Batting has been one of team Taiwan’s strength heading into this WBC tournament. With the offensive baseball play-style in mind during the selection process, this lineup features some of the most fearful batters in 2016 CPBL season such as 高國輝 (Kao Kuo-Hui) the 3 times CPBL HR champion, 林智勝 (Lin Chih-Sheng) 2015 CPBL MVP & 蔣智賢 (Chiang Chih-Hsien) who batted .402/.455/.738 in 2016 and led the league with the OPS+ of 176. (Click here to see their 2016 CPBL STATS & Team Taiwan analysis for this WBC Tournament)
However, there are some concerns about this Taiwanese team.
Cold cold bats
Prior heading into the tournament, team Taiwan had scheduled 10 practice games against teams from Australia, Japan and Cuba. However, the bats stay quiet throughout the duration of the practice games.
- The cleanup hitter 林智勝 (Lin Chih-Sheng) is currently hitting .200 AVG/ .351 OBP over 37 PA. Lin Chih-Sheng had admitted in a interview a few days ago that his not 100% in game condition yet, his strategy is simply see the ball, hit the ball.
- The 3 times CPBL MVP. #6 batter 林益全 (Lin Yi-Chuan) is also struggling with .162 AVG/ .275 OBP over 40 PA However, this is not really surprising, as Lin Yi-Chuan is known for choking in the international event in the past.
- The 3 times CPBL HR champion 高國輝 (Kao Kuo-Hui) currently hitting .200 AVG/ .351 OBP, 10K over 37 PA. During the 2nd last WBC practice game Kao Kuo-Hua exits the game early with tightness in the abdomen region after colliding with center fielder 林哲瑄 (Lin Che-Hsuan). However, it is worth noting in the last practice game Kao Kuo-Hui had 2 extra base hits.
- 2005 CPBL rookie of the year 許基宏 (Hsu Chi-Hung) the young left-handed slugger is expect to take on the pinch hit duty for this tournament. Ksu Chi-Hung is hitting .238 AVG/ .273 OBP over 22 PA with 8K.
Cold bats? What cold bats?
With majority of the lineup still in the ice age with their bats. It is worth noting the following players are performing the way they should be during the practice games.
- The 2016 CPBL OPS+ leader (176) 蔣智賢 (Chiang Chih-Hsien) is hitting .484 AVG/ .500 OBP with 3HR, 10 RBI over 34 PA. Chiang Chih-Hsien batting average when runners are scoring position is .556
- Lead off batter 胡金龍 (Hu Chin-Lung) is doing what he does best. Get on base and cause damages with the stats of .405 AVG/ .410 OBP with 39 AB in last 10 practice games.
- Primary catcher 鄭達鴻 (Cheng Ta-Hung) at .471 AVG/ .500 over 20 PA.
Potential Lineup with practice games AVG/ OBP
- DH – 胡金龍 (Hu Chin-Lung) – 0.405 / 0.410
- LF – 張志豪 (Chang Chih-Hao) – 0.273 / 0.385
- 3B – 蔣智賢 (Chiang Chih-Hsien) – 0.484 / 0.500
- 2B – 林智勝 (Lin Chih-Sheng) – 0.200 / 0.351
- 1B – 林益全 (Lin Yi-Chuan) – 0.162 / 0.275
- RF – 高國輝 (Kao Kuo-Hui) – 0.200 / 0.351
- SS – 陳鏞基 (Chen Yung-Chi) – 0.276 / 0.313
- C – 鄭達鴻 (Cheng Ta-Hung) – 0.471 / 0.500
- CF – 林哲瑄 (Lin Che-Hsuan) – 0.200 / 0.324
Mr Kaku and his watermelon. (Management)
As I previously mentioned in the Team Taiwan preview blog post. A major concern for Taiwan in this tournament is the management team. Head skipper 郭泰源 (Kuo Tai-Yuan) and his bench coach 吳復連 (Wu Fu-Lien) aren’t exactly the best person to manage the Taiwanese national team. As both of them are known to be too conservative & slow with their tactics and decision. Both were fired from their CPBL job after 2016 for that reason. This Taiwanese team have plenty of talents to advance into the 2nd round, but the question is will the manager smart enough to use the right players for the right situation?
Some Taiwanese baseball history (On 郭泰源 Kuo Tai-Yuan & 吳復連 Wu Fu-Lien)
Just a little quick background on this two coaches. Manager 郭泰源 (Kuo Tai-Yuan) is widely regarded as the greatest Taiwanese pitcher of all times. Kuo Tai-Yuan is nicknamed “The Oriental Express” in his prime with fastball topping at 158kph (99mph). He spent 13 years playing for the Seibu Lions in the NPB (1985~1997) with compiled records of 117 Wins, 3.16 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 92 complete games, 24 shutouts. After his retirement, he spent a few more years working for NPB’s Rakuten Golden Eagles & Softbank Hawks as pitching coach before returning Taiwan to take on a couple front office positions and manager roles all over CPBL.
The bench coach 吳復連 (Wu Fu-Lien) 1984 Olympics bronze medalist former head skipper for Chinatrust Brothers. He is part of the Brother Elephants golden era member in the 90s. Wu Fu-Lien is known for his defensive skill at SS & 2B. His nickname is “Alomar Wu” named after former MLB player Robert Alomar.
Full stats during practice game.