NPB: Defending champs Hanshin Tigers the team to beat in 2024 season
26/03/2024 2 Minute Read

NPB: Defending champs Hanshin Tigers the team to beat in 2024 season

The Tigers added former major leaguer Javy Guerra to their Japan Series-winning pitching staff. Former superstar catcher Shinnosuke Abe will manage their Central League rivals, Yomiuri Giants. Despite losing ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto to MLB's LA Dodgers, the Orix Buffaloes look like the Pacific League favourites thanks to young stars Hiroya Miyagi and Shunpeita Yamashita (pictured above during the Global Baseball Games series).

The Nippon Professional Baseball 2024 season will open on Friday, 29 March, with six games.

Central League Schedule

Hanshin Tigers @ Yomiuri Giants
Chunichi Dragons @ Yakult Swallows
Hiroshima Toyo Carp @ Yokohama DeNA BayStars

Pacific League Schedule

Seibu Lions @ Rakuten Golden Eagles
Nippon Ham Fighters @ Chiba Lotte Marines
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks @ Orix Buffaloes

The full REGULAR SEASON schedule

The 12 teams can field a 29-player roster for each of the 143 regular season games, including four imports. One of the foreigners must be a pitcher, and one must be a position player.

The two games of the 2024 All-Star Week will take place on 23 July at Es Con Field Hokkaido in the northern city of Kitahiroshima and on 24 July at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo.

The top three teams in each league will advance to the postseason or Climax Series, set to open on Saturday, 5 October.

The second and third-place finishers of the two leagues will compete in a best-of-three series at the home of the second-place team.

The winners will advance to the second stage and face the league champions in a best-of-seven series, with the pennant winners enjoying a one-game advantage.

The second-stage winners will advance to the Japan Series, which starts on Saturday, 26 October. The other games are scheduled for 27, 29, and 30 October and, if necessary, on 31 October, 2, and 3 November.

The defending champions Hanshin Tigers look like the team to beat in the Central League after they added former Major League Baseball (MLB) reliever Javy Guerra, who represented Panama in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, to an already strong pitching staff.

They will open the season against the Yomiuri Giants, led by first-year manager Shinnosuke Abe, a former All-Star catcher and a World Baseball Classic 2009 winner. The Giants improved their bullpen, adding Samurai Japan closer Rei Takahashi.

The Tigers defeated the Orix Buffaloes in the 2023 Japan Series. Despite losing ace right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto to MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers, the Buffaloes are still rated as the best Pacific League team. Left-hander Hiroya Miyagi and hard-throwing right-hander Shunpeita Yamashita are the pitchers to watch. They both impressed against Team Europe during the Global Baseball Games.

The 2024 season will celebrate 90 years of professional baseball in Japan.
Players will wear a patch on their game caps to commemorate the anniversary. The logo, in black and gold, "symbolizes the history and future of professional baseball" and expresses the idea that "the glorious 90-year history will continue to progress."