Under a shower of celebratory crimson red streamers, the Rakuten Monkeys were crowned first-half season champions for the first time under the Rakuten Group banner. The achievement means that the Monkeys will automatically be seeded into a playoff series, with the winner of the series moving on to the Taiwan Series, the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) championship finals.
The Monkeys first-half championship was secured with a winning record of 37 wins to just 22 losses following their 10-2 defeat of the Wei Chuan Dragons on July 10th in front of a home crowd of 12,529 spectators at Rakuten Taoyuan Baseball Stadium. It marks the 11th time the franchise has qualified for the playoffs and the first time since 2019. The team, which changed its name to the Rakuten Monkeys in 2019, is chasing their 8th Taiwan Series title.
Solid team play with Li leading the way
The team’s success has been driven by some incredible numbers across the entire squad, with the Monkeys leading the league in batting average at 0.289 and possessing the lowest team ERA at 2.96. Superstar second baseman Li Lin is having a staggeringly productive season and seems to have no rival for league MVP through the first half. He currently leads the league in virtually all offensive categories, including batting average, runs batted in, home runs, total runs, hits and batting average.
Returning to form after the pandemic
After three consecutive Taiwan Series championships between 2017-2019, the Monkeys struggled to return to those heights during the pandemic affected seasons of 2021 and 2022. While the team did earn global admiration for its innovative robot, mannequin, and cardboard cutout spectators during the pandemic, they will be happy to be back in the headlines for their on-the-field achievements as well.
Learning from experience in Japan
Since Rakuten acquired the Monkeys in 2019, the team has followed a similar custom fan experience strategy to their fellow Rakuten-owned sports franchises in Japan — Japan Professional Baseball’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and J1 League soccer team Vissel Kobe. Each time these teams achieved a major accomplishment, such as the Eagles’ Japan Series championship in 2013, or Vissel’s Emperor’s Cup win in 2020, Rakuten rewards its members with unique sales campaigns and promotions.
Continued growth of the Taiwan Rakuten ecosystem
Since the launch of Taiwan Rakuten Ichiba in 2008, Rakuten has developed a robust ecosystem in Taiwan — the company’s most extensive ecosystem outside of Japan. Rakuten Taiwan’s services include its flagship e-commerce platform, banking, credit card, travel, and Kobo eReading. Following the Monkeys first-half championship, Rakuten Taiwan celebrated with members by offering up to 20% points back and free shipping on e-commerce purchases, discounts at the official Monkeys shop, and eBook discounts, among many additional special offers.
Focusing on the Taiwan Series
With a successful first half of the season now behind the team and second half of the season now under way, the Rakuten Monkeys have plenty of reasons to be excited about their prospects for further success during this campaign. Their manager Tseng Hao-chu has made it clear that the team’s goal is to win it all in 2022 and his team is undoubtedly the favorite to win the second-half championship and earn a bye to the Taiwan Series. Rakuten Monkeys fans have lots to look forward to in 2022.