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Tatsuhiko Kinjoh

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Tatsuhiko Kinjoh (also transliterated as Tatsuhiko Kinjo and Tatsuhiko Kinjou)

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[edit] Biographical Information

The son of Akiyo Kinjoh, Tatsuhiko Kinjoh began his professional career as a pitcher. In high school, he had once outdueled Kazuo Matsui (also then a pitcher). In 1998, he was drafted out of the industrial leagues' Sumitomo Kinzoku as a pitcher but was converted to the infield and begun to switch-hit. He went 2 for 11 for the Yokohama Bay Stars in 1999.

In 2000, Kinjoh had one of the better rookie seasons in NPB history, becoming the only true rookie to win a batting title. After regulars Tatsuya Shindo and Takuro Ishii were injured, he stepped in and hit .346/.402/.425 as the regular third baseman. He won Central League Rookie of the Year honors. He hit .370 in an exhibition series against MLB All-Stars that year.

Tatsuhiko had a significant sophomore slump, dropping to .271/.348/.337 in an unproductive second season. As he did not hit with power or steal effectively, he needed lots of singles to be effective and he did not get them. He battled weight problems that year. He did have a team record 43 sacrifice hits that season. In 2002, Kinjoh slipped even further to .170/.225/.214 as he went on a crash diet to drop the pounds at management's request.

Returning to a healthier weight, Kinjoh had a fine rebound year in 2003 by hitting .302/.344/.441, cutting his walk rate in exchange for swinging for the fences. After hitting six homers in his first 1,134 AB in NPB, he hammered 16 in 549 AB that year. By this time, he also had been moved to the outfield. On August 13, he became the first BayStar player to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game, taking Keiichi Yabu and Jeff Williams deep. Three days later, he did it again, becoming the first CL player to achieve that feat. He made his first All-Star team that year.

In 2004, Kinjo batted .302/.349/.422, usually hitting second or sixth and playing both center and right. He improved in '05 to a .324/.361/.439 line, made the All-Star team and was MVP of the first All-Star game that year. With Hitoshi Tamura becoming the center fielder, Kinjoh moved to right and third in the batting order. He won a Gold Glove that year. He was fourth in the league in average and second in hits (191, behind Norichika Aoki).

Tatsuhiko was picked to play for Japan in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and went 1 for 5 with a run and a walk as a bench player on the champion club. He hit .268/.333/.375 for the 2006 BayStars, obviously very poor production for a #3 hitter.

In 2007, Kinjo batted .284/.349/.427 with 14 home runs and 27 doubles, 10th in the Central League.

Sources: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland, Sergei Borisov's NPB site, Worldbaseballclassic.com

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