Akihito Fujii

From BR Bullpen


Akihito Fujii (藤井 彰人)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 7", Weight 171 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Akihito Fujii made his first All-Star team in Nippon Pro Baseball at age 37.

Amateur Career[edit]

Fujii won two league MVPs while in college. In the 1997 Intercontinental Cup, he started for the Japanese national team ahead of Shinnosuke Abe, who was bound for a much better career. Fujii went 6 for 26 with a walk, double, four runs and a RBI in 9 games in the Cup and played solid defense (0 errors, 2 caught stealing in 5 tries). He went 1 for 4 with a double and a run in the 11-2 upset of Cuba in the Gold Medal game, ending Cuba's 15-year run of Gold Medals in international competitions. He hit .258/.343/.452 with nine RBI in nine games in the 1998 Baseball World Cup. He handled 96 chances error-free and again excelled at throwing out runners (who were 1-for-4 in steals against him). He tied Tomohiro Nioka and Taakaki Sato for the team homer lead (2) and was one RBI behind team leader Abe (who was used in right field with Fujii being behind the dish). He was the Kintetsu Buffaloes' second-round pick in 1998 NPB draft, following his college battery mate Shinji Udaka.


Fujii made his NPB debut as a defensive sub. In his first at-bat, he struck out against Yoshihisa Kondo. His first hit was a double off Fumiya Nishiguchi in May but he did not get his first RBI until October against Junichiro Muto. He was 5 for 19 with a double, triple, four runs, RBI and two walks in 21 games as a rookie in 1999. He backed up Koichi Isobe in 2000, going 3 for 11 with a double, four walks and three runs and was only 1 for 2 with a walk in 2001. In 2002, he was their #2 catcher, backing up Tetsuya Matoyama and hitting .224/.250/.294 in 89 plate appearances.

Backing up Matoyama again in 2003, he batted .193/.233/.259 in 190 plate appearances over 73 games. He got his first homer, taking Shunsuke Watanabe yard. Splitting time with Matoyama again in 2004, he produced at a .241/.287/.282 clip in 249 plate appearances over 86 games. When Kintetsu merged with the Orix BlueWave, Fujii was left off the protected list as the merged Orix Buffaloes opted to retain BlueWave backstop Takeshi Hidaka. He instead went to the expansion Rakuten Golden Eagles.


Rakuten's starter their first season in 2005, he hit .232/.264/.276 in no homers over 271 plate appearances and 113 contests. He remained the starter in 2006, batting .236/.305/.310 in 342 plate appearances and 105 games, the most action he would see in his first 14 years. He was involved in a home-plate collision which sidelined Hitoshi Tamura most of the year. In 2007, he lost his starting job to Motohiro Shima, hitting .235/.280/.286 in 110 plate appearances as a backup again. He and Shima shared the catching fairly evenly in 2008 and he hit .263/.329/.300 in 223 plate appearances over 90 games. Fujii remained a backup for Rakuten for two years, falling further behind Shima on the depth chart; he was 23 for 71 with a double, homer and two walks in 2009 and 4 for 18 with a double and a walk in 2010.


The Hanshin Tigers signed Fujii for 2011 with the intention of backing up Kenji Johjima but Johjima's production collapsed and Fujii wound up the starter; he hit .223/.270/.287 in 298 plate appearances over 99 games, with 19 runs and 15 RBI. He remained the most-used Hanshin backstop in 2012 (.248/.285/.286, 9 R, 10 RBI in 228 PA and 81 G). In 2013, he fielded .996 as the Tigers' starter though his offense remained sub-par (.258/.317/.292, 21 R, 24 RBI in 343 PA and 112 G). Hidaka, who he had been bypassed for 8 years earlier, was now one of his backups. In his 15th season, he made the Central League All-Star team, his first All-Star nod, backing up Abe and Motonobu Tanishige. He went 1 for 3 in the three All-Star Games, playing Game 3. He oddly also got to be the pitcher for Tony Blanco in the Home Run Derby; Blanco wound up winning.