Playoffs - Playoffs in Japan's Baseball Leagues

Playoffs in Japan's Baseball Leagues

Main article: Climax Series

Before 1950 the original Japanese Baseball League had been a single-table league of franchises. After it was reorganized into the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) system, a series of playoffs ensued between the champions of the Central League and Pacific League.

Before the playoff system is placed in both professional leagues, the Pacific League had applied a playoff system for twice. The first is between 1973–1982, which they applied a split-season and have an 5-game playoff between the winning teams of both halves of season (unless a team won both of the half so that they need not to play such games). And the second time was between 2004–2006, which the top three team will play a two-staged stepladder knockout (3 games in first stage and 5 games in second stage) the decide the League Champion (and the team playing in Japan Series). After applied with such system, the Seibu Lions (now Saitama Seibu Lions), Chiba Lotte Marines and Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, which claimed the Pacific League Champion under such system, were all able to clinch the following Japan Series in that season. The success of such playoff system made Central League, which never used playoff system to decide League Champion, show interest in a playoff system. In 2007, a new playoff system, named "Climax Series", is introduced to both professional leagues in NPB to decide the team playing in Japan Series. The Climax Series basically applied the rule of the playoff system in Pacific League. But unlike the previous playoff system, Climax Series does not affact teams' standing nor individual records in regular season which the previous playoff system in Pacific League did, this means the winner of Japan Series may not be the winner of the League. The Chunichi Dragons takes the advantage of such system in the first Climax Series-implemented season, finishing second in regular season, but swept Hanshin Tigers and League Champion Yomiuri Giants in Central League Climax Series, and beat the Champion of Pacific League Climax Series Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to claim their first Japan Series in 52 years.

In 2008, the format of Climax Series will have a slight change, in which the second stage will be played for 6-games, and in which the League Champion will have an extra 1-game advantage.

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