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Japanese Pitchers

35 pitchers listed below; list
updated 3/28/2007.

Mitsuhiro Adachi
Report: “He threw underhand. He probably could have pitched in the
Majors when he was in his prime.”
Source: Gordy Windhorn in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral
History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Takehiko Bessho
Pitches: 1. Fastball 2. Curve
Source: Wally Yonamine in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral
History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Suguru Egawa
Pitch Selection: 1. Fastball (93) 2. Big, Sweeping Curve
Source: Slugging It Out in Japan (Warren Cromartie with Robert
Whiting, 1991)

Yutaka Enatsu
Pitch Selection: 1. Fastball 2. Curveball
Source: The Chrysanthemum and the Bat (Robert Whiting, 1977)

Kazuhiko Endo
Pitch Selection: 1. Forkball 2. Fastball (90)
Report: “Endo had one of the wickedest fork balls I’d ever seen, to go
along with a 90-mile-an-hour fastball. He would have been a star on any
major league team.”
Source: Slugging It Out in Japan (Warren Cromartie with Robert
Whiting, 1991)

Kyuji Fujikawa
Pitch Selection: 1. Fastball (92-93) 2. Splitter (83-84)
Source: ESPN2 broadcast of World Baseball Classic, 12 March 2006

Kazuhisa Inao (1956 1969)
Comment: “Kazuhisa Inao was right there with Sugiura. Inao threw over
the top. He was different from the others because at that time, the
majority of Japanese pitchers threw from three-quarters to the side.”
Source: Glenn Mickens in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral
History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Taigen Kaku (1985 1997)
Key Pitch: Fastball (95+)
Sources: <a
href=”http://www.baywell.ne.jp/users/drlatham/baseball/yakyu/hasbeen/lions.htm”>Latham’s
1998 Guide to Japanese Baseball; in Slugging It Out in Japan,
Warren Cromartie says Kaku’s 96-mile-per-hour fastball was “the fastest
in all of Asia.”

Masaichi Kaneda
Key Pitch: Fastball
Source: The Chrysanthemum and the Bat (Robert Whiting, 1977)

Report: “He reminded me of a Herb Score with control, which isn’t bad
at all. He’s smart. He knows what he’s doing out there every second.
When he walks a man, it’s because he wants to walk him. He
reminded me a lot of Satchel Paige in this respect, something I told
him, to his delight…”
Source: The Hustler’s Handbook (Bill Veeck w/Ed Linn, 1965)

Yoshitaka Katori (1979 1997)
Key Pitch: Shooto
Source: Slugging It Out in Japan (Warren Cromartie with Robert
Whiting, 1991)

Yasuyuki Kawamoto
Report: “Kawamoto, this guy could deal! Kawamoto made it look like the
ball was rising, only because it wasn’t sinking as fast. He was just
fricking nasty. He could have easily played in the majors.”
Source: Eric Hillman in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral
History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Tokuji Kawasaki
Key Pitch: Shuto [“similar to a sinker”]
Source: Hirofumi Naito in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral
History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Tatsuo Komatsu
Pitch Selection: 1. Fastball (90) 2. Curve
Source: Slugging It Out in Japan (Warren Cromartie with Robert
Whiting, 1991)

Masaaki Koyama
Pitch Selection: 1. Fastball 2. Slider
Report: “Koyama-san had amazing control. He could pinpoint a ball. As a
matter of fact, I enjoyed watching him and tried to imitate him to get
more control. He also threw pretty hard — up in the high eighties —
and had a good slider. He won a lot of games and probably could have
pitched in the majors.”
Source: Gene Bacque in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral
History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Masumi Kuwata
Key Pitch, early career:  Fastball (95-96)
Report: “When Kuwata was in the early — and brilliant — stages of his
21-year career with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, he was a flamethrower,
routinely achieving 95-96 mph. He developed a versatile arsenal, as
most pitchers there do, but the heat was the thing.”
Source: Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette
(Dejan Kovacevic, 6/26/2007)

Pitches: 1. Split-Fingered Fastball 2. Fastball (93) 3. Slider 4.
Change-up
Description: “We had a new ace — a pint-sized, 5’7”, 160-pound,
19-year-old named Masumi Kuwata — who had a great split-fingered
fastball which he called his sundaboru, his thunderball. He
looked like a mini-Tom Seaver.”
Source: Slugging It Out in Japan (Warren Cromartie with Robert
Whiting, 1991)

Hiromi Makihara
Key Pitch: Fastball (96)
Source: Slugging It Out in Japan (Warren Cromartie with Robert
Whiting, 1991)

Daisuke Matsuzaka
Report: “Matsuzaka, 25, has a 95-mph fastball and a nasty slider…”
Source: Sports Illustrated
(4/3/2006, Tom Verducci)

Karim Garcia: “I told them what I could, what he throws: fastball,
slider, change, forkball, curve. It’s never easy to face that [guy].
He’s got such command of all his pitches.”
Source: ESPN.com (5/14/2006, Jim Allen)

Choji Murata
Pitches: 1. Fastball (90-96) 2. Forkball 3. Slider
Sources: Boomer Wells and Leron Lee in Remembering Japanese
Baseball: An Oral History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Wells: “I didn’t know this until the end of my career, but Choji
Murata’s catcher never gave him a sign. Murata just threw whatever he
wanted, and the catcher had to just see the ball and catch it. No
wonder he had so many passed balls! This man was throwing the ball
ninety-five, ninety-seven miles per hour with an awesome forkball and a
devastating slider, and his catcher didn’t know what was coming! I
didn’t know, I thought he just couldn’t catch! I had wondered why
Murata would pitch so quickly. He would just get the ball and throw,
get the ball and throw, get the ball and throw.”

Lee: “He was the best pitcher I’ve ever seen in my life except Bob
Gibson. . . He could throw ninety to ninety-six miles an hour
consistently, had a great fork ball, and he had this really funky
windup with a high kick.”

Minoru Murayama
Key Pitch: Fastball
Trivia: Murayama gave up the most famous home run in Japanese history,
hit by Shigeo Nagashima to end what became known as “the Emperor’s
Game” (May 1959).
Source: The Chrysanthemum and the Bat (Robert Whiting, 1977)

Takashi Nishimoto
Key Pitch: Shooto
Source: Slugging It Out in Japan (Warren Cromartie with Robert
Whiting, 1991)

Takumi Otomo
Note: Otomo threw underhand.
Source: Tsuneo “Cappy” Harada in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An
Oral History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Masaki Saito
Pitch Selection: 1. Fastball (93) 2. Curve
Source: Slugging It Out in Japan (Warren Cromartie with Robert
Whiting, 1991)

Luis Sanchez
Key Pitch: Fastball
Source: Slugging It Out in Japan (Warren Cromartie with Robert
Whiting, 1991)

Eiji Sawamura (1936 1943)
Comment: “Sawamura threw a fastball that hopped all over the place. I
would compare him to Roger Clemens.”
Source: Tsuneo “Cappy” Harada in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An
Oral History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Trivia: In 1934, while still an amateur, Sawamura struck out Charlie
Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Jimmie foxx, and Lou Gehrig in succession.
Source: The Chrysanthemum and the Bat (Robert Whiting, 1977)

Note: Japan’s version of the Cy Young Award is named after Sawamura,
who was killed in 1944 while serving in the Imperial Navy.

Tetsuya Shiozaki
Pitch Selection: 1. Fastball (low-90s) 2. Change-up
Source: Orestes Destrade in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral
History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Yoshio Sotokoba
Key Pitch: Forkball
Source: The Chrysanthemum and the Bat (Robert Whiting, 1977)

Tadashi Sugiura
Report: “For me, Sugiura was the best pitcher in the league. I didn’t
see anyone better. He threw three quarters underhand, so he wasn’t a
complete submarine pitcher. He could turn the ball over and make it
sink from the letters down to your knees. The ball would just explode!
Then he could turn his wrist and make the ball explode up because he
was coming from down underneath. He wore glasses, must have weighed 155
pounds at most, and stood only 5’8″, but he was the most dominating
pitcher I’ve seen.”
Source: Glenn Mickens in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral
History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Keishi Suzuki (1966 1985)
Report: “That guy was the best left-handed pitcher I ever faced in my
life. I faced Steve Carlton and several pretty good pitchers in the big
leagues, but this guy was unbelievable. He had a running fastball, an
outstanding slider, and he would throw it right behind your ear when he
wanted to. There were several guys in those days that hit people as
part of their ball game. He was an absolutely fabulous pitcher who
could have pitched in the Major Leagues very easily.
Source: Leron Lee in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral History
of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Hisanori
Takahashi
(2000 2009)
Report: “Takahashi’s pitches are a straight four-seam fastball, a
two-seam fastball, a sinker, a slider, a cut fastball and a curve. (A
more advanced study of his pitches reveals that he actually has two
curves and two sinkers, and that he can slightly alter the grip on his
two-seamer). ”
Source: The New York Times
(David Waldstein, 3/26/2010)

Tsunemi Tsuda
Pitch Selection: 1. Fastball 2. Forkball (90) 3. Slider
Source: Slugging It Out in Japan (Warren Cromartie with Robert
Whiting, 1991)

Hisanobu Watanabe
Report: “Hisanobu Watanabe, who was on the cover of Sports
Illustrated
in 1994, threw in the low nineties with four quality
pitches.”
Source: Orestes Destrade in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral
History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)

Shunsuke Watanabe
Description: “Watanabe is Japan’s submarine-style, nearly underhanded
throwing pitcher. He goes so low in his stride that his right leg, from
his kneecap to his shoetop, lays firmly in the dirt of the mound on
every pitch, as if he were some kind of modern artist trying to
beautify the field with imprints of his lower leg.”
Source: The Seattle Times (Brad Lefton, 3/14/2006)

Daisuke Yamai
Report: “He throws only a mid-80s
fastball, but he mixes in a good late-breaking slider and he changes
speeds …”
Source: Kansas
City Star
 (Joe Posnanski, 11/1/2007)

Hisashi Yamada
Note: Like many Japanese pitchers of his era (1970s), Yamada threw
submarine-style.
Source: The Chrysanthemum and the Bat (Robert Whiting, 1977)

Tetsuya Yoneda
Report: “He was a big boy with a good assortment of different pitches.
He kept the ball in and had good location. Yoneda was probably one of
the smarter pitchers over there.”
Source: Gordy Windhorn in Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral
History of the Game
(Robert K. Fitts, 2005)