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Kinji Shimatani

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Kinji Shimatani

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 195 lb.

Kinji Shimatani was a six-time All-Star in 14 seasons in Nippon Pro Baseball.

After high school, Shimatani played for Shikoku Denryoku in the industrial leagues. The Chunichi Dragons took him in the 9th round of the 1968 draft. He started as a rookie in 1969 but hit only .210/.278/.306. He was stable at .216/.295/.307 in 1970, then made good strides (.257/.318/.429, 17 HR) in 1971. The Kagawa native hit .245/.328/.396 in 1972. In 1973, he smacked 21 home runs while posting a .265/.339/.481 line. Kinji faded to .259/.325/.408 with 11 dingers in 1974. He was 3 for 17 with a double, homer and walk as Chunichi's main third baseman in the 1974 Japan Series; they fell to the Lotte Orions.

The veteran made his first Central League All-Star team in 1975. For the year, he batted .280/.359/.491 with 20 circuit clouts. He led the CL with 27 doubles and won the Diamond Glove Award at the hot corner. In his last year for the Dragons, he hit 21 home runs and produced at a .278/.355/.476 rate. He made his second All-Star squad.

Moving to the Hankyu Braves in 1977, he feasted on Pacific League pitching to a .325/.374/.520 tune with 22 home runs and 74 RBI. He made the PL All-Star team, finished second in average (.004 behind Michiyo Arito) and won the Diamond Glove Award. He lost out Best Nine honors to Arito at third base. In the 1977 Japan Series, #8 was 5 for 20 with a double, homer and four RBI as the Braves topped the Yomiuri Giants. It was the last of three straight Japan Series titles for Hankyu.

In 1978, Kinji remained productive at .298/.363/.491 with 22 home runs. He was an All-Star, led the league in double-play grounders (17) and just missed the top 10 in average. He won the Diamond Glove and beat out Arito for the Best Nine. In the 1978 Japan Series, he put on a show, going 11 for 24 with 5 doubles, a home run, five walks, six runs and six RBI in seven games but Hankyu fell to the Yakult Swallows. He lost Fighting Spirit Award honors to Mitsuhiro Adachi.

Shimatani launched a career-high 27 home runs in 1979, scored 81 runs, hit 31 doubles and drove home 102. He hit .312/.373/.553 and made his fifth All-star team. He won his last Diamond Glove and his second and last Best Nine. Joining him on the Best Nine were two of his three infield mates, 1B Hideji Kato and 2B Bobby Marcano. He trailed Kato for the PL lead in doubles by one, was two RBI shy of leader Kato and ranked 10th in average.

Kinji was 35 years old in 1980 and slowing down, batting .266/.350/.438 with 16 home runs. He made his last All-Star team. On August 10, he became the 35th NPB player to 200 career dingers. He had little shot at a third straight Best Nine, Arito reclaiming the honor. Shimatani had one last big year - .282/.345/.504, 23 HR - in 1981 then fell to .229/.285/.281 with 2 homers in 231 AB in 1982.

Overall, Shimatani had batted .269/.338/.443 with 251 doubles, 229 home runs, 739 runs and 781 RBI in 1,682 NPB games. After retiring as a player, he was a coach.

Source: Japan Baseball Daily

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