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The First Half in Review: 2020 Chinese Professional Baseball League Season Explained

The Chinese Professional Baseball League was more prepared for sports than any other league across the globe. Because of the league's ingenious efforts, the CPBL has gained more prevalence than ever before. We take a look at the first half of the season just gone, players to keep an eye on, and the future prospects of the league.

CPBL Timeline

Socially distanced Fubon Guardian fans
Socially distanced Fubon Guardian fans – Credit: http://cpblstats.com/fubon-guardians-first-reopen-cpbl-covid19/

The first case of the coronavirus in Taiwan occurred on January 21, 2020. However, the Chinese Professional Baseball League was keen to adapt and purchased and installed infrared temperature monitoring systems at each club’s stadium.

The CPBL’s opening day was scheduled for March 14; however, it was delayed for two weeks until March 28 as each team adjusted to the protocols set in place by the pandemic committee created by the league. While not rushing the season in hopes that further protocols could benefit the 2020 season, the CPBL season was delayed two more weeks with April 11 set for Opening Day. 

The league was ready to commence on April 11, though each game was rained out. The following day marked the start of the CPBL season on April 12. As the season began, there were no fans allowed in the stands, but that would quickly change. As of May 2, each stadium allowed 250 fans to enter the ballpark. 

As the health concerns continued to improve, the 250 capacity limit was increased to 1,000 fans. Roughly a week later, each club was allowing 2,000 fans per game. Fast forward to July 11, and the CPBL league finally reached over 10,000 fans in the stadium. Along with the protocols set forth by the league, and each team accepting of the guidelines, the CPBL was the first league across the globe that allowed fans back into the stadium since the coronavirus outbreak, where the league continues to thrive.

First Half Review

Socially distanced fans watching a CPBL game
Socially distanced fans watching a CPBL game – Credit: http://cpblstats.com/from-0-to-10000-fans-stands-cpbl-coronavirus-timeline/

While no fans were allowed in the stands to begin the CPBL season, there was 50% capacity at the CTBC Brothers game when they captured the 1st half of the season. This feat becomes the 16th half-season title in the Brother’s history, where they have won seven consecutive 1st half-season winners. Unfortunately for the Brother’s, they haven’t captured the Taiwan Series in the past six years.

While the capacity was fixed at 50% in the 1st half of the season, the CPBL announced the 2nd half of the season would feature up to 78% capacity. The average capacity of all four stadiums is 16,125 people, so roughly 12,500 fans are allowed at each game the rest of the way.

The CPBL’s online viewership was 38 million across the first 120 games of the CPBL season. Last year, the viewership was 53 million across 240 games, which shows the league is on its way to breaking the viewership record from the previous year. On Sunday, August 10, the CPBL attained 30,000,000 fans since the CPBL inception in 1990.

The midseason break also featured the CPBL draft, which featured the Wei Chuan Dragons, who competed this season in the minors but will compete in the Chinese Professional Baseball League for the 2021 season that will feature five clubs.

Who is Jose de Paula?

Jose De Paula
Jose De Paula – Credit: http://cpblstats.com/chinatrust-brothers-sign-jose-de-paula-from-lidom/

Jose de Paula was born on March 4, 1989, in the Dominican Republic. De Paula signed as an international free agent in 2006 with the San Diego Padres, where he spent 2007 to 2015 in MLB’s minor league system.

De Paula made his debut with the Yankees in 2015, where he pitched 3.1 innings. He was called into the 6th inning of a game, where he closed out the contest while allowing two hits, four walks, and one run while accumulating two strikeouts. Unfortunately, that game was de Paula’s only taste of the major leagues, where he gave up a home run on his first major league pitch.

De Paula finally made his way to the Chinese Professional Baseball League, where in 16 games this year as a starter for the CTBC Brothers, he has a 9-6 record, with a 3.64 ERA, with 115 strikeouts over 101.1 IP while featuring 10.2 strikeouts/9 innings pitched. As of August 10, 2020, Jose de Paula has the 3rd highest WAR this season at 2.09.

To say the journeyman has made an impact on the CPBL would be quite the understatement. Jose de Paula threw the final pitch of the 1st half of the season, which ended in a strikeout for the CTBC Brothers to capture the 1st half of the CPBL season. De Paula dominated the ballgame, where he pitched a complete game while allowing one run and five hits while striking out 14. 

The Rise of Mike Loree 

Mike Loree playing for the Fubon Guardians
Mike Loree playing for the Fubon Guardians – Credit: http://cpblstats.com/fubon-guardians-re-sign-mike-loree-2020-season/

Mike Loree was born on September 14, 1986, in Summit, New Jersey. Loree attended Villanova University, where he starred for the Villanova Wildcats as the teams’ ace. He was selected in the 50th round of the 2007 Amateur Draft by the San Francisco Giants. While traveling through the minor league system from 2008 until 2013, Loree was waiting for his big break. Loree made a significant shift while signing with the Lamigo Monkeys in 2013. Loree spent his first season in the CPBL with the Lamigo Monkeys, then played for the EDA Rhinos, which are now the Fubon Guardians for the past six years. After Loree’s 1st year in the CPBL, he signed with the KT Whiz of the KBO, but after spending time in the minor league system, he returned to the CPBL. Since Loree’s return to the CPBL, he has become the most accomplished foreign pitcher in CPBL history. 

Loree is in his 8th season in the CPBL, where he is the reigning ERA, WHIP, and WAR leader from the 2019 season. Throughout Loree’s career in the CPBL, he is a two-time triple crown winner while leading the league in wins three times, ERA four times, strikeouts four times, and WHIP five times. The average salary in the Chinese Professional Baseball League for foreign pitchers is $50,000, though, Loree has an annual salary of $400,000. Loree reached 1,000 innings pitched during his 2019 campaign, becoming the 3rd foreign player to reach the milestone, and only the 14th CPBL player to achieve the feat.

What To Expect 

The Chinatrust Brothers
The Chinatrust Brothers – Credit: http://cpblstats.com/chinatrust-brothers-showcase-2018-home-and-away-uniforms/

The significance of the 1st half winner indicates the CTBC Brothers will compete in the Taiwan Series versus the winner of the 2nd half of the season. If the CTBC Brothers win the 2nd half of the season, the 2nd and 3rd place teams will compete in a best-of-five for the chance to play against the CTBC Brothers in the Taiwan Series. If that were to happen, the CTBC Brothers would begin the Taiwan Series with a one-game lead in the best of 7 series.

The Future of the CPBL

The Taipei Dome
The Taipei Dome – Credit: Wpcpey / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

The Chinese Professional Baseball League will be recognized as the first professional sports league that got underway following the pandemic, where it brought sports back to sports fans across the globe. The CPBL has gained popularity over the years, and with all eyes on the league during the absence of games, the CPBL reached more eyes this season than ever before. 

In Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, the city expected to begin construction of the Taipei Dome in 2007, which is a massive stadium project in the heart of Taiwan. The stadium is predicted to be double the capacity of any current stadium; however, the start date was pushed back to 2011, where it was under construction until 2014 until safety concerns shut down the project. However, on July 17, 2020, the city gave the go ahead to continue constructing the Taipei Dome, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021, where it will be a considerable advancement to the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

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