(G.G.) (佐藤 隆彦)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 216 lb.
- School Hosei University
G.G. Sato is one of the few Japanese baseball players to have gotten his start in the US minor leagues. He developed into a star in 2007 and made Japan's 2008 Olympic team but faded fast afterwards.
Sato was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies out of college. He hit .261/.297/.464 in 37 games for the 2001 Batavia Muckdogs while making the transition to catcher, a position he had not played in college. Sato led the team in slugging percentage, edging out Ryan Howard.
In 2002, G.G. split time between Batavia (.306/.381/.500 in 20 games, again leading the team in slugging) and the GCL Phillies (.267/.343/.367 in 17 games). He was used as a DH that year. The next season, Sato produced at a .247/.313/.413 rate for the Lakewood BlueClaws as a C-DH. He had 19 passed balls in 49 games behind the plate and struck out in 90 of 312 AB but showed some good line-drive power (28 doubles in 312 AB) and speed (19 SB, 5 CS). He led Lakewood in doubles. That would be Sato's last year in the US, though.
Sato was a 7th-round draft pick of the Seibu Lions in 2004. He hit .298/.349/.491 in 45 games as a 1B/DH/PH. With Alex Cabrera manning first for Seibu, Sato had little future there, so he only played 37 games in 2005, batting .214/.254/.375.
In 2006, G.G. was moved to the outfield and was one of five players to appear in at least 20 games for Seibu in right field. He hit .248/.275/.383 and failed to stand out from the pack.
Sato became Seibu's starting right fielder in 2007 and batted .280/.351/.510 with 31 doubles and 25 home runs in a breakthrough campaign. He tied Rick Short and Tsuyoshi Nishioka for second in the Pacific League in doubles, trailing Atsunori Inaba and tied Hiroki Kokubo for fifth in circuit clouts. His 248 total bases ranked 5th in the league and he was 10th with 69 RBI. He was hit by 16 pitches, tying Daisuke Hayakawa for second behind Greg LaRocca. Sato was 4th in the PL in slugging, trailing Tuffy Rhodes, Takeshi Yamasaki and Cabrera.
As he continued to hit in 2008, Sato was named to Japan's Olympic roster. Sato was Japan's primary left fielder in Beijing but fared poorly. He hit .200/.304/.450 with 7 strikeouts in 20 AB. Worse, he fielded .717 with all of his errors coming in the Medal round. In the semifinals, he made two errors against South Korea to lead to 3 runs in a 6-2 loss. He dropped a Brian Barden fly in the Bronze Medal game that started the US comeback from a 4-1 deficit for a 8-4 win. In part due to Sato's poor defense and hitting, Japan went home without a Medal.
Sato hit .302/.368/.546 for Seibu in 2008 with 30 doubles and 21 home runs. He was 7th in the Pacific League in average, 10th in doubles, tied Hiroyuki Nakajima for 8th in homers, was 9th in OBP and finished 4th in slugging behind Cabrera, Tuffy Rhodes and Takeya Nakamura. His performance helped Seibu won the PL pennant. Due to injuries, he missed the postseason.
In 2009, he had another good year at .291/.357/.508 with 34 doubles, 25 home runs and 83 RBI. He was among the league leaders in doubles (tied for 4th with Kensuke Tanaka), total bases (255, 4th), home runs (5th, between Hidenori Tanoue and Nobuhiko Matsunaka), RBI (6th, between Atsunori Inaba and Eiichi Koyano), strikeouts (121, tied for 4th with Tomoya Satozaki), double play grounders (20, 3rd) and slugging (6th, between Takeshi Yamasaki and Teppei Tsuchiya). He fell to .204/.257/.340 in 53 games in 2010 and had shoulder surgery. He spent all of 2011 in the Japanese minors.
- 2002-2004 Baseball Almanacs
- Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland
- Japanesebaseball.com by Michael Westbay
- 2008 Olympics