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Hideyuki Awano

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Hideyuki Awano

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 165 lb.

Hideyuki Awano was a four-time Nippon Pro Baseball All-Star who was once named his league's top pitcher.

Awano won 32 games in college, 7th in the history of the Tokyo Metropolitan University League. He began his pro career in great form with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1987. He had a complete game on April 12, his debut, then shut out the Seibu Lions six days later. For the season, he went 15-12 with a 2.88 ERA, 201 strikeouts and a 1.08 WHIP. He led the Pacific League in innings pitched (249 2/3) and strikeouts, was 4th in ERA, made the All-Star team and won Rookie of the Year honors (beating out fellow hurler Yukihiro Nishizaki among others).

In 1988, the young southpaw was 14-12 with a save and a 2.61 ERA (5th in the league), making his second All-Star team. He had a 19-8, 2.71 record with one save and 183 strikeouts in 1989. He led the PL in wins, strikeouts, complete games (21) and innings (235 2/3). He was second to Choji Murata in ERA; Taigen Kaku was a distant third at 3.27. He made his third All-Star squad, won his only Gold Glove and got the Best Nine nod as the PL's top pitcher. He was only the second unanimous PL Best Nine pitcher, following Kazuhisa Inao by 41 years; it would be 24 years until Masahiro Tanaka became the third. He helped Kintetsu to its third PL pennant. In the 1989 Japan Series, he started game one against the Yomiuri Giants' Masaki Saito and got the win. With a 3-1 lead in games, he had a chance to put away the Buffaloes' first Japan Series title. Instead, he lost game 5 to Saito and Yomiuri also won the next two as Kintetsu failed in its bid.

His last All-Star appearance was in 1990, when he turned only 26 years old. He faded to 10-11, 4.63 that year and served up 33 gopher balls, tied with Nobuyuki Hoshino for most in the PL. He got his fourth straight Opening Day call in 1991 but went 2-2 with a save, 4.93 ERA and .289 opponent average, a far cry from his first three seasons. His last season primarily as a starter was 1992, when he had a 6-6, 3.36 record.

Moving to the bullpen, Awano was 1-3 with a 6.93 ERA, .330 opponent average and 1.95 WHIP in 1993 and 0-2 with a 12.19 ERA, .458 opponent average and 2.71 WHIP in 1994. In 1995, he moved to the Giants and went 0-3 with a 4.30 ERA. He only pitched in four regular-season games in 1996, giving up three runs in nine innings and whiffing thirteen. He then made three appearances in the 1996 Japan Series and threw four shutout innings, but Yomiuri fell to the Orix Blue Wave in five.

Awano faced one batter in 1997 and hit them. He signed with the Yokohama BayStars in 1998 and saw regular action (4-1, 4.67 in 50 games). He pitched three games in the 1998 Japan Series, with one walk and no hits in nine batters faced. He gave up no runs in 2 2/3 IP. In game six, he won a 2-1 decision in relief of Takeo Kawamura; Kazuhiro Sasaki got the save. He got the victory that gave the BayStars their first Japan Series title.

In 1999, Awano fell to 2-8, 6.32 with a save and a .310 average allowed. He went 2-0 with a 4.60 ERA in 11 games in 2000 to end his playing career. He retired with a career record of 75-68 with five saves and a 3.71 ERA in 305 games in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Awano was a pitching coach for Yomiuri and for the Japanese national team in the 2010 Intercontinental Cup.

Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland

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