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Nobuhiro Matsuda

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Nobuhiro Matsuda (松田 宣浩)

[edit] Biographical Information

Nobuhiro Matsuda has played in Nippon Pro Baseball. His twin brother has pitched in Japan's industrial leagues.

Matsuda hit 60 home runs in high school. In college, he led his league in home runs once. He starred for Japan in the 2002 World University Championship, hitting .478/.520/.826 with 5 runs and 6 RBI in 7 games; he played error-free defense at third base. He was 3 for 4 with a double, run and a RBI in their 5-0 win over Taiwan in the Bronze Medal Game. In the 2005 draft, the Softbank Hawks picked him in the first round.

Softbank installed Matsuda as their starting third baseman as a rookie, replacing the departed Tony Batista. The Shiga native struggled at .211/.258/.324 in 62 games, fanning in 53 of 204 at-bats. He fielded .937. His first hit was a double off Kazuyuki Hoashi on March 29. On April 22, he got his first homer, taking Toyoji Matsumura deep. He was sent down to the minors and finished the season there, with Jolbert Cabrera taking over at third for the Hawks. In 2007, #5 was called up after starring in the minors and he batted .254/.321/.451.

In 2008, Nobuhiro improved to .279/.322/.468 with 33 doubles, 10 triples and 17 home runs. One negative was 28 walks to 115 whiffs in 595 plate appearances. He got the only PL homer that Hisashi Iwakuma allowed in a great season. Matsuda finished second in the Pacific League in at-bats (551, trailing Yasuyuki Kataoka), third in doubles (behind Jose Fernandez and Toshiaki Imae), 9th in hits (154), first in triples, 6th in strikeouts (115) and 5th in total bases (258, between Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Fernandez).

Matsuda again was productive (.281/.315/.538) in 2009 but missed moth of the season due to injuries, playing just 46 games. He broke his finger while sliding on opening day then fractured his wrist when he was hit by a Yuki Karakawa pitch. He hit .255/.284/.450 with 19 home runs, 71 RBI and 17 steals in 20 tries in 2010; the low OBP was in part due to just 14 walks in 458 plate appearances. The free-swinging slugger missed six weeks with a broken wrist. He was 9th in the Pacific League in steals and tied for 6th with six sacrifice flies.

Matsuda had a 20-20 season in 2011, batting .282/.344/.510 with 31 doubles, 7 triples, 25 home runs, 77 runs, 83 RBI and 27 stolen bases (caught 9 times). He walked more often, with 41 free passes. He made his first All-Star team and finished among the league leaders in batting average (10th), doubles (3rd behind Kazuo Matsui and Sho Nakata), runs (6th between Hiroyuki Nakajima and Yoshio Itoi), hits (148, 9th between Yoshifumi Okada and Chung-Shou Yang), home runs (2nd, 23 behind leader Takeya Nakamura and 7 ahead of the next players on the list, Aarom Baldiris and Nakata), total bases (268, 47 behind leader Nakamura), triples (tied for the lead with Yuichi Honda, Tomotaka Sakaguchi and Munenori Kawasaki), RBI (5th between Takahiro Okada and Fernandez), strikeouts (128, 4th between Nakata and Seung-yeop Lee), times hit by pitch (10, 8th), walks (10th), steals (8th), OBP (10th) and slugging (2nd, trailing only Nakamura). In the 2011 Japan Series, he helped Softbank win its first title, driving in the first runs in games 1 and 3.

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