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Kazuhisa Kawaguchi

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Kazuhisa Kawaguchi

  • Bats Both, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 165 lb.

Kazuhisa Kawaguchi was a 6-time Central League All-Star. He led the league three times in strikeouts and six times in walks.

Kawaguchi was a first-round pick of the Hiroshima Carp in 1980 and was 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA as a rookie in 1981. He improved to 4-5, 1.94 in 1982 with a .221 opponent average.

Kazuhisa went 15-10 with a 2.92 ERA in 1983 with 166 whiffs and 104 walks in 218 2/3 IP. He led the Central League in walks and made his first All-Star team. He also led with four shutouts. He placed third in ERA behind Osamu Fukuma and Kazuhiko Endo.

Kawaguchi fell to 8-6, 4.23 in 1984. He started and went the distance in game 3 of the 1984 Japan Series, a win for Hiroshima, but lost game 6 with a chance to clinch it; Hiroshima went on to take the Series in game 7. He was 1-1 with a 7.71 ERA for the Series.

In 1985, the left-hander went 9-9 with a 4.39 ERA. He turned back around in 1986 to go 12-9 with a 3.01 ERA and 145 K in 164 2/3 IP. He tied for 5th in the CL in ERA and made his second All-Star team.

Kawaguchi made his third CL All-Star squad in 1987 and finished the year 12-11 with a 2.95 ERA and .228 opponent average, striking out 184 in 183 1/3 IP. He led the CL in strikeouts and was 6th in ERA.

In his age 28/29 season, 1988, the Hiroshima portsider had a 13-10, 2.55 record with a .224 opponent average and 179 K in 190 2/3 IP. He led the CL in walks (72) and wild pitches (11). He was 8 strikeouts behind leader Hiromi Makihara. He was 4th in the CL in ERA behind Yutaka Ono, Makihara and Hiroaki Nakayama. He also made his 4th All-Star squad.

The Tottori native remained strong in 1989 at 12-7, 2.51 with a .229 opponent average and 192 strikeouts in 208 1/3 innings. He made his fourth consecutive CL All-Star team, finished 5th in the league in ERA and led in strikeouts for the second time.

In 1990, Kazuhisa went 11-13 with a 3.97 ERA with 180 strikeouts in 208 2/3 IP. He led the league in losses (tied with Kenjiro Kawasaki and Koji Nakata), batters faced (895), homers surrendered (26, tied with Kawasaki), walks (87), runs allowed (101) and earned runs allowed (92). He made his 6th and last All-Star team. He was two strikeouts behind leader Masao Kida.

Kawaguchi continued his Bret Saberhagen-style trend of leading the CL in strikeouts in odd-numbered years when he whiffed a career-high 230 in 205 innings in 1991, going 12-8 with a 2.90 ERA. He also led the loop with 82 walks and 10 wild pitches. He placed fifth in the circuit in ERA. He beat the Seibu Lions in games 2 and 5 of the 1991 Japan Series but the Carp fell in 7 games; he won the Fighting Spirit Award as the MVP of the losing team. He had a 2-0, 2.16 record for the Series.

In 1992, the veteran left-hander was 8-12 with a 3.34 ERA for the Carp. He fell a bit in 1993, going 8-11 with a 3.54 ERA; more hittable than in his prime, he allowed a .272 average. He still led the CL with 74 walks. In 1994, his 14th and last season for Hiroshima, he was 7-10 with a 4.72 ERA and fell under 100 strikeouts (96) while walking 93, most in the CL.

Kawaguchi then moved to the Yomiuri Giants. He was 4-6 with a 4.42 ERA in 1995. On September 27, he struck out his 2,000th batter, the 14th NPB pitcher to do so.

His record was 1-4 with 3 saves and a 2.95 ERA in 1996 while making the last start of his career; he would finish up in relief. He tossed 4 2/3 shutout innings in the 1996 Japan Series but Yomiuri fell to the Orix BlueWave of Ichiro Suzuki.

In 1997, turning 38 years old, Kawaguchi only pitched 16 1/3 IP in 22 games, now a LOOGY. He was rocked for 20 runs in that span, a 9.92 ERA and .329 opponent average; somehow, he was 3-3 with a save anyways. He wrapped up in 1998 with 8 runs (7 earned) in 13 2/3 IP over 17 games and no decisions.

Overall, Kawaguchi was 139-135 with four saves and a 3.38 ERA in 2,410 IP and 435 games. He struck out 2,082 and walked 1,021. Through 2009, he was 14th in NPB history in Ks (between Makihara and Hisashi Yamada) and 17th in walks while not making the top 30 in any other department.

He later was a baseball commentator for TBS.

Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland

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