The preseason is over and the games will start to count now. Japan was swept up in excitement and euphoria during Samurai Japan's run to the World Baseball Classic. Now those players are scattered around Japan, with some on Central League clubs. Munetaka Murakami and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows have reigned over the league for the past two years. Winning a third straight pennant, however, will not be an easy task.

The following is the second of a two-part NPB preview ending with the 2023 Central League.

In order of predicted finish: