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Kazuhiko Sakazaki

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Kazuhiko Sakazaki (坂崎 一彦)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 170 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Kazuhiko Sakazaki was a three-time All-Star in 12 seasons in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Sakazaki's team won the spring Koshien in 1955. He made his Yomiuri Giants debut in 1956, hitting only .216/.247/.309 in 170 plate appearances over 86 games. He was 1 for 15 with a triple, run and a RBI as a starting flyhawk in the 1956 Japan Series, joining Wally Yonamine and Minoru Kakurai as the starters for Yomiuri. The Giants fell to the Nishitetsu Lions and the fabulous pitching of Kazuhisa Inao. He was even worse (.178/.244/.267 in another 86 games) in 1957 and was 0 for 2 in the 1957 Japan Series as Nishitetsu won again. In regular action in 1958, he batted .245/.309/.362. Given his production, he surprisingly made the Central League All-Star team. In his lone at-bat in the 1958 NPB All-Star Games, he singled off Inao in game 2 as a pinch-hitter for Takashi Suzuki and wound up scoring in a 8-3 loss to the Pacific League. He started alongside Yonamine and Toshio Miyamoto in the 1958 Japan Series and went 4 for 19 with two doubles, four runs and two RBI as the Giants fell to Nishitetsu.

He had a career season in 1959 - .284/.376/.462, 63 BB, 66 R, 9 3B, 15 HR, 64 RBI. He finished among the Central League leaders in average (4th, behind Shigeo Nagashima, Tokuji Iida and Yonamine), runs (tied for 6th with Toru Mori), hits (123, 10th, between Yonamine and Morimichi Iwashita), triples (1st, one ahead of Shosuke Doi, Yoshio Yoshida and Yonamine), home runs (tied for 8th with Shinichi Eto and Toshio Naka), RBI (8th, between Shigeru Fujii and Hideshi Miyake), strikeouts (76, 10th, between Mori and Sadaharu Oh), total bases (200, 8th, between Eto and Iida), OBP (2nd, 50 points behind Nagashima), slugging (6th) and OPS (5th, between Katsumi Fujimoto and Akira Owada). He started the both 1959 NPB All-Star Games, going 1 for 5 with a run; Naka replaced him in CF in game 1 and Owada replaced him in RF in game 2. He was one of the Giants' better players in the 1959 Japan Series, when the Nankai Hawks swept them. He hit .313/.353/.500 with a homer; only Nagashima and Masataka Tsuchiya had better OPSes for Yomiuri. He, Mori and Owada were named the CL's top outfielders when the Best Nine awards were distributed.

Sakazaki faded suddenly, to .202/.257/.385 albeit with 11 HR in 213 AB in 1960. He rebounded to bat .256/.303/.406 in 1961 and tied for 4th in the CL with five sacrifice flies. In the 1961 Japan Series, he was 4 for 15 with a RBI as Yomiuri won this time, beating Nankai. He hit .276/.352/.387 in 1962 and made the CL top 10 in walks (47, 8th), strikeouts (80, 6th), average (7th, between Masuho Maeda and Naka), OBP (7th, between Nagashima and Sadayuki Tokutake) and OPS (8th, between Maeda and Francis Agcaoili). He was 0 for 3 in the two 1962 NPB All-Star Games for a career 2-for-9 as an All-Star; he started game 1 and was replaced by Eto in LF then replaced Eto in game 2.

The 25-year-old hit .273/.344/.410 in 1963 then was 1 for 14 in the 1963 Japan Series as Yomiuri beat Nishitetsu. His batting line in 1964 was .237/.312/.332. He was then part of an offseason trade with the Toei Flyers. He hit .258/.320/.418 with 11 HR in 307 plate appearances for Toei in 1965 (and became the 93rd NPB player to 1,000 games) but hit only .198/.291/.271 with one homer in 111 plate appearances in 1966. Almost exclusively a pinch-hitter in 1967, he was 7 for 29 with a homer and four walks.

He hit .249/.318/.381 in 3,408 plate appearances and 1,207 career games, with 74 home runs, 302 runs and 387 RBI. He died of cancer.

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