Hiroshi Shibahara (02)
Hiroshi Shibahara (柴原 洋)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 8", Weight 165 lb.
Hiroshi Shibahara was a three-time All-Star outfielder in Nippon Pro Baseball.
Shibahara won a Triple Crown and MVP in college; his 21 career homers were a Fukuoka Big Six University League record. The Daiei Hawks took him in the third round of the 1996 draft. His first hit in NPB came off Jiro Toyoda on April 13 and his first homer was two innings later against Nobuhiko Watanabe. He finished his rookie year with a weak .159/.204/.205 batting line in 98 plate appearances over 66 games. He became a starter in 1998 and blossomed, hitting .314/.389/.382 with 18 steals in 25 tries. He was 4th in the Central League in average (behind Ichiro Suzuki, Mitsuchika Hirai and Phil Clark), tied for 6th in steals (with Katsuhiro Nishiura) and 4th in OBP (behind Atsushi Kataoka, Suzuki and Hirai). He won a Best Nine nod as one of the PL's top three outfielders, alongside Suzuki and Naoyuki Omura.
In 1999, Shibahara faded to .263/.347/.345 and stole 22 bases in 33 tries; he hit only .213 with runners in scoring position. He was 4th in the PL in swipes (trailing Kazuo Matsui, Makoto Kosaka and Yoshitomo Tani) but second in times caught (4 behind Kosaka). He was 10th in runs (68, between Yukio Tanaka and Micah Franklin) and tied for fifth with four triples. He had a backup role in the 1999 Japan Series as Daiei beat the Chunichi Dragons; the Hawks went with a starting outfield of Koji Akiyama, Arihito Muramatsu and Melvin Nieves.
The Fukuoka native rebounded to .310/.382/.435 in 2000 with 78 runs and 32 doubles. He was among the PL top 10 in runs (tied for 8th with Tani), hits (161, 3rd behind Michihiro Ogasawara and Matsui), doubles (tied for second with Kataoka, 8 behind Matsui), triples (tied for 3rd with 6), caught stealing (9, tied for 2nd with Tani and Takashi Muto), two behind Kosaka; only 10 successful steals), walks (58, tied for 9th with Tuffy Rhodes and Tony Fernandez), strikeouts (91, tied for 7th), average (8th, betyween Muto and Toshihiro Noguchi) and OBP (10th, between Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Norihiro Nakamura). He made his first PL All-Star team, won his first Gold Glove (joining Suzuki and So Taguchi in the outfield) and made his second Best Nine (alongside Suzuki and Sherman Obando). Like most of the Hawks, he was shut down by the Yomiuri Giants in the 2000 Japan Series, going 4 for 23 with two doubles, a run and three RBI in six games.
Shibahara remained steady (.302/.351/.404, 35 2B, 95 R) in 2001. He hit four doubles on April 29 and repeated as an All-Star. He joined Taguchi and Tani as the Gold Glove winners, but did not make the Best Nine as Tani, Rhodes and Koichi Isobe were selected. He finished 10th in average, tied for 8th in runs with Pedro Valdes, fourth in doubles and fourth in hits (177, between Tani and Isobe). He had an off-season in 2002 (.269/.282/.365, only 17 BB, 101 K, 73 R, 33 2B). He was 8th in the PL in runs, tied Saburo Omura for 5th in doubles, tied for second in sacrifice flies (6, one behind Matsunaka) and 10th in strikeouts.
In 2003, Shibahara had his last big year: .333/.386/.423, 71 R. He was 5th in the PL in average (between teammates Tadahito Iguchi and Kenji Johjima) and joined Muramatsu, Naoyuki Omura and Tani as Gold Glove winners. He produced at a .296/.345/.370 clip with 3 runs and 2 RBI in the 2003 Japan Series as Daiei prevailed over the Hanshin Tigers in 7 games. He hit .271/.316/.411 in 2004, tying for 10th in the PL with 27 doubles and ranking second with seven sacrifice flies (one shy of Iguchi). Hiroshi hit .266/.329/.319 in 2005, getting his 1,000th career hit (off Shunsuke Watanabe).
Shibahara's batting line was .277/.353/.380 in 2006 and he made his third All-Star team. He rapped 28 doubles and batted .273/.318/.394 in 2007, with 8 outfield assists and two errors. He tied Saburo Omura, Hiroyuki Nakajima and Hitoshi Taneda for 6th in the league in doubles. He hit a sayonara 3-run homer on Opening Day 2008 off Domingo Guzman, the 6th player in NPB annals to hit an Opening Day sayonara blast. He hit .277/.328/.354 on the year. A back injury in May 2009 kept him in the minors most of the year; he hit only .206/.336/.247 in 37 games for the Hawks. He batted just .216/.261/.366 in 69 games in 2010 and was 1 for 13 with five whiffs in 2011 to end his career.
Overall, Shibahara had batted .283/.341/.381 in 1,441 NPB games, with 661 runs, 463 RBI, 261 doubles and 85 steals in 137 tries. Not a slugger, he had 54 home runs in 4,885 at-bats. Through his final season, he was tied for 90th in league history in doubles (even with Makoto Kaneko), tied for 99th with 40 sacrifice flies and was 72nd in strikeouts (880, between Kosuke Fukudome and Takanori Suzuki).
Primary Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland