Yoshikazu Takagi (高木 由一)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 10", Weight 180 lb.
- High School Fuchinobe High School
Yoshikazu Takagi was a two-time All-Star outfielder for the Taiyo Whales.
Takagi played for Sagamihara Shiyakusho in the industrial leagues after high school. Taiyo signed him after a tryout and he debuted with the big team in 1972, going 1 for 13 with six whiffs. His first at-bat was against Mitsuo Inaba and his hit was off Kunikazu Ogawa. He went 0 for 2 in 1974 and 6 for 22 with two walks and four doubles in 1975. He saw regular action off the bench in 1976, hitting .279/.318/.448 in 215 plate appearances. His first home run in Nippon Pro Baseball was off Takahiro Watanabe.
Takagi won a starting spot in the Taiyo outfield in 1977, succeeding Akira Ejiri. He had a big season, hitting .323/.390/.527 with 29 doubles, 20 home runs and 73 RBI. He made the Central League All-Star team and finished among the league leaders in average (9th, between Sadaharu Oh and Charlie Manuel), OBP (10th, between Manuel and Katsuo Osugi) and doubles (4th, between Kenichi Yazawa and Makoto Matsubara). He had his other All-Star season in 1978, when he hit even better (.326/.401/.554, 30 2B, 23 HR, 78 R, 80 RBI). He was fifth in average (between Osugi and Koji Yamamoto), 4th in OBP (behind Oh, Tsutomu Wakamatsu and Yamamoto), 8th in slugging (between Osugi and Adrian Garrett), 6th in OPS (between Manuel and Osugi), 9th in runs (between Sachio Kinugasa and Taira Fujita), tied for 4th in doubles (with Keiji Nagasaki, Jim Lyttle and Wakamatsu), 10th in total bases (250, between Garrett and Tomio Tashiro) and 9th in walks (56, between Daisuke Yamashita and Katsuhiro Nakamura). He did not make the Best Nine as Yamamoto, Manuel and Wakamatsu were selected.
Takagi battled injuries in 1979, hitting .281/.353/.405 in 89 games when healthy. He batted .283/.348/.426 with 12 home runs in 1980; he tied Toru Sugiura, Yoshihiko Takahashi and Mitsuo Motoi for 6th in the league in doubles (24), tied Skip James and Mike Reinbach for 10th in walks (47) and was third with 88 strikeouts (trailing only Tashiro and Kinugasa). He hit .270/.349/.389 in 1981, placing 9th in walks (43, between Kazumasa Kono and Tashiro) and 10th in strikeouts (69). The Kanigawa native lost playing time in 1982 (though he hit a solid .284/.354/.471 with six triples (tied for second with Kazunori Shinozuka behind Sugiura's 8).
In 1983, the veteran hit excellently when healthy and playing (.369/.434/.528 in 78 G). He would have beaten Akinobu Mayumi for the batting title had he qualified. He fell to .273/.362/.387 in 1984; despite a part-time role, he tied for second in the CL with 8 intentional walks (behind Seiji Kamikawa). He hit .299/.387/.422 in 1985, backing up in the OF and 1B and pinch-hitting frequently. He got his 100th career homer, off Tadashi Kashima, the 140th NPB player to that level. He hit .242/.314/.308 in 1986 then was 3 for 16 in 1987 to wrap it up.
Takagi had played 1,147 games in NPB, hitting .295/.366/.454 with 410 runs, 463 RBI and 102 home runs in 3,656 plate appearances. Through 2011, he was 61st in NPB history in average (between Kazuhiro Yamauchi and Norihiro Akahoshi) and 80th in OBP (between Yoshinobu Takahashi and Kaichi Masu).