NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) has already celebrated the Champions of the Central League and of the Pacific League, but the road to the Japan Series is still long. In both Leagues, the winners will play in the best of seven Climax Series against the winner of a best of 3 play off between the teams seeded second and third after the regular season. In the Climax Series the League Champions will have a 1 game advantage.
The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks were crowned in the Pacific League on 16 September after they beat (7-3) the Seibu Lions. They earned their third pennant in the last 4 years (they have 20 pennants overall). Cuban slugger Aldredo Despaigne stars for the Hawks. Legendary home run king Sadaharu Oh is the team President.
Seibu Lions and Rakuten Golden Eagles will compete to earn the right to challenge Fukuoka for the Pacific League spot in the Japan Series.
The Hiroshima Carp clinched their second straight Central League Championship (the team’s eighth overall) with a 3-2 win over the Hanshin Tigers in historic Koshien Stadium (Osaka) on 18 September. In 2016 Hiroshima lost the Japan Series to Hokkaido Nippom Ham Fighters.
The Carp don’t know yet which Central League teams will play in the first stage of the Climax Series. Hanshin Tigers have a comfortable 5.5 game lead in second place. Yomiuri Giants and DeNa are tied in third place.
The NPB regular season will last until Wednesday 4 October. The Climax Series will start short after. The Japan Series are set to start on Saturday 28 October.
NPB are WBSC Associate Members.