Takahiro Okada

From BR Bullpen

TakahiroOkada.jpg

Takahiro Okada (てぃーおかだ) (T-Okada)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 1", Weight 205-220 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Takahiro Okada is a former Pacific League home run king.

Okada hit 55 home runs in high school and was a first-round pick of the Orix Buffaloes in the 2005 NPB draft. He was 1 for 6 with 3 whiffs for Orix in 2006, his hit coming off Hiroki Yamamura. He spent most of the year in the minors, leading the Western League in strikeouts. [1] He again led the WL in Ks in 2007, tying Masafumi Suenaga at 68. [2] In '08, he led the WL in strikeouts again (71) but tied Ryota Arai for the most doubles (19). [3] He got into 43 games for Orix in 2009 after the two full years in the minors but hit only .158/.250/.324 with 59 K in 139 AB as a 1B/OF. He did go deep 7 times in 139 at-bats, with his first NPB homer coming off Justin Germano. [4]

Going to a no-stride swing in 2010, the 22-year-old had a big year despite missing a little time with a hamstring injury. Starting in LF and backing up Alex Cabrera at 1B, he batted .284/.358/.575 with 31 doubles, 33 homers, 70 runs and 96 RBI though strikeouts remained high (136 in 461 AB). He made the 2010 NPB All-Star Games. His last homer of the year was a pinch-hit grand slam off Alex Graman, the first pinch-slam by an Orix player in 9 years. He was the second player to have a pinch-hit grand slam and win the home run title, following Futoshi Nakanishi by 55 years. He was the first 22-year-old to lead the league in homers since the legendary Sadaharu Oh did it, 48 years prior. [5] He won the PL home run title by five over Takeshi Yamasaki and was also among the leaders in RBI (3rd, after Eiichi Koyano and Tadahito Iguchi), strikeouts (3rd, after Yamasaki and Tae-kyun Kim), slugging (1st, .006 ahead of Cabrera), OPS (2nd, 64 behind Cabrera) and total bases (265, 4th, between Koyano and Mitsutaka Goto). He joined Takumi Kuriyama and Hitoshi Tamura as the Best Nine picks in the outfield for the PL and was 12th in voting for the 2010 Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award.

The Osaka native hit .270/.331/.411 in 2011 with his home run total falling by over half to 16, but the league had gone to a pitcher-friendly ball that year. He drove in 85 and made his second All-Star team. He was 9th in the league with 26 doubles, tied Hiroyuki Nakajima for 6th in homers, was 4th in RBI (between Sho Nakata and Nobuhiro Matsuda), 7th in slugging (between Aarom Baldiris and Goto) and 6th with 116 K (between Seung-yeop Lee and Ryo Hijirisawa). In 2012, he produced at a .280/.327/.418 clip with ten home runs. In another low-offense season, he tied Baldiris and Atsunori Inaba for 8th in the PL in dingers, tied Matsuda for 10th in RBI (56) and would have been in the top 10 in slugging had he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Takahiro struggled with thigh and hand injuries in 2013 while switching batting stances again and hit only .222/.280/.349 in 58 games. [6] In 2014, he became Orix's starting first baseman and won the Gold Glove (fielding .994 and leading the PL with 955 putouts, 86 assists, 85 double plays and in fielding percentage). He also rebounded at the plate (.269/.343/.481, 28 2B, 24 HR, 75 RBI). He tied Esteban German for 8th in two-baggers, tied Andruw Jones for 6th in home runs, was 6th in RBI (between Yoshio Itoi and Seiichi Uchikawa), was 6th in slugging (between Wily Mo Peña and Uchikawa), was 8th in OPS (between Uchikawa and Jones) and was 9th with 221 total bases (between Ernesto Mejia and Takeya Nakamura). He only fielded .956 at 1B in 2015, moving back to the outfield primarily. He hit .280/.317/.424 for the year, with 11 long balls. By this point, offensive levels had gone back up with different balls in use so he was not near the top-10 in homers, unlike his '12 campaign.

In 2016, he was a solid producer at the plate (.284/.357/.471, 25 2B, 20 HR, 76 RBI) while alternating between first and left. He missed the top 10 in average by .001 behind Daichi Suzuki, tied Zelous Wheeler for 10th in doubles, was 10th in circuit clouts, 9th in RBI (between Hideto Asamura and Yuki Yanagita), ranked 7th in slugging (between Wheeler and Matsuda) and was 9th in OPS (between Wheeler and Shogo Akiyama).

He made his first All-Star team in six years. In the 2017 NPB All-Star Game 1, he replaced Seiji Uebayashi in left (Uebayashi had been yanked for a pinch-hitter); in his lone at-bat, he was retired by Yasuaki Yamasaki in the 9th inning of a 6-2 PL win over the Central League. [7] In Game 2, he hit 6th in a 3-1 win. He started at LF, moved to 1B when Haruki Nishikawa came in to play left (1B Uchikawa leaving) and returned to LF when Nishikawa moved to RF and Nakata took over at 1B. He grounded out against Tomoyuki Sugano, Takumi Akiyama and Shoichi Ino. [8] He hit the 99,999th homer in NPB history (taking Kakeru Narita deep), followed later that game by teammate Chris Marrero hitting #100,000; had Marrero not missed touching home earlier that year, Okada would have had #100,000. [9] For the 2017 season, he hit .266/.374/.488 with 31 homers, 77 runs and 83 walks. He was 7th in the PL in runs (between Kenta Imamiya and Wheeler), tied Wheeler and Yanagita for 3rd in homers (trailing only Despaigne and Brandon Laird), was 10th with 68 RBI (between Matsuda and Nakata), was second in walks (6 behind Yanagita), led with 141 K (two ahead of Carlos Peguero), placed 5th in OBP (between Katsuya Kakunaka and Eigoro Mogi), ranked 7th in slugging (between Peguero and Laird), was 4th in OPS (between Mogi and Despaigne) and was 5th with 246 total bases (between Asamura and Despaigne) for his best season since his home run title year. He got some Best Nine support at both 1B and the OF. [10]

Okada had an off-year in 2018 at .225/.300/.393 with 13 homers. Given the up-and-down nature of his career to that point, it was unclear if he would rebound or not.

Sources[edit]

  1. Information saved from the now-defunct Japanbaseballdaily.com site
  2. Japanese Wikipedia entry
  3. ibid.
  4. Japanbaseballdaily.com
  5. Japanbaseballdaily.com
  6. Japanese Wikipedia
  7. YakyuDB.com, 2017 NPB All-Star Game 1
  8. YakyuDB.com, 2017 NPB All-Star Game 2
  9. YakyuDB.com on the historic homer
  10. YakyuDB.com, 2017 NPB awards