Mitsuo Motoi

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Mitsuo Motoi

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 8", Weight 180 lb.

A six-time All-Star and two-time Best Nine selection, Mitsu Motoi was a second baseman who played 18 years in Nippon Pro Baseball, hitting 189 home runs, stealing 217 bases and leading the league twice in walks.

1967-1978: With the Lions[edit]

Motoi dropped out of college when his father died and played in the industrial leagues for Shinozaki Soko. He signed with the Nishitetsu Lions after a tryout and hit .225/.284/.315 for them in 1967 as a 20-year-old. He progressed to a .235/.307/.352 line in 1968 with 12 homers and 21 steals in 30 tries. He made his first All-Star appearance and his 26 sacrifice hits that year led the Pacific League.

The next season, he increased his production from 13 doubles to 34 and batted .295/.361/.441 while leading the PL in two-baggers. He was 8th in the league in average as well. In 1970, the 23-year-old Motoi hit .254/.353/.453 with 21 home runs, a mark he would not reach again during his career. That year was a turbulent one for Nishitetsu, as the Black Mist Scandal came to light and several players were banned for life. Motoi had to testify on his involvement and got a "severe warning", the lightest penalty of the group. In '71, Mitsuo had a .276/.353/.411 line and swiped 21 in 26 attempts. He made his second All-Star team.

Motoi produced at a .301/.393/.484 line in 1972, one of his best seasons. He had his only 20-20 year, smacking 20 homers and stealing 25 bases in 35 tries. He was sixth in the league in average. He led the PL with 70 walks that season to complete the all-around offensive performance. Motoi made his first Best Nine and his third All-Star team.

In '73, Mitsuo batted .292/.388/.487 with 18 HR and was an All-Star yet again. The infielder slipped in 1974, with a .243/.326/.366 year, one of his worst. Motoi rebounded in 1975 with a .282/.349/.362 line, though he only hit seven home runs. His 27 sacrifice hits led the league.

In 1976, he only played 72 games, hit five home runs and hit .235/.331/.319. He had another comeback year in 1977, hitting .263/.350/.396. Despite drawing only 57 walks, he still led the Pacific League that year. He stole 22, but was caught 16 times, leading the league. At age 30, he made his 5th All-Star team and first in four years.

The 1978 campaign continued his revival as he batted .304/.369/.427, albeit in a part-time role.

1979-1984: With the Whales[edit]

In '79, Motoi hit .295/.389/.485, stole 16 in 19 tries and hit 15 homers in a blast from the past season as he joined the Taiyo Whales in a trade for Takashi Nemoto and Tatsuo Uzawa. On May 9, he hit four doubles in a game, tying a Nippon Pro Baseball record.

The veteran made his second Best Nine and sixth All-Star in 1980. For the year, he hit .314/.393/.467 with a career-high 70 RBI. He tied Hirokazu Kato for fourth in the Central League in batting average. He had now made Best Nine and All-Star teams in both major leagues in Japan. He only went 2 for 28 in his All-Star games (15 All-Star games in his six All-Star seasons). He won his lone Diamond Glove Award that year.

Motoi hit just one home and stole only four bases in 1981. He batted .237/.306/.287, his last bad year, had the worst slugging percentage of his career and the second-worst OBP.

In 1982, Mitsuo rebounded yet again, with 18 home runs and a .269/.339/.470 line at age 35. He became a bench player for his final two years, but remained productive with a .307/.369/.395 average in 114 AB in |1983 and .345/.383/.448 in 87 AB in 1984.

Career stats[edit]

Motoi batted .273/.352/.412 for his career, with 217 steals in 325 tries and 189 home runs in 1,914 games.

Post-playing career[edit]

After retiring as a player, Mitsuo coached for Taiyo and the Nippon Ham Fighters. He then worked as a baseball commentator for RKB and later for Kanagawa TV.

Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland