPS with 12 HR and 8 SBs as the Urawa Marines took the ni-gun championship.

Ni-gun. Why was a guy who could post those numbers at ni-gun and post respectable numbers at ichi-gun stuck in Urawa all year? A total mystery.

(My poor video of Kiyota’s crucial triple in the 2010 Nippon Series)

2015 Breakout

This month Kiyota has finally gotten the chance to start regularly and boy, has he shined. You’ve seen the video of his 21 hits in 7 games. He’s still on a 13 game hitting streak as of this writing, posting a full season slash line of .354/.404/.615, and in May has posted a incredible .388/.485/.718 line. He’s now just 5 ABs away from qualifying for the batting title, since he is batting first in the lineup he should be qualified no later than this weekend. As of now, Kiyo is second in BA behind Daiei’s Yuki Yanagita.

Actually, Yanagita is a perfect comparison for Kiyota’s season. Let’s look at the tale of the tape:

Superior Uniform on Left

Superior Uniform on Left

That’s… pretty close. Kiyo is behind on counting stats of course, but he’s had 30% fewer ABs. Don’t forget Yanagita is an established star, a starter on Samurai Japan. I have no idea if Kiyota can keep up the sort of production he’s managed so far this season but my, it has been exciting to watch.

Some Things I Like – Start of Interleague Edition


We’re at roughly the third-of-the-way point of the 2015 Chiba Lotte Marines Golden Year presented by Steve and Craig at We Love Marines (dot) Com campaign and I gotta say that… yeah, the 21-23 record is a wee bit disappointing. With a win on Sunday at Orix we Fans of Lotte could have said, “Hey, at least we’re at .500″, but instead I’m just going to say “Hey, at least we ain’t Orix.” With that in mind, I want to focus a bit on the things I like so far this year.

Continue Reading Some Things I Like – Start of Interleague Edition

Notes – 40 Game Mark (Games 33-40)

May 13 – Birthday boy Tamura got the scoring started with an RBI single in a 5 run 5th, leading to a 6-2 win over SoftBank.  Photo from marines.co.jp

We come into the forty game mark at 4-4 since we last checked in and 18-22 overall.

Continue Reading Notes – 40 Game Mark (Games 33-40)

Notes – Post Golden Week (Games 21-32)

Sold out Fan Festa game on April 29th. Photo from marines.co.jp

Golden Week concluded with the ninth game in nine days for Our Marines. Lotte went 4-5 in those 9 days, and 5-7 overall in the 12 games since we last checked in at the 20-game mark.

Continue Reading Notes – Post Golden Week (Games 21-32)

Notes – Twenty Game Mark (Games 11-20)

We have a losing record since the first base concourse was outfitted with a wax Daichi. Just saying.

Our Marines have dropped four of their last ten since we last checked in at the ten game mark.

Continue Reading Notes – Twenty Game Mark (Games 11-20)