Kozo Shoda

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Kozo Shoda

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Biographical Information[edit]

Kozo Shoda was a five-time All-Star second baseman for the Hiroshima Carp.

Shoda won Bronze with the Japanese national team in the 1983 Asian Championship. He was the leadoff hitter for Japan when they won the 1984 Olympics (baseball was not yet a medal event). He was a second-round pick by Hiroshima in that year's draft. He made his debut on May 22, 1985, but had a poor rookie showing, going 9 for 50 with 11 walks, a double and five steals in eight tries.

In 1986, the little infielder batted .288/.339/.347 but fell to .208/.269/.292 in the 1986 Japan Series, which Hiroshima lost to the Seibu Lions. He hit his first home run on the anniversary of his debut, a grand slam - it was his lone long ball in his first three seasons.

Shoda improved to .330/.387/.405 in 1987 with 30 steals in 41 tries. He tied Kazunori Shinozuka for the Central League batting title, made his first All-Star team, led the league in times hit by pitch (11), led in times caught stealing and won the Gold Glove Award at second base. Shinozuka beat him out for Best Nine honors. Shoda became the first switch-hitter to win a batting title in Nippon Pro Baseball. He also was the first player in Japan's two-league era (1950 and later) to win a batting championship without a home run.

Kozo hit .340/.389/.419 in 1988 to win his second batting title, .008 over Jim Paciorek, the runner-up. He also paced the CL with seven triples. He made his second All-Star team and was MVP of the third All-Star Game of '88. He also won his second Gold Glove and took home his first Best Nine selection.

Shoda fell to .323/.387/.396 in 1989 with 34 steals in 52 tries and a career-high 74 runs. On October 15, he tied the NPB record set in 1952 by Zenpei Yamazaki with six swipes in a contest. He led the CL in plate appearances (574), triples (7, tied with Carlos Ponce), steals and times caught stealing. He was third in the league in average behind gaijin Wally Yonamine and Paciorek. He won a Gold Glove and was picked as an All-Star. He was chosen as his league's top second sacker for the second and final time.

The Wakayama native hit .301/.354/.385 in 1990. He won his fourth Gold Glove. He was 9th in the league in average and made his fourth All-Star team in a row. He batted .291/.350/.397 with a career-high 8 homers and 52 RBI in 1991 while claiming his last Gold Glove. He hit .227/.292/.273 in the 1991 Japan Series as the Carp again fell to Seibu.

In 1992, the veteran second baseman hit .301/.366/.398 for his last .300 season. He made his last CL All-Star squad that year. He was 8th in the league in batting average that campaign. Shoda batted .257/.314/.334 in 1993 and .280/.331/.325 in 1994. During 1995, the 33-year-old's line was .274/.352/.341. He became president of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association that winter, succeeding Akinobu Okada.

Shoda hit .235/.283/.275 in 1996, .241/.282/.343 in 1997 and .274/.330/.306 in 1998, remaining a regular until the end. When he retired, Akihiro Higashide and Takuya Kimura became the Carp's second basemen and both would go on to lengthy careers. Atsuya Furuta replaced him as president of the players' union.

Overall, Shoda had batted .287/.345/.358 in 1,565 NPB games. He stole 146 bases but was thrown out running 97 times. His two main skills were obviously contact and defense, not drawing many walks or showing much pop and not showing great stealing ability.

Shoda coached for the Carp and Kintetsu Buffaloes after he wound up as a player.

Primary Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland