Note: This page discusses 2000s and 2010s NPB infielder Masahiro Abe. For the amateur pitcher of the same name, click here.
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 176 lb.
- School Hosei University
- High School Yokohama High School
- Born May 12, 1978 in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Japan
Infielder Masahiro Abe played in Nippon Professional Baseball from 2001 to 2012. He played for the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes (2001-2004), Orix Buffaloes (2005-2009) and Saitama Seibu Lions (2010-2012).
Abe led the Tokyo Big Six University League in average as a sophomore. He played for the Japanese national team in the 1999 Intercontinental Cup, going 3 for 11 with a triple, 3 walks, run and two RBI while splitting second base with Kenji Kudo. He did not play in the Bronze Medal Game, when Japan beat Team USA. Kintetsu took Abe in the 4th round of the 2000 NPB draft.
He hit .194/.240/.226 in 44 games as a rookie in 2001. His first NPB hit came off Carlos Pulido. He was 0 for 2 in the 2001 Japan Series, backing up Shawn Gilbert as Kintetsu fell to the Yakult Swallows. With Gilbert leaving, Abe became the starter in 2002. Offense was an issue (.210/.263/.322, 28 R, 29 RBI in 125 G) but he fielded .973 at short, showing good range. His 23 sacrifice hits were fifth in the Pacific League. His first NPB home run came off Mitsutaka Goto; interestingly, a different Mitsutaka Goto later would be his teammate.
His best season was 2003, when he hit .291/.344/.412 with 116 hits and 28 doubles in 111 games, setting career highs in at-bats (398), runs (58), hits, doubles, stolen bases (6), batting average, slugging, OPS and total bases (164). He fielded .982 at short and often moved to 2B late in games as a defensive shift, replacing Eiji Mizuguchi at 2B while Tadatoki Maeda entered at short. He made his lone NPB All-Star Games. In 2003 NPB All-Star Game 1, he was a late substitute for Michihiro Ogasawara at 3B in a 4-4 tie against the Central League and did not get an at-bat. In Game 2, he pinch-ran for Alex Cabrera and stayed in at 3B, Ogasawara moving to 1B to replace Cabrera in a 5-3 loss. He again did not get an at-bat.
In 2004, his batting line slipped to .247/.331/.368 but he had a career-high seven home runs, 50 RBI and 42 walks; he also fielded .988, his best season as a starter at SS. In 2005, Kintetsu merged with the Orix BlueWave to become the Orix Buffaloes and he beat out BlueWave incumbent Makoto Shiozaki as the starter at SS. He hit .281/.356/.344 with 93 hits in 127 games to set a career high in games. He fielded .985 at short. He tied Naoyuki Omura for 5th in the PL with 17 sacrifice hits and tied Yuji Yoshioka and Julio Zuleta for third with six sacrifice flies.
Abe missed three months of 2006 with a right wrist injury, hitting only .217/.279/.286 for the year. By 2007, Keiji Obiki had become the starter at short for the Buffaloes and Masahiro moved to 2B, which he split with Goto. He hit .259/.323/.326 in 77 games. He spent the next two seasons as a utility infielder for Orix, producing at a .218/.273/.261 clip in 55 games in 2008 and .264/.345/.365 in 46 games in 2009.
He had ankle surgery in the off-season after 2009 then was traded to Seibu for Shogo Akada. He saw somewhat regular action in 2010, splitting 3B with Takuya Hara and Takeya Nakamura; he hit .256/.372/.344 in 64 games and fielded .957 there. He was only 4 for 24 with four walks in 2011 and 0 for 14 with a walk in 2012 then retired.
Overall, he batted .248/.317/.338 with 26 home runs, 256 runs and 250 RBI in 877 games over 12 seasons. He fielded .981 in 565 games at SS, .989 in 269 games at 2B, .951 in 92 games at 3B and .978 in 18 games at 1B. Through 2011, his 130 sacrifice hits tied Sadayuki Minagawa for 90th in NPB history.
He became hitting coach for Seibu in 2015.