Mitsuo Inaba

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Mitsuo Inaba

BR minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Mitsuo Inaba pitched for 13 seasons in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Inaba was a second-round draft pick of the Chunichi Dragons in 1970. Making it to the big club the next year, he was nearly untouchable with a 6-0, 1.06 record and 0.94 WHIP. He likely would have been a serious Rookie of the Year candidate with more innings (68) - that honor went to Shitoshi Sekimoto instead. Thrust into the rotation in 1972, he went 20-11 with a 2.76 ERA and .220 opponent average in his big year. He was 5th in the Central League in ERA and made the CL All-Star team. He led the league with 8 shutouts, the only time in his career that he was a league leader.

A repeat All-Star in 1973, Inaba faded to 6-12, 3.53, then 4-5, 3.93 in 1974. In the 1974 Japan Series, he gave up three runs in 4 1/3 IP as Chunichi lost to the Lotte Orions. He had a 7-5, 2.76 record in 1975, tying Senichi Hoshino for 5th in the league in ERA. He struggled in 1976, going 3-7 with a 5.89 ERA and 16 homers in 81 innings.

Moving to the Hankyu Braves in 1977, the 28-year-old had his second big year, going 17-6 with a save, 2.45 ERA and .211 opponent average. He made the Pacific League All-Star team and was third in ERA behind Hisashi Yamada and Keishi Suzuki. In the 1977 Japan Series, he started game four and battled Tsuneo Horiuchi evenly (1-1) for five innings before leaving in favor of Yamada, who got the win. Hankyu wound up with its last Japan Series title.

In 1978, Inaba went 10-5 with a 2.91 ERA. He was 7th in ERA, between Choji Murata and Osamu Higashio. He only pitched two innings in the 1978 Japan Series, allowing one run, and Hankyu fell in seven games to the Yakult Swallows. Mitsuo was 11-9 but with a 4.35 ERA in 1979 then fell to 5-8 with a save, 6.36 ERA and .312 opponent average in 1980 (he also had 58 walks to 35 strikeouts).

Inaba went 11-5 with a 2.93 ERA in 1981 and became the 81st NPB pitcher to 100 career wins. He finished second in the PL in ERA behind only Noriaki Okabe. Inaba was 4-7 with a 4.23 ERA in 1982 and allowed two runs in seven innings in 1983. He was released by Hankyu. Signed by the Hanshin Tigers, he spent 1984 in the minors, then retired.

Overall, Inaba was 104-80 with two saves and a 3.44 ERA in 331 games in NPB. Opponents hit .248 against him. He later coached for the Dragons and the Nippon Ham Fighters. He died of a brain hemorrhage in 2012.

Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com

Mitsuo passes away