Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tatsuhiko Kinjoh

As we continue to wind down the list of players who retired at the end of the 2015 season, we reach Tatsuhiko Kinjoh of the Giants.  Kinjoh was drafted as a pitcher by the Yokohama Baystars in the fifth round of the 1998 draft from Sumitomo Metals of the industrial leagues.  The Baystars immediately converted him to an infielder however.  He played in a handful of games with the ichi-gun team in late 1999 but an injury to Tatsuya Shindoh in 2000 pushed him into the starting third baseman role.  He lead the Central League in batting (becoming the first "true" rookie to ever do so) and was named Rookie Of The Year.  He was moved to the outfield in 2001 due to his defensive shortcomings in the infield (he made 12 errors in 2000) and remained in the outfield the rest of his career.  He slumped significantly in the next two seasons, finishing below the Mendoza line with a .170 average in 2002.  He recovered in 2003, however, hitting over .300 again and making an All Star team for the first time.  He made the All Star team again in 2005 (wining a game MVP award) and 2006.  He also won Golden Glove awards in 2005 and 2007.  He was a bench player for the Japanese National Team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  As he was drafted by the Baystars just after they made their last appearance in the Nippon Series, it goes without saying that he never played in one.

He left the Baystars for the Giants as a free agent (I think) following the 2014 season.  He spent much of the 2015 season with the farm team, only getting into 36 games (and hitting .233) with the top team.  He will be the Giants san-gun hitting coach next year.

1999 BBM #295

2008 BBM Yokohama 30th Anniversary #97

2001 BBM #28

2004 BBM Baystars #YB59

2006 BBM All Stars #A64

2007 Konami Baseball Heroes Black Edition #B07B237

2011 BBM 2nd Version #667

2013 Calbee #188

2014 Front Runner Baystars Rookies & Young Stars #02

2015 BBM 1st Version #184
One interesting thing about Kinjoh is that his father Akiyo pitched in Kintetsu's organization for a couple years in the late 1960's.  He appeared in one game with the top team in 1968 - but as an outfielder.  He did not get a plate appearance in the game.  It kind of reminds me of Moonlight Graham from "Field Of Dreams".

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