Saturday, December 22, 2018

Takuya Asao

Another player who retired at the end of the season was Chunichi Dragons pitcher Takuya Asao.  Asao was drafted out of Nihon Fukushi University by his home prefecture Dragons (he was born in Chita, Aichi) in the third round of the college/corporate league portion of the 2006 draft.  He debuted with the ichi-gun Dragons in 2007 but was hampered by shoulder injuries late in that season.  He bounced back the following season and was the Dragons Opening Day starter in 2009 before manager Hiromitsu Ochiai moved him into the middle relief role that he ended up excelling in.  He got into 72 games in 2010, going 12-3 with an ERA of 1.68 ERA.  He ended up being runner up to teammate Kazuhiro Wada for the Central League MVP award that year.  In 2011 he got into 79 games, going 7-2 with an ERA of 0.41.  He only gave up 4 earned runs all season in 87 1/3 innings while striking out 100 batters.  He won the CL MVP award that year. 

Unfortunately his career went into a tailspin after 2011 due to shoulder injuries.  He only got into between 22 and 36 games a year with the top team between 2012 and 2015 and spent all of 2016 on the farm team.  He was limited to just 4 ichi-gun games in 2017 and only 10 in 2018 (including his retirement game).  He'll be one of the Dragons' farm team's pitching coaches in 2019.

In addition to his MVP award, Asao also won a Golden Glove in 2011, becoming the first relief pitcher to ever win one.  He lead the Central League in "hold points" in both 2010 and 2011 and made the All Star team both of those seasons.  He pitched in two Nippon Series with the Dragons - 2010 against the Marines and 2011 against the Hawks.

His first BBM cards are #49 in the 2007 Rookie Edition set and #248 in that year's 1st Version set.  His first Calbee card was 2007's #276.

2007 BBM Rookie Edition #49

2007 BBM 1st Version #248

2010 BBM All Stars #A12

2011 BBM Nippon Series #S36

2012 BBM 1st Version #326

2013 Calbee #086

2015 Epoch Dragons X Mizuno #17

2016 BBM Classic #062

2018 Epoch NPB #372
I used Asao's biography at Baseball-Reference's Bullpen as one of my sources for this post.

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