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Shinya Miyamoto

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Shinya Miyamoto (宮本 慎也)

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[edit] Biographical Information

In elementary school, Shinya Miyamoto was coached by Yoshio Yoshida. In high school, he was on the winning club in the 1987 summer Koshien. After college, he played in the industrial leagues for Prince Hotels. In 1994, he was picked in the second round of the NPB draft by the Yakult Swallows. Joining Yakult in '95, he hit .220/.304/.260, used primarily as a defensive sub for 2B Katsuyuki Dobashi. In the 1995 Japan Series, he played in all five games for the winning Swallows team, only batting twice. In 1996, Miyamoto hit .273/.336/.336, replacing Takahiro Ikeyama as the regular shortstop. As the main starter in '97, he batted .282/.340/.344 and stole 16 bases in 21 tries and won his first Gold Glove at short. He hit .313/.353/.438 in Yakult's win in the 1997 Japan Series. He slipped to .258/.308/.299 in '98.

In 1999, the 28-year-old shortstop batted only .248/.285/.285 but led the Central League with 45 sacrifice bunts and won his second Gold Glove. He picked up a third Gold Glove in 2000 and produced at a .300/.346/.387 clip, stealing 13 in 18 tries. Surprisingly, he led the league with 10 intentional walks that year.

Shinya set a record in 2001 by laying down 67 sacrifice bunts successfully, a new NPB mark, breaking Masahiro Kawai's 10-year-old record by one. He hit .270/.317/.308 and won his fourth Gold Glove. In the 2001 Japan Series, he dazzled at .474/.474/.526 with 5 RBI in 5 games to win his third title in NPB. Miyamoto made his first CL All-Star team in '02; that year, he batted .291/.309/.373 with only 9 walks in 519 plate appearances. He earned his fifth Gold Glove and led the league with 40 sacrifice bunts. 2003 was more of the same - the most sacrifice bunts (50), a Gold Glove (#6), his second All-Star selection, 11 for 14 in steals, a .284/.336/.363 line, but with 29 more walks than the prior year. He led the CL with 643 plate appearances. In the 2003 Asian Championship, Miyamoto won MVP honors, leading Japan to Gold and a spot in the Olympics the next year.

Miyamoto was the captain of Japan's team in the 2004 Olympics, guiding them to a bronze medal and hitting .500. He batted .301/.349/.436 in 2004 with a career-high 11 homers despite missing time due to a calf injury and due to the Olympics. Hirokazu Ibata broke his hold on the Gold Glove at short in the Central League. In '05, Shinya put up a .265/.312/.346 line at age 34. With teammate Atsuya Furuta becoming the club's manager, Furuta stepped down as the head of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association and Miyamoto replaced him as players' chief of the union.

Picked to represent Japan in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, he went 2 for 3 with a double, run and two RBI in three games as the backup to Munenori Kawasaki, having the top average on the champion Japanese team. He reinjured his calf on June 7 after being hit by a pitch and was out for two months. In the 2006 season, he hit .304/.337/.374 despite his injury troubles and age. Miyamoto batted .300/.338/.384 in 2007 to remain stable and finish 10th in the CL in average. He made his third All-Star team.

Miyamoto was 0 for 2 with a run in the 2007 Asian Championship. In the 2008 Olympics, he was 1 for 4 as a backup 3B to Shuichi Murata; he was also captain of the Japanese team. For the 2008 season, Shinya hit .308/.354/.355 to just miss the top 10 in average. He was 5th with 27 sacrifice hits. He made his fourth career All-Star team. On June 15, he reached 1,500 hits with one off Ryan Glynn. Miyamoto batted .294/.320/.389 with a career-high 26 doubles in 2009. He was 8th in the CL in average (between Kazuhiro Wada and Akihiro Higashide) and tied Aaron Guiel and Atsushi Fujii for 8th in doubles. He made his 5th All-Star team. He also won the Gold Glove for the 7th time (the first time at third base).

Miyamoto fell to .276/.319/.357 in 2010 and was 6th in the league with 18 sacrifice hits. He won another Gold Glove at the hot corner. In 2011, he hit .302/.333/.354 with 17 strikeouts in 474 at-bats even though offensive levels fell across NPB with a new pitcher-friendly ball. He was 3rd in the league in average (behind Hisayoshi Chono and Matt Murton), 10th in OBP, 10th in hits (143) and tied for 7th in sacrifice hits (19). He fielded .997, a CL record at third base, and became the oldest Gold Glove winner in NPB annals. He became only the 4th CL player to hit .300 the year he turned 41. He won the Best Nine at third base, the oldest player to win that honor in the CL, even though he had never won it before.

On May 4, Miyamoto became the 40th NPB player to reach 2,000 hits, earning him a spot in the meikyukai. He got #2,000 off Yuya Fukui, the oldest player (at age 41 years, 8 months) to get his 2,000th NPB hit, breaking Hiromitsu Ochiai's record (he held the record for a year and three days before Motonobu Tanishige passed him). Oddly, the 39th NPB player to get 2,000 hits (Atsunori Inaba) had reached that level just 6 days prior and had taken the same number of games as Miyamoto (1,976). They had also been teammates on Yakult for a number of years.

Sources include Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland, Worldbaseballclassic.com, Sergei Borisov's website, IBAF site, 2008 Olympics

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