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DraftKings Fantasy Baseball: What You Should Know About Nippon Professional Baseball

If you have paid attention to any sports news lately, you are well aware that negotiations to start the MLB season are not going well. This doesn’t mean we don’t have baseball. The KBO season has been going on for over a month and now we…

If you have paid attention to any sports news lately, you are well aware that negotiations to start the MLB season are not going well. This doesn’t mean we don’t have baseball. The KBO season has been going on for over a month and now we have another baseball league about to get underway, Nippon Professional Baseball. The Japenese baseball league, widely considered the second-highest level baseball league in the world behind the MLB, starts its season on Friday, June 19. Here is some info to know before the season gets started.


Curious about when major leagues and events will return? Check out our DraftKings Sports Calendar for the latest updates.


There Will be Regular COVID-19 Testing

Every player, coach and umpire is being tested prior to the start of the regular season. Once the season starts, testing will be conducted every two weeks. The league did have a bit of a scare in the preseason testing when two players on the Yomiuri Giants tested positive. Infielder Hayato Sakamoto and catcher Takumi Oshiro tested positive on their initial tests, but a second test done on each of them came back negative. This clears them to play at the start of the season.

If a player tests positive during the season, there is no set rule on how the league will approach the situation. If a test comes back positive, an ad hoc committee will hold a meeting to discuss whether games should be held. The measures that will be taken if an asymptomatic player tests positive are also yet to be determined.

As for fans, they will not be attending games at the start of the season due to the pandemic. There is hope that fans will be able to attend games starting in the summer, but this is all up in the air at the moment. The only certainty with regards to fans is that they won’t be there for at least the first part of the season.


Nippon Professional Baseball Will Play an Abbreviated Season

Due to COVID-19, the Nippon Professional Baseball season is not starting on time. Opening Day was supposed to be on March 20, which is obviously not the case anymore. With the season starting on June 19, each team will play 120 games as opposed to the normal 143-game season. To adjust for the shorter season, the league has canceled Interleague games as well as the All-Star Game festivities. The All-Star Games were scheduled to take place on July 19th and 20th.

The Climax Series (their playoffs) is scheduled to start on Oct. 24 and the Nippon Series (World Series) is expected to take place on Nov. 7. All of this is assuming that the season doesn’t experience any sort of setback or stoppages.


What Teams Play in Nippon Professional Baseball?

Central League


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

Pacific League


  • Saitama Seibu Lions
  • Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
  • Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
  • Chiba Lotte Marines
  • Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
  • Orix Buffaloes

If you are looking to draw some parallels between Nippon Professional Baseball and the MLB, the Yomiuri Giants are like the New York Yankees of Japan. They have won the Nippon Championship 22 times in league history, by far the most of any team. The Giants have also been the Central League champion 37 times. The rest of the teams in the Central League have combined to win it 32 times. Other teams with notable historic achievements are the Saitama Seibu Lions and the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The Lions have won 13 championships and the Hawks have won 10. Along with the Giants, there are the only three teams with more than five titles.


Nippon Professional Baseball is Considered the Second Best League in the World

The MLB is obviously considered the league with the most talent although fans would probably hesitate to call the MLB the best anything at the moment. Nippon Professional Baseball has churned out a considerable amount of MLB talent and there will also be some familiar faces from the MLB playing in Japan this season.


  • Top Players to go from Nippon Professional Baseball to the MLB
  • Ichiro Suzuki
  • Hideki Matsui
  • Hideo Nomo
  • Shohei Ohtani
  • Yu Darvish
  • Kenta Maeda
  • Masahiro Tanaka
  • Notable Former MLB Players Currently in Nippon Professional Baseball
  • Adam Jones
  • Gerardo Parra
  • Nori Aoki


DFS Scoring and Rules

While the scoring is the same as what we are used to for DFS baseball, the lineup requirements are a bit different from what we typically see. Below, you can see the scoring settings as well as what roster constructions will look like.


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.


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