Takahiro Mahara (馬原 孝浩)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 176 lb.
Takahiro Mahara reached 100 saves in only 178 games in Nippon Pro Baseball, the fastest rate in NPB history.
Mahara went 30-5 in college. He pitched for Japan's Bronze Medal winners in the 2002 World University Championship, allowing one run (unearned) and one hit while striking out 8 in five innings of work for a win. The Daiei Hawks picked him in the first round in 2003. He debuted for them in 2004, going 3-3 with a 6.30 ERA, allowing 66 hits in 50 innings.
In 2005, the 23-year-old right-hander went 6-6 with 22 saves and a a 3.08 ERA while moving to the bullpen. He replaced the ineffective Koji Mise as the Hawks' closer. He tied Masanobu Okubo for second in the Pacific League in saves, trailing Masahide Kobayashi. In the playoffs, he blew the deciding game against the Chiba Lotte Marines, allowing 2-run double to Tomoya Satozaki in the 8th.
Mahara is incorrectly listed by some sources, like Wikipedia, as having played in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. He was a reserve and was being considered when Hirotoshi Ishii was questionable but Ishii was able to play in the tourney and Mahara's services were unneeded.
Mahara was 0-4 with 29 saves in 2006, striking out 62 in 54 2/3 IP and having only a 1.65 ERA. He made the PL All-Star team. His ERA barely led the Hawks, .10 better than Kazumi Saitoh. He finished third in the circuit in saves behind Micheal Nakamura and Masahide Kobayashi.
Takahiro improved to 2-4, 1.47 in 2007 with 38 saves (most in the PL). He fanned 68 in 67 1/3 innings while allowing just a .206 average. He made his second All-Star squad. He battled right shoulder problems during 2008, limiting him to 21 games. He went 0-2 with 11 saves and a 2.79 ERA. His final save of the season was the 100th of his career. Coming in game 178, it made him the quickest pitcher in NPB history to 100 saves.
Mahara was on Japan's roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He tied Toshiya Sugiuchi and Yu Darvish for the team lead with 5 games pitched, allowing 2 runs in 5 innings. Both of the runs came in the 8th inning of the semifinals against Team USA. Mahara entered with a 6-2 lead. He gave up a one-out single to Ryan Braun, walked Brian McCann then gave up a 2-run double to Mark DeRosa. With the tying run up, Mahara fanned Evan Longoria and retired Brian Roberts. Japan went on to win 9-4 en route to taking the Classic title.
- Japan Baseball Daily
- Japanese Wikipedia entry
- Defunct IBAF site
- World Baseball Classic