Thursday, January 13, 2022

Yoshiyuki Kamei

Another player who announced his retirement at the end of the season was Yoshiyuki Kamei of the Giants.  Kamei been the Giants fourth round pick in the 2004 draft out of Chuo University where he had won three Best 9 awards and one Tohto League MVP award.  I've always felt that Kamei's had somewhat of an odd career.  It seems like he was always on the brink of being a solid starting outfielder or third baseman for the Giants but was constantly undermined by an ill-timed injury or slump.  His best season was probably 2009 when he hit .290 with 25 home runs and won a Golden Glove award.  Those 25 home runs were just short of a quarter of his career total.  Besides 2009 the only two years that he really was a starter for most of the season were 2018 and 2019.  He became the first player ever to have a pinch hit walk off home run on Opening Day this past March.  

He never made an All Star team but he played in six Nippon Series with Yomiuri and won awards in three of them ("Outstanding Player" in 2009, "Japan Series Special Award BASEBALL HEROES" in 2013 and "Fighting Spirit" in 2019).  He was dispatched by the Giants to play winter ball overseas twice during his career and was impressive both times - hitting .300 in 31 games with the Honolulu Sharks of the Hawaiian Winter League in 2006 and then dominating the Australian Baseball League in the first half of the 2010-11 season with a .438 batting average, a .500 on base percentage and a .859 slugging percentage in 16 games with the Melbourne Aces (he left the team after the first half of the season and so didn't qualify for the batting title although his 7 home runs was tied for fifth in the league and his 25 RBIs was tied for seventh).  He was on Japan's team for the 2009 World Baseball Classic, getting into three games as a late inning defensive replacement and pinch runner.

Kamei's first BBM cards are #53 in the 2005 Rookie Edition set and #369 in the 2005 1st Version set.  Oddly enough, he's listed as an outfielder on the Rookie Edition card and an infielder on the 1st Version card - in reality he didn't play in the infield (at least with the ichi-gun team) until 2009.  His first Calbee card was #182 in the 2006 Series Two set.  Here's some of his cards:

2005 BBM Rookie Edition #53

2005 BBM 1st Version #369

2007 BBM 1st Version #348

2008 BBM Nippon Series #S55

2009 Konami Baseball Heroes WBC #W09R111

2011 BBM Tohto 80th Memorial #59

2013 Calbee #159

2014 BBM Giants #G055

2015 BBM 1st Version #182

2017 Epoch Giants #33

2020 BBM Giants "The Tokyo Culture" #GP9

2021 Epoch One #030

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