Thursday, September 30, 2021

Carpet O'Cards - 500 Home Run Club

There's a guy on Twitter named George Bennett who periodically tweets out photos of "carpets o'cards" - a group of baseball cards laid out that share some sort of theme.  He did one a while back with all the 500 home run hitters from MLB arranged by the number of at bats it took them to reach the milestone.  I was inspired to emulate him with all the 500 home run hitters from NPB.  I arranged them in chronological order of them reaching the milestone though, mostly because I wasn't sure I could find the at bat totals.

I wanted to use a card from the same year that the player hit home run number 500 but that wasn't possible in the case of Katsuya Nomura and Sadaharu Oh as I don't have any cards from 1971 or 1972 respectively (there's a dry period in Japanese baseball card history between the end of menko in 1964 and the start of Calbee in 1973 where there were very few cards published).  And I have to admit to being surprised that Nomura reached 500 home runs before Oh did.  I don't think Oh passed Nomura for the career home run lead until 1973 or 1974.

Here's each card along with the date the player got his 500th home run:

Katsuya Nomura, July 2, 1971

1975/76/77 Calbee #1113

Sadaharu Oh, June 6, 1972

1973 Calbee #7

Isao Harimoto, September 28, 1980

1980 Yamakatsu JY12

Koji Yamamoto, July 26, 1985

1985 Calbee #192

Sachio Kinugasa, August 11, 1987

1987 Play Ball #9

Hiromitsu Kadota, August 15, 1989

1989 Lotte #40

Hiromitsu Ochiai, July 3, 1996

1996 BBM #318

Kazuhiro Kiyohara, April 29, 2005

2005 Calbee #049

Hideki Matsui, July 20, 2011

2011 BBM Hometown Heroes #013

Matsui's total includes the 332 home runs he hit in Japan and the 175 he hit in MLB.  He was playing for the Oakland Athletics when he hit #500 but I'm showing him in a Yomiuri uniform on a card issued in 2011 (or at least with a cover date of 2011 - the set was actually released in late 2010).

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Card Of The Week September 26

20 years ago today, the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes clinched their fourth and final Pacific League pennant when pinch hitter Hirotoshi Kitagawa hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth against the Orix BlueWave, turning a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 victory:

It had been 12 years since the Buffaloes had last won the pennant.  They fell to the Swallows in the Nippon Series in 5 games and three years later the team ceased to be, "merging" with Orix to become the Orix Buffaloes.

Kitagawa's home run has been featured a couple of times in BBM sets.  It was included in the "Great Records & Highlights" subset from BBM's 20th Anniversary set in 2010.  The entire game was featured in the third installment of BBM's "Greatest Games" series back in 2013.  The first card ever to show the home run (or at least Kitagawa celebrating it) was his card in the 2002 1st Version set (#194):

BONUS - While looking for Kitagawa's cards today I discovered that he had spent the 1996-97 off season playing for the Hilo Stars in the Hawaiian Winter League.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Fall Releases

I want to do a quick post to get caught up on the sets that have been announced in the last month or so.

- BBM's annual "Rookie Edition Premium" set will be released in late October.  As usual this is a box set containing 38 cards - a 36 card base set plus two "premium" cards.  The base set contains three "rookies" for each of the 12 teams - in this case "rookie" means 2020 draft pick so think Teruaki Satoh, Hiromi Itoh, Takahisa Hayakawa and Ryoji Kurabashi and not Hiroya Miyagi.  The two "premium" cards are either autograph or memorabilia cards.  It is limited to 3000 sets and unopened boxes retail for 16,500 yen ($150).

- BBM is issuing yet another in their "History" line of OB team sets.  This next one is called "Tigers History 1935-2021" and is the fifth "History" set overall and third this year.  The base set will contain 90 cards (just like the other four sets) which will be split into a "Tigers History" subset (7 cards), the Tigers OB players (71 cards) and the subset for active Tigers players (12 cards).  There are two non-premium insert sets - "Legend Of Tigers" (12 cards) and "Team Records" (9 cards) - along with four premium ones - "Phantom" (24 cards), "Cross Foil Signing" (27 cards), "Combo Cross Foil Signing" (6 cards) and "Triple Cross Foil Signing".  Note that the "Cross Foil Signing" cards have facsimile signatures - there are also real autograph cards available as well.  The set will be in stores in late October, making it three months in a row that BBM has released one of these "History" sets (the Dragons in August followed by the Marines in September).

- Baseball Magazine Sha, BBM's publisher, started publishing magazines in 1946.  BBM published a multi-sport set called "Masterpiece" in the fall of 2016 to celebrate the company's 70th Anniversary.  In the fall of each of the following years BBM published another multi-sport set called "Infinity".  Since the company is celebrating their 75th Anniversary this year, BBM has switched back to the "Masterpiece" name for this year's multi-sport set.  There isn't a great deal of information out about this year's set though - I don't know how big the set is or what the inserts are (although it looks like there will be 3D cards along with the "Phantom" cards).  It also looks like there will be autograph cards available.  The list of baseball players includes both OB and active players.  One name that pops out to me is Warren Cromartie, who hardly ever shows up in OB sets.  Other sports features in the set include professional wrestling, boxing, soccer, ice hockey, tennis, rugby, softball, judo, badminton, bowling, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, fencing, archery, skateboarding and horse racing.  The set will out in mid-November.

- Epoch has announced four more of their ultra high-end combination OB/active player team sets called "Stars & Legends".  The teams are the Hawks (out on October 16th), the Lions (October 30th), the Carp (November 6th) and the Giants (November 13th).  I believe that the boxes for the sets will retail for 16,500 yen ($150) and will contain four cards (and I think at least one of those is an autograph).  The Hawks base set has 44 cards, the Lions base set has 45 cards, the Carp base set has 56 cards and the Giants base set has 52 cards.  I think all the base cards are serially numbered.  Each set features the same five insert sets -  "Decomori Signature Black Vision (Gold)" (three cards each numbered to 15), "Decomori Signature Black Vision (Green)" (three cards each numbered to 5), "Decomori Signature Black Vision (Hologram)" (three 1-of-1 cards), "Gem" (six cards numbered to 15), and "Black Gem" (six cards also numbered to 15).  There's a number of different types of autograph cards available in each set and I think the Hawks and Carp sets have memorabilia cards available as well.  The Giants set has a variety of game used bat cards available.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version set - Where Are They Now?

Ten years ago this month BBM released their latest collegiate set, the Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version set.  It was their ninth collegiate set and the eighth to feature the Tokyo Big Six.  This would be the last set for the league that BBM would issue during the league's Fall season - the remaining sets would all be released in the spring.

The set contained 37 cards - a 36 card base set plus one of 12 possible insert cards.  The insert cards were either one of six "Tokyo Big 6 Heroes" cards (one active player per school) or one of six "Tokyo Big 6 Legends" cards (one OB player per school).  For the first time the base set did not include team cards so all 36 cards were player cards (six per team).

Of those 36 players, eight would go on to play in NPB.  Five of those eight had been featured in one or more of the previous Tokyo Big Six sets.  Seven of the eight players are still active although only five are currently playing in NPB.  Kohei Arihara is the first player featured in one of BBM's collegiate sets to go on to play in MLB.

This set marks the final appearance in a collegiate set for Yusuke Nomura.  I've frequently suggested  that BBM started doing collegiate sets so that they could make cards of Yuki Saitoh but an argument could be made (although not a particularly serious one) that they wanted to make cards of Nomura instead.  Nomura had cards in seven of BBM's first eight Tokyo Big Six sets - he had the most cards of any player in the sets.  (Saitoh had five cards which tied him for third place with nine other players.  The player with the second most cards, Keisuke Okazaki of Rikkio, never played in NPB.  His final collegiate card was also in this set.)

Here's the list of future NPB players from the set:

Player College Year Drafted Notes
Arihara, Kohei Waseda 1 2014 Fighters 1st Played for Fighters 2015-2020, Texas Rangers 2021-present.  2015 Rookie Of The Year.  Lead PL in wins in 2019.  All Star in 2016 & 2019
Fukutani, Koji Keio 3 2012 Dragons 1st Played for Dragons 2013-present.  All Star in 2014
Habu, Shohei Waesda 4 2011 Carp 4th Played for Carp 2012-18.  
Itoh, Hayata Keio 4 2011 Tigers 1st Played for Tigers 2011-2020, Ehmine Mandarin Pirates 2021-present
Mikami, Tomoya Hosei 4 2013 Baystars 4th Spent two years with JX-ENOS after graduating.  Played for Baystars 2014-present.  All Star in 2014 & 2016
Nomura, Yusuke Meiji 4 2011 Carp 1st Played for Carp 2012-present.  2012 Rookie Of The Year.  Lead Central League in wins in 2016.  All Star in 2012 & 2016.  Named to Best 9 team in 2016
Shimauchi, Hiroaki Meiji 4 2011 Eagles 6th Played for Eagles 2012-present.  All Star in 2021
Takanashi, Yuhei Waseda 1 2016 Eagles 9th Spent two years with JX-ENOS after graduating.  Played for Eagles 2017-2020, Giants 2020-present.  All Star in 2021

Here's each of their cards from the set as well as a card of them in NPB.  As usual I tried to get the most recent card of theirs that I hadn't already shown when possible.  I'm also showing Mikami's "Tokyo Big Six Heroes" card since I pulled that from the box I bought.  Itoh and Shimauchi also had cards in that insert set but I don't have those.

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #26

2020 BBM 1st Version #111

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #02

2021 Epoch NPB #297

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #29

2012 Front Runner Carp Starting Lineup #18

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #05

2018 BBM Tigers #T63

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #13

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #SP03

2019 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-14

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #19

2021 Calbee #136

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #22

2021 BBM 2nd Version #443

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #27

2021 BBM 1st Version #171

 Four of the other 28 players in this set - Naoki Harada of Hosei, Masaki Miyamoto of Keio, Yuji Naka of Rikkio and Ikuhiro Takeda of Meiji - had their only cards ever in this set.  The other 24 players appear in at least one other collegiate set - Naoki Agata (Keio), Yota Hirahara (Rikkio), Ryosuke Itoh (Hosei), Shuhei Iwasaki (Tokyo), Yuki Jibiki (Waseda), Junishi Katori (Tokyo), Kenji Kawabe (Meiji), Kanji Kawai (Meiji), Masato Komura (Rikkio), Koichiro Matsumoto (Rikkio), Masataka Nakamura (Meiji), Hiroshi Nakashima (Meiji), Kensuke Ohno (Waseda), Keisuke Okazaki (Rikkio), Hayato Saitoh (Rikkio), Koki Sasaki (Waseda), Shota Suzuki (Tokyo), Yohei Tachi (Tokyo), Hisanori Takayama (Tokyo), Daisuke Takeuchi (Keio), Hiroshi Taki (Hosei), Kento Tatebe (Hosei), Shota Utsumi (Tokyo), and Ren Yamasaki (Keio).

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Card Of The Week September 19

Swallows third baseman Munetaka Murakami hit his 35th home run of the season today against the Carp.  It was also the 100th home run of his career.  At the age of 21 years, seven months, Murakami is now the youngest player to reach that milestone.  Here's his rookie card from the 2018 BBM Swallows set (#S54):

Friday, September 17, 2021

RIP Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama

Former Hiroshima Carp outfielder Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama passed away earlier this week at age 91.  Hirayama was born in Exeter, California to Japanese immigrant parents.  He spent several years during World War II interred in the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona.  He was a star athlete at both football and baseball at Fresno State and signed with the St Louis Browns after graduating.  He played one season with Stockton in the California League in 1952 before drafted into the Army.  Upon discharge he signed with the Carp at the urging of legendary Japanese-American baseball figure Kenichi Zenimura.

Hirayama was one of the first of the nisei Japanese-Americans who played in NPB during the 1950's and early 1960's.  He had a 10 year career with the Carp from 1955 to 1964 and made the All Star team twice (1956 and 1958).  His career was cut short by injury - he suffered nerve damage after running into a wall that damaged the vision in his right eye.  He coached for the Carp for one year after his playing days were over and later scouted for both the Angels and Carp.  He also had a stint running the Carp's Dominican Academy.

There are no modern cards of Hirayama available - other than Wally Yonamine the nisei players from the 1950's have pretty much been ignored in BBM and Epoch's OB sets - but he had several menko, bromide and gum cards during his playing career.  Here are the only two that I have:

1958 "Who Am I?" menko (JCM 54)

1959 JBR 5


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Take Me To Your Leader

1991 BBM #219

One of the hallmarks of BBM's flagship sets used to be their "Leader" subset.  From 1991 to 2013 BBM included 20 or 30 cards in their "regular" set (1991-2001) or their 1st Version set (2002-2013) that featured the award winners and statistical leaders from the previous season.  I always liked this subset and was disappointed when BBM discontinued it in 2014.  They kind of added them again to the Fusion set starting in 2016 but it's not quite the same.

The idea was that each statistical category leader or award winner would have a card commemorating that title.  So for example, Hiromitsu Ochiai led the Central League in home runs in 1990 so he has a card in the 1991 BBM set commemorating it.  Unlike the leader cards that I remember from Topps sets, the card ONLY shows Ochiai - he doesn't share it with either the leader from the other league or the second and third place finishers.  Ochiai also led the CL in RBIs in 1990 so there's a separate Leader card of him for that category.  If two or more players tied for the league lead in something, each player would get a separate cards in the subset.   For example, Orestes Destrade and Kazuhiko Ishimine tied for the most RBIs in the Pacific League in 1990 so they both have "PL RBI Leader" cards in the 1991 BBM set.

2007 BBM 1st Version #445

One aspect of the cards is that usually the player was depicted on the Leader card with the team for which he earned the award or statistical title, regardless of whether or not that's the team he had his "regular" card in the set with.  Where this gets kind of interesting is guys who switched teams in the off season.  For example Michichiro Ogasaswara won the 2006 Pacific League MVP award while playing for the Fighters but joined the Yomiuri Giants as a free agent that winter.  His 2007 "PL MVP Leader" cards shows him with the Fighters but his "regular" card shows him with the Giants.  Similarly if a player won a title or award with a team that changed its name during the offseason due to being sold, merged or some other reason, in most cases the player would be shown with the original team.  (I say "most cases" because it looks like that's not the case for at least the 1991-93 Leader cards.)

How BBM handled the flagship "Leader" cards differed both from how Calbee has handled their "Title Holder" cards and how BBM is now handling their "Leader" subset in the Fusion sets.  Calbee does not do separate "Title Holder" cards for players who win multiple titles/awards - there's one card per player in the subset that lists everything the player won.  BBM's Fusion sets have a set number of Leader cards - if multiple players tie for a particular statistical category, they all appear on the same card.  This has led to having as many as three players on one Leader card.

BBM's first set in 1991 included 23 Leader cards, the fewest of any set.  The number of cards in the subset expanded to the high-20's the next two years then broke 30 in 1994.  The size of the subset remained above 30 the rest of the subset's lifespan with the exception of 2001 which only had 29 cards.  The set with the highest number of subset cards was 2004 with 37 cards - 1999, 2005 and 2013 tied for second with 36.

I reached a milestone a while back in my goal to complete all of BBM's flagship sets - I now have every leader card from the 1991 to 2013 sets - all 739 of them!  Since I have them all in my card database I thought I'd take the opportunity to do some analysis of who and what these cards included.  It's probably more information than anyone ever want to know but here goes.  There's five questions I was curious about.

1. Which Awards And Statistical Categories Were Included?

2008 BBM 1st Version #436

The awards and statistical categories included in the Leader cards varied over the years.  Certain statistical categories appeared every year - Batting Average, ERA, Home Runs, RBI, Strikeouts, Stolen Bases and Wins - along with the big three awards - MVP, Rookie Of The Year and Sawamura (or at least in the years that these awards were actually awarded - for some reason 2000 saw no Sawamura Award or Pacific League Rookie Of The Year).   They also included a card for the previous year's Nippon Series winner.  BBM increased the number of categories after 1991, adding the Shoriki Award in 1992, OBP and the Comeback Player Award in 1993, and Game Winning RBI in 1995.  

2001 BBM #14

All of the statistical categories I've mentioned so far were "official titles" for each league when they appeared in the Leader subsets with the exception of Game Winning RBI which after 1988 was no longer an official stat for the Pacific League and would get dropped by the Central League after 2000 (and BBM's last card for it was from 2001 naturally).  Additional "official titles" were added by the leagues in the 1990's and drove the inclusion of new categories for the Leader cards.  The two leagues added Hits as an "official title" in 1994 so the first "Hits Leader" cards appeared in 1995.  

1993 BBM #13

2013 BBM 1st Version #349

Sometimes the categories evolved from year to year.  Saves were introduced as an official stat in 1974 but the leagues switched to tracking "save points" (SP) a few years later (1976 for the CL and 1977 for the PL).  "Save points" are determined by adding the number of saves to the number of relief wins a pitcher has.  This remained the case until 2005 when both leagues went back to saves.  The Leader subsets have an "SP" category until 2006 and a "save" category after that.

1998 BBM #12

1998 BBM #13

2010 BBM 1st Version #459

There was a similar but slightly more complicated issue with Holds.  The Pacific League adopted Holds as an official statistic in 1996 but the Central League instead had an award called simply "Middle Relief".  The PL shifted to the "Middle Relief" award in 2002 and both leagues shifted to "Hold Points" (HP) starting in 2006 (like "save points", "hold points" are calculated by adding up a player's holds and relief wins).

2012 BBM 1st Version #356

There are some oddball categories that I haven't quite figured out why BBM included them.  Innings Pitched was included in one set (1993) and never again.  There's some sort of relationship between the "MVPitcher" and "Pitcher Of The Year" awards and the "Winning Percentage" leaders that I don't fully understand.  But the oddball one that really stands out is the "Rookie Special Award".  I'm pretty sure this has been awarded a number of times - I think it's basically a consolation prize to an outstanding rookie that didn't win the Rookie Of The Year award - but it only shows up once as a Leader card (in 2012).

2. How Many Players Had Leader Cards And Who Had The Most?

1995 BBM #10

There are 270 players who had at least one Leader card.  Ichiro Suzuki had the most with a somewhat astounding total of 24.  I say "astounding" for two reasons.  The first is that he only had Leader cards in seven sets (1995-2001) and the second is that those 24 cards are TEN more than the 14 cards Hideki Matsui, the player with the second most Leader cards, had.  Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Hideo Nomo are tied for third with 13 cards each.  Alex Ramirez is fifth with 12 cards and Daisuke Matsuzaka and Masaki Saitoh are tied for sixth with 11 each.  Kazumi Saitoh and Koji Uehara are tied for eighth with 10 each and four players are tied for tenth with 9 cards - Norichika Aoki, Michihiro Ogasawara, Tuffy Rhodes and Toshiya Sugiuchi.

3. Who Had The Most Leader Cards In One Set?

1996 BBM #2

Ichiro again leads this list with seven Leader cards in the 1996 set.  Hideo Nomo and Nobuhiko Matsunaka are tied for second on the list with six each.  Nomo's six were in the 1991 set while Matsunaka's were in the 2005 set (and partially commemorated his Triple Crown season in 2004).  Ten other players are tied for fourth with five cards - Shinji Sasakoka (1992), Ichiro (1995), Fumiya Nishiguchi (1998), Koji Uehara (2000), Hideki Matsui (2001), Kei Igawa (2004), Kazumi Saitoh (2007), Hisashi Iwakuma (2009), Kenta Maeda (2011) and Shinnosuke Abe (2013).  

By the way, this means that Ichiro's Leader cards from 1995 and 1996 constitute half of all his Leader cards.

4. Which Leader Cards Are Missing?

I noticed when putting the list together that there are Leader cards that are missing.  In other words, there are categories for which a card would have been expected but there's no card.  I pretty much picked these for categories that BBM had previously included a card for but didn't in a given year.

There are nine instances that I'm comfortable saying that BBM left a Leader card out:

1993 PL Home Runs Orestes Destrade
1993 CL RBI Larry Sheets
1993 PL RBI Boomer Wells
1997 PL ERA Hideki Irabu
1997 CL GWRBI Tom O'Malley
1998 CL GWRBI Takanori Suzuki
2001 CL Hits Bobby Rose
2001 Nippon Champion Yomiuri Giants
2012 PL Strikeouts Yu Darvish

Seven of these feature players who were no longer playing in Japan when the set was published - Destrade, Sheets, Wells, Irabu, O'Malley, Rose and Darvish.  I'm assuming that BBM (and Calbee and Epoch) have the rights to make a baseball card of anyone playing in NPB in the current year but not for anyone who left after the previous season.  For BBM to include any of those seven players they would have to make a separate deal with them for the rights.

That said - I have no idea why Takanori Suzuki doesn't have a Game Winning RBI Leader card in 1998 or why the Giants don't have a Nippon Champion Leader card in 2001.  Suzuki played in NPB in 1998 (and not only has a base card in the 1998 set but he has also has a Leader card for Batting Average) and obviously the Yomiuri Giants played in NPB in 2001. 

5. Which Leader Card Are NOT Missing?

2003 BBM #373

The seven players mentioned above are not the only ones to have led the league in a category during their final season in Japan.  I did some searches to look for players who had one or more Leader cards in a flagship set but not a "regular" card.  I found nine players who had fourteen cards between them:

1992 Jim Traber PL RBI
2001 Ichiro Suzuki PL AVG, OBP
2003 Hideki Matsui CL MVP, HR, OBP, RBI
2004 Senichi Hoshino Shoriki Award
2004 Shingo Takatsu CL Save Points
2007 Kei Igawa CL Strikeouts
2008 Yasuhiko Yabuta PL Hold Points
2010 Colby Lewis CL Strikeouts
2011 Tsuyoshi Nishioka PL Hits, AVG

Seven of these players - Ichiro, Matsui, Takatsu, Igawa, Yabuta, Lewis and Nishioka - had moved to MLB organizations while Traber didn't play anywhere in 1992.  Hoshino is a special case - he had stepped down as manager of the Hanshin Tigers due to health reasons after leading the team to their first Central League pennant since 1985.  

As I said earlier, my assumption is that BBM had to make a separate deal with all of these guys to have the rights to include their cards in the set.  Why they successfully were able to do it with these guys and not the seven mentioned above is beyond me.  It's interesting, though, that most of the "missing" cards are from before 2001 and most of the "not missing" cards from 2001 and after.  It's almost like they went out of their way to include Ichiro in the 2001 set and Matsui in the 2003 set and decided to keep doing it.

There's another question I'd like to know the answer to but having the cards organized in the database isn't going to help me - why did BBM stop doing Leader cards after 2013?  I don't know the answer but I have a suspicion.  

I want to add some context here though.  BBM actually changed several things between 2012 and 2015.  They stopped publishing the annual All Star and Nippon Series box sets after 2012 and dropped the Tokyo Big Six collegiate set after 2013.  They streamlined their "comprehensive" team sets in 2015, standardizing them as 81 card base sets.  So there was some other retooling of their product line going on in those years.

What I suspect was the catalyst for BBM dropping the Leader cards though was Masahiro Tanaka's outstanding season in 2013.  Tanaka led the PL in wins and ERA and won both the MVP and Sawamura awards in 2013.  But he also left NPB for New York after the season so BBM was apparently faced with having to either make a separate deal with him to appear in the Leader cards in the 2014 set or have the Leader subset be missing four cards.

The counterargument to this is that Tanaka appeared in several other BBM sets in 2014, including Rookie Edition, the Eagles 10th Anniversary set and the Professional Baseball 80th Anniversary Pitchers Edition set so it's not like he wasn't willing to work with BBM that year.

By moving the Leader cards to the Fusion set, BBM solved the problem of not having the player under contract.  The Leader cards would now come out in the same year that the players led the league.  The only downside is that they no longer could include the award winners since those would not be announced until after the set went to press.

Here's the spreadsheet I put together to gather all the information about the Leader cards.  The cells that are highlighted in green represent Leader cards that are missing (as described above):

Monday, September 13, 2021

Takumi Kuriyama

I'm a little late getting to this but on September 4th (one day after his 38th birthday) Takumi Kuriyama of the Lions became the latest NPB player to reach 2000 hits.  Kuriyama was Seibu's fourth round pick in the 2001 draft out of Ikuei High School in Kobe (Takeya Nakamura was the team's second round pick that year).  He spent most of his first three professional seasons on the farm team but by 2007 he was a regular with the ichi-gun Lions.  He led the Central League in hits in 2008 and has won four Best 9 awards and one Golden Glove award.  Oddly enough he has only been named to the All Star team once (in 2016).  He's played in one Nippon Series, helping the Lions beat the Giants in 2008.  He was the Lions captain from the end of 2012 (taking over from Hiroyuki Nakajima who had left for America) until 2020 when he ceded the role to Sosuke Genda.  

Here's a bunch of Kuriyama's cards from over the years:

2002 BBM 1st Version #269

2004 BBM Lions #71

2005 BBM Lions #L075

2006 Konami Baseball Heroes 2 White Edition #B06W045

2009 BBM 1st Version #445

2011 BBM 1st Version #046

2013 Calbee #122

2014 BBM Lions Classic - Impact Of Lionsblue #08

2015 Lions Fan Club #1

2016 BBM Fusion #062

2020 Epoch Lions Rookies & Stars #30

2021 Epoch NPB #098