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Manabu Kitabeppu

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Manabu Kitabeppu

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 187 lb.

Manabu Kitabeppu was the first-round draft pick of the Hiroshima Carp in 1975. He struggled his first couple seasons, then went 17-11 with a 3.58 ERA in making his first All-Star team in 1979. It was the first of five consecutive All-Star picks for Kitabeppu, who helped the team to a Japan Series title in 1980.

In 1982 Kitabeppu went 20-8 with a 2.43 ERA, clearly his best year to that point. He led the Central League with 267.3 innings, won the most games on the mound and was fourth in ERA. He won his first Sawamura Award that season and also was named to the Best Nine.

His streak of All-Star selections ended in 1984 though he continued to pitch well in '84 and '85. In 1986 Kitabeppu had his best season, going 18-4 with a 2.43 ERA. He led the circuit once again in victories, won his only ERA crown, led in complete games (17) and shutouts (4), won his only Gold Glove and in addition to the Best Nine and Sawamura, won his only MVP award as the Carp returned to the Japan Series, but failed to win.

Kitabeppu again was an All-Star in '88 but posted losing records from '87 through '89, once with an ERA of 5.48. The former star allowed the most runs in 1988 (87) and the most homers (22). The next season he again surrendered the most gopher balls, 22 again (tied with Hiroshi Nagatomi, Takashi Nishimoto and Kazuhiko Endo). In 1989 he was in the minor leagues for the first time in his career.

He emerged resurgent from his trials and after a decent season in '90, made his 7th All-Star team in 1992; in 1991 he went 11-4 with a 3.38 ERA. The next year he won 14 in 22 decisions, with a 2.58 ERA; it was his lowest ERA and most victories since his MVP season of '86. The Carp made their third Japan Series of the Kitabeppu era, but lost to the Seibu Lions. Still just 34, Kitabeppu reached 200 career wins.

It was his last good season - he would pitch 24 more games, going 9-9, with ERAs over 5 each time, before retiring. His career line with Hiroshima was 213-141 with a 3.67 ERA.

Since Kitabeppu, only one pitcher in Nippon Pro Baseball (Kimiyasu Kudoh) has reached 200 victories. Kitabeppu ranks 17th all-time in wins, 20th in innings (3,113), 26th in strikeouts (1,757), 9th in hits allowed (3,225) and 4th in homers surrendered (380, the Central League record).

After retiring, Kitabeppu became an announcer and then the pitching coach for the Carp. In 2012, he was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame; Carp teammate Tsunemi Tsuda was the other player chosen that year.

Source: japanbaseballdaily.com

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