Kensuke Kondo

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Kensuke Kondo (近藤 健介)

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 7", Weight 176 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Kensuke Kondo has been an All-Star in Japan and played for the Japanese national team.

Kondo was the All-Star catcher when Japan won the 2011 Asian Junior Championship. [1] He was taken by the Nippon Ham Fighters in the 4th round of the 2011 NPB draft. [2] His first hit in the Pacific League came off Hayato Terahara and he finished the 2012 season at .192/.241/.192 in 30 plate appearances, backing up Shinya Tsuruoka and Shota Ono at catcher. In 2013, he fell to .152/.269/.152 in 80 plate appearances, again the third-stringer.

Moving to mostly third base in 2014, he fielded .952 there and batted .258/.296/.386. He hit his first NPB homer, off Yoshihisa Naruse. In 2015, he was mostly a DH but also caught regularly (58 G), backing up Ono. He produced at a .326/.405/.467 clip and rapped 33 doubles to show big strides in his age-21 season. He was among the PL leaders in batting average (3rd, after Yuki Yanagita and Shogo Akiyama), OBP (3rd, behind the same two), runs (tied for 8th with Dae-ho Lee and Haruki Nishikawa at 68) and doubles (tied Tomoya Mori for 4th).

In 2016, he was a DH-OF, switching positions again. He hit .265/.337/.323 in an off-season. He was 3 for 17 with a double and two runs in the 2016 Japan Series, as Nippon Ham beat the Hiroshima Carp. [3] He bounced back in a big way in 2017 at .413/.567/.557 in 57 games, on pace to set a new Nippon Pro Baseball record for OBP before he had to have surgery for a lumbar disc. [4]

The Chiba native was healthy and hitting in 2018 - .323/.427/.457, 29 2B, 87 BB, 69 RBI. He was again 3rd in the PL in average behind Yanagita and Akiyama, though he moved up to 2nd in OBP (just .004 behind Yanagita). He was 6th in OPS (between Hideto Asamura and Seiya Inoue), tied Seiji Uebayashi for 8th with 149 hits, tied Yanagita for 6th in doubles and was 3rd in walks (after Nishikawa and Hotaka Yamakawa). He was named to the Best Nine as the PL's top DH. [5] He also made the PL team for the 2018 NPB All-Star Games. In Game 1, he hit 3rd and played DH, singling off Daisuke Matsuzaka in the 1st and coming around to score; he was 1 for 3 before being replaced by Alfredo Despaigne. [6] In Game 2, he replaced Akira Nakamura in left field and went 2 for 3, with hits off Koji Uehara and Yasuaki Yamasaki in a 5-1 PL win. [7]

Kondo fielded .993 in 86 games in the outfield in 2019 and returned to third base for the first time in four years, fielding .905 in 30 games. He kept on hitting well, .302/.422/.400 with 32 doubles, 74 runs and 103 walks. In 2019 NPB All-Star Game 1, he hit second and played DH, going 0 for 3 before Despaigne replaced him in a PL victory. [8] In Game 2, he replaced Yurisbel Gracial in right in a 11-3 loss to the Central League and went 0 for 2. [9] For the season, he was on the PL leaderboards in average (6th, between Akiyama and Taishi Ota), OBP (1st, .009 ahead of Masataka Yoshida), doubles (4th, between Daichi Suzuki and Akiyama), triples (5, tied for 6th) and walks (1st, 10 ahead of Asamura and Nishikawa). While he led the league in OBP and walks, he did not make the Best Nine this time - Despaigne was picked at DH and the outfield spots went to Yoshida, Akiyama and Takashi Ogino.

He made the Japanese squad for the 2019 Premier 12. In the opener, his bases-loaded walk from Elvis Escobar put Japan ahead for the first time against Venezuela in a comeback win; he had 4 walks that day. He scored the winner against Australia; tied at two in the 8th, he doubled off Jon Kennedy and came home on a walk to Asamura with the bases loaded. As Japan's starting left fielder, he showed off his OBP talents in the event - .190/.452/.238, 9 BB in 8 G. He had 7 putouts, one assist and no errors. In the Gold Medal Game, he was 0 for 4 but Japan beat South Korea, the defending champions, for the title. He finished the event 4th in OBP among those with 20+ at-bats (between Hyun-soo Kim and Asamura) and he led in walks, two ahead of Esteban Quiroz. [10]