Akinobu Mayumi (Joe)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 165 lb.
- High School Yanagawa Shogyo High School
Akinobu Mayumi was a 9-time All-Star in Nippon Pro Baseball who could hit for power, hit for contact and steal bases.
Mayumi played for Den Den Kyushu in the industrial leagues. In 1972, he was drafted by the Taiheiyo Club Lions. They assigned him to their US-based farm club, the Lodi Lions. Americans had a hard time pronouncing his name, so one of his Japanese coaches nicknamed him Joe based off a comic strip "Ashita no Joe." Mostly used at third base, the youngster only hit .183/.266/.197 in 25 games for Lodi. He did not bat in two games for Taiheiyo that year. In 1974, Mayumi was 2 for 10 with 4 runs in 23 games. He was a regularly used bench player in 1975 and started to show promise with a batting line of .311/.364/.393 in 68 plate appearances. He was just 4 for 36 with a walk, a double and no steals in 1976 and his career did not look so promising.
As a new starter
In 1977, Akinobu won a regular role and hit .261/.285/.366 with 21 steals in 29 tries. Mayumi became a star in 1978; he batted .280/.314/.383 and swiped 34 bases in 39 tries. He made the Pacific League All-Star team and made the Best Nine as the circuit's top shortstop.
Mayumi got his big break that off-season when he was traded with Masashi Takenouchi, Masafumi Takeda and Yoshiharu Wakana to the Hanshin Tigers for star slugger Koichi Tabuchi and Kenji Furusawa. The move was part of an attempt by Don Blasingame to make the Tigers more of a small-ball team. Mayumi became a key component as the leadoff man in the attack. He would be at the top of the Hanshin batting order from 1979-1989.
In 1979, Mayumi hit .275/.321/.391. On May 20, he hit for the cycle. He stole 20 bases but was caught 14 times and began to show some pop with 13 homers but it was not up to Tabuchi's level of production for Hanshin. Akinobu really turned it up a notch in 1980, batting .285/.343/.525 with 29 homers and 20 steals (in 25 tries). He homered leading off both parts of a doubleheader on October 12 and made the Central League All-Star team. Yoshihiko Takahashi beat him out for the Best Nine nod at shortstop.
"Joe" hit .273/.335/.408 and swiped 26 bases in 33 tries in 1981 in Japanese Baseball. The next year, the infielder batted .293/.328/.429 with 15 homers, but stole 11 bases. He was an All-Star selection in both 1981 and 1982.
Mayumi failed to make the CL All-Star squad in 1983 but had a great year nonetheless, hitting .353/.402/.569 with 23 home runs. He won the batting title by 16 points over Tsutomu Wakamatsu and made the Best Nine at second base.
In 1984, Akinobu posted a batting line of .286/.344/.549, showing a significant decline in average but popping 27 homers. He stole 15 bases in 18 tries; it would be his last time with double-digit steals as his game was now revolving more around power than speed.
Mayumi set the table for Hanshin's Japan Series-bound club in 1985, batting in front of sluggers like Akinobu Okada, Randy Bass and Masayuki Kakefu. He hit .322/.392/.600 with career highs in doubles (32), homers (34), runs (108) and RBI (84). He made his first All-Star team since 1982 and set a NPB record for homers by a leadoff man. 17 years later, Kazuo Matsui would break his mark. He led the CL in runs as well. He made the Best Nine at his third different position, this time being chosen as an outfielder. He dazzled in the 1985 Japan Series, hitting .360/.407/.760 with 4 doubles, 2 homers and 8 runs in 6 games; only Bass outperformed him as Hanshin won its first title (through 2007, they had yet to win another Series).
Mayumi hit .307/.362/.539 with 28 homers in 1986 and stole 9 bases in 10 tries. He was 7th in the CL in average and made his 6th All-Star team. In 1987, the veteran batted .270/.334/.466 with 23 homers, his 6th and last season with 20+ homers. He was again selected as an All-Star. He became the 52nd player in NPB history to sock 200 career homers.
During 1988, Mayumi's batting line was .270/.314/.412 and was picked as an All-Star for the 8th time. In a part-time role in 1989, the veteran slumped to .247/.328/.455 with 16 homers in 279 AB. It was his last season as Hanshin's regular leadoff hitter.
Mayumi hit .304/.369/.551 with 17 long balls in 247 AB in 1990, making the most of his part-time status. In 1991, Akinobu batted .267/.335/.476 with 17 homers and 61 RBI in 288 AB. He made his final All-Star team.
In 1992, Mayumi saw a further decline in playing time and hit .208/.248/.257 in 109 plate appearances. A year later, the 39/40-year-old went 14 for 63 with 2 homers. 1994 saw a rejuvenated Mayumi bat .270/.329/.413 in 65 games. He had 30 pinch-hit RBI, breaking the old NPB record by six, and also hit his second career pinch-hit grand slam.
Mayumi went 6 for 27 with 4 walks and 9 strikeouts in 1995 to end his playing career. He wanted to continue playing but recurring leg problems dissuaded teams from signing him and he retired after 23 seasons in Japan.
Mayumi hit .285/.338/.466 in 2,051 games in NPB. He had 957 runs, 1,888 hits, 266 doubles, 292 homers, 886 RBI and 200 steals (in 273 tries). He had 41 homers leading off games, second all-time in NPB to Yutaka Fukumoto's 43. He is close to the top 30 in numerous other categories (through 2008) but fails to crack the leaderboard in any area.
Mayumi was announced as the new Hanshin manager in October 2008, replacing former teammate Akinobu Okada. He went 213-206-13 from 2009 to 2011, finishing second in 2010, but was still canned. He was replaced by Yutaka Wada.
Primary Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland