Matsunaka had spent five seasons playing for Nippon Steel Kimitsu in the industrial leagues after graduating from high school before being drafted in the second round of the fall 1996 draft by the then Fukuoka Daiei Hawks (who took Tadahito Iguchi in the first round). He became a regular for the Hawks in 1999 and a star in 2000. He remained a star for the Hawks for the next decade before injuries started to take their toll.
Matsunaka's best year was 2004 when he won the triple crown by leading the Pacific League in batting, home runs and RBIs (as well as hits and OBP). As you'd expect, he won the MVP that year (his second - he also won in 2000). He won another batting title in 2006, another home run crown in 2005 and RBI titles in 2004 and 2006. He was named to the Best 9 team five times (2000, 2003-06) and won a Golden Glove once (2004). He made the Pacific League All Star team nine times between 1999 and 2009, missing only in 2002 and 2006 (he was selected in 2006 but missed the game due to injury).
He appeared in five Nippon Series during his career - winning it all four times (1999, 2003, 2011 and 2014) and losing in 2000. He did not appear for the Hawks in last year's Series. He played for the Japanese National Team in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics and the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Here's a card from each year of his career:
|1997 BBM #478|
|1998 BBM Hawks #FD50|
|1999 BBM Nippon Series #S20|
|2000 Upper Deck Sydney Olympics #215|
|2001 Upper Deck Victory #040|
|2002 Calbee "Sayonora Home Run" #SH-2|
|2003 BBM 2nd Version #698|
|2004 BBM 1st Version #382|
|2005 BBM 1st Version #61|
|2006 Upper Deck WBC Moments #CM-19|
|2007 Club Hawks|
|2008 BBM Hawks 70th Anniversary #93|
|2009 BBM All Stars #A31|
|2010 BBM 1st Version "Cross Stream" #CS123|
|2011 BBM Hawks #HMT|
|2012 Calbee #001|
|2013 BBM Classic #052|
|2014 BBM 2nd Version #420|
|2015 BBM 25th Anniversary #095|