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Teppei Tsuchiya

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Teppei Tsuchiya (土谷 鉄平)

[edit] Biographical Information

Teppei Tsuchiya won a Pacific League batting title in 2009.

Tsuchiya was named after a comic book character. He hit .551 with 32 homers in his high school career. He was a 5th-round pick of the Chunichi Dragons in 2000. He made his debut in Nippon Pro Baseball in 2004, going 5 for 27 with two doubles, 3 steals and 9 runs. He was used primarily as a defensive substitute and pinch-runner. In his first NPB at-bat, he had a pinch-hit single off Takeharu Kato. He only played two games and did not bat in 2005.

Feeling relatively set with an outfield of Alex Ochoa, Kosuke Fukudome and Kazuki Inoue, Chunichi sold Tsuchiya to the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Rakuten made Tsuchiya their main center fielder, replacing veteran Koichi Sekikawa. On April 22, he hit his first career homer, the only run in a 1-0 win over Fumiya Nishiguchi. One low point came when he struck out in a Nippon Pro Baseball record 9 straight plate appearances. He hit .303/.352/.396 and tied for the Pacific League lead with 7 triples in 2006 (even with Shogo Akada, Munenori Kawasaki and Tsuyoshi Nishioka). He tied Arihito Muramatsu for 9th in the league in average. He played in the 2006 Nichi-Bei Series.

Tsuchiya hit .254/.311/.364 in an off-year in 2007, though he did show more pop with 10 home runs after 2 the year before. He made the PL All-Star team. Teppei rebounded in 2008 to bat .270/.345/.403 and tied for third in the league with six triples.

In 2009, Tsuchiya was even better. He hit .327/.391/.504 with 13 steals (in 18 tries), 13 triples, 12 home runs and 84 runs. He led the PL in average, .010 ahead of Tomotaka Sakaguchi, the runner-up. He was also among the leaders in hits (162, 4th), runs (5th), triples (1st), total bases (250, 5th), OBP (tied for second with Tadahito Iguchi and Atsunori Inaba, trailing only Hiroyuki Nakajima) and slugging (7th).

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