Naoyuki Omura (大村 直之)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 8", Weight 158 lb.
- High School Ikuei High School
Naoyuki Omura played 17 seasons in Nippon Pro Baseball and was a five-time All-Star.
Omura was on the team that won the 1993 summer Koshien. The Kintetsu Buffaloes took him in the third round that year. He led the minor Western League in steals in 1994. He was called up to the parent club late in the year and got into six games but did not bat. In his debut, he was a defensive sub for Hitoshi Nakane. He got his first NPB hit April 18, 1995, off Takayuki Kawamoto, and got his first home run off Hideki Irabu in mid-July. He hit .270/.316/.355 with 3 home runs in 110 games for the summer, with 15 steals in 25 tries. He was third in the Pacific League in times caught stealing, behind Arihito Muramatsu and Kenji Morozumi. That year, his parents' home was destroyed in the Kobe earthquake and he paid for it to be rebuilt.
In 1996, the youngster eked out a .232/.299/.309 line in 78 games and was just 5-for-9 in steal attempts. He and Nakane were about equally used as Kintetsu's 3rd and 4th outfielders behind Tuffy Rhodes and Takahisa Suzuki. During 1997, he batted .281/.335/.373 with 15 steals in 20 tries, now starting alongside Rhodes and Suzuki.
He got married in 1998 and continued to establish himself on the diamond as well (.310/.359/.397, 23 SB, 7 CS, 7 3B). He made his first PL All-Star team and then finished among the PL leaders in hits (162, 4th behind Ichiro Suzuki, Kazuo Matsui and Phil Clark), triples (2nd, one behind Makoto Kosaka), steals (4th, trailing Matsui, Kosaka and Hiroshi Narahara) and average (6th, between Matsui and Atsushi Kataoka). He won a Gold Glove, joining Susumu Otomo and Ichiro as the PL winners, and also made the Best Nine alongside Ichiro and Hiroshi Shibahara.
Omura struggled in 1999 at the plate (.259/.286/.322) and on the basepaths (7 SB, 9 CS), though he did field well. Despite not making the top 10 in steals, he tied Tsutomu Ishimoto for third in times caught stealing. In 2000, the Nishinomiya native produced at a .254/.299/.352 clip and again failed to steal in over half his attempts (7 SB, 8 CS). Despite his poor production in 1999-2000, he remained a starter for the Buffaloes. Their faith in him paid off in 2001 when he rebounded to bat .271/.318/.417 with 34 doubles, 16 home runs and 82 runs. He tied Frank Bolick for fifth in the league in two-baggers and tied Koichi Isobe and Kazuya Fukuura for 9th in runs. He was 6 for 21 with a walk, two runs and a RBI in the 2001 Japan Series, as the Buffaloes fell to the Yakult Swallows.
Naoyuki made his second All-Star team in 2002, though his offensive numbers were down slightly (.271/.307/.407, 31 2B, 11 HR). He tied for 8th in the league in doubles and tied Kensuke Tanaka and Yukio Tanaka for 4th with four triples. He had a career year in 2003, with a batting line of .300/.354/.475, 34 doubles, 7 triples, 16 home runs, 94 runs and 27 steals in 37 tries (more steals than his prior four seasons combined). He did not come close to the top 10 in average as a .324 mark was needed for a batter-friendly season. He did finish among the leaders in numerous departments, though: 6th in hits (165, between Fukuura and Kazuhiro Wada), tied for 6th in doubles (with Wada and Michihiro Ogasawara), tied for 5th in runs (with Tuffy Rhodes), tied for 5th in times hit by pitch (10, tied with Julio Zuleta), tied for 3rd with Kosaka for triples, tied for fourth in steals (again with Kosaka), 4th in times caught stealing and second in sacrifice flies (8, two shy of Pedro Valdés). He joined Muramatsu and Shibahara as the Gold Glove outfielders. He also became the 213th NPB player to 2,000 hits when he got one off Naoyuki Shimizu on June 21.
Omura hit .303/.356/.373 with 74 runs and 22 steals in 32 attempts in 2004. He missed the top 10 in average by .006 this time and did make the top 10 in hits (151, 6th, between Hirotoshi Kitagawa and Tsuyoshi Shinjo), hit-by-pitch (11, tied for 5th with Angel Echevarria and Hiroyuki Nakajima), steals (tied for second with Hiroyuki Shibata, 20 behind Munenori Kawasaki) and caught stealing (2nd, 4 behind Kawasaki). His home run total fell from 16 in 2003 to 2.
A free agent, he moved on to the Softbank Hawks. He hit .270/.312/.367 with 31 steals as their leadoff man and center fielder in 2005. He won his third and final Gold Glove (joining Shinjo and Saburo Omura as the PL outfielders picked). He was second in the PL in at-bats (529, 30 behind Tony Batista), tied for 7th in hits (143, even with [[Toshiaki Imae]), tied for 5th in sacrifice hits (17, even with Masahiro Abe), was third in times plunked (12, behind Kenji Johjima and Zuleta) and was second in steals (10 shy of leader Tsuyoshi Nishioka).
In 2006, the veteran produced at a .294/.345/.370 rate. On August 20, he became the 89th player to 1,500 hits, when he got a hit off Chikara Onodera. He led the 2006 PL in at-bats (562), plate appearances and hits (165, 10 more than Ogasawara), tied Alex Cabrera for 5th in runs (74), was 10th in total bases (208), was second in caught stealing (14, 3 behind Nishioka) and was 5th in steals (22, between Kawasaki and Kensuke Tanaka). He made his third All-Star team.
Omura hit .319/.344/.369 in 2007 and made his fourth All-Star team. He was 6th in the PL in hits (145, between Nishioka and Greg LaRocca), tied for 7th in times hit by pitch (10, even with Takeshi Yamasaki) and third in average (behind Atsunori Inaba and Rick Short). Nine years after his first Best Nine, he was picked for a second one, joining Inaba and Hichori Morimoto in the outfield. He saw a decrease in playing time in 2008 though he remained a one-dimensional contact threat (.302/.337/.363). Had he qualified, he would have tied G.G. Sato for 8th in the league in average.
Softbank dealt him back to Kintetsu in return for Muramatsu after the 2008 campaign. He hit .291/.326/.341 as a starter for the 2009 Buffaloes, with no triples or homers. He only stole 5 bases in 17 tries. He tied for 7th in the PL in sacrifice flies (5) and tied Nakajima and Yasuyuki Kataoka for second in times caught stealing (5 behind Kawasaki, who stole 39 more bases). He was 0 for 2 in 2010 to end his career.
Omura hit .284/.328/.379 in 1,789 NPB games, with 822 runs and 568 RBI. He had 299 doubles, 45 triples, 78 home runs, 365 walks and 203 steals in 310 tries. Through 2011, he was among the career NPB leaders in games played (tied for 75th with Kazuhiko Kondo), at-bats (6,566, tied with Noboru Aota and Ogasawara), runs (73rd, between Toshihisa Nishi and Toru Ogawa), hits (1,865, 49th, between Tatsuhiko Kimata and Yoshio Yoshida), doubles (60th, between Wada and Aota), triples (tied for 45th with Tadashi Hatta and Wally Yonamine), steals (tied for 67th with Tokuzo Harada), sacrifice hits (194, 33rd, between Morimichi Takagi and Toru Hosokawa), hit-by-pitch (81, 36th) and total bases (2,488, 89th, between Kinji Shimatani and Yoshida).