With the first official game of the 2023 NPB season less than 36 hours away, I thought I'd revisit a topic I last touched on two years ago - which players are approaching the milestones that would put them into the Meikyukai or Golden Player's Club. The requirements are for a player to have been born in the Showa Era or later* and to have accumulated 2000 hits, 200 wins or 250 saves. Statistics from MLB count but only if the NPB stats came first - which is why Alfonso Soriano belongs but Adam Jones doesn't.
* The Showa Era requirement was included when Masaichi Kaneda founded the club in the late 70's to exclude the only player in JBL/NPB history with more than 2000 hits who was born prior to it - Tetsuharu Kawakami. The restriction had the side effect of excluding seven or so pitchers including Victor Staffin and Shigeru Sugishita
Two years ago I did separate posts for the players approaching 2000 hits and 200 wins but I decided to combine the lists into one post this time and add the players approaching 250 saves as well. First up are the hitters. Keep in mind that there are three active Meikyukai members in NPB right now - Hayato Sakamoto, Takumi Kuriyama and Norichika Aoki. Aoki "only" has 1874 hits in NPB but his 774 MLB hits gives him a total of 2648 which is the most for any active NPB player (with Sakamoto in second with 2205. Here are the top six batters with more than 1500 hits and less than 2000 hits:
1. Hiroyuki Nakajima, 1923 hits
|2022 BBM Giants #G45|
2. Yohei Ohshima, 1885 hits
|2022 BBM Dragons #D57|
3. Nobuhiro Matsuda, 1831 hits
|2022 BBM Hawks #H40|
4. Hideto Asamura, 1702 hits
|2022 BBM Eagles #E45|
5. Takeya Nakamura, 1698 hits
|2022 BBM Lions #L51|
6. Yoshihiro Maru, 1602 hits
|2022 BBM Giants #G58|
I'm pretty comfortable in predicting that Ohshima will get the 115 hits he needs this season. It's going to tough for Nakajima to get the 77 hits he needs this season since he's only had 73 hits in the past two seasons combined. I don't think either Matsuda or Nakamura are going to ever reach 2000 hits which in Nakamura's case makes me very sad since he's one of my favorite players. Asamura will probably reach the milestone in 2024 or 2025 and Maru will do the same in 2025. Whichever of those two do it first will be the first batter born in the Heisei Era to join the Meikyukai.
Next up is the victory leaders. There are no active Meikyukai pitchers in NPB or MLB right now - the last one with 200 or more victories was Hiroki Kuroda who retired in 2016. Here's everyone with 149 or more combined NPB-MLB wins (I was going to go with 150 or more but Takayuki Kishi was so close...):
1. Masahiro Tanaka, 190 wins (112 NPB, 78 MLB)
|2022 BBM Eagles #E08|
2. Yu Darvish, 188 wins (93 NPB, 95 MLB)
|2008 BBM Fighters #F02|
3. Masanori Ishikawa, 183 wins
|2022 BBM Swallows #S09|
4. Kenta Maeda, 156 wins (97 NPB, 59 MLB)
|2015 BBM Carp #C07|
5. Tsuyoshi Wada, 155 wins (150 NPB, 5 MLB)
|2022 BBM Hawks #F10|
6. Hideaki Wakui, 154 wins
|2022 BBM Eagles #E06|
|2022 BBM Eagles #E03|
I think there's a very good chance Darvish will reach 200 wins this season. Tanaka has a shot at it but if he doesn't make it this season, he'll reach it in 2024. It'll probably take Maeda three or four seasons to reach the milestone if or when he's healthy again. I don't think the other four are likely to ever reach 200 wins due to their ages (Ishikawa is 43, Wada is 42, Kishi is 38 and Wakui is 36).
Last up is saves. The last player to reach 250 saves was Hitoki Iwase in 2010. Iwase retired in 2018. Here are the top three active saves leaders in NPB:
1. Yoshihisa Hirano, 221 saves (213 NPB, 8 MLB)
|2022 BBM Buffaloes #B06|
2. Yasuaki Yamasaki, 207 saves
|2022 BBM Baystars #DB10|
3. Yuki Matsui, 197 saves
|2022 BBM Eagles #E02|
Great post. Tanaka has already added one to that total, I think he's got a good shot this year.
As a Dragons fan I'm looking forward to Oshma reaching 2000.
Thanks! I hope Tanaka can finally put together another good season this year. His return to NPB has not been what anyone expected which is why I didn't predict him getting the 10 wins he needs this season.
Matsui got his third save in five games today so he's well on his way - although 53 saves this season would be the second most all time. But he's on an 86 save pace right now - I love the power of small sample sizes!
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