Kuo-Ching Kao (The Green Giant, Green Tank) (高國慶)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 205 lb.
Kuo-Ching Kao is a top hitter in the Chinese Professional Baseball League and has played for Taiwan's national team on and off for over a decade. He has won one CPBL MVP and one Taiwan Series MVP award. His brother Chien-Lung Kao also played in the CPBL.
Kao hit .240/.269/.240 in the 1999 World Port Tournament. In the 2001 World Port Tournament, he batted .294/.294/.353. He was MVP of the 2001 Asian Championship, homering twice including a 2-run shot against Japan, and made the tourney All-Star team at 1B. In the 2002 Haarlem Baseball Week, Kao was 0 for 3. He also appeared in the 2002 World University Championship, going two for eight with a walk.
Kao began his professional career in 2004 with the Uni-President Lions, hitting .239/.322/.425. His first career home run was a grand slam off Ru-Hao Liang. He improved to .313/.363/.427 in his second season and was 5th in the 2005 CPBL in average, third among Taiwan natives.
In 2006, Kuo-Ching produced at a .282/.323/.381 clip as the Lions first baseman. His career blossomed in 2007, when he hit .358/.397/.560 with 20 home runs and 89 RBI. He was third in the league in average, trailing Chin-Feng Chen and Cheng-Min Peng. He was 4th in home runs behind Tilson Brito, Chen and Peng. He was second in RBI behind Brito. He won the MVP award, was named as the All-Star 1B and won a Gold Glove in being the league's most-honored player. For MVP, he beat out Brito, the new home run record holder and Chen, a former major leaguer and the batting titlist. Kao was not without records of his own - he had 152 hits, breaking the old record by nine (Kuei-Chang Tseng may have been the record-holder). He added a grand slam in the 2007 Taiwan Series, which the Lions won. Kao's hit record only lasted two years until the league expanded it schedule; Wilton Veras and Yi-Chuan Lin both passed him in 2009.
Kao was with Taiwan's national team in the 2007 Asian Championship, going 1 for 6 with a walk, triple and sacrifice fly. He was 0 for 8 in the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament though he did reach three times by walk or hit-by-pitch. Taiwan still earned a spot in the 2008 Olympics.
Kao cost teammate Wei-Lun Pan a perfect game on July 11, 2008, with an error; Pan allowed no hits or walks. For the 2008 CPBL season, he hit .332/.377/.466. He drove in 74, third in the league behind Tilson Brito and Kuan-Jen Chen. His productive postseason helped his club win the 2008 Taiwan Series.
In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Kao was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts as Taiwan's starting first baseman. He hit .354/.395/.473 in 2009 and would have been 4th in the league if average if he qualified, between Veras and Chih-Sheng Lin. He helped the Lions win the 2009 Taiwan Series, being MVP of game 7. In 2010, he got his 700th CPBL hit in his 594th game, breaking Chih-Yuan Chen's old record by one; the hit was off Luis Villarreal. For the year, he slumped to .272/.346/.348. In the 2010 Intercontinental Cup, he batted only .225/.291/.323 as Taiwan's main first baseman, with 4 runs and 4 RBI in 8 games. He scored 3 runs in a win over Japan. With a spot in the Gold Medal game at stake, he hit a 2-run double off Diegomar Markwell of the Dutch national team, but Taiwan lost, 5-2. He was 0 for 4 in the Bronze Medal game 4-3 loss to Italy. He came up with the bases loaded, two outs and a one-run deficit in the bottom of the 9th but grounded out against Alex Maestri.
He had a comeback season in 2011 CPBL, hitting .333/.396/.551 with 22 homers, 74 runs and 84 RBI in 120 games. He was among the league leaders in average (4th, between Kuan-Jen Chen and Hung-Yu Lin), homers (tied for first with Hung-Yu Lin), RBI (3rd behind Hung-Yu Lin and Ssu-Chi Chou), runs (tied for 5th with Chou), doubles (29, tied for third with Yi-Chuan Lin and Chen-Yu Chung), hits (157, 2nd to Cheng-Wei Chang), OBP (2nd, 28 points behind Chang), slugging (2nd, 6 points behind Chih-Sheng Lin) and OPS (1st, 10 points over Cheng-Wei Chang). He won the Gold Glove at first base and made his second Best Ten, but lost the MVP to Hung-Yu Lin. In the 2011 Taiwan Series, he starred as the Lions beat the Lamigo Monkeys. In game 1, he made an over-the-shoulder catch in foul ground in the 9th in a one-run win. He hit a 2-run homer in game 2's one-run win. He scored the only run in a game 3 loss.
Kao slipped a bit in 2012 (.266/.342/.424, 23 2B, 13 HR, 82 RBI). He became the 7th CPBL player to 200 doubles and the 12th to 1,000 hits (connecting off Hung-Cheng Lai August 16 for his 1,000th). He tied Yi-Chuan Lin for 6th in dingers, was 10th in slugging, 9th in doubles and tied Chih-Sheng Lin for 5th in RBI. He made the Best Ten for the third time, this time at third base. The Lions lost to Lamigo in the 2012 Taiwan Series; his 2-run homer in the 8th off Monkeys closer Paul Phillips tied game 2, but the Lions lost it.
He failed to make Taiwan's squad for the 2013 World Baseball Classic as they went with Yung-Chi Chen at 3B, Cheng-Min Peng at 1B and Bing-Yen Lee as a backup corner infielder. His regular season numbers fell some more, as he hit .294/.331/.383 with 6 homers and 53 RBI and didn't make the top 10 in the 2013 CPBL in any key area. On September 17, he homered off Hung-Wen Chen to become the 9th CPBL player to 500 career runs. He picked it up in the 2013 Taiwan Series, going 7 for 15 with 5 runs and 4 RBI in a sweep of the EDA Rhinos. His RBI double off Nick Green in game 2 tied it as the Lions rallied to win, and he had 3 hits in game 4, an extra-inning clincher. He was named Taiwan Series MVP.