Monday, February 6, 2023

Kazuhisa Makita

One more retirement post for now - pitcher Kazuhisa Makita announced he was done pitching back on October 25th.  Makita spent a couple years playing for Nippon Express after graduating from Heisei International University - he threw a no-hitter during the 2010 JABA Tokyo Sponichi Tournament - and so was almost 26 years old when he was selected by the Lions as their second pick in the 2010 NPB draft.  

Makita started the 2011 season in the Lions starting rotation but was moved to the closer's role after 10 starts.  He ended the season with a 5-7 record, an ERA of 2.61 and 22 saves, a performance that earned him the Pacific League Rookie Of The Year award.  He was back in the starting rotation for 2012 and went 13-9 with a 2.43 ERA.  He remained a starter for the next couple seasons but moved back into the bullpen midway through 2015, taking over as closer again for a month before finishing the season in the rotation again.  He spent his last two seasons with Seibu as a middle reliever, appearing in 50 games in 2016 and 58 in 2017.

The Lions posted him following the 2017 season and San Diego made the winning bid.  He spent two years in the Padres organization, mostly with Triple-A El Paso and Double-A Amarillo although he did pitch in 27 games with the big league team, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA out of the bullpen.

He returned to Japan and joined the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles for the 2020 season, posting a 2.16 ERA in 52 games in middle relief.  He had a couple bad outings early in 2021 that caused him to be sent to the farm team for awhile.  He was back with the top team in July but another couple of bad outings in late August and early September caused him to be back on the farm team for good.  Despite putting up OK numbers overall at the ichi-gun level - 3.31 ERA in 17 games - the Eagles released him after the season.  He joined the CPBL's CTBC Brothers last season but ultimately only got into six games and posted an 8.44 ERA before getting released.

Makita made the All Star team four times (2011, 2013, 2016 & 2017).  He pitched for the national team in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics and the 2015 Premier 12.  He also pitched for Samurai Japan in the 2014 MLB Japan All-Star Series and was one of four pitchers who combined to no-hit the MLB team during the Series.

His first cards are #013 from the 2011 Rookie Edition set and #050 from the 2011 1st Version set.  He's also in the 2011 BBM All Stars set.  He was in every 1st and 2nd Version set during his time with the Lions (2011-17) and the 1st Version sets during his time with the Eagles (2020-21).  His first "regular" Calbee card isn't until 2012 Series Two (#090) although he appears on one of the 2011 checklist cards (#C-10 in Series Three).   Here's a bunch of his cards - I'll point out as always that all the card companies seem to like to constantly remind us that Makita is a submarine pitcher:

2011 BBM Rookie Edition #013

2011 BBM 1st Version #050

2011 BBM All Stars #A09

2012 BBM 1st Version #327

2013 BBM 2nd Version #579

2014 BBM Lions Classic - Impact Of Lions Blue #05

2015 Lions Fan Club #35

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-15

2017 Calbee #024

2020 Eagles Team Set 1st Version #11

2021 Calbee #096

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