Hiroshi Matsuoka

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(Redirected from Hiromu Matsuoka)


Hiroshi Matsuoka (松岡弘) also listed as Hiromu Matsuoka

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 1", Weight 176 lb.

Biographical Information[edit]

Hiroshi Matsuoka pitched in Nippon Pro Baseball for 18 years and made eight Central League All-Star teams.

Matsuoka was picked by the Sankei Atoms in the 5th round in 1967 after having played for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in the industrial leagues. He was 0-1 with six runs in 2 1/3 IP as a rookie in 1968. He improved to 8-10, 3.70 in 1969 before regressing to 4-12, 4.21 in 1970.

The right-hander was a workhorse in 1971, his first All-Star season. He started 37 games, completing 14 of them, and relieved in 11 more. Overall, he worked 281 2/3 innings and had a 14-15, 2.52 record. He led the league in innings pitched, losses, batters faced (1,143), hits allowed (240), walks (84), runs allowed (95) and earned runs allowed (79). He missed the league's top 10 in ERA by .11. His near-.500 record was a success on a 52-72-6 club (Sankei was now known as the Yakult Swallows, the name they retained for the remainder of Matsuoka's career).

In 1972, Matsuoka pitched even more, with 300 innings, going 17-18 with a 3.09 ERA. He was an All-Star again and led the loop in losses, runs allowed (120) and earned runs (103). He was 12 innings behind pacesetter Tsuneo Horiuchi. He again missed the top 10 in ERA barely, by .02. 1973, Hiroshi topped 20 wins at 21-18, 2.23 with a .213 opponent average. He fanned 218 and walked 115 in 295 innings. He was three wins behind leader Yutaka Enatsu and was 4th in ERA. On August 14, he walked ten in a row to set a CL record. He made his third All-Star team.

The Kurashiki native slipped a bit, to 17-15, 2.80, .219 opponent average in 1974. He led the league with 95 walks and tied Kenji Furusawa and Yoshiro Sotokoba for the most shutouts (4). Matsuoka was picked for his fourth straight CL All-Star squad. He was 5th in ERA, between Enatsu and Sotokoba. In 1975, Hiroshi was 13-9 with 6 saves, a 2.32 ERA and .199 opponent average. He finished second in ERA behind Sohachi Aniya and made his 5th All-Star team.

Matsuoka reached 100 career wins in 1976 while making his 6th All-Star team and going 17-13 with four saves and a 3.32 ERA. He finished 6th in ERA, between Clyde Wright and Furusawa. He tied Hisao Niura, Kojiro Ikegaya and Senichi Hoshino for the most shutouts, 3. He failed to make the All-Star team for the first time since 1970 during the 1977 season, which he finished 9-10 with 7 saves and a 4.12 ERA.

In 1978, the veteran went 16-11 with two saves and a 3.75 ERA. He led the league in shutouts (4) and walks (96) but did not finish among the top 10 in ERA. Despite this, he won the Sawamura Award as the top pitcher in Japan. Oddly, he was not given the Best Nine as the best pitcher in his league, an honor that went to Niura. In the 1978 Japan Series, he started and won game two against the Hankyu Braves, saved games four and five and then tossed a shutout in game seven to give Yakult its first Japan Series title. He had a 2.89 ERA for the Series. Despite playing a role in all four Swallows wins, he did not get Series MVP honors as those went to slugger Katsuo Osugi.

Matsuoka went 9-11 with 13 saves and a 3.96 ERA in 1979. He rebounded to 13-6 with a save and a 2.35 ERA in 1980 and won his only ERA title, .13 ahead of Suguru Egawa. The old-timer went 12-7 with four saves and a 3.75 ERA in 1981, when he made his first All-Star team in five years. He gave up a CL-worst 29 home runs. He was 9-13 with 3 saves and a 3.32 ERA in 1982.

The Swallows mainstay posted a 11-14, 4.09 record in 1983 but made his last All-Star team. He tied Shigeru Kobayashi, Tatsuo Komatsu and Takashi Imoto for the league lead in losses, the first time in 11 years he had led in that category. Matsuoka injured his neck after the season and saw limited action in a very poor 1984 (1-5, 6.56, .345 opponent average). He did reach 2,000 career strikeouts on September 22, the 11th NPB pitcher to have whiffed so many. He was even worse in his final campaign, 1985 at 0-2, 9.42 with 23 hits and 10 walks in 14 1/3 IP.

Matsuoka's career record was 191-190, 3.33 with 41 saves, 134 complete games and 30 shutouts in 660 games. He struck out 2,008 and walked 1,163 in 3,240 innings. As of 2010, he ranked among NPB's all-time leaders in wins (27th, between Noboru Akiyama and Shigeo Ishii), losses (9th, between Masaji Hiramatsu and Katsuji Sasaki), games (20th, between Takehiko Bessho and Aniya), innings (17th, between Choji Murata and Enatsu), strikeouts (19th, between Nobuyuki Hoshino and Kazumi Takahashi), walks (7th, between Bessho and Murata), hits allowed (2,939, 18th between Tadashi Wakabayashi and Kazuhisa Inao), homers allowed (326, 13th between Fumio Narita and Katsuji Sakai), runs allowed (1,340, 14th between Kimiyasu Kudoh and Masahiro Yamamoto) and earned runs allowed (1,200, tied for 13th with Murata).

After retiring as a player, Matsuoka coached in the minors for Yakult, did baseball commentary for Tokyo Broadcasting and Asahi TV then coached for the Swallows. Additionally, he has released musical albums as a singer.

Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland