The Central League is one of Japan’s two major leagues that play in the Japan Series, the other being the Pacific League. Designated hitters are not used in this league during home games. The Central League, also known as Ce League or Sentoraru Rigu, was founded in 1949 with 8 teams.
In 2007, the Climax Series was introduced in Japan. It is a playoff series that pits the top three teams in order to determine which one progresses to the Japan Series. The Central League current teams are as follows:
• Chunichi Dragons • Hanshin Tigers • Hiroshima Toyo Carp• Tokyo Yakult Swallows• Yokohama BayStars• Yomiuri Giants
The league is currently made up of 6 teams that are sponsored by companies except for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp which is sponsored by the Matsuda Family. Notable teams in the league include the Yomiuri Giants which has won 30 Central League championships and placed as runner-up 10 times. The Chunichi Dragons comes in second with 7 wins and 21 runner-up titles. The Hiroshima Toyo Carps and the Yakult Swallows, on the other hand, each have 6 wins.
The Yokohama BayStars team is a merger of several teams including the Shochiku Robins and the Taiyo Whales. The Shochiku Robins were able to win a Central League Championship before it merged with the Whales. The Yokohama BayStars went through several team names before it became the team it is today. The BayStars is the only team in professional Japanese baseball that does not use the name of its sponsoring company.
The latest team to win in the Central League is the Yomiuri Giants; it also won in 2007 and in 2002.