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Ryohei Hasegawa

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Ryohei Hasegawa (Chiisana Dai Toshu {The Little Great Pitcher})

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 6", Weight 123 lb.

After one year in the industrial leagues, Ryohei Hasegawa tried out for the new Hiroshima Carp in 1950 and dazzled with his shuuto; he also threw a slider and sinker. Using both a submarine and sidearm delivery, Hasegawa became arguably the top performer in Hiroshima history. He went 15-27, 3.87 his first year in a rocky campaign that saw him lead the Central League in wild pitches (5), losses and runs allowed (190). The runs allowed mark stands as a record and the 27 losses is tied for the record. Additionally, on November 9, he allowed 14 runs in a game, a league record. He got little run support and the rest of the staff was worse at 26-69.

With a winning percentage under .300 for Hiroshima meaning elimination of the franchise in 1951, the club's staff other than Ryohei was 15-50 (.231) but his 17-14, 3.48 record saved the club's existance and earned him an All-Star selection. Tired of pitching for such a pathetic team, he did not sign his 1952 contract and tried to jump to the Chunichi Dragons closer to his home. The commissioner of NPB banned the move and returned Hasegawa to Hiroshima, where he was 11-24 with a 3.32 ERA in '52. The club again staved off contraction based on a sub-.300 season, which instead hit the Shochiku Robins.

In 1953, the short pitcher improved to 20-10, 2.66 and was seventh in the Central League in ERA. He made the All-Star squad; the Carp were 33-65 when another pitcher got the decision. 1954 marked a 4th-place finish in ERA with a 18-17, 1.82 year and he led the league with 28 complete games.

Hasegawa went 30-17 in 1955, with a 1.69 ERA; he threw 387 1/3 innings in 54 games and led the league in both wins and hits allowed (305). Amazingly, Masaichi Kaneda threw more innings (400) and beat Ryohei's 32 complete games. He was 4th in the CL in ERA and struck out a career-best 207. Hiroshima went 28-53 when another pitcher got the decision. In '56, the 26-year-old pitcher had a 22-22, 2.15 season and was 10th in ERA, making his 4th straight All-Star team. He won almost half of the Carp's games again as the rest of the staff went 23-60. 1957 marked Hasegawa's second straight year with 20 wins and losses at 21-23, 2.51. In 1958, he made his 7th and last All-Star team (and sixth in a row) with a 9-11, 2.12 year. He hurt his shoulder that year and spent the rest of his career being used more frequently as a relief pitcher.

In 1959, Hasegawa went 12-11 with a 2.15 ERA and he was third in ERA with a 13-15, 2.18 season in '60 (trailing Noboru Akiyama and Ritsuo Horimoto). 1961 marked a significant decline as he went 1-7, 3.63, then followed with years of 6-7, 3.45 and 2-3, 3.78 before retiring with a career mark of 197-208, 2.65 for a slew of bad Hiroshima clubs. Through 2005, he ranks among NPB's all-time leaders in wins (24th), losses (7th), complete games (213, 12th), shutouts (38, 23rd), games (621, 25th), innings (3,376 1/3, 13th), walks (1,026, 16th), hits allowed (2,977, 19th) and ERA (2.65, 19th).

Normalizing for the bad support he got, Japanese baseball expert Jim Albright lists him at 52.6 wins above team and 23.6 wins above the average NPB pitcher of his era (the difference is explained by how bad Hiroshima's other pitchers were - it just wasn't a putrid offense).

After retiring, Hasegawa coached for Chunichi and Hiroshima and became the Carp's manager on July 24, 1965. He guided them to a 135-199-16 recordand was replaced in 1968 by Rikuo Nemoto. After leaving his managerial role, he was a baseball commentator for Chugoku Broadcasting. In 2001, the Special Committee elected him into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. He died five years later of cardiac arrest after being hospitalized for pneumonia.

Main source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland. Albright's WAT analysis was done at personal request.

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