Junichi Kashiwabara

From BR Bullpen

JunichiKashiwabara.jpg

Junichi Kashiwabara (柏原 純一)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 182 lb.

BR Japan page

Biographical Information[edit]

Junichi Kashiwabara was a three-time All-Star in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Kashiwabara was an 8th-round draft pick by the Nankai Hawks in 1970 as a pitcher but became a position player before he made his pro debut. He made it to the big club in 1973, debuting as a pinch-runner for Teruhide Sakurai. His first hit came later that game off Makoto Fujiwara as well as his first steal. His first home run was just two days later, off Satoru Miwa. He finished the 1973 season at .277/.329/.400 in 25 games, backing up Sakurai at 2B and Yoshiyuki Sano and Kenji Koike at SS. He did not appear in the 1973 Japan Series, which Nankai dropped to the Yomiuri Giants. In 1974, he split third base with Mitsuru Fujiwara and hit .239/.314/.399 in 82 games. He batted only .220/.297/.344 in 70 games in 1975, splitting 1B with Toshihiro Hayashi and Jim Nettles.

Becoming Nankai's starting first baseman in 1976, Kashiwabara hit .260/.329/.430 with 16 home runs and stole 26 bases in 33 tries. He tied Michiyo Arito, Toshio Kato and Walt Williams for 7th in the Pacific League with 18 doubles, tied for 8th with four triples, tied Sumio Hirota for third in steals, was 10th with 40 walks and tied for 7th with 6 hit-by-pitches. In 1977, he hit .255/.315/.426 with 18 home runs. He was 6th in the PL with 65 runs (between Bobby Mitchell and Hideji Kato) and was 10th with 38 walks.

He was then traded to the Nippon Ham Fighters for Yoshihito Oda and Hisao Sugita. The Fighters made him their cleanup man and he responded with a .294/.357/.490 season with 24 HR and 84 RBI. He made his first PL All-Star team. In 1978 NPB All-Star Game 1, he batted for Kato and took over at 1B, going 1 for 2 in a 7-5 loss. In Game 2, a 9-0 win, he started at 1B and hit 6th, going 0 for 1 before Kato replaced him. In Game 3, a 8-0 loss, he replaced Mitchell in LF and was retired by Hiroaki Fukushi in his lone at-bat. He finished on the PL leaderboard in OBP (10th, between Kinji Shimatani and Yasuhiro Takai), slugging (10th, between Shimatani and Kyosuke Sasaki), runs (72, 8th, between Shigeru Kurihashi and Mitchell), hits (147, 5th), triples (4, tied for 7th), home runs (tied for 5th with Kato), RBI (5th, between Kato and Carlos May), total bases (245, 5th, between Yutaka Fukumoto and Leon Lee) and walks (49, 7th, between Masaru Tomita and Shuzo Arita). He won the Diamond Glove Award at 1B for the PL and was picked to the Best Nine for the first time.

In 1979, Kashiwabara's batting line was .285/.356/.470. He had 22 home runs, 90 RBI and stole 18 bases in 20 tries, impressive speed numbers for a power-hitting first baseman. He tied Lee for 7th in the PL in runs (77), was 7th in RBI (between Lee and Shigeru Kurihashi), tied Jack Maloof and Mitsuo Sugano for 9th in steals and ranked 7th with 54 walks (between Kato and Maloof). He won a Diamond Glove again. In the 1979 NPB All-Star Game 1, he pinch-hit for Kato and took over at 1B. He went 0 for 1 with a strikeout and a RBI (presumably a sacrifice fly) in a 11-2 loss. In Game 2, he pinch-hit for Fukumoto and stayed in as the RF (RF Makoto Shimada moving to CF to replace Fukumoto), going 0 for 1 with a walk in a 3-1 win. In Game 3, he pinch-hit for Shimada and stayed in as the RF, going 1 for 2 with a solo homer in a 7-5 loss.

Junichi had his best home run performance in 1980, going deep 34 times. He hit .264/.353/.513 with 82 runs and a career-high 96 RBI for the Fighters. He was 10th in the PL in runs (between Koji Minoda and Shimada), ranked 7th in home runs (between Jim Tyrone and Leron Lee), was 5th in RBI (edging Tony Solaita by one for the team lead) and tied Solaita for 6th in walks (68, to only 61 whiffs). He failed to make the Best Nine or the All-Star team, perhaps because he had no set position that year, splitting 1B with Solaita and also seeing regular action at 3B and 2B. On May 17, he helped rescue someone trapped after an auto accident, using a bat he had in his car to get them out.

The Kumamoto native won his first base job back in 1981, with Solaita playing DH. On July 19, he tomahawked a pitch near his face for a home run, making headlines. He scored a career-best 92 runs that year, hitting .310/.415/.472 with 16 homers, 81 RBI, 84 walks to only 39 whiffs and 15 steals in 18 tries, showing a great eye, good power and speed and contact. He finished among the PL leaders in average (8th, between Ishige and Leron Lee), OBP (3rd after Hiromitsu Kadota and Hiromitsu Ochiai), OPS (5th, between Ishige and Hiroyuki Yamazaki), runs (2nd, 5 back of Yamazaki), doubles (22, tied for 9th), RBI (5th, between Ochiai and Kato), walks (3rd, after Kadota and Yamazaki), sacrifice flies (6, tied for 3rd) and swipes (tied for 9th with Shiro Fujise and Keijiro Yumioka). He made his second Best Nine and won his third Diamond Glove at 1B. Nippon Ham made its first Japan Series ever. In the 1981 Japan Series, he was the Fighters' top hitter as they fell to the Yomiuri Giants in six games; he hit .421/.577/.842 with two doubles and two home runs. He lost the Fighting Spirit Award as MVP of the losing team to Hiroaki Inoue, who had also put up strong offensive totals.

In 1982, Kashiwabara produced at a .285/.353/.477 rate with 22 homers, 71 runs and 75 RBI. He finished 10th in the league in average, 9th in OPS (between Steve Ontiveros and Arito), 6th in runs, 8th in hits (134), tied with 5 others for 6th in home runs (only Ochiai and Koichi Tabuchi hit more among native Japanese players) and 7th in RBI (between Leon Lee and Wayne Cage). He won his last Diamond Glove and made his last Best Nine and final All-Star team. In 1982 NPB All-Star Game 1, he hit 5th and started at 1B, going 1 for 4 with a two-run homer off Suguru Egawa in the 1st in a 7-2 PL win. He was 4 for 5 with a homer in a game 2 5-5 tie; no one else had more than two hits in the game. He won game MVP honors. He went 1 for 4 with a RBI in a 3-2 game 3 loss. That season, he became the 124th player in NPB to 1,000 career hits, reaching off Yutaro Imai.

While no longer picking up mid-season or post-season honors, he kept on hitting in 1983 - .282/.353/.484, 26 HR, 89 RBI. He was 7th in the league in homers, 5th in RBI (between Minoda and Ontiveros), tied for second with 7 sacrifice flies (one behind Minoda) and led with 21 double-play grounders. He slumped to .227/.325/.383 in 1984, with 18 home runs and 68 RBI. He was 7th in the league in walks (68, between Shimada and Chris Nyman). He hit his 200th career dinger, the 43rd NPB player to that figure, off Takanori Yamauchi. He had played every game since mid-August 1979 until ending his streak at 717 games during 1985, when he became a part-timer and hit just .216/.336/.324 with five homers in 94 games. The streak was the 10th-longest in NPB annals to that point, between Kazuo Horii and Nobuyuki Hikichi.

He was then dealt by Nippon Ham to the Hanshin Tigers for cash. With Randy Bass ensconced at 1B in 1986, Kashiwabara was used primarily as a backup OF, 3B and 1B. He put on a strong show, though, hitting .313/.377/.548 with 17 HR and 46 runs in 345 plate appearances. Had he qualified, he would have been 5th in the Central League in average (between Leon Lee and Sadaaki Yoshimura), tops among Japanese natives. He would also have been 6th in slugging (between Leon Lee and Akinobu Mayumi). In 1987, he was limited to 100 plate appearances and hit .176/.250/.242, then batted .169/.254/.254 in 68 plate appearances in 1988.

In 1,642 NPB games, he had 775 runs, 818 RBI, 232 home runs, 140 steals in 191 tries, 618 walks to 629 whiffs and a .268/.346/.449 batting line. Through 2011, he was among the NPB career leaders in runs (tied with Minoda for 91st), home runs (tied for 70th with Kiyoshi Hatsushiba and Bobby Marcano), RBI (74th, between Kazuya Fukuura and Marcano), sacrifice flies (44, tied for 77th with six others) and double play grounders (146, tied for 53rd with Fukuura, Tsutomu Itoh and Jitsuo Mizutani).

He later coached for Hanshin (1989-1995), the Chunichi Dragons (1996-1997), Hanshin again (1999-2001) and Nippon Ham (2014 in Japanese Baseball- ). He has also worked as a baseball commentator.

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