Norichika Aoki joins 2017 WBC roster, but Ichiro Suzuki is out

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On December 20 2016, the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization(NPB)announced the rosters of Japan national baseball team for 2017 World Baseball Classic. The 18 players playing at NPB such as Shohei  Otani and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo were selected. Then next day, the Houston Astros Norichika Aoki was selected as a member of Japan national team, officially nicknamed Samurai Japan. But the Chicago Cubs Koji Uehara does not play in 2017 WBC because he could not get an understanding from the Cubs. Aoki convented in the Japan national baseball team of 2006 and 2009 world baseball classic, he contributed to the championship of Japan 2 times in a row.

So let’s introduce 19 already selected players of Japan national baseball team.
■Starting Pitcher: Tomoyuki Sugano, Shohei Otani
■Setup pitcher and Reliever: Ryo Akiyoshi, Kasuhisa Makita, Naoki Miyanishi, Hirotoshi Masui, Takahiro Norimoto
■Catcher: Motohiro Shima, Shota Ono
■Infielder: Nobuhiro Matsuda, Hayato Sakamoto, Ryosuke Kikuchi, Tetsuto Yamada, Sho Nakata
■Outfielder: Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Seiichi Uchikawa, Shogo Akiyama, Seiya Suzuki, Norichika Aoki(Houston Astros)

There are 28 members who can register, so another 9 players will be chosen. Let’s try to anticipate who will be selected later. Before that, the number of player by position in the past tournament is as follows;
■2006: 13 Pitchers, 3 Catchers, 8 Infielders and 6 Outfielders(total 30 players)
■2009: 13 Pitchers, 3 Catchers, 6 Infielders and 6 Outfielders(total 28 players)
■2013: 13 Pitchers, 3 Catchers, 7 Infielders and 5 Outfielders(total 28 players)

13 pitchers are selected every time, and 6 more players will be selected this time as well. So I anticipated that MLB players would be chosen or not.
【MLB player ver.】■Starting Pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka(New York Yankees), Kenta Maeda(Los Angeles Dodgers), Hisashi Iwakuma(Seattle Mariners)■Setup pitcher and Reliever: Junichi Tazawa(Miami Marlins), Takeru Imamura, Yasuaki Yamasaki
【Only NPB player ver.】■Starting Pitcher: Shota Takeda, Yusuke Nomura, Ayumu Ishikawa ■Setup pitcher: Takeru Imamura, Yasuaki Yamasaki, Yuki Matsui

If MLB players are not chosen, Norimoto may be the Reliever. And in both cases Imamura may be chosen. Imamura convented in the Japan national baseball team of 2013 world baseball classic and he contributed to the win of Hiroshima Carp in 2016 season. His stats was 3 wins, 73 2/3 innings pitched, 67 pitching appearances, 22 holds and an ERA of 2.44. By the way, Texas Rangers Yu Darvish just returned from injury, so the Rangers took steps to remove him from targets of playing in 2017 WBC.

Then one catcher will be selected. Because the catcher needs experience, so a player may be Yoshiyuki Ishihara or Ginjiro Sumiani who has participated in the past tournament.

The designated batter may be Yamada. And in total, 7 Infielders and 5 Outfielders will be chosen. So the infielders who two more players will choose, Takuya Nakashima and Shingo Kawabata may be selected. They are the backup players of short stop and third baseman. Then Miami Marlins Ichiro Suzuki may not participate as the outfielder will be five.

By the way, the batting order and position may be like this;
1. Aoki(CF) 2. Kikuchi(2B) 3. Yamada(DH) 4. Tsutsugo(LF) 5. Nakata(1B) 6. Suzuki(RF) 7. Sakamoto(SS) 8. Matsuda(3B) 9. Shima(C)

This youtube’s video is the play of Norichika Aoki in the Seattle Mariners. Because Aoki can play anywhere in outfield, so it is very pleasing that Aoki joined in the roster.

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