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Old 01-10-2019, 06:29 PM
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Good stuff in here!!
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:22 PM
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Default Tomoaki Kanemoto

Tomoaki Kanemoto was a slugging outfielder with very good on-base skills. He played from 1992 to 2012, and is one of the most recent inductees into the hall of fame. From 1992 to 2002 he played for the Carp, and he spent the balance of his career with Hanshin. For career numbers heís got slightly more than 2500 hits, 476 home runs, and a 285/382/503 slash line. It seems that he had a fair amount of speed, but he didnít always make good use of it, and lost it as he got older. But anyway, he did manage to steal 30 bases one year. Just going by his raw numbers, 2005 stands out as his best year. He managed better than 120 runs and RBIs, knocked in 40 homers, and put up a 327/429/615 line. All of those numbers except for the on-base percentage were career highs.

Letís compare that 2005 season to league average. The Central League that year hit 270/331/411. Thatís a pretty good match for the current American League. Last year they put up a 249/318/416 line. The lower batting average was driving the lower OBP (made up for by a few more walks it looks like), but otherwise pretty similar. To translate Kanemotoís 2005 season into a contemporary American context, you donít need to do much at all. Shave off a little AVG and OBP, but itís close enough Iím not going to bother actually calculating this one. Nobody in the American League had a season last year that was a good match for Kanemotoís 2005, but Christian Yelich, MVP winner over in the NL, is close enough. Theyíre actually the same kind of player, itís just that, except for this past year, Kanemoto was better than Yelich.

The weird thing about this guy is that he got such a late start. Kanemoto broke into the league at 24, but didnít play a full season until he was 28. Thatís really old for a hall of famer. Usually those guys have established themselves as superior ball players when theyíre in their early 20s (or, in plenty of cases, earlier). Kanemoto has such good career numbers because he managed to hang around so long. He played through his age 44 season. If heíd gotten started at a more normal age (for a hall of famer) he might have managed to join Harimoto in the 3000 hit club. Super weirdly, he made a best nine even before he played a full season. He was selected in 1995 despite missing about 20% of his team's games.

One thing that he was known for was endurance. He appeared in 1,766 consecutive games, and broke Cal Ripkenís streak for consecutive innings. (Ripken sent him a bat to commemorate the occasion.) The game that ended his consecutive-games streak almost didnít. He was sent up to pinch hit, but a runner got thrown out to end the inning and so he wasnít credited with an at bat.

Although he played in the outfield for his entire career he seems to have had a rather weak arm. He was nicknamed ďMole KillerĒ for bouncing throws to the infield. Thatís pretty harsh.

Even late in his career Kanemoto was one of the highest paid players in Japan, pulling in more than $5MM per year. (Also, can this possibly be right? In 2008 the Carp were, on average, paying their players <$20K?)
After retiring Kanemoto took over managing the Tigers. They finished the 2018 season in last place and Kanemoto apparently blamed himself. Despite attempts by ownership to get him to sign a multiyear contract, he announced last October that he was resigning.

As with many former Tigers, has a nice biography of him.

And I canít read it, but he also has his own website.

In the early 2000s Upper Deck made a foray into the Japanese market. It didnít last long, but they did put out a few sets. This card is from the 2000 Ovation set. It's got one nice feature. The stitches on the baseball are... what's the opposite of embossed? Exbossed? Anyway, they stick out, which is a neat touch.
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:04 AM
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Sean McGinty
Join Date: Aug 2016
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Originally Posted by nat View Post

Even late in his career Kanemoto was one of the highest paid players in Japan, pulling in more than $5MM per year. (Also, can this possibly be right? In 2008 the Carp were, on average, paying their players <$20K?)
Doing the math, that page says it is the average of 738 players. Divideby the 12 teams and that is about 60 players per team.

So that average pay includes that paid to the minor league 2 gun players, who would draw the average down a bit, though not that much. The author seems to have understated the average by a factor of 10 when doing the conversion into US dollars, it should be about 200k US for the Carp!
My blog about collecting cards in Japan:
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Old 01-15-2019, 11:22 PM
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Default Michio Nishizawa

Michio Nishizawa had a long and storied carrier with the Dragons and the Stars. Incredibly, he broke into the league at the age of 15. Granted it was only ten innings pitched, but I sure wasnít playing professional baseball at 15. The only American to manage it was Joe Nuxhall. Nishizawa still holds the record as the youngest professional Japanese player.

Early Japanese pro ball had lots of two-way players, but Nishizawa was probably (with maybe the exception of Fujimura) the greatest of them. He was a good pitcher from 1937 (age 15) through 1943 (age 21). In that time he managed about 1100 innings pitched. 1944-5 were lost years. In 1946 he came back to pitch another 120 innings. That was the end of his pitching career. In total Nishizawa pitched 1297 innings, almost exactly the same number of innings as Mariano Rivera, and he managed it before turning 25 and after losing two seasons to the war.

Nishizawa served in the war for two years. Wikipedia says that he was injured, baseball-reference merely says that the war ďput additional toll on his armĒ. Both sources agree that something war-and-arm-related led to his conversion into a position player.

His early years were spent with Nagoya Ė later called the Dragons Ė and he returned to them immediately after the war, but switched teams, to Gold Star (later Kinsei Stars), mid season. It was with the Stars that he transitioned into a position player. When he returned to the Dragons two years later, it was as a first baseman. His first year in the field he was below average as a hitter, but only slightly, and it didnít take long for him to develop into an offensive force. He had an OBP 100 points above league average in 1948, and 200 points above average in 1949. His best season as a hitter was 1950, when he slugged 46 home runs and drove in 135 despite the short season. As a hitter he was a slow slugger, and patient too. He walked more than he struck out, and while there were seasons in which the league as a whole did that, his ratio was better than normal. Not, that is, that he did much of either. He was walking and striking out around 40-45 times a year, so he made a lot of hard contact.

As a pitcher, he was good but not great. His best season as a pitcher was probably the spring season of 1938 (this was back when they still played split seasons), when he posted an ERA about 30% better than league average. His most successful season was 1940, when Nagoya finished with a winning record for a change (but still finished in just 5th place); he won 20 games that year. The pitching feat for which he is best remember is a 28 inning, 311 pitch complete game against Taiyo. The game ended in a tie.

This is just my second die-cut card. Itís from the JDM21 issued in 1949, so itís from the brief period when Nishizawa was on the Stars. If a player has a team that heís really associated with, I never know quite how to feel about cards from when he was with some other team. Somewhere around here Iíve got a 1975 Willie McCovey, which was issued during those five minutes (okay, 2.5 years) that he was on the Padres. And whenever I see it I always say to myself ďreally, the Padres?Ē
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