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Masaru Uno

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Masaru Uno (Uyan)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 165 lb.

Masaru Uno was a three-time Best Nine selection. Primarily a shortstop, Uno did not fit the prototype for the position, noted for his power.

Uno was a third-round pick of the Chunichi Dragons in 1976. He played two games but did not bat in 1977. He hit .208/.296/.438 in 26 games in 1978. Becoming a starter in 1979, Uno batted .265/.318/.415. In 1980, his batting line fell to .245/.292/.387.

Masaru improved to .282/.324/.513 with 25 homers in 1981. He hit 30 long balls and produced at a .262/.310/.498 rate in 1982. He led the Central League's shortstops in errors for the fourth straight year; he would lead seven different times during his career. He made his first Best Nine as the top shortstop in the CL. He was 4 for 20 with five walks and a double in the 1982 Japan Series, which Chunichi lost to the Seibu Lions.

In 1983, Uno hit .269/.342/.501 with 27 dingers. He led the CL with 97 strikeouts. He batted .253/.338/.513 with 37 home runs (15 in August alone) and 117 strikeouts in 1984. During August, he had a 10-game RBI streak. In October, he was walked in ten consecutive plate appearances by the Hanshin Tigers; he was locked in a race for the home run title with Hanshin's Masayuki Kakefu. He led the league in both homers (tied with Kakefu) and whiffs for the year. He won his second Best Nine pick at short.

The Chunichi infielder hit .274/.349/.570 with 41 home runs, 82 runs and 91 RBI in 1985. He set a new NPB record for homers by a shortstop but was 13 behind CL leader Randy Bass, who had one of the best seasons in league annals. Uno didn't even win Best Nine honors for his great season - those went to Yutaka Takagi, a better contact hitter and base runner.

In 1986, Uno's production fell drastically as he hit only 10 homers and batted .211/.277/.341 in 83 games. He played third base primarily that year but returned to short the next season.Back in form in 1987, Uno cracked 30 homers and hit .270/.352/.503. After many years of success, he finally made the CL All-Star team.

The Chiba native fell to 18 homers and a .277/.349/.454 batting line in 1988, moving to second base to make room for Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, who would go on to a great career. He won the Fighting Spirit Award as the MVP of the losing team in the 1988 Japan Series. He had gone just 3 for 17 with a walk but two of his three hits were homers and he led his team with five RBI. Chunichi lost the Dragons in a repeat of 1982. He hit .304/.360/.526 with 25 dingers in 1989 for his lone .300 season. He was 6th in the CL in batting average. He was chosen as an All-Star for the second time.

In 1990, Masaru launched 27 home runs while batting .289/.361/.515. He hit .238/.309/.477 with 26 home runs in 1991. It was his 9th and final season with 25+ homers. In 1992, his last year as a regular, the veteran batted .239/.323/.367.

Moving to the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1993, the 35-year-old fell under the Mendoza Line at .181/.251/.265 in 59 games. Surprisingly, he made the Pacific League All-Star squad. He was 8 for 33 with 4 walks, a double and a homer in 1994.

Overall, Uno batted .262/.329/.470 in 1,802 games in NPB. He set Chunichi franchise records of 338 home runs and 1,239 strikeouts. After his playing career ended, he covered baseball action on both the television and radio.

Through 2009, he is tied with Atsushi Nagaike for 27th in NPB history in home runs and 17th in strikeouts.

Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland

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