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Hisanori Takahashi

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Hisanori Takahashi (高橋 尚成)

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[edit] Biographical Information

Hisanori Takahashi pitched for a decade for the Yomiuri Giants, once leading the Central League in ERA. He was a one-time All-Star in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Takahashi was 60-11 with a 2.58 ERA in college. He played for Toshiba in the industrial leagues. Hisanori played for Japan in the 1998 Asian Games. He was a first-round draft pick of the Yomiuri Giants in 1999.

Takahashi was 9-6 with a 3.18 ERA as a rookie in 2000. He was 7th in the Central League in ERA between Tetsuro Kawajiri and Daisuke Miura. He was third on the Giants in ERA behind Kimiyasu Kudoh and Darrell May. In the 2000 Japan Series, Takahashi pitched a game five shutout against the Daiei Hawks, who featured a potent lineup including Koji Akiyama, Tadahito Iguchi, Kenji Johjima, Hiroki Kokubo and Nobuhiko Matsunaka. The Giants took the Series in six games.

In 2001, the southpaw fell to 9-9, 3.94. He rebounded to go 10-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 2002. He was 8th in the CL in ERA between Shugo Fujii and Trey Moore. He started and won game four of the 2002 Japan Series in a sweep of the Seibu Lions, allowing 3 hits and 2 runs in eight innings. Koji Uehara, Masumi Kuwata and Kudoh had started the first three games of the Series.

Takahashi fell to 4-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 2003 and 5-10, 5.44 in 2004. He tied for 5th in the 2004 Central League in losses and tied Uehara for 5th in homers allowed (24). In 2005, he had a 8-12, 4.47 record. He tied for second in the league in defeats, was 10th in innings (163), tied Kan Otake for 7th in hits allowed (171), tied for the shutout lead (2), was 3rd in runs allowed (88, behind Otake and Kei Igawa), was 8th in walks (48) and was 10th in strikeouts (135).

Takahashi moved to relief in 2006, splitting the closing role with Kiyoshi Toyoda. He was 2-6 with 15 saves and a 4.94 ERA, not as good as the right-handed Toyoda. Back in the rotation, Takahashi had a career year in 2007. He went 14-4 with a 2.75 ERA and made the CL All-Star team. He led the league in ERA by .09 over Seth Greisinger. He also was among the leaders in wins (tied with Kenichi Nakata and Tetsuya Utsumi for second, 2 behind Greisinger), innings (186 2/3, 3rd), homers allowed (21, tied for first with Takahiro Aoki and Kazuhisa Ishii), shutouts (2, tied for second, one behind Miura), hits allowed (168, 8th), walks (50, tied for 7th) and strikeouts (141, 8th). He was named to the Best Nine as the top hurler in the CL but the Pacific League's Yu Darvish got the Sawamura Award as the top pitcher in Nippon Pro Baseball.

The veteran left-hander faded in 2008 with a 8-5, 4.13 record. He was 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA in the 2008 Japan Series. He pitched a solid Game Two, allowing only a 2-run homer to Hiroyuki Nakajima. In game six, he struggled, giving up 3 first-inning runs on a Hiroshi Hirao hit, taking the loss versus Seibu.

He continued his roller-coaster run in 2009, going 10-6 with a 2.94 ERA. He was 6th in the CL in ERA, 9th in homers allowed (16) and tied for 9th in strikeouts (126). He started and lost game four of the 2009 Japan Series but Yomiuri still beat the Nippon Ham Fighters to take the title.

Pitching for the Mets

A free agent after the season, Takahashi announced plans to try to make the major leagues. He signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets in February. He made the major league roster out of spring training. His debut in The Show came on April 7, New York's second game of the year. He entered to begin the 10th inning in a 6-6 game. Wes Helms greeted him with a single and was bunted over by Chris Coghlan. Ronny Paulino hit a pinch-hit RBI single, then Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked. Fernando Nieve relieved Takahashi, who would take the loss.

His fastball has been timed at a peak of 92 mph, and the best breaking ball of his package is a screwball.

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