Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB)

Japanese professional baseball started in 1936. The first professional baseball game was played between the Giants and the Kinko at Narumi Stadium in Nagoya. Today, there are 12 teams in all, six in the Central League and six in the Pacific League.

The Pacific League uses a designated hitter system similar to the American League in MLB. In the Central League, pitchers also bat, as in the MLB's National League.

The Pacific League and Central League introduced the playoff system in 2004 and 2007, respectively. The winning team of each league advances to the Climax Series Final, and the second and third place teams of each league plays the Climax Series 1st stage, with the winner advancing to the Climax Series Final.

The winners of the Climax Series Finals in each league advance to the Japan Series to determine the Japan Series winner.

Central League
Teams Prefecture Stadium
Chunichi Dragons Aichi Vantelin Dome Nagoya
Hanshin Tigers Hyogo Hanshin Koshien Stadium
Hiroshima Toyo Carp Hiroshima MAZDA Zoom-Zoom Stadium Hiroshima
Tokyo Yakult Swallows Tokyo Meiji Jingu Stadium
Yokohama DeNA Baystars Kanagawa Yokohama Stadium
Yomiuri Giants Tokyo Tokyo Dome
Pacific League
Teams Prefecture Stadium
Chiba Lotte Marines Chiba ZOZO Marine Stadium
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks Fukuoka Fukuoka PayPay Dome
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Hokkaido ES CON FIELD HOKKAIDO
Orix Buffaloes Osaka Kyocera Dome Osaka
Saitama Seibu Lions Saitama MetLife Dome
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles Miyagi Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi


As of the end of 2020, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp is the team that is the furthest away from winning the Japan Series since 1984, followed by the Hanshin Tigers, who won in 1985.

In the past 10 years, the Yomiuri Giants were the only Central League team to win in 2012, but in the other years, a Pacific League team has won the Japan Series, and the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks have won the Japan championship seven times.

Yomiuri Giants 22 times
Saitama Seibu Lions 13 times
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 11 times
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5 times
Chiba Lotte Marines 4 times
Orix Buffaloes 4 times
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 3 times
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 3 times
Chunichi Dragons 2 times
Yokohama DeNA BayStars 2 times
Hanshin Tigers 1 time
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 1 time

2021 Nippon Professional Baseball Season 

In 2021, the regular season is scheduled to begin on March 26 and run through October 21 with 143 games. The Climax Series will be played from October 30 to November 8, and the Japan Series will be played between November 13 and 21.

The regular season will be paused between July 19 and August 12 due to the Tokyo Olympics.


*The following records do not include players with combined U.S. and Japanese records, such as Ichiro Suzuki.


NPB career wins leader

400 wins
Masaichi Kaneda (1950-1969)

NPB career saves leader
407 saves
Hitoshi Iwase (1999-2018)


NPB career hits leader
3085 hits
Isao Harimoto (1959-1981)

NPB career home run leader
868 HR
Sadaharu Oh (1959-1980)

NPB career RBI leader
2170 RBI
Sadaharu Oh  (1959-1980)

NPB career stolen bases leader 
1065 stolen bases
Yutaka Fukumoto (1969-1988)

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