Introduction
This article presents capsule biographies of players who scored at least 200 rtg2 points or
otherwise made the Info Links without having anything written about their Japanese careers.
Examples of the latter group would be recent free agents who were evaluated as major league
possibilities or members of manager's allstar teams. I will also use this article as a place
to put player comments for players who lose their spot in a franchise allstar or the alltime
foreign born team. I will also use it for any comments I want to save but edit out of an
existing article.
A
Takeshi Aiko
1bof 222 points
He won a Gold Glove at first. He once hit over .300 (excluding seasons under 60 AB), and his
career high in homers is 21. That season was only one of two in which he hit at least 10
homers. His averages were generally near his career average of .269.
Hiromasa Arai
of 318 points
He hit over 2000 career hits and averaged .291 for his career. He had little power for an
outfielder, with only two seasons over 10 HR and a career high of 13. He also didn't take
many walks, which is why even though he had a high career average and a long enough career to
amass a lot of hits, he doesn't rank any higher than this. He won one batting title, with his
career high of .366. He had five seasons over .300 in which he also qualified for the batting
title, and two seasons were good enough that he was runnerup in the batting race. He won 4
Best Nines and a Gold Glove.
Kenji Awaguchi
of 223 points
He only qualified for the batting title once but did hit .302 that season. It looks like he
was a platoon player against right handers. He didn't win any awards.
B
Jim Baumer
2b 205 points
He arrived in NPB at age 32 and hit 1423 homers in his first 4 seasons. His best average
was .274. He never won any awards.
Don Blasingame
2b <200 points
He didn't go to Japan until he was 35 and only played three seasons there. His averages were
between .268 and .279 and he won 2 Best Nines at second in spite of his age. It looks like he
may have been slowing down in the field or suffering from injury as older players are wont to
do, since although his batting marks remained essentially the same, he played in only 98 games
in his last season of play.
Glenn Braggs
of 208 points
He won a Best Nine in 1994, when he hit .315 with 35 homers to lead the league in slugging
percentage at .609. In 4 NPB seasons, his career marks are .300 with .544 slugging and 91
homers. He was down to 13 homers in that fourth and final NPB season. Jim Allen's 1997 Guide
said Braggs "wan't the most durable of players, but never wanted for effort."
Tony Brewer
of 232 points
He captured a Best Nine in his four years in NPB, but he still had 99 career homers and a high
of 35. He took a good number of walks and his average was never below .295 for a season.
Except for his last year, his slugging percentage was over .500. His career averages were
.307, a .385 OBP, and .521 slugging.
C
Phil Clark
1b <200 points
In his first three years in Japan, he hit 83 homers (2331 a season) and 291 RBI (with a high
of 114) and seasons with .331 and .320 averages. He played mainly as a DH, but won 3 Best
Nines, one as a DH and two at first. His career average was .305 and his career slugging
percentage was .527.
Tommy Cruz
of 227 points
He won a Best Nine in his six years in Japan. He finished with a career average of .310 and
a career slugging percentage of .504. He only hit under .297 in one season, and in his
last three years there, he never averaged under .320. He finished in the top five in
average in each of those last three years, and slugged .607 in 1984 behind his career high of
27 homers.
D
Dick Davis
1b 213 points
He won a Best Nine. Though he was in Japan for five seasons, he only played enough to qualify
for two batting titles. He finished second one of those times and third the other. He slugges
over .600 in each of those two qualifying years as well behind seasons of 36 and 40 homers.
His NPB career average was .331 with a .587 slugging percentage. He departed Japan abruptly
in midseason after he was arrested for possession of marijuana, which was found in his
apartment. After he was arrested, he was detained for 20 days under frequent questioning by
the local police. Davis maintained he had no idea the stuff was marijuana throughout his
questioning. It appears the police didn't believe his story, but didn't feel strongly about
being able to prove the case against Davis and so did not bring charges. Davis was released,
but he was clearly unwelcome in Japan and he left the country quite quickly upon his release.
Orestes Destrade
dh 232 points
He was purely a designated hitter in Japan, but what a hitter he was. In his first four years
in NPB, he led the league in homers 3 times, RBI and walks twice each, and slugging percentage
once. His averages were nothing special, but the excellent power and walk totals made him
extremely productive. He won 3 Best Nines, all at DH.
Shozo Doi
2b 228 points
According to The Meaning of Ichiro, Doi was an accomplished spray hitter. He certainly
didn't have home run power, never hitting more than nine in a season. His high in average was
.293. He must have been a good bunter, since he led the league in sacrifice hits five times.
He won two Best Nines and a Gold Glove at second.
E
F
Eiji Fujii
of 242 points
He hit .300 once and never reached double figures in homers. He won a Best Nine and finished
with a .260 career average.
Hiromu Fujii
1b 272 points
He hit 20 homers twice and 1518 five other times. His high in average was .280 but his career
average is an unimpressive .238. He never won an award.
Mitsuo Fujiwara
3b 220 points
He hit .300 or more in four seasons and .295 another. His high in homers was 10, but while he
lacked power, he did have speed. He stole as many as 50 bases in a season and had four other
seasons of 2029 steals. He won a Best Nine and two Gold Gloves at third.
Junichi Fukura
2b 247 points
Jim Allen's 1994 described his glovework in positive terms, and in the 1997 Guide, Allen said
Fukura was "the best number two hitter in Japanese baseball in recent memory." The reason for
this is NPB #2 hitters have tended to be the best bunter. Fukura could do that, twice leading
the league in sacrifice hits. He could also hit, averaging over .300 3 times and recording a
career .279 average. He also drew some walks, which made him a decent offensive threat. He
only had 50 career homers, only hitting more than 8 once (12 n 1986). He had six seasons with
at least 12 steals and he won two Best Nines at second.
Kono Fukutomi
of 207 points
He had a 16 year career, and since his offense was rarely special (no more than 12 steals,10
homers or 41 walks in a season), his defense was likely good. He had some years with nice
averages, especially his career high of .292, and a few others with respectable averages. On
the other hand, his career average was .255, so he had some poor years at the plate. Since
he played for some poor Swallows/Atoms squads, he might have been the best of a poor bunch of
choices. Of course, if his defense was good, there would be some reason to play him.
Fukutomi never won any awards.
Kazuhide Funada
3bss2b 234 points
He started out with the Giants, who used him as a middle infielder. In four years of than, he
never had much success. Funada then went to the Lions for five years. He had a nice year in
1968 when he played mostly third base, hitting .286 with 16 homers. He didn't sustain that
kind of production, so he moved on to the Swallows. They favored using him at third, but in
the context of a 100 or so games a year player who played at whatever infield spot they needed
him. For a man who was 30 when that usage pattern began, he performed well. He never
exhibited much power (only 3 seasons over 8 HR) but did demonstrate some speed (7 seasons of
double figure steals). That .286 1968 season was one of only two years over .257 before his
last five seasons, and the second was .266 in 143 AB. In his last five years, though, Funada
hit .288. He never received any awards.
Seizo Furukawa
of 292 points
He never finished above eleventh in the batting race. He twice led the league in homers,
although in the deadball era, so he only needed 8 and 4 HR to do so in 1942 and 1943
respectively. His real claim to fame was his ability to steal bases, with 9 seasons of 20 or
more steals and a high of 56. He never won any awards in his time, when many fewer awards
were given.
G
Balvino Galvez
p <200 points
He led the league in complete games in both his first two NPB seasons, and also led in wins
and innings pitched in his first NPB season, which came at age 32. His ERAs steadily rose, as
you might expect to happen to an aging pitcher. He never captured any awards.
H
Koichi Hada
3b1b 263 points
The main third baseman for the Buffaloes in the 1970's and 1980's. He never got his average
higher than .277, but in seven of the ten years he qualified for the batting title, he hit at
least .265. He had 3 seasons of 22 or more homers, with a high of 30 and 8 other seasons in
double figures. He won a Gold Glove at third as well.
Kent Hadley
1b 211 points
He played six seasons in Japan, and hit 29 or 30 homers in three of them. In the other three
he hit 11, 14 and 18. He hit his career high of .295 in 1968 when he also hit 30 homers, so
it's rather clear which season is his best. He never captured any awards, though.
Hiroshi Hakoda
2b3b 214 points
In his first season as a regular, he hit .323 to finish fourth in average. Afterwards, he
never hit over .272. He had career highs in steals and homers in 1960, with 23 and 16
respectively. Beyond that, his highs were 17 steals and 11 homers. He received a Best Nine
for second base in 1954.
Jinten Haku
of 298 points
He won a batting title and had three other finishes in the top five. He had 1419 homers in
nine seasons and 17 or more steals 5 times. He won a single Best Nine.
Tokumitsu Harada
of 260 points
He hit between .290 and .316 from 1949 to 1951. He hit 37 of his 64 career homers in those
three seasons, either 12 or 13 each year. Other than those three years, he never had more
than 6 homers in a season. He had seven seasons of 1931 steals. He never impressed the
voters enough to receive any awards.
Tadashi Hatta
2bss 213 points
He never hit over .278 in over 288 AB and his high in homers was 10. He had two seasons of
20 or more steals and others of 15 and 12, but none over 8 after that. The only way a guy
with a resume like this wins awards is if he's a glove wizard. Apparently, Hatta wasn't one
of those, because he never won any awards.
Eric Hillman
p <200 points
Jim Allen's 1997 Guide said this lefty was an extreme ground ball pitcher and that in 1995 and
1996, 74% of his starts were quality starts, the second best in Japan in that two year period.
Unfortunately, he only had six more innings in NPB left after the end of 1996. He earned a
Best Nine during his stay in Japan.
Masaaki Hirai
ss 242 points
His single season career high was .309 and his career average was .277. He stole at least 18
bases in each of his first six seasons and his career high in homers was 13. He won three
Best Nines at shortstop, all in a row from 1951 to 1953.
Ken Hirano
of 215 points
He led the league in sacrifice hits seven times, steals once, and triples twice. His career
high in steals was 48 and in homers it was 11. He only had 55 homers in his lengthy career,
though. He followed up in the steal category much better, with 6 seasons of 17 or more
thefts. He twice hit over .300 and finished with a career .273 average. He won one Best Nine
and nine Gold Gloves. Jim Allen, said of him in the 1994 Guide: "[he] gave the Lions solid
defense for six years in right field, winning a Gold Glove every year. He's been very durable.
He's rarely been more than a marginal offensive player, but given his defense and his hustling
play, he has contributed to the Lions' success."
Jun Hirota
c <200 points
This Hawaiianborn JapaneseAmerican was the Central League's Best Nine winner at catcher from
1953 through 1955. His career average was decent for a NPB catcher at .251. His high in
homers was 9.
Shinjiro Hiyama
of 215 points
From 1996 to 1998, he took walks and smacked homers but with poor averages. He then had two
years where he wasn't an everyday player, and then in 2001 to 2003, he was a different type of
hitter: one who took many fewer walks and hit less homers but hit for a higher average. To
date, his highs are .300 and 23 homers. He's not won any awards.
Jack Howell
3b 211 points
He turned 31 in his first of his four NPB seasons. In that first year, he led in homers,
average and slugging percentage. His performances dropped in each of those three categories
in each of his remaining seasons. He had 20 or more homers 3 times with a career total of 100.
His two best seasons in average were .331 and .295. Jim Allen's comment in his 1994 Guide on
Howell's defense was that "he's not a Gold Glove candidate." Howell captured a MVP and a Best
Nine at third.
I
Tadahito Iguchi
2bss 243 points
Most players either follow one of several patterns of progression in their careers: going up,
going down, or staying about the same, especially if they play regularly. Iguchi, who was
born in December, 1974 and thus has had at least half his career to date, isn't one such a
player. His production has bounced around rather wildly since he came into the league at age
22. He played full time in his second year. and with power, but with only a .221 average.
The next year he missed about 20 games and increased his walks, but saw a significant drop in
power. In his fourth year, he only played 54 games but improved offensively. In his fifth
year, he hit .261 with 61 walks and 30 homers. In his sixth year, 2002, his walks and homers
plummeted to 27 and 18 respectively, partially due to a drop to 114 games played. Then in
2003, his average shot up to fourth best in the league at .340 along with 27 homers and his
walks soared to 81 so he dwarfed his previous career high on base percentage of .346 by 92
points at .438. At his best, he's been a fine player, but he's yet to show any seasontoseason
consistency. So far, he's won two Gold Gloves and 2 Best Nines, all at second.
Iwao Ikebe
of 232 points
He hit over .300 once, finishing third in average that year. He had two seasons over 20 HR
and seven more of 1019. His high in steals was 16, which was one of the five seasons he
reached double figures in that category. He also was awarded two outfield Gold Gloves.
Makoto Imaoka
2b <200 points
He had a big jump in power in 2002, from a previous high of 7 homers to 15 and also had his
first year over .300 (his previous high was .293) to finish fifth in average. Then in 2003,
he boosted his average to .340 to lead the league. He's not a base stealer, with only 15
total in his seven seasons. To date, he's won two Best Nines and a Gold Glove at second base,
Atsunori Inaba
of 210 points
He's played nine seasons now, but has only had enough at bats to qualify for 4 batting titles.
He hit over .300 in two of those years. His only two seasons of twenty or more homers have
also come when he qualified for a batting title. Other than the two years of 20+ homers, his
high is 11. He has slugged over .500 once and has one Best Nine to his credit.
Hiroaki Inoue
of3b 252 points
He only qualified for 4 batting titles in his 18 year career, but once hit .318 to finish
second in the batting race. He had five years with 1618 homers and four of 1015 steals.
His resume includes one Best Nine.
Kazuhiko Ishimine
of 290 points
He once led the league in RBI and had seven seasons of twenty or more homers, with a high of
37. He had three seasons in which he hit .296 or better and got enough at bats to qualify for
the batting title, once finishing as high as third in average. He twice slugged over .500,
excluding seasons under 150 AB. While he was impressive with the bat, he wasn't with the
glove. Jim Allen in his 1995 Guide said Ishimine's defense was the worst of any fulltime
outfielder of 1994. He won three Best Nines, two as a DH and one as an outfielder.
J
Clarence Jones
1b 309 points
He only averaged over .244 once in his NPB career (at .292) and five times led the league in
strikeouts. On the other hand, he walked a lot, leading the league three times. He also had
top notch power, leading the league in HR twice and registering 29 or more homers in 7 of his
8 seasons in NPB and 246 in his career. He slugged over .500 six times despite the low
averages, two of them good enough to lead the league. He won a Gold Glove and a Best Nine at
first.
K
Jiro Kanayama
2b 232 points
He once hit .311 in a full season and once hit .281 in 270 at bats but otherwise he only had
one season over .244 (at .268). He led the league in homers, but in 1944 when three round
trippers in the short 35 game season were enough to do the trick. His claim to fame as an
offensive player was his speed. He led the league in steals the three times he stole 58 or
more bases. He stole 30 or more every year from 1947 through 1955 except for 1949 when he
only got 100 AB. One thing he couldn't swipe was any awards.
Yoshiaki Kanemura
3b 219 points
He never hit over .275 when batting enough to qualify for a batting title. He once hit 23
homers. Jim Allen in his 1995 Guide indicated Kanemura's defense was "never all that good."
Kanemura has no awards to place on his resume.
Shinsaku Katahira
1b 215 points
He only qualified for four batting titles, but in one of those four seasons, he hit .325 to
finish fourth in the batting race and added 16 homers to slug .500. His high in homers waa
21, but he added five years of 1319 four baggers. He didn't impress the voters enough to
garner any awards.
Shoji Kato
of 230 points
He led the league in homers in 1943, but in that season four round trippers was enough to do
the job. He had seasons of 14 and 10 later in his career. He lost four years to the war, and
his second season in NPB didn't come until he was 29. He had seasons of .294 and .317 in
which he qualified for the batting title. He never captured any awards, but a decent career
especially considering the unavoidable interruptions he encountered.
Masahiro Kawai
ss 245 points
He led the league in sacrifice hits six times on his way to the alltime record in that
category (even more than MLB's leader, Eddie Collins). He never stole more than nine bases,
but his averages were decent to good as were his walk totals. He hit .288 or better in four
seasons in which he qualified for the batting title. He had five seasons in which he qualified
for a batting title with an OBP of .348 or better. Jim Allen said of him in the 1995 Guide:
"he's a good fielder. At the plate, he's a tough out and excels at fouling off pitches he
can't drive. He knows the strike zone . . . . He's a smart player, and he hustles." He won
one Best Nine and six Gold Gloves at short.
Willie Kirkland
of 204 points
He arrived in Japan at age 34 and played six seasons there. He only exceeded .250 once, at
.266 and then in too few at bats to qualify for the batting title. He had some power, as 126
homers in such a short career will attest. He hit 20 or more homers three times, with a high
of 37 in his first NPB season. He never captured any awards.
Toshikazu Kodama
3b 231 points
He hit over .300 six times, finishing in the top five 5 times, 3 of them consecutive fourth
place finishes. He once hit 20 homers, but otherwise no more than 13. The 20 homer year led
to a .509 slugging mark. He had eight seasons of 10 or more steals, and won two Best Nines at
third base.
Akihito Kondo
2b 212 points
He had only 2 seasons where he hit over .258, and one of those didn't have enough at bats to
qualify for the batting title. He led the league in sacrifice bunts four times. He had very
little power, never hitting more than 7 in a year. He twice stole 20 or more bases and had
three more years of 1517 steals. He didn't capture any awards.
Kazumasa Kono
ss 268 points
He had two seasons over .291, and added six seasons of double figure homers. He also stole
20 or more three times and had six more seasons of 1015 steals. He won a Best Nine and a
Gold Glove at third.
Takayuki Kono
2bof 228 points
He never captured any awards, but he did have six seasons of double figure steals with a
career high of 25. He also had four years of double figure homers, with a career high of 14.
His career average is .268, which is good for a middle infielder. He also hit .296 ir better
(excluding seasons under 281 AB) twice, but never finished higher than tenth in the batting
race.
Yasuhiro Kunisada
2b3b 204 points
He never hit over .272, and had four seasons of 1012 homers. His high in steals was 36, to
which he added five years of 1117 steals. He won 3 Best Nines, two at third and one at
second.
Yokinobu Kuroe
ss 222 points
He once hit .293 to finish sixth in the batting race. He qualified for the batting title six
times, hitting at least .275 all but once, when he hit .254. When he didn't get enough at
bats to qualify for the batting title, he never hit over .246. His career high in homers was
10, and he twice stole twenty or more bases. He had five seasons of 1016 steals and won a
single Best Nine at short.
L
Art Lopez
of 227 points
He came to Japan at age 31. He hit 2124 homers in his first four years and hit over .300 3
times. He finished in the top six in average 3 times and slugged .495.500 three times. In
his sixth season in NPB, he dropped to .233 after a previous low of .286, at which point he
was finished. He never captured any awards despite his fine play.
Luis Lopez
1b 227 points
His NPB career average was .303, and the only time he hit under .294 was his last season in NPB,
when he hit .245. He arrived in Japan at age 31 and played six years there, qualifying for
the batting title four times. In those four years, he slugged .500 3 times. He hit 20 or
more homers 4 times with a high of 32. As Jim Allen pointed out in his 1997 Guide, Luis
really only had two dimensions to his gamehitting 1) for average and 2) for power. He did
those two things well enough to receive two Best Nines at first.
Jim Lyttle
of 251 points
He came to Japan at 31 and stayed 7 seasons. He hit over .296 three times and slugged over
.500 twice. He hit 2333 homers in five seasons. He twice knocked in over 100 runs. He was
also regarded as a fine glove man, as evidenced by his five Gold Gloves to go with his one
Best Nine.
M
Ken Macha
3b 202 points
He played four seasons in Japan, arriving at age 31. He was effective in all four, slugging
over .500 twice and averaging .300 or more three times. He hit 82 career homers, with a high
of 31 and another of 23. He didn't win any awards for this production, though.
Masuho Maeda
3bss 227 points
He only hit over .260 in more than 176 at bats once, hitting .284. He did hit 1013 homers in
six seasons, and stole 22 bases in a season, but he had only one other season over 11 (at 19).
He never won an award.
Hiromi Makihara
p 213 points
He's the last man to pitch a perfect game in NPB. He did it on May 18, 1994 against the Carp.
He was in the top five in ERA five times, once in every spot except first and a second time in
second place. He never won more than 13 games in a season. Jim Allen's 1997 Guide indicates
Makihara had poor eyesight, so bad that even with glasses he had trouble seeing the catcher's
signals. He dealt with this problem by giving the sign he thought he saw back to the catcher.
The same Guide indicates that in 1995 and 1996, he had a quality start in 70% of his starts,
fourth best in Japan for that two year stretch. He never won any awards.
Chuck Manuel
of 252 points
His first season of 84 games seems to have been his adjustment period, as he hit only .243 with
11 homers. The Swallows stayed with him even though he was 33 by the time his second season
began. He began a four season run where he hit at least 37 homers each year with a minimum
average of .312 and a minimum .596 slugging percentage. He led the league twice in homers,
though both times for the Buffaloes. In the seasons he led in homers, he also led in slugging
percentage. He twice hit over 40 homers, reaching 48 in 1980. He also led in RBI once. He
is profiled in You Gotta Have Wa, which says he "was an American originala funloving
free spirit who could drink all night and still play hard the next day. . . His fielding
bordered on the atrocious, but he was a fearsome hitter." He suffered a horrendous beaning
in 1979 which broke his jaw clean through in six places and required the use of steel plates to
keep his jaw together. He was in the hospital for six weeks after the beaning, and once he
was released, he returned immediately to the lineup in spite of doctor's orders not to do so.
He won a MVP that year as well as a total of four Best Nines, two in the outfield and 2 as a
DH.
Tadeshi Matsumoto
of 201 points
He twice hit over .293, excluding seasons of less than 295 AB, and led the league in steals
twice with backtoback years of 61 and 76. He stole at least 30 bases in a total of six
seasons plus another season of 21. He had little power, only once exceeding 15 doubles and
with a career high of 6 homers. He did lead the league in triples twice, however. His speed
was an asset in the field as well, helping him capture 3 Gold Gloves and a Best Nine in the
outfield.
Futoshi Minamibuchi
of <200 points
He only qualified for 4 batting titles, but hit .315 one of those times to finish fourth in the
batting race. His high in homers was 11, the only time he was over 8 in that category. He
had speed, stealing a high of 34 bases and having five seasons with at least 18 thefts. He
also chased down two outfield Best Nines.
Nate Minchey
p <200 points
He has had double figures in wins in all but one of his six seasons to date. His high in wins
is 15, which he's attained twice. He's finished first, third and fourth in the ERA race. He
hasn't gotten any awards for his efforts, though.
Daisuke Miura
p <200 points
In 2001, he was third in the ERA race, the only time he was higher than eighth. His best year
in wins was 12, and he had 4 years of 1012 wins to his credit. He was born on Christmas day,
1973, so he may have something left. He's another guy with an empty trophy case.
Toshio Miyamoto
of <200 points
He only qualified for the batting title twice. Though he only hit .259 and .263 those two
years, those marks were good enough for eighth and ninth place finishes in the batting race.
He added 19 and 21 homers in those two years as well. Other than that, he seems to have been
a fourth outfielder who spelled other players and/or pinch hit some, usually playing in over
100 games and getting 290350 at bats. Players like that rarely win any awards, and he's no
exception to that rule.
Masato Monzen
c 246 points
He lost three years to the war and never captured any awards. His career average of .237 is
more impressive than it seems at first because he played 7 seasons before 1948 and 9 after.
He had a gap from 1944 to 1948, but I can't explain the gap after 1945. He once hit 25 homers,
but otherwise he was only over 7 once with 12. The 25 homer year he hit his career high in
average of .280 and thus slugged a career best .513, which was the only time he exceeded .429
in that category.
Toru Mori
of 265 points
He once led the league in homers and hit at least 10 homers in the 10 seasons in which he got
at least 160 at bats. His high was 31 HR (the league leading total) and he had three other
seasons of 20 or more. His best average was .282 in the 31 homer year of 1959, which was
good enough for fifth in the batting race that season. He slugged over .500 in 1959 as well,
so it is clearly his best year. He won three consecutive outfield Best Nines from 1958 to
1960.
Katsuji Morinaga
of 201 points
He once won a batting title, but otherwise hit over .279 only once, at .295, and then in too
few at bats to qualify for the batting title with that .295 average. His high in homers was
14 in one of four seasons he reached double figures in four baggers. He was awarded two
outfield Best Nines.
Masao Morishita
3b2bss 243 points
Morishita played at least 309 games at each of the three infield spots other than first base.
He never hit more than 7 homers nor better than .285. He was fast, leading the league in
steals once and stealing 50 or more 3 times and 20 or more a total of 8 times. He won a Best
Nine at second base.
N
Kiyoyuki Nagashima
of 241 points
He hit .271 for his career and recorded marks of .295, .291, and .288 in three of the five
years he got enough at bats to qualify for the batting title. He never finished higher than
sixteenth in the batting race, though. He had some speed, stealing 24 bases in one season and
getting double figure steal totals four times. He also led the league in triples once. He
twice reached 15 homers among his five seasons of double figures in homers. He also was good
with the glove, winning 4 Gold Gloves.
Kiyoshi Nakahata
1b3b 292 points
This man was the main Giant first baseman of the 1980's. He had a bit of speed, once leading
the league in triples and three times reaching double figures in steals. He hit .294 or better in
seven seasons, excluding seasons with less than 333 at bats, but never finished higher than
sixth in the batting race. His career average was .290. He was a good glove man for a first
baseman, winning seven Gold Gloves. He hit as many as 31 homers and exceeded 22 a total of
three times. He also had six seasons of 1018 homers. Overall, his power was a little on the
low side for a first baseman. He slugged over .500 three times.
Katsuhiro Nakamura
2b 230 points
This Tiger second baseman only qualified for three batting titles and never hit over .280. He
managed five seasons of double digit home runs, with a high of 16. He also had four seasons
of double digit steal totals, reaching 17 once and 15 two other times. He never won any
awards.
Yoshihiro Nakata
of 215 points
His averages were just plain awful for an outfielder, only hitting over .254 once, and then in
only 216 at bats. His career average was .235. He whiffed a lot, twice leading the league in
striking out. It seems he was taking a big cut at the ball, because he had 3 seasons of 22 or
more homers and a total of nine in double figures in homers. He never won any awards.
Junji Nakatani
3b 294 points
He looks to have lost a lot of time to the war, with gaps from 1939 through 1941 and 1944
through 1945. Except for a fifth place finish in the 1943 batting race, he didn't hit his
stride until 1949, when he was 31. From 1949 through 1951, he hit over half his career homers
(48 of 94), batted .306 for the three year stretch, stole 55 bases, had an on base percentage
of .378, and slugged .508. After that, he was generally in decline, though he had a last
hurrah of .295 in 1955 in 312 at bats. He didn't win any awards.
Masayuki Nakatsuka
of1b 227 points
He hit .291 three times in seasons in which he qualified for the batting title. He only hit
more than 8 homers in one season, his career high of 11. He twice stole 28 or more bases,
leading the league with 28, not his career high of 33. He added five seasons of 1014 steals.
Troy Neel
dh 212 points
He was almost certainly a swing from the heels type of hitter. He hit at least 25 homers in
each of his first four NPB seasons, 112 total for the 4 years. However, he also struck out
583 times in 1961 at bats, very nearly 30% of the time. He led the league in striking out
twice, but in a more positive vein, he also led once each in homers, RBI and slugging. Despite
his freeswinging ways, his NPB career average was .267. He captured two Best Nines at DH.
Toshihisa Nishi
2b 226 points
This Giant second baseman had some power, twice reaching 20 homers, though his third best was
only 11. He had some speed, stealing 17 or more bases 5 times with a high of 22. His career
average at the end of 2003 was .272, and he's twice reached .298 for a season. He turned 32
toward the end of the 2003 season, so he's probably in decline in view of his age, his
diminished playing time, and the fact he's had consecutive seasons with averages under .250.
He's won 4 Gold Gloves at second.
Norifumi Nishimura
of2b3b 217 points
He won a batting title, once led the league in triples, and led in steals four consecutive
years. His highest average was .338, which won him his batting title. He added a year of
.311 and three more with averages between .275 and .284. He didn't have much power, with a
high of 6 homers and only one season over 17 doubles. His high in steals was 55. In his
four consecutive seasons leading the league in steals, he stole a total of 174 bases. He
stole 30 or more six times and had 3 more seasons with 2125 thefts. In his 1994 Guide, Jim
Allen said he was "a remarkably consistent player . . . . a good percentage base stealer and
he hustles. He's durable." He won 2 Best Nines and 2 Gold Gloves, one set of the two
different awards at second base and the other set in the outfield.
O
Hirofumi Ogawa
ss3b 239 points
The one time he hit over .300, he finished fifth in the batting race. He's still active, but
since he was born in March of 1967, he's got to be near the end of the road. His averages have
been decent, as his career mark at the end of 2003 was .266. In 2001, he reached his career
high in homers at 15, but he's only had one other season of double figure home runs at 11. He
stole 22 bases in 1990, but never more than 8 otherwise. Jim Allen's 1995 Guide described his
defense at third base as excellent, and his 1997 Guide called his defense at shortstop (when
he was 30) adequate. He won a Gold Glove at short in 1991 for his only award.
Yutaka Ohashi
ss <200 points
He is a classic goodfield, no hit player. He won 7 consecutive Gold Gloves at short, even
winning Best Nines at the position in the first five of those years while never exceeding an
average of .229 in any of the seven years. He never walked a lot, either and never stole more
than 14 bases and only reached double figures in steals twice. He reached double figures in
homers three times, his two best being 15 and 17.
Steve Ontiveros
3b1b 265 points
He played six seasons in NPB, only failing to hit over .300 once on his way to a NPB career
average of .312. In his last four years, he had good walk totals, ranging from 54 to 82. He
once hit 20 homers in NPB and had a total of five seasons in double figures in that statistic.
He didn't have enough at bats to qualify for the batting title in his first NPB season, but in
the next four, he finished second, third, fourth and seventh in the batting race. After that
first NPB year, Ontiveros slugged over .500 twice. His performance earned him two Best Nines
at third base.
Nobuo Osawa
of 308 points
He played first base, mostly in the deadball one league era. His walk totals were decent to
good but he didn't have much power, never hitting more than 10 homers. He led the league in
1950 with 45 doubles, but otherwise he never had more than 24. He had second and fifth place
finishes in his only two seasons over .300, though his averages were better than they look
because hitting was at such a premium. He never won an award, but many fewer were given out
in his day.
Koichi Oshima
2b 216 points
He won 2 Best Nines and 3 Gold Gloves, all at second base. His high in homers was 8, and he's
only hit more than one homer in 3 of his 11 seasons to date. His career average is .262, and
he's hit at least .263 starting with 1998 except for 2002's .230. He's not a base stealer,
either, with a high of 13. He has taken walks, so with his solid averages, he's achieved on
base percentages of .370 or better in five seasons.
P
Jim Paciorek
1bof 256 points
He led the league in doubles twice and hits three times. He led in average once and was in the
top 44 in four of his six NPB seasons. He hit over .300 in all but one season on his way to
a career average of .315. He slugged over .500 four times. His high in homers was 22, but he
only had a total of 86 in his NPB career. He got a Best Nine in the outfield and another at
first as well as a Gold Glove at first.
Q
R
Mike Reinbach
of 211 points
He hit over .300 three times in his five NPB seasons and slugged over .500 three times as well.
His career marks are an average of .296 with .488 slugging. His high in homers was 27, and he
hit 22 in another year. He also captured a Best Nine in the outfield.
Roger Repoz
of 223 points
In some of my early research, I thought he had one of the best five consecutive season
stretches of nay outfielder in NPB history. In the "Greatness Points" rating system, however,
he scored a zero. I wrote then that Repoz was far better than that, pointing out that while
he only played 5 seasons in NPB, he hit between 22 and 36 in each season except 1973 (when he
played only 66 games) with a .262 career average and a single season high of .292. You can
win a pennant if you have a hole at first or left field and add a player of this quality, and
the newer rating system is able to see that. This evaluation confirms those thoughts.
S
Takahiro Saeki
1b <200 points
Even though he was born in 1970 (and thus has played most of his career), he's only
qualified for 3 batting titles, never placing better than tenth. At the end of 2003, his
career average was .278. His high in homers is only 14. His on base percentages have been
quite mediocre for an outfielder or first baseman with so little power. Jim Allen's commented
on his defense in the 1997 Guide, saying Saeki "is not graceful as an outfielder, but his
range factor is OK." He's never received any awards.
Takashi Saito
p <200 points
He had double figure win totals three times, which coincidentally were consecutive, from 1996
to 1998. He's also had seasons of 27 and 20 saves in 2000 and 2001. He's finished as high as
fifth in ERA. Jim Allen's comment on him in the 1997 Guide included this tidbit: Saito
"throws pretty hard, but his best pitch is the forkball and he gets a lot of strikeouts with
it. Unfortunately, he gives up a lot of homers." He never won any awards.
Kyosuke Sasaki
of 217 points
He hit over .300 four times, winning a batting title and finishing fourth in average another
time. He had five seasons of doubledigit homers, including years of 18 and 19. He slugged
over .500 twice. He only lasted for ten seasons, though, winning two outfield Best Nines in
that span.
Koichi Sekikawa
ofc 224 points
He was a catcher more than anything else until late in his career, though it seems his
defense behind the plate was less than sterling, because despite a good bat for a catcher,
he was frequently used in the outfield, where his bat was less of an asset. Late in his
career, he was used exclusively in the outfield, which reinforces the idea his defense at
catcher left something to be desired. His career average is .287, but he's only qualified for
four batting titles, once finishing second. He has very little power, with a high of five
homers. He won a Best Nine in the outfield.
Hiroshi Shibahara
of <200 points
He was born in May, 1974. In his second and third seasons, he stole 22 and 18, but otherwise
no more than 11. His high in homers is seven. He's had fourth and fifth place finishes in
the batting race in two of the four seasons he's hit over .300 to date. His career average
at the end of the 2003 season was .293. He's also captured three outfield Gold Gloves to
date.
Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi
p <200 points
He signed with American agent Scott Boras in 2003, apparently in hopes of going to the majors.
His career ERA in NPB at the end of 2003 stood at 4.13 and he hadn't been much below
that mark any time recently. He's also never saved more than 6 games in a year and only
pitched enough innings in a season to qualify for one ERA title, when he finished twelfth.
In short, Shimoyanagi has simply been no better than mediocre in NPB. To me, that means Boras
is desperate to make a Japanese connection, or there's little reason to associate himself with
a pitcher who was 35 and a half early in the 2003 offseason and had so little to garner the
attention of the major leagues. Shimoyanagi did himself no favors in his choice of an agent
to try and get him into the majors. Many major league GMs dislike or detest working with
Boras, but wind up doing so because he has many high profile clients. With lesser talents
like Shimoyanagi, those same GMs don't have the same motivation to swallow their antipathy to
Boras. Shimoyanagi hasn't captured any awards to date, and I doubt he ever will.
Tsuyoshi Shinjo
of 234 points
He's won 2 Best Nines and seven Gold Gloves in the outfield. The Meaning of Ichiro
says this about him: "Shinjo could run like a Nara deer on speed and his arm was almost as
good as Ichiro's." That book also reports Shinjo's detractors called him an airhead and a
spaceman even before he decided to go to the majors. Those criticisms only increased after
he announced that decision.
Tony Solaita
dh 222 points
This lefty slugger won a Best Nine at DH. He led the league in homers and RBI one year. He
arrived in Japan at age 33 and played there four years. He hit at least 30 homers and as many
as 45 each year and slugged a minimum of .535 each year. He hit .300 one year and .281
another, but the other two were .239 and .252. He drew at least 68 walks each year as well.
You Gotta Have Wa says he was "a former major league platoon hitter who played with
several clubs" in the majors. The book goes on to indicate he was six feet tall and "215
pounds of rockhard muscle and was perhaps the strongest person to play baseball in Japan.
He hit four home runs in a rowtwice. Solaita had an unhurried, friendly manner. He always
had a smile and kind word for everyone. But he also had a violent temper and his outbursts
could be frightening."
Fujio Sumi
3b 219 points
He won one award, a Gold Glove at third. He only qualified for five batting titles in his 19
seasons. His high in average was .301. He had five seasons of double figure home runs, with
a high of 18. He doesn't seem to have had much speed, only stealing more than two bases in
one season in his career, and then only five.
Mitsuo Sumi
p 212 points
He never captured any awards, but I suspect a major factor was the fact he was almost
exclusively a reliever at a time when the role was just beginning to receive some respect in
NPB. He led the league in saves once. From 1980 to 1982, he saved 40 games with a 1113
record in 246.1 innings with an ERA of 1.86.
Takahisa Suzuki
of 238 points
His high in average was .286, but his career mark was .257. He only stole more than four
bases in a season one time, in 1997 when he stole nine. He hit between 18 and 22 homers in
six seasons. Jim Allen's 1997 Guide indicates he had very little range in right field but a
very good arm. He never won any awards.
T
So Taguchi
of 218 points
He's been trying to get a major league career going the past few years, with little success.
I can't say I'm surprised, given what my analytical methods indicated about him in his NPB
performances. He never hit more than 10 homers nor stole more than 14 bases. His averages
ranged from .268 to .280 in all but three of his ten NPB years. All three of those years
came before 1998, and while two of them were above that range, one was below. He did win a
Best Nine and five Gold Gloves in NPB, all in the outfield.
Kazumi Takahashi
p 286 points
He won two Best Nines, which is quite good for a pitcher. He also had four finishes in the
top five in ERA, once in every spot but first. He once led the league in wins and winning
percentage, in one of the two seasons in which he won more than 20 games. Unfortunately, after
those two seasons, his best was 14 wins. He also led the league in strikeouts once. From
1968 to 1973, his ERA was never over 2.99. In that stretch, which was completely done for
V9 Giant squads, he pitched nearly half his career innings (1344.2 out of 2778), got over
half his career strikeouts (1054 of 1997) and went 9049 with an ERA of 2.38 when his career
marks were 167132 and a 3.18 ERA.
Yoshinobu Takahashi
of 273 points
He's hit over .300 in five of the six seasons he's completed to date, and the one time he
didn't, he hit .289. His on base percentages have been over .350 each year as well. Except
for one season, his slugging percentages have been at least .496. He's also hit at least 17
homers in each season, at 26 or more in four seasons. He's won a Best Nine and 3 Gold Gloves.
Hiroshi Takamura
p <200 points
He finished fifth in ERA once. He only reached double figures in wins once. His career
marks to the end of 2003 are an unimpressive 8199 with a 4.24 ERA. He's never won any awards,
but I can't even see any seasons where he should have been close.
Hideaki Takazawa
of 213 points
He won two Best Nines and three Gold Gloves. He twice hit over .300, excluding seasons of
under 234 AB. Those two times he hit over .300, he won one batting title and finished fourth
the other time. His career average was .284. He smacked 1115 homers in six of his thirteen
seasons. He had double figures in steals five times, but only one of those was over 14, his
career high of 27.
Masashi Takenouchi
of1b3b 242 points
He must have crowded the plate, because he led the league in being hit by a pitch seven times.
He didn't hit for a high average, either, only hitting over .267 when he reached his career
high of .282. He had 12 seasons of double figure homers, six of them with 19 or more. He
only slugged over .500 once. He never received any awards.
Norio Tanabe
ss <200 points
He won two Best Nines and 2 Gold Gloves, all at shortstop. He had second and third place
finishes in the batting race. As Jim Allen said in his 1996 Guide, Tanabe was a good hitter
for a shortstop. In the 1995 Guide it says Tanabe usually made contact.
Hitoshi Taneda
of <200 points
He never won any awards, in part because he only qualified for two batting titles, hitting
very near his career average of .254 each time. His high in homers was 10.
Yoshitomo Tani
of 276 points
He's won 4 Best Nines and 3 Gold Gloves n his seven seasons. He hit at least .325 in 20012003
with a minimum on base percentage in those years of .383. He slugged over .500 twice so far
in his career. His high in homers is 21 in one of his four seasons with double figures in
homers. He had four consecutive years with at least 23 steals, getting as high as 41 to
accumulate a total of 115 steals in that stretch. He's finished in the top five in average
four times.
Yasushi Tao
of 322 points
He won 3 Best Nines and hit .299 or better (excluding seasons of 140 or less AB) five times.
He had second and third place finishes in the batting race. He was only in double figures in
steals once. He slugged double figures in homers seven times with a career high of 20.
Masaru Tomita
3bof2b 257 points
He hit over .300 twice and had four seasons of double figure homers, reaching a high of 23.
He hit .273 or better in each of the six times he qualified for the batting title. In his
other seven years, he never hit over .265. He had some speed, with six seasons of double
figures in steals, with as many as 23. He never won any awards.
U
V
W
Kenichi Wakatabe
p <200 points
He had exactly 10 wins 4 times, and after the end of 2003, his career mark was 7075. He once
finished fourth in the ERA race, and hasn't been able to capture any awards.
X
Y
Kaname Yashiki
of 203 points
He hit .291 or better three times excluding seasons under 50 AB. He only hit over 9 homers
once when he got his career high of 15. He twice led the league in triples and led in steals
in three consecutive years. He stole 58 the year before the stretch of 3 years in which he
led the league in that category, giving him a total of 185 in four years. He put his speed
to good use in the field, capturing 5 Gold Gloves.
Shuji Yoshida
p <200 points
He pitched relief in his 15 years to date, but basically as a middle reliever/setup man,
since his high in saves is 10. He's received no awards, but then such pitchers rarely do.
Masato Yoshii
p <200 points
According to The Meaning of Ichiro, in NPB, Yoshii "had a reputation as a reliagle
unpretentious salarymanlike performer . . . [who] waited until his 13th year [there] to have
his best season." He was 32 at the time and had to be talked into declaring free agency.
Then, with multiyear, multimillion dollar offers before him, he opted to take a one year
$200,000 plus performance bonuses to pitch in the majors for the Mets. This huge gamble may
not have fully paid off financially, but he did earn a subsequent two year, $5.25 million
dollar contract with the Mets. There are more details of how this all came about in Chapter 9
of the book.
Z
My sources for the ratings and the articles based upon those ratings are:
Bill James' Win Shares Book
The New Bill James Historical Abstract
The Bill James Handbook 2004
The Official Baseball Encyclopedia (for Japan)
Japanese Baseball: A Statistical Handbook by Dan Johnson
AllTime Japanese Baseball Register ed. by Carlos Bauer
You Gotta Have Wa by Robert Whiting
The Meaning of Ichiro by Robert Whiting
Slugging It Out in Japan by Warren Cromartie
Jim Allen's Baseball Guides
Baseball's Other Stars by Bill McNeil
Japanese Baseball Superstars by Rob Fitts and Gary Engels
and special thanks to Michael Westbay of japanesebaseball.com for filling in much of my
missing data, especially for 19992003.
