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Chih-Chia Chang

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Chih-Chia Chang

  • Bats Right or Both (sources vary), Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 176 lb.

Chih-Chia Chang was a member of the Taiwanese national team for several years. He was a star briefly in Nippon Pro Baseball, considered by some to be the equal or superior of teammate Daisuke Matsuzaka, but an injury cut short his productivity.

He was 0-2 with a 5.00 ERA in the 1999 Intercontinental Cup. In the 2001 World Port Tournament, Chang was 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA.

Chang first attracted international notice in the 2001 Baseball World Cup. Pitching for Taiwan, he went 3-0 to post the best record of the tournament. In the bronze medal game, he shut out Japan on five hits to pick up the victory. He led the World Cup as well with 26 strikeouts and whiffed 12 South Korean batters in one game. In 25 1/3 innings, he allowed just one earned run (0.36 ERA), 12 hits and three walks. He did not make the tournament All-Star team as Jose Contreras and Jason Stanford were named the top two hurlers.

When Chang completed his military service, several Major League Baseball teams showed interest but the Seibu Lions outbid them, offering a 1 million yen signing bonus; four years later, it was still the highest bonus paid to a Taiwanese prospect by a Japanese team (see this website for a list).

Chang debuted in fine form for Seibu in 2002, going 10-4 with one save and a 2.71 ERA (he at 2.00 after 67 2/3 IP). He struck out 121 in 116 1/3 IP and allowed just 81 hits. Had he qualified, he would have ranked third in the Pacific League in ERA behind Masahiko Kaneda and Dae-sung Koo, .14 ahead of Nate Minchey, who did place third. He had a better ERA than superstar teammates Matsuzaka and Fumiya Nishiguchi. He broke the Nippon Pro Baseball record for consecutive innings with a strikeout - it had been 23, set by Yutaka Enatsu (1968) and tied by Isamu Kido in 1980. He struggled in game three of the 2002 Japan Series, allowing six hits, a walk, a homer and five runs in three innings in a loss to the Yomiuri Giants.

In 2003, Chih-Chia fell to 7-7, 4.98. On June 14, he did one-hit the Chiba Lotte Marines. He pitched for Taiwan in the 2003 Asian Championship as they qualified for the 2004 Olympics. He bounced back in 2004 with a 9-8, 3.70 record. He made the PL All-Star team, was sixth in ERA (edging Kevin Beirne and Jeremy Powell as the top gaijin hurler), tied for second in shutouts (2), tied for sixth in losses, tied for fourth in walks (57) and homers allowed (22) and 8th in strikeouts (119).

Chang also played for Taiwan in the 2004 Olympics. Against Canada in the opener, he struck out nine in six innings but allowed three hits and three runs, one earned. Five days later, he whiffed nine once more, against Italy in a no-decision. He gave up three runs (all earned) and four hits in six innings that day, hurt by solo homers from James Buccheri and Mario Chiarini. Only Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out more batters in any game in the 2004 Olympics and only Matsuzaka wound up with more strikeouts (20 to Chang's 18). In fact, Chang was the sole non-Japanese pitcher to have more than six K's in a game. Chang was just 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA, though, thanks in part to six walks. He took responsibility for the team's failure to make the medal round.

Chang injured his shoulder that year, affecting his fastball and reducing the efficacy of his main pitch, the change-up. After allowing back-to-back home runs against the Marines in September, he did not pitch again for Seibu until the 2004 Japan Series. He got the call in game four, but gave up three homers, 3 walks and 5 hits in 3 1/3 IP for five runs in another post-season disappointment, taking the loss again. Alex Ochoa, Omar Linares and Kazuki Inoue were the players to take him deep.

Chang spent the next couple of seasons in ni-gun, where his woes continued. He was 1-1 with a 6.86 ERA in 12 games on the farm in 2006 and was released by Seibu. He had gone 26-19 with one save and a 3.81 ERA in 63 NPB games, with 351 strikeouts in 387 innings, but also with 148 walks and 54 homers allowed.

Chang was with Taiwan for the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, going 1-0 with a 0.71 ERA to help them win a berth in the 2008 Olympics. He got the victory against the German national team in a 2-0 pitching duel over André Hughes.

Chang was the subject of media scrutiny in Japan for being stubborn and not listening to his coaches. Additionally, he had a "tennis father" who was a visible presence throughout his career.

After being let go by Seibu, Chang signed with the La New Bears in 2008. Chang made his CPBL debut on May 4 with a hitless inning of relief, walking two. He was 3-4 with five saves and a 3.80 ERA in 2008.

Chang was Taiwan's top hurler in the 2008 Olympics, allowing no runs in 6 2/3 IP despite 8 hits. He got the save against Team Canada in the game that clinched 5th place for Taiwan, striking out Chris Robinson to end it.

In the 2009 CPBL, Chang was 10-9 with a 4.31 ERA for the Bears. After the season, he was implicated in a gambling scandal in November then released in December.

Sources: Defunct IBAF site, Taipei Times article on Chang's 2004 Olympics performance, Japanesebaseball.com by Michael Westbay, Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland, 2001 WPT stats, Taiwan Baseball Blog, 2008 Olympics

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