Left Fielder Wen Chieh Chen of CTBC Brothers hit a RBI double at the top of the seventh inning during the Taiwan Series game two between CTBC Brothers and Rakuten Monkeys on November 06, 2022 in Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium, Taoyuan, Taiwan. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
The Chinese Professional Baseball League will have their opening day on April 1, the start of the 33rd season of play for the CPBL since its inaugural season in 1990.
The CPBL is the top-tier professional baseball league in Taiwan. The league consists of six teams and has a unique playoff format. The half-season champion with the lower winning percentage plays a playoff series with the team who owns the next-highest winning percentage. The winner of that playoff series goes on to face the half-season champion with the higher winning percentage in the Taiwan Series.
The six organizations in the CPBL are the CTBC Brothers, Fubon Guardians, Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions, TSG Hawks,Wei Chuan Dragons, and the Rakuten Monkeys. The TSG Hawks are a new expansion team that will play their first official season in 2024. Prior to the beginning of the 2023 CPBL season, let’s take a look at each team’s history, and players to watch out for.
CTBC Brothers (1990-Present)
The CTBC Brothers finished the 2022 season with a 69-4-47 record, good for second place in the league across a full season. They are managed by Lin Wei Chu, who competed in the 2004 Olympics. Shortstop Kun Yu Chiang led the team with a .318 batting average in 2022, and pitcher Jose De Paula finished the 2022 season with the second lowest ERA in the league, at 2.44. The CTBC Brothers are nine-time Taiwan Series champions, most recently in 2022.
Fubon Guardians (1993-Present)
The Fubon Guardians finished the 2022 season with a 46-4-70 (W-T-L) record, placing them last amongst the five teams. They are managed by Chang Jung Chiu, who played five seasons in the CPBL from 2003-07. First basemen Chuan Yi Lin led the team with 108 runs batted last season, good for fourth amongst all players. Mike Loree led all Guardian pitchers with a 2.78 ERA. The Fubon Guardians are three-time Taiwan Series champions, most recently in 2016.
Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions (1990-Present)
The Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions, also known as the Uni-Lions, finished the 2022 season with a 48-3-69 record, placing them fourth amongst the five teams. They are managed by Lin Yueh-Ping, who threw as fast as 96 mph, during his playing career as a pitcher in the CPBL. Right fielder Ko An Lin is a player to watch out for after leading the Uni-Lions in both home runs (32), and runs batted in (99). A Uni-Lion pitcher to watch out for is Brock Dykxhoorn, who recorded 17 wins as a starting pitcher for the team. The Uni-Lions are 10-time Taiwan Series champions, most recently in 2020.
TSG Hawks (2022-Present)
The TSG Hawks were a part of the CPBL’s expansion in 2022. They play their inaugural season in 2024, and will play in the CPBL’s minor league in 2023. Their manager is Chung I Hung.
Wei Chuan Dragons (1990-1999, 2021-Present)
The Wei Chuan Dragons finished the 2022 season with a 57-5-58 record, placing them third in the full standings. Their manager is Chang Chun Yeh. A hitter to watch out for is Kungkuan Giljegiljaw, who has hit 25 home runs in two seasons with the Dragons, and has prior minor league baseball experience in the Cleveland Guardians organization. Drew Gagnon is a starting pitcher to watch. He recorded a 2.68 ERA in 174.1 innings last year. The Dragons have won the Taiwan Series four times, most recently in 1999.
Rakuten Monkeys (2003-Present)
The Rakuten Monkeys finished first in the 2022 CPBL standings, with a record of 70-4-46. Their manager is Chu Hao Tseng, who played 10 years in the CPBL. A hitter to watch out for is center fielder Wei Chen Chen, who led the CPBL in 2022 with 38 stolen bases. Infielder Li Lin led the team with 14 home runs, to go along with 83 runs batted in. A pitcher to look out for is Yu-Hsun Chen, who had a miniscule 1.77 ERA in 45.2 innings in 2022 with Rakuten. The Monkeys have won the Taiwan Series seven times, most recently in 2019.
The CPBL can be streamed all season long through HamiVideo.hinet.net, also known as CPBL TV.