Ryo Hijirisawa (聖澤 諒)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 159 lb.
Ryo Hijirisawa is an outfielder.
Hijirisawa went 45 for 46 in steal attempts in college. He hit .174/.240/.261 for Japan in the 2007 World Port Tournament. He was a 4th-round pick of the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2007. He debuted in Nippon Pro Baseball in 2008, hitting .268/.333/.268 and stealing 5 bases in 6 tries in 34 games. His first hit came on August 26 against Matt Kinney. He was used primarily as a pinch-runner in 2009, batting .220/.258/.327 with 15 steals in 17 tries and 14 runs. He had only 59 AB in 79 games. He was second on the Eagles in stolen bases behind Naoto Watanabe. He was the only position player to get a vote for the 2009 Pacific League Rookie of the Year Award as Tadashi Settsu, Kazumasa Kikuchi and Hiromichi Fujiwara got all the other votes.
Hijirisawa hit .290/.335/.389 with 72 runs and 24 steals in 30 tries as a starter in 2010. He was 7th in the Pacific League in swipes (between Takashi Ogino and Tsuyoshi Nishioka) and 4th in sacrifice hits (24, between Toshiaki Imae and Toru Hosokawa). In 2011, he batted .288/.338/.343 and stole 52 bases in 68 tries. He had 288 putouts, 6 assists and no errors. He was 9th in the PL in average (between Yuya Hasegawa and Nobuhiro Matsuda), second in steals (8 behind Yuichi Honda), second in caught stealing (one behind Honda) and 7th in strikeouts (109, between Takahiro Okada and Bobby Scales). Despite his error-free play, he did not win a Gold Glove in the PL. He finished 4th in voting but his 46 votes were well behind the winners in the outfield: Yoshifumi Okada (163), Yoshio Itoi (155) and Tomotaka Sakaguchi (155).
In 2012, the Nagano native hit .270/.338/.331, scored 78 runs, went 54-for-65 in swipes and had 262 putouts, 7 assists and again zero errors. He was only one run behind leader Sho Nakata and easily led in swipes (13 ahead of Esteban German, who was caught more often). He made the PL team for the 2012 NPB All-Star Games, going 1 for 3 as the center fielder and leadoff man in game 2 and 0 for 3 hitting second and manning RF in game 3. He again did not get a Gold Glove, finishing 5th with 52 votes, trailing Dai-Kang Yoh, Itoi, Okada and Shogo Akiyama.
Hijirisawa's batting line in 2013 was .284/.357/.356 though he was down to 21 steals (in 29 tries) and 51 runs. He again had no errors, this time with 218 putouts and three assists. He was 8th in the league in both steals and strikeouts (100). He again was 5th in Gold Glove voting (41 votes, behind Yoh, Itoi, Akiyama and Okada again). He excelled when Rakuten won the 2013 Japan Series for their first Japan Series title, going 8 for 17 with two doubles, two walks, a steal, a run and two RBI. Only Kazuo Matsui (9) had more hits for Rakuten, only Andruw Jones (11) had more total bases and no one had a better average. The Series MVP was pitcher Manabu Mima. He remained hot into the 2013 Asia Series (4 for 7, 3 RBI) as Rakuten surprisingly fell to the Uni-President Lions in the semifinals.
Early in 2014, Hijirisawa entered the record books. When he caught a fly from Esteban German on April 3, it was his 821st consecutive chance without an error, breaking Eiji Fujii's NPB outfield record that stood for 40 years.