Tomoaki Sato (satoto02)
Tomoaki Sato (佐藤 友亮)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 181 lb.
Tomoaki Sato was the second outfielder named Tomoaki Sato to play for the Japanese national team in under a decade.
Sato hit .278/.333/.306 with 9 RBI in 10 games as Japan's starting left fielder in the 2001 Baseball World Cup. He was one RBI behind the team's co-leaders, Tadahito Iguchi and Akihiro Higashide. In the Bronze Medal game, he hit 7th and was 0 for 2 with a sacrifice hit in a 3-0 loss to Taiwan's Chih-Chia Chang.
Sato was 7 for 51 with 2 doubles and 2 steals in 5 tries in 2002. He went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts in the 2002 Japan Series. In 2003, he improved to .260/.339/.410 in 85 games. His 80 games in the outfield were third on the club behind Kazuhiro Wada and Tatsuya Ozeki.
Sato became Seibu's starting right fielder and leadoff hitter in the second half of 2004. He hit .317/.375/.379; had he qualified, he would have tied Yoshitomo Tani for 7th in the Pacific League in average. He was just 11-for-19 in steal attempts but tied Arihito Muramatsu for 9th in the PL in swipes. Sato then turned in a strong show in the 2004 Japan Series, batting .394/.394/.485 with 7 runs in 7 games. He tied Omar Linares for the most runs in the Series; unlike Linares, Sato was on the Series-winning team. Sato's 13 hits led the Series. Pitcher Takashi Ishii won Series MVP honors.
Sato batted .239/.278/.269 in 17 games in 2005. On April 21, he crashed into the outfield fence. He dislocated his left shoulder and fractured his left ankle. He would miss the rest of the season. In 2006, Sato returned to action for 64 games but hit just .222/.322/.263. He was one of many right fielders Seibu tried, along with Kazuki Fukuchi, Takumi Kuriyama, Hisashi Takayama and another Sato, G.G. Sato.
In 2007, Sato remained unproductive with a batting line of .220/.272/.270 in 68 games. In 2008, he bounced back to hit .302/.341/.405 in 59 games. Sato then starred in the 2008 Asia Series, winning MVP honors; his game-ending, game-winning RBI double off Wei-Lun Pan scored Yoshihito Ishii with the lone run of the final game. He was filling in for G.G. Sato, who was now the starter but was missing time with injury.