Masaharu Mitsui (三井 雅晴)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 176 lb.
- High School Handa Shogyo High School
Mitsui was a second-round pick of the Lotte Orions in the 1973 draft. As a rookie in 1974, he was 6-5 with 4 saves and a 3.26 ERA in 31 games. He was 5th in the Pacific League in saves and was named the loop's Rookie of the Year. In the 1974 Japan Series, he faced four batters and got two outs (one K) and allowed a hit and a walk in a game 2 win over the Chunichi Dragons; Lotte won the Series. In 1975, he was 10-8 with four saves and a 3.51 ERA. He tied Hiroaki Shibaike for 5th in the PL in saves, was 10th with 99 strikeouts and was 7th with 36 games pitched.
He remained sharp in 1976 (6-7, 6 Sv, 2.54, 104 K, 29 BB, 101 H in 120 1/3 IP). Had he qualified, he would have tied Mitsuhiro Adachi for 7th in the PL in ERA. He was 9th in strikeouts (between Yutaka Enatsu and Osamu Nomura) and 4th in saves (behind Michiro Sato, Enatsu and Takashi Yamaguchi). He had a 0.91 WHIP, 2.32 ERA, 5-3 record and five saves in 19 games in 1977. He was 1-3 with two saves, a 6.43 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 1978 as injuries were hurting his effectiveness. He fell to 1-2, 8.35 with a 1.86 WHIP in 1979. He then went to see Dr. Frank Jobe, who performed Tommy John surgery, something no NPB hurler had done before. It had been five years since Tommy John had the pioneering surgery and it would be four years before another NPB hurler, Choji Murata, went that route.
Unlike John and Murata, Mitsui never returned to his old level of performance. He had one save and a 3.18 ERA in four outings in 1981 and allowed 13 hits and 8 runs in 6 innings in 1982 to end his career.
He had gone 29-28 with 22 saves and a 3.50 ERA in 140 NPB games (38 starts). In 440 innings, he had allowed 377 hits and 154 walks while striking out 382.