Takayuki Shimizu (清水 崇行)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 182 lb.
Takayuki Shimizu was a two-time Central League All-Star.
Shimizu was a third-round pick of the Yomiuri Giants in 1995. He made his Nippon Pro Baseball debut April 6, 1996, pinch-hitting for Hideki Okajima. He got his first hit eight days later off Naoya Shimada. On April 23, he took Shinichi Kato deep for his first dinger. Another homer, against Masataka Endo October 6, was the last home run ever hit at Nagoya Stadium. He finished his rookie season at .293/.337/.484 in 107 games, the most frequent starter in the Yomiuri outfield after Hideki Matsui and Shane Mack. He was just 1 for 10 and ground into a double play in the 1996 Japan Series, which Yomiuri lost to the Orix BlueWave.
In 1997, Shimizu had a hot streak in early April in which he reached base in 12 consecutive plate appearances and also had hits in nine straight at-bats. He hit .304/.360/.446 that season while fielding .989. He finished 9th in the CL in average, between Tetsuya Iida and Tomonori Maeda. His rate statistics fell a bit (.301/.338/.423) in 1998, though he did score 79 runs and steal 16 bases in 22 tries. He was 7th in the CL in average (between Takuro Ishii and outfield mate Yoshinobu Takahashi), 7th in hits (148, between Bobby Rose and Hideki Matsui), tied Takayuki Onishi for 5th in stolen bases and tied Atsuya Furuta, Dwayne Hosey, Takeshi Yamasaki, Matsui and Kazuhiro Kiyohara) for the lead in times hit by pitch (8). He made his first CL All-Star team.
Shimizu hit .295/.337/.410 with 71 runs and 15 steals in 20 tries in 1999, fielding .995. He tied Shuta Tanaka for 7th in swipes. In 2000, the 26-year-old flyhawk batted .271/.310/.425 and was only 11-for-21 in steal attempts. He tied for 8th in steals but tied Tomoaki Kanemoto for 4th in times gunned down stealing. He was also 4th with 18 sacrifice hits. He was just 1 for 10 in the 2000 Japan Series but outfield mates Takahashi and Matsui did better and Yomiuri won the Series. The Tokyo native hit .324/.388/.423 in 2001; had he qualified, he would have tied Furuta for second in average behind only Matsui's .333.
Shimizu had a record-setting campaign in 2002, when he produced at a .314/.346/.442 rate, scored 92 runs and smacked 26 doubles. He fielded .996 and his 230 outfield putouts led the CL. He made his second All-Star team, was 6th in the CL in average (between Makoto Imaoka and Maeda), led in hits (191, five more than #2 Kosuke Fukudome), was second in runs (20 behind Matsui), tied Shinnosuke Abe for 10th in doubles, led in at-bats (609, 40 more than Ishii), led with five triples and tied Akihiro Higashide for 6th in steals (12). He joined Matsui and Fukudome as the Best Nine picks in the CL outfield. He broke Toshihisa Nishi's CL record of 597 for at-bats in a season; Masahiro Araki would pass him three years later. More importantly, he also came within one of the CL hit record of 192, shared by Fumio Fujimura and Rose. In the 2002 Japan Series, he hit a game one homer off Daisuke Matsuzaka to open the scoring but finished at .176/.263/.353; Yomiuri still beat the Seibu Lions.
Takayuki fell to .240/.262/.402 though he set a career high to that point with 14 home runs in 2003. The next year, he rebounded to .308/.338/.458 with 86 runs, 16 home runs, 39 doubles (13 more than in any other season) and 60 RBI. He fielded .991. He was 8th in average (between Maeda and Kazuyoshi Tatsunami), led in doubles (7 ahead of runner-up Kanemoto) and was second in hits (178, 11 shy of Shigenobu Shima). He reached two milestones during May: his 1,000th hit (off Daisuke Miura) and his 100th home run (taking Ken Kadokura deep).
In 2005, he remained productive at .300/.342/.453 with 15 home runs and 76 runs scored. He homered off Satoru Kanemura June 2 for the 40,000th homer in Central League annals. He only made the top 10 in triples (3, tied for 6th), though. He hit a pitiful .216/.275/.302 in 2006. By 2007, he was mostly a pinch-hitter and doing well in his reduced role (.339/.417/.446 in 129 plate appearances) as Yomiuri had added Yoshitomo Tani and Damon Hollins to complement Takahashi in the outfield. Suzuki was 6 for 42 with 7 walks in 2008 and was not used in the 2008 Japan Series. Yomiuri sold him to Seibu and he hit .208/.261/.281 as a backup for them in 2009 to end his career.
Overall, Shimizu batted .289/.332/.422 in 1,485 NPB games, with 718 runs, 488 RBI, 223 doubles, 131 home runs and 90 steals in 145 tries. He fielded .991 and had 46 outfield assists. Through 2011, he was 88th in NPB history in average, between Norihiro Komada and Andy Sheets.
Shimizu was a radio and TV baseball commentator in 2010 then became a minor league coach for Yomiuri.