Sunday, July 28, 2013

Meet A Prospect Hideki Matsui

Hideki Matsui was born on June 12, 1974 in Neagari Ishikawa, Japan. Hideki Matsui was originally a right handed batter as a child but started playing baseball with his older brother and friends and embarrassed his brother with how good of a hitter he was. Matsui's brother made him bat left handed or told him that he could no longer play with him so Hideki learned how to bat left handed. Matsui was actually a third basemen as a child because of his quick hands, sure glove, and strong arm. Matsui was recruited to play baseball for the Seiryo High School in Kanazawa, Ishikawa and participated in four National High School Baseball Tournaments at Koshien Stadium. He was such a feared hitter that one time in 1992 Hideki drew five consecutive intentional walks in a game at Koshien and became the Barry Bonds of Japan overnight.

Hideki was drafted by the Yomiuri Giants after high school in the first round and was given uniform number 55 because it was the single season home run record held by Sadaharu Oh. Matsui was convinced that he could surpass Oh's home run record for a single season but unfortunately never did. Matsui would win three MVP awards while in the Japanese Central League in 1996, 2000, and 2002 and led his team to four Japanese Series including three victories in 1994, 2000, and 2002. Matsui would be on nine consecutive all star games and led the Japanese League in home runs and RBI's three times in 1998, 2000, and 2002. Matsui hit a Japan career high 50 home runs in his final season in Japan in 2002 before coming over to the states. In 10 seasons in the Japan League Matsui played in 1,268 games, had 1,390 hits, 332 home runs, 889 RBI's, had a .304 batting average and played in 1,250 consecutive games. In 2001 Godzilla would turn down a six year $64 million deal to be the highest paid player in NPB history to come to the United States.

Matsui would sign with the Yankees in December of 2002 for three years and $21 million. Matsui wasted no time getting acclimated to the majors as he had an RBI single in his first major league at bat. In his first home game at Yankees Stadium Matsui hit a grand slam and won over the fans right away. He also would become the first ever Japanese hitter to hit a home run in the 2002 World Series against the Florida Marlins in a loss. Matsui would lose out on the Rookie of the Year award to Angel Berroa since two writers, Jim Souhan and Bill Ballou, refused to include him on their ballots due to his age. The Yankees would resign Matsui to a four year deal for $52 million making him the highest paid Japanese player in baseball before the 2006 season. This contract would make him the highest paid Japanese player in baseball surpassing Ichiro Suzuki for the honor. On August 5, 2007 Hideki Matsui became the first Japanese player in Major League history to hit 100 home runs as he hit a home run off of Gil Meche of the Kansas City Royals. It was a 2008 knee surgery that was the beginning of the end of Hideki Matsui's career which saw him become the Yankees designated hitter through out the rest of his career. On September 19, 2009 Hideki hit his 26th home run of the season breaking the single season Yankees home run record by a designated hitter held by Don Baylor. Matsui's Yankees career would end on a high  as he hit .615 with three home runs and eight RBI's including six RBI's in the Yankees series clinching game six victory. Matsui would be named the World Series MVP even though he did not play in the three games that were played in Philadelphia. Matsui would be the first Japanese player to even win the World Series MVP award and the first player ever to win the award strictly as a designated hitter. Matsui would finish his Yankees career with a triple slash of .292/.370/.482 with 140 home runs, 597 RBI's, and 977 hits in 916 games as a Yankee.

Matsui would leave the Yankees after the 2009 World Series ring to sign a one year deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for $6 million. Matsui would finish with a .274 average with 21 home runs and 84 RBI's before hitting the free agent market once again. In 2011 Matsui would sign with the Oakland Athletics for $4,250,000 million. Matsui would finish his A's career with a .251 average with 12 home runs and 72 RBI's in 141 games. Matsui would sign a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012 and would get called up on May 29th against the Chicago White Sox. He would have to wear the #35 in honor of former teammate Mike Mussina because team mate Matt Moore was already wearing the #55 for the Rays. Matsui would only hit .147 for the Rays before being designated for assignment  on July 25th and released on August 1st 2012.

Matsui would announce his retirement on December 27, 2012. Matsui would have a retirement ceremony May 5th, 2013 in the Tokyo Dome where the Japanese government awarded him the People's Honour Award. This award is one of the commendations given by the Prime Minister of Japan and was created in 1977 by Takeo Fukuda. Matsui would become the 4th baseball player to ever be bestowed with the honor joining Shigeo Nagashima, Sachio Kinugasa, and his idol Sadaharu Oh. Matsui will sign a one day contract with the New York Yankees so that he can retire a Yankee and the Yankees will have Hideki Matsui bobble head day at the stadium. Matsui has had a great career both in Japan and in the major leagues and we thank him for everything he did both on and off the field as a part of the Yankees.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)