Japan Series

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Japan Series
First played1950
Most recently played2017
Current championsFukuoka SoftBank Hawks (9th title)
Current runners-upHiroshima Toyo Carp
Most titlesYomiuri Giants (22)

The Japan Championship Series (日本選手権シリーズ, Nippon Senshuken Shiriizu), or Japan Series (日本シリーズ, Nippon Shiriizu) is the annual championship series in Nippon Professional Baseball, the top baseball league in Japan. It is a seven-game series between the winning clubs of the league's two circuits, the Central League and the Pacific League. The Series is the highest level of play in professional baseball in Japan. It is usually played in October or November. As in all of the best-of-seven series, the first team to win four games is the overall winner and is declared the Japan Series Champion (日本一, Nippon Ichi, number one in Japan) each year. The winner of the Japan Series also goes on to be the Japanese representative team in the annual Asia Series.

The home team for games 1, 2 and eventually 6 and 7, alternates between the two leagues with the Pacific League having the advantage on the years ending with an odd number and the Central League on the years ending with an even number. Designated hitters are used if the team from the Pacific League hosts the game. There is a 40-man postseason roster limit, and the rule on drawn games is changed to 15 innings instead of 12. If the series is tied after the seventh game, a Game 8 will be held with the same team hosting Games 6 and 7 hosting this game. Only once a Game 8 has been played in Japan Series history, where the Seibu Lions defeated the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in 1986. In the event that Game 8 does not decide the series, the next game would be played at the stadium that hosted Games 3 through 5 after a day of rest, and games will continue until one team wins four games.

Historically, the Central League has been more successful in the Japan Series than the Pacific League, having won thirty-five times versus the Pacific League's thirty. The team with the most championships is the Yomiuri Giants, who have won the Japan Series twenty-two times. In 2004, the Pacific League instituted a three-team stepladder playoff format to determine the league champion, while the Central League champion had a long wait before the Japan Series. During this time, the Pacific League won four consecutive Series from 2003–2006. Starting with the 2007 postseason, both leagues adopted the Climax Series to determine their champions. The Climax Series involves the top three finishers in each league, though the format gives a significant advantage to the team with the best record in each league.

On November 6, 2010, the Chunichi Dragons and Chiba Lotte Marines played the longest game in Japan Series History. It lasted fifteen innings and resulted in a 2-2 draw.

List of winners[edit]

CL Central League
PL Pacific League
MVP Japan Series Most Valuable Player Award
FSA Fighting Spirit Award (MVP on the losing team)
Year Winning Team Losing Team Series MVP FSA
1950 Mainichi Orions (PL) Shochiku Robins (CL) 4–2 Kaoru Bettou Not awarded
1951 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Nankai Hawks (PL) 4–2 Yukou Minamimura Not awarded
1952 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Nankai Hawks (PL) 4–2 Takehiko Bessho Not awarded
1953 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Nankai Hawks (PL) 4–2–1 Tetsuharu Kawakami Hiroshi Minohara
1954 Chunichi Dragons (CL) Nishitetsu Lions (PL) 4–3 Shigeru Sugishita Hiroshi Oshita
1955 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Nankai Hawks (PL) 4–3 Takehiko Bessho Ichiro Togawa
1956 Nishitetsu Lions (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–2 Yasumitsu Toyoda Kazuhisa Inao*
1957 Nishitetsu Lions (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–0–1 Hiroshi Oshita Toshio Miyamoto
1958 Nishitetsu Lions (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–3 Kazuhisa Inao Motoshi Fujita
1959 Nankai Hawks (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–0 Tadashi Sugiura Masataka Tsuchiya
1960 Taiyō Whales (CL) Daimai Orions (PL) 4–0 Akihito Kondo Kenjiro Tamiya
1961 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Nankai Hawks (PL) 4–2 Andy Miyamoto Joe Stanka
1962 Toei Flyers (PL) Hanshin Tigers (CL) 4–2–1 Masayuki Dobashi
Masayuki Tanemo
Yoshio Yoshida
1963 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Nishitetsu Lions (PL) 4–3 Shigeo Nagashima Kazuhisa Inao
1964 Nankai Hawks (PL) Hanshin Tigers (CL) 4–3 Joe Stanka Kazuhiro Yamauchi
1965 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Nankai Hawks (PL) 4–1 Shigeo Nagashima Nobushige Morishita
1966 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Nankai Hawks (PL) 4–2 Isao Shibata Taisuke Watanabe
1967 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Hankyu Braves (PL) 4–2 Masaaki Mori Mitsuhiro Adachi
1968 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Hankyu Braves (PL) 4–2 Shigeru Takada Tokuji Nagaike
1969 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Hankyu Braves (PL) 4–2 Shigeo Nagashima Tokuji Nagaike
1970 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Lotte Orions (PL) 4–1 Shigeo Nagashima Reiji Iishi
1971 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Hankyu Braves (PL) 4–1 Toshimitsu Suetsugu Hisashi Yamada
1972 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Hankyu Braves (PL) 4–1 Tsuneo Horiuchi Mitsuhiro Adachi
1973 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Nankai Hawks (PL) 4–1 Tsuneo Horiuchi Katsuya Nomura
1974 Lotte Orions (PL) Chunichi Dragons (CL) 4–2 Sumio Hirota Morimichi Takagi
1975 Hankyu Braves (PL) Hiroshima Toyo Carp (CL) 4–0–2 Takashi Yamaguchi Koji Yamamoto
1976 Hankyu Braves (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–3 Yutaka Fukumoto Isao Shibata
1977 Hankyu Braves (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–1 Hisashi Yamada Kazumasa Kono
1978 Yakult Swallows (CL) Hankyu Braves (PL) 4–3 Katsuo Osugi Mitsuhiro Adachi
1979 Hiroshima Toyo Carp (CL) Kintetsu Buffaloes (PL) 4–3 Yoshihiko Takahashi Takashi Imoto
1980 Hiroshima Toyo Carp (CL) Kintetsu Buffaloes (PL) 4–3 Jim Lyttle Toru Ogawa
1981 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Nippon-Ham Fighters (PL) 4–2 Takashi Nishimoto Hiroaki Inoue
1982 Seibu Lions (PL) Chunichi Dragons (CL) 4–2 Osamu Higashio Seiji Kamikawa
1983 Seibu Lions (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–3 Takuji Ota Takashi Nishimoto
1984 Hiroshima Toyo Carp (CL) Hankyu Braves (PL) 4–3 Kiyoyuki Nagashima Yukihiko Yamaoki
1985 Hanshin Tigers (CL) Seibu Lions (PL) 4–2 Randy Bass Hiromichi Ishige
1986 Seibu Lions (PL) Hiroshima Toyo Carp (CL) 4–3–1 Kimiyasu Kudo Mitsuo Tatsukawa
1987 Seibu Lions (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–2 Kimiyasu Kudo Kazunori Shinozuka
1988 Seibu Lions (PL) Chunichi Dragons (CL) 4–1 Hiromichi Ishige Masaru Uno
1989 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Kintetsu Buffaloes (PL) 4–3 Norihiro Komada Hiromasa Arai
1990 Seibu Lions (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–0 Orestes Destrade Kaoru Okazaki
1991 Seibu Lions (PL) Hiroshima Toyo Carp (CL) 4–3 Kouji Akiyama Kazuhisa Kawaguchi
1992 Seibu Lions (PL) Yakult Swallows (CL) 4–3 Takehiro Ishii Yoichi Okabayashi
1993 Yakult Swallows (CL) Seibu Lions (PL) 4–3 Kenjiro Kawasaki Kazuhiro Kiyohara
1994 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Seibu Lions (PL) 4–2 Hiromi Makihara Kazuhiro Kiyohara
1995 Yakult Swallows (CL) Orix Blue Wave (PL) 4–1 Tom O'Malley Hiroshi Kobayashi
1996 Orix BlueWave (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–1 Troy Neel Toshihisa Nishi
1997 Yakult Swallows (CL) Seibu Lions (PL) 4–1 Atsuya Furuta Kazuo Matsui
1998 Yokohama BayStars (CL) Seibu Lions (PL) 4–2 Takanori Suzuki Koji Otsuka
1999 Fukuoka Daiei Hawks (PL) Chunichi Dragons (CL) 4–1 Kouji Akiyama Kenshin Kawakami
2000 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Fukuoka Daiei Hawks (PL) 4–2 Hideki Matsui Kenji Jojima
2001 Yakult Swallows (CL) Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes (PL) 4–1 Atsuya Furuta Tuffy Rhodes
2002 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Seibu Lions (PL) 4–0 Tomohiro Nioka Alex Cabrera
2003 Fukuoka Daiei Hawks (PL) Hanshin Tigers (CL) 4–3 Toshiya Sugiuchi Tomoaki Kanemoto
2004 Seibu Lions (PL) Chunichi Dragons (CL) 4–3 Takashi Ishii Kazuki Inoue
2005 Chiba Lotte Marines (PL) Hanshin Tigers (CL) 4–0 Toshiaki Imae Akihiro Yano
2006 Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (PL) Chunichi Dragons (CL) 4–1 Atsunori Inaba Kenshin Kawakami
2007 Chunichi Dragons (CL) Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (PL) 4–1 Norihiro Nakamura Yu Darvish
2008 Saitama Seibu Lions (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–3 Takayuki Kishi Alex Ramírez
2009 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (PL) 4–2 Shinnosuke Abe Shinji Takahashi
2010 Chiba Lotte Marines (PL) Chunichi Dragons (CL) 4–2–1 Toshiaki Imae Kazuhiro Wada
2011 Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (PL) Chunichi Dragons (CL) 4–3 Hiroki Kokubo Kazuhiro Wada
2012 Yomiuri Giants (CL) Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (PL) 4–2 Tetsuya Utsumi Atsunori Inaba
2013 Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (PL) Yomiuri Giants (CL) 4–3 Manabu Mima Hisayoshi Chōno
2014 Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (PL) Hanshin Tigers (CL) 4–1 Seiichi Uchikawa Randy Messenger
2015 Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (PL) Tokyo Yakult Swallows (CL) 4–1 Lee Dae-ho Tetsuto Yamada
2016 Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (PL) Hiroshima Toyo Carp (CL) 4–2 Brandon Laird Brad Eldred
2017 Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (PL) Yokohama DeNA BayStars (CL) 4–2 Dennis Sarfate Toshiro Miyazaki
2018 Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks (PL) Hiroshima Toyo Carp (CL) 4–1–1 Takuya Kai Seiya Suzuki

Kazuhisa Inao, as an exception, won the Fighting Spirit Award (in 1956) while playing for the victorius Nishitetsu Lions.

Extra Inning Rules[edit]

With changes introduced as of 2018, the current rules stipulate that the first seven games originally scheduled are called if tied after 12 innings, and if extra games are necessary, the games are played until a victor is decided (unlimited innings), with no curfew limitations.

Historically:

  • Until 1966 (except 1964): Game is called at sunset (all games were played as day games)
    • 1964 (all games at night): No new inning may start after 10:30 p.m.
  • 1967-1981: No new inning may start after 5:30 p.m.
  • 1982-1986: No new inning may start after the game time reaches four-and-a-half hours
  • 1987-1993: 18-inning limit until Game 7, unlimited innings Game 8 and onward (change introduced due to Game 8 being necessary in the 1986 series due to Game 1 being called after 14 innings)
  • 1994: 18- (day game) / 15-inning (night game) limit until Game 7, unlimited innings Game 8 and onward
  • 1995-2017: / 15-inning limit until Game 7, unlimited innings Game 8 and onward
    • The three-and-a-half hour cut-off rule used in the 2011 regular season was not used for the Japan Series.
  • 2018-current: 12-inning limit until Game 7, unlimited innings Game 8 and onward

Teams by number of wins[edit]

Team Wins Losses
Yomiuri Giants 22 12
Saitama Seibu Lions1 13 8
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks2 9 9
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5 2
Orix Buffaloes3 4 8
Chiba Lotte Marines4 4 2
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 3 4
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters5 3 4
Chunichi Dragons 2 8
Yokohama DeNA BayStars6 2 1
Hanshin Tigers 1 5
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 1 0
Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes7 0 4
Shochiku Robins8 0 1

1The franchise currently known as the Saitama Seibu Lions had a Japan Series record of 3–2 as the Nishitetsu Lions.
2The franchise currently known as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks had a Japan Series record of 2–8 as the Nankai Hawks.
3The franchise currently known as the Orix Buffaloes had a Japan Series record of 3–7 as the Hankyu Braves, and 1–1 as the Orix BlueWave. It took its current name in 2005 after merging with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes.
4The franchise currently known as the Chiba Lotte Marines had a Japan Series record of 1–0 as the Mainichi Orions, 0–1 as the Daimai Orions, and 1–1 as the Lotte Orions.
5The franchise currently known as the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters had a Japan Series record of 1–0 as the Toei Flyers.
6The franchise has a Japan Series record of 1-0 as Yokohama Baystars and a Japan Series record of 1–0 as the Taiyō Whales.
7The Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes were merged with the Orix BlueWave in 2005 to form the Orix Buffaloes.
8The Shochiku Robins were merged with the Taiyō Whales in 1953, eventually becoming the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

Leagues by number of wins[edit]

Team Wins Losses
Central League 35 33
Pacific League 33 35

Streaks and droughts[edit]

See also[edit]