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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)