Michiro Sato (also listed as Michio Sato)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 191 lb.
Michiro Sato twice led the Pacific League in ERA.
Sato was drafted by the Nankai Hawks in the first round in 1969. He had a superb rookie season in 1970, going 18-6 with a 2.05 ERA, .186 opponent average and .86 WHIP in 55 games (3 starts). He led the PL in both appearances and ERA (edging out Koichiro Sasaki). He made the league's All-Star team and won the Rookie of the Year Award. In 1971, he had a sophomore slump, falling to 8-4, 4.61. He walked 45 in 93 2/3 IP and served up 16 gopher balls. He rebounded in 1972, with a 9-3, 2.51 record and .211 opponent average. He made his second All-Star squad, led the league in games pitched and was 4th in ERA behind Toshihiko Sei, Toshio Kanbe and Akira Tanaka.
The Tokyo native went 11-12 with a 3.18 ERA in 1973. His 60 games pitched led the PL. He appeared in his only Japan Series. In the 1973 Japan Series, he did well with two runs in eight innings against the V-9 Yomiuri Giants but lost game two in relief and the Giants beat the Hawks, 4 games to 1. In 1974, he won 7, lost 8 and saved 13 (in the first season in which saves were tracked in Japan). He had a 1.91 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He led the PL in games pitched yet again, won the first saves title in the PL and won his second ERA title (.47 ahead of runner-up Kanbe).
Sato went 9-9 with six saves and a 2.51 ERA in 1975. He was 4th in ERA behind Choji Murata, Keishi Suzuki and Osamu Higashio. In 1976, he went 9-4 with a 2.25 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and a league-best 16 saves. He made his final All-Star squad. He was third in ERA behind Murata and Manabu Fujita. Moving from a full-time relief role to a swingman role in 1977, Sato had a 12-10, 3.46 record.
He faded fast in 1978, going only 3-8 with a 6.16 ERA and .317 opponent average. Moving to the Taiyo Whales in 1979 in a trade for Masao Tamura and Isao Ito, #14 moved back to the 'pen full-time and went 2-5 with four saves, a 4.48 ERA and a .295 opponent average. He was rocked for 20 hits, 6 walks and 15 runs in 12 innings in 1980, ending his career at age 33.
Overall, he was 88-69 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 500 NPB games (56 starts). He struck out 703 and walked 398 in 1,303 1/3 innings.