Atsunori Itoh

From BR Bullpen

Atsunori Itoh (伊藤 敦規) also transliterated as Ito

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 162 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Atsunori Itoh pitched almost 500 games in Nippon Pro Baseball and was an All-Star once.

Itoh won two games for the Japanese national team that won the 1984 Olympics. He was one of two right-handed pitchers named A. Ito(h) on the team, alongside Akimitsu Ito. While with Kumagai-gumi in the industrial leagues, he also played for Japan in the 1987 Asian Championship, helping Japan win the Silver Medal and a spot in the 1988 Olympics. The Hankyu Braves took him in the first round of the 1987 NPB draft. He was their last first-round pick as they became the Orix Braves prior to the 1988 draft.

The right-hander was 1-4 with a save and a 3.69 ERA in 20 games as a rookie in 1988, allowing a .299 average. He did throw a no-hitter in the minor Western League on August 28. In 1989, he improved to 3-1, 3.44 with a .277 opponent average in 24 games. He went 7-7 with a save and a 4.71 ERA in 1990. He hit a Pacific League-high nine batters, one ahead of teammate Tsutomu Sakai.

Itoh was 6-12 with a save in 1991 despite his ERA improving to 3.08. He was 7th in the PL in ERA (between Hideo Nomo and Osamu Sasaki), tied Mitsujiro Sakai for 3rd in losses, tied Yasumitsu Shibata for 10th in complete games (8) and tying for second in hit batsmen (7). He had a 8-8, 3.80 record in 1992. He tied Yukinaga Maeda and Shibata for 7th with 10 complete games, was 4th in IP (191 2/3, between Kenichi Wakatabe and Shibata), allowed a PL-high 192 walks (two ahead of Wakatabe), tied for 5th with 7 hit batters, was 4th in runs (84, between Satoru Komiyama and Hisanobu Watanabe) and tied Itumi Takayanagi for 6th with 19 homers allowed. In his lone All-Star appearance, he relieved Motoyuki Akahori in the top of the 7th of 1992 NPB All-Star Game 3,, protecting a 1-0 lead. He pitched one scoreless frame (fanning two) but allowed the first two runners on in the 8th (including a homer to Norihiro Komada) and was relieved by Yasukatsu Shirai; the PL wound up falling 4-2 to the Central League, Itoh taking the loss.

The Aichi native only pitched nine games in 1993 (3-4, 5.17) and nine in 1994 (0-1, 7.63). He was traded to the Yokohama BayStars, in a package with backup 1B/OF Tomiji Iiduka in exchange for pitchers Yoshitaka Mizuo and Takashi Watabe and backup IF Kenji Horie. He was 1-2 with a 6.50 ERA and .309 opponent average in 1995. In 1996, he allowed 8 hits, 5 walks and 4 runs (3 earned) in 5 2/3 IP.

Let go by Yokohama, he was signed by the Hanshin Tigers and was resurgent. He was 8-5 with a 2.67 ERA and .189 opponent average in 1997. He tied for second in the Central League in games pitched (60), 6 behind leader Ryuichi Kawahara. He allowed a .260 average in 1998 but was still 2-3 with a 2.87 ERA. He tied Shigeo Tamaki and Hideyuki Awano for 9th with 50 games pitched.

In 1999, Itoh was 6-1 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. The veteran pitched 59 times, third in the CL behind Hitoki Iwase and Shoji Toyama. He made 71 appearances in 2000 and was 3-1 wit ha 1.86 ERA. He led the CL in games pitched that year, 13 ahead of Iwase. He remained sharp in 2001 (6-2, 1.79 in 52 G, .214 opponent average) but fell to 5.16 ERA while battling elbow pain in 2002 to end his career.

In 483 NPB games (84 starts), he had gone 56-51 with 11 saves and a 3.76 ERA. He had a .262 opponent average and 1.31 WHIP. Through 2011, he was 94th in NPB annals in games pitched, tied for 26th in balks and tied for 84th with 37 intentional walks.

He later worked in construction and as a baseball commentator for MBS. He coached for Hanshin starting in 2005, some of that time in the minors; he was still with the team as of 2016.