What level of baseball is NPB?

What is NPB?

NPB stands for Nippon Professional Baseball, which is the highest level of baseball in Japan. It is the oldest professional baseball league in Asia, having been established in 1934. NPB consists of two six-team leagues, the Central League and the Pacific League, with a total of 12 teams. Each team plays a total of 144 games per season, which runs from late March to late October.

What is the Difference Between NPB and MLB?

The two most recognizable baseball leagues in the world are Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan. Although both leagues have similarities, there are some distinct differences between the two.

  • Number of teams: MLB is composed of 30 teams, whereas NPB is composed of just 12 teams.
  • Number of games: MLB teams play 162 games per season, while NPB teams play 144 games per season.
  • Postseason: MLB has a best-of-seven championship series at the end of its season, while NPB has a six-team tournament to determine its champions.
  • Salary cap: MLB has a salary cap in place, while NPB does not.

What Level of Baseball is NPB?

NPB is considered to be the highest level of professional baseball in Japan and is recognized as one of the top baseball leagues in the world. NPB is widely regarded as being on par with MLB in terms of player talent, and many NPB players have gone on to find success in MLB.

Notable Players in NPB

NPB has produced some of the greatest players in the history of the game, including some who have gone on to be superstars in MLB. Some of the most notable players to come out of NPB include:

  • Sadaharu Oh
  • Hideo Nomo
  • Hideki Matsui
  • Ichiro Suzuki
  • Kazuhiro Sasaki
  • Hideki Irabu
  • Koji Uehara
  • Yu Darvish

Notable Teams in NPB

There are 12 NPB teams, and each team is unique in its own way. Some of the most notable teams in NPB include:

  • Yomiuri Giants
  • Hanshin Tigers
  • Yokohama DeNA BayStars
  • Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
  • Chiba Lotte Marines
  • Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles

NPB Teams in the World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is an international tournament featuring teams from around the world. NPB teams have been represented in the WBC since its inception in 2006. The Japanese team typically consists of a mix of NPB players, as well as MLB players of Japanese descent. In 2009, the Japanese team won the WBC, and they repeated as champions in 2013.

Rules of NPB

NPB has some unique rules that are different from those of MLB. Some of the most notable rules include:

  • Designated hitter: NPB teams are allowed to use a designated hitter, whereas MLB teams are not.
  • Pitching changes: NPB teams are allowed to make unlimited pitching changes during a game, whereas MLB teams are limited to just three.
  • Extra innings: NPB games are allowed to go beyond nine innings if the game is tied after nine innings, while MLB games are limited to just nine innings.
  • Tiebreaker games: NPB teams play a one-game tiebreaker if two teams are tied at the end of the season, while MLB teams play a best-of-three series.

The Future of NPB

NPB has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, with many of its players signing contracts with MLB teams. This trend is likely to continue, as NPB continues to produce some of the best players in the world.


NPB is the highest level of professional baseball in Japan, and it is widely considered to be on par with MLB in terms of player talent. NPB has produced some of the greatest players in the history of the game, and it has also produced some of the most successful teams in the world. The future of NPB looks bright, and it is likely to continue to produce some of the best players in the world for years to come.