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Michiyo Arito

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Michiyo Arito

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 1", Weight 180 lb.

Michiyo Arito was named his league's top third baseman 10 times in 18 seasons with the Lotte Orions.

Arito was Kochi High School's cleanup hitter for the 1964 National High School Baseball Championship but was hit by a pitch in game one and sat out the remainder of the tourney, which his school went on to win. Lotte picked him in the first round in 1968.

Arito wasted no time in showing he belonged in NPB, hitting .285/.354/.509 with 21 homers in 369 AB as a rookie in 1969. He led the Pacific League with 111 strikeouts but was named to the Best Nine as the loop's top third baseman and was named Rookie of the Year; the Central League rookie of the year would also go on to stardom - Koichi Tabuchi - between the two, they hit over 800 homers in NPB.

Michiyo batted .306/.380/.542 with 27 steals in 39 tries, 88 runs and 25 home runs in 1970. He made his first All-Star team and again was chosen to the Best Nine. He tied Masaru Tomita and Toru Ogawa for the league lead with five triples and was seven runs behind leader Tomita. He finished sixth in average behind Isao Harimoto, Katsuo Osugi, George Altman, Art Lopez and Atsushi Nagaike, all of them either outfielders or first baseman. He hit just .190/.292/.190 in the 1970 Japan Series as Lotte fell to the Yomiuri Giants.

In 1971, the Kochi native had a batting line of .285/.356/.499 with 27 home runs and 85 runs scored. He made the All-Star team and Best Nine. He repeated at .285 in 1972 while raising his OBP to .366 and his slugging to .530. He smashed a career-high 29 home runs, scored 88 times and stole a career-best 31 bases in 37 attempts. He led the league with 85 strikeouts. He also took the Diamond Glove Award at the hot corner in the first year that honor was given out.

Arito hit .300/.370/.499 with 20 home runs and 83 runs in 1973. He finished 9th in the league in average. He was an All-Star, won the Diamond Glove Award and made the Best Nine. He fell to .263 with a .329 OBP in 1974 but still slugged .501, with 25 home runs and 22 steals while only being thrown out running four times. He won the Diamond Glove, was an All-Star and made the Best Nine. In the 1974 Japan Series, he hit .429/.520/.714 with two home runs, two steals and five runs in six games as the Orions won their lone title. Sumio Hirata beat him out for Japan Series MVP honors.

In 1975, the 27-year-old batted .260/.327/.468 with another 20-20 season, 21 homers and 22 steals. He won his fourth and final Diamond Glove, made his sixth straight All-Star team and was chosen to the Best Nine for the 7th time in a row. Michiyo had a batting line of .266/.330/.476 with 25 long balls in 1976. He was an All-Star again; for the first time, he failed to take Best Nine honors as Mitsuru Fujiwara got the nod instead.

Arito rebounded to .329/.388/.517 in 1977 and stole 26 bases in 33 tries. He hit 16 home runs, the only time in his first 12 seasons he failed to crack 20. On the other hand, he won his lone batting title, beating out Kinji Shimatani by .004. He made his 8th All-Star team and won Best Nine honors.

In 1978, he finished his first decade with Lotte by batting .279/.339/.461 with 81 runs, 20 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts. He was an All-Star, but Shimatani took home the most Best Nine votes. Arito improved to .287/.351/.531 with 90 runs and 29 home runs in 1979 and made his 10th straight All-Star team. He again lost out the Best Nine to Shimatani.

Arito's batting line read .309/.385/.543 in 1980. For the last time, he stole 20+ bases (27 in 33 tries) and hit 20 homers (22 to be exact). He just missed the top ten in average as Tommy Cruz edged him out, also at .309. He made the Best Nine.

Michiyo hit .285/.358/.454 with 15 homers and 13 steals in 14 tries in 1981 and made his 12th All-Star team in the PL. Arito made his 10th Best Ten at third base; he set a new record for taking the honor at the hot corner in the PL as Futoshi Nakanishi had the old mark of seven. As of 2010, no one has surpassed him. In the CL, Shigeo Nagashima took home the award sixteen times in a row. He batted .301/.360/.470 with 16 circuit clouts in 1982, when he was chosen as an All-Star for the last time. He finished 7th in the circuit in average.

The Orions veteran faded to .265/.311/.434 with 14 homers and 10 steals in 11 tries in 1983 and .244/.297/.372 with 11 home runs in 1984 while falling under double-digit steals for the first time since his rookie season 15 years prior.

Arito had his 17th straight double-digit home run season when he hit 10 in 1985 with a .250/.320/.389 line. He slumped to .182/.223/.273 with two home runs in 60 games as a sub in 1986 and retired.

Overall, Arito had hit .282/.348/.428 with 1,171 runs, 1,061 RBI, 328 doubles, 348 home runs and 282 steals in 374 tries in 2,063 games in NPB. With 2,057 hits, he made the meikyukai. Through 2009, he ranked 25th in NPB history in home runs (between Hideji Kato and Masayuki Kakefu), 27th in RBI (between Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Tomonori Maeda), 18th in runs (between Kazuyoshi Tatsunami and Kihachi Enomoto), 21st in total bases (3,521, between Makoto Matsubara and Tuffy Rhodes), tied for 20th in strikeouts (tied with Takuro Ishii), 15th in double play grounders (205), 27th in at-bats (7,303) and 29th in plate appearances (8,149). He was two steals shy of making the top 30.

Arito was appointed manager of the Orions in 1987, replacing Kazuhisa Inao. He took a harder, more traditional approach than Inao, creating conflict with some of Lotte's bigger stars. He refused to play Leron Lee (Lee has described their time together on Lotte as players as one of rivals, not of teammates) and had Lotte deal away free-spirited superstar Hiromitsu Ochiai. The club struggled under Michiyo's reign, going 51-65-14 and finishing fifth of six clubs in 1987, 54-74-2 and last place in 1988 and 48-74-8 and last place in 1989, causing him to be axed in favor of Masaichi Kaneda.

Arito later was a commentator for TBS.

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