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Kenji Koike

From BR Bullpen

Kenji Koike (小池 兼司)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 6", Weight 154 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Kenji Koike was a five-time Pacific League All-Star.

Koike was a three-time Best Nine pick in college. [1] Turning pro with the Nankai Hawks in 1961, he hit .209/.252/.368. He was 0 for 3 in the 1961 Japan Series, backing up Carlton Hanta and Yoshinori Hirose at SS and Buddy Peterson at 3B. Nankai fell in six games to the Yomiuri Giants. [2] He became a starter at short in 1962, producing at a .230/.293/.342 clip with 26 doubles and 24 steals in 31 tries. He tied Jack Bloomfield for 8th in the PL in two-baggers, tied Junzo Ando for 7th with 11 sacrifice hits and tied Akio Saionji for fourth in steals.

In 1963, he improved to .238/.302/.408 with a career-high 22 home runs. He stole 20 bases but was caught 14 times, scored a career-high 70 and drove in a career-high 65. He was not yet an All-Star pick but made the Best Nine as the top all-around shortstop in the league. He was among the PL leaders in runs (tied Akitoshi Kodama and Kihachi Enomoto for 10th), homers (tied Yoshihiro Nakata for 7th), steals (6th), caught stealing (4th), walks (47, 10th) and sacrifice hits (12, 5th). He broke Kiyoshi Yamada's PL record for double plays by a shortstop with 133. [3]

Making his first All-Star team, he took over at short when Daryl Spencer moved to 2B in 1964 NPB All-Star Game 1. He drew walks from the Central League's Masaichi Kaneda and Makoto Inagawa his two times up. In Game 2, he pinch-hit for Enomoto and was retired by Noboru Akiyama. In Game 3, he again took over short when Spencer moved to second. He was 1 for 1 with a walk and two RBI to cap a fine All-Star Series. [4] He hit .260/.327/.382 for 1964 with a career-high 33 doubles and 30 steals (in 44 tries) while scoring 66 runs. He tied Spencer for 10th in hits (144), was second in doubles (two shy of Hirose), ranked third in steals (behind Hirose and Isao Hiramoto), was second in caught stealing (four behind Yoji Tamatsukuri), tied Katsutoyo Yoshida for 6th with 51 walks and tied for 6th with five times hit by pitch. He repeated as the Best Nine selection. In the 1964 Japan Series, he batted .348/.376/.435 with four runs in seven games as Nankai topped the Hanshin Tigers for their last title. [5]

Koike started at short for the PL in 1965 NPB All-Star Game 1. After being retired by Minoru Murayama and Kunio Jonouchi, he was lifted for pinch-hitter Tony Roig. Replacing Roig in Game 2, he was 0 for 2. In Game 3, he was 0 for 3 after replacing Roig. [6] He hit .268/.349/.406 with 17 homers, 64 runs, 63 RBI and 61 walks in 1965. He tied Francis Agcaoili and Enomoto for ninth in runs, tied Enomoto for eighth in hits (132), tied Gordie Windhorn for tenth in dingers, was eighth in RBI, was caught stealing the most (14 times, one more than Hiramoto) and was fourth in walks. He made the Best Nine for the third consecutive season.

The Shizuoka native was back as the PL's starting shortstop for 1966 NPB All-Star Game 1, going 0 for 1 against Gene Bacque before Carl Boles pinch-hit for him. In Game 2, he ran for Jack Bloomfield and scored a run, then stayed in and went 0 for 1. He was 0 for 1 against Susumu Oba as the starter in Game 3, then Bloomfield batted for him. [7] In 1966, he hit .216/.312/.303. His 59 walks were fourth in the league, between Enomoto and Saionji. He made his final Best Nine. In the 1966 Japan Series, he homered in both Nankai wins, batting .348/.400/.652 as they fell to Yomiuri in six. Taisuke Watanabe was named the MVP of the Hawks for the Series. [8]

Making his fourth All-Star team, he replaced Fujio Yamaguchi at short when Yamaguchi moved to second in 1967 NPB All-Star Game 1 but did not bat and Takashi Takagi pinch-hit for him. He did not appear in Game 2 or 3. [9] For the 1967 season, he had a batting line of .194/.261/.278 and did not make any leaderboards. His final All-Star nod came for the 1968 NPB All-Star Games. In Game 1, he replaced Toshizo Sakamoto at SS and went 0 for 2 against Kentaro Ogawa and Yoshiro Sotokoba. He was replaced Sakamoto in Game 2 and drew a Masaichi Kaneda walk then was retired his next time up. In Game 3, he replaced Sakamoto once more and put on a show, going 3-for-3 with a homer and four RBI; he was named MVP as the PL won, 5-4, going out on a bright note in his last All-Star Game [10] He hit .193/.312/.333 in 1969, still showing some pop (13 HR) and walks (70). He was third in the PL in walks (after Katsuya Nomura and Masahiro Doi) and tied George Altman, Doi and Atsushi Nagaike for the lead with seven sacrifice flies.

He fell off to two homers in 1969, hitting .203/.295/.266. In 1970, he batted .194/.268/.282 then followed with a .269/.320/.313 line in 1971, showing his best contact in years. By 1972, he had lost his long starting job at short for the Hawks to Yoshiyuki Sano and hit .191/.285/.235. He was at .208/.301/.264 in 1973. He was 0 for 4 in the 1973 Japan Series as Nankai fell to Yomiuri. [11] He hit .188/.235/.229 in 52 plate appearances in 1974 to wrap up his career. He had batted .226/.303/.338 in 1,536 career games with 487 runs, 473 RBI, 104 homers, 113 steals and 479 walks, showing a good offensive profile for a shortstop aside from contact.

After retiring as a player, Koike scouted and managed in the minors. [12] He coached in Taiwan, for the Mercuries Tigers in 1994 and 1998 and Chinatrust Whales in 1997. [13]