Seiji Kobayashi (02)
Seiji Kobayashi (小林 誠司)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 173 lb.
Seiji Kobayashi has caught in Nippon Pro Baseball.
After college, Kobayashi said he would not sign unless a team drafted him in the first round. When he went undrafted as a result, he signed with Nippon Life Insurance in the industrial leagues and won a Best Nine at catcher in 2013. The Yomiuri Giants made him their first-round pick in the 2013 NPB draft after they lost the lottery for Ayumu Ishikawa. He was expected to become the replacement to long-time Giants star Shinnosuke Abe behind the dish.
Kobayashi debuted as a replacement for Abe late in a 12-4 win on Opening Day, 2014. He got his first hit a bit over a week later off Daniel Cabrera and his first homer came on May 7 against Kazuki Mishima. He finished the year with a .255/.305/.373 batting line in 121 plate appearances over 63 games while throwing out 41.7% of those who tried to steal. Despite having been a back-up, he made the Samurai Japan team for the 2014 Nichi-Bei Series, going 0 for 2 as a third-stringer behind Motohiro Shima and Hikaru Ito. He then played for Japan in their series against Team Europe in early 2015, grounding out against Loek van Mil in his lone at-bat, after replacing Tsubasa Aizawa in a 4-3 win.
He became the Giants' primary catcher in 2015 as Abe moved to 1B mostly. He hit .226/.312/.294 but showed good defense (.996 fielding percentage, 43.8% caught stealing). In 2016, he was pretty much an everyday player despite barely topping the Mendoza Line at .204/.276/.269 with 27 runs and 35 RBI in 129 games. He threw out 43.2% of would-be be base thieves. He was named to Samurai Japan for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, presumably as a defensive sub behind Shima and Shota Ono. When Shima was sidelined by injury, the light-hitting defensive wizard became the starting catcher for Japan and hit very well in the first two rounds.