Yutaka Takagi

From BR Bullpen

Yutaka Takagi

  • Bats Both, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 8", Weight 167 lb.

Yutaka Takagi was a 8-time All-Star in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Takagiwas had 115 hits in college and was second all-time in the Tokyo Metropolitan University League in that area. He made four Best Nine teams while in college. The Taiyo Whales took him in the third round in 1980.

Takagi debuted for Taiyo as a pinch-runner on April 9, 1981. He got his first hit 15 days later, facing Takamasa Suzuki. In 156 plate appearances over 88 games that year, the rookie hit only .220/.279/.262, an unimpressive start to his career. His first career homer came on May 3 the next year off Hiromu Matsuoka of the Yakult Swallows. For 1982, Takagi hit .260/.335/.408.

Takagi improved to .314/.390/.460 with 73 runs and 27 steals in 49 tries in 1983. He won his only Diamond Glove Award at second base and was also chosen for his first Central League All-Star team. He tied for the CL lead with five triples and finished 6th in batting average.

In 1984, the Bofu native hit .300/.393/.438 with 76 runs and 66 walks. He stole 56 bases but was gunned down running 28 times, tying a CL record for times caught stealing. He also led the loop in swipes and made his second All-Star squad.

Yutaka's batting line in 1985 was .318/.416/.473 for his best career OPS. He was MVP in the first 1985 NPB All-Star game, thanks to a 2-run homer. For the year, he had 105 runs, 33 doubles, 77 walks to 50 strikeouts and 42 steals in 62 tries. Takagi tied for the CL lead with 5 triples and led the loop in times caught stealing. He was 6th in the CL in average, right behind Akinobu Mayumi. He was named to his first Best Nine as a pro, picked as the top shortstop in the CL. The competition was fierce as Masaru Uno hit 41 homers, a record for a CL shortstop.

In 1985, Takagi hit leadoff in front of Hirokazu Kato and Kaname Yashiki for the first time as part of a speedy attack. They became known as the "Go-kart offense" for their baserunning.

Takagi hit .310/.375/.417 in 1986 with 37 doubles and 24 steals in 40 tries. He finished 6th in the CL in average, between Sadaaki Yoshimura and Mayumi; he was second among Japanese natives in a gaijin-heavy leaderboard which had Randy Bass, Warren Cromartie, Carlos Ponce and Leon Lee in addition to Yoshimua ahead of Takagi. Takagi led the CL in two-baggers and made his fourth straight All-Star team.

The Chuo alumnus fell to .291/.337/.428 in 1987, scoring 75 runs. He set a CL record by fielding .997 at second base and he tied for the CL lead with five triples. He lost out the Diamond Glove to Kozo Shoda.

Takagi hit .300/.385/.416 with 29 steals in 43 tries for the 1988 Whales. He led the CL in times caught stealing and made his fifth All-Star team. He was 5th in the loop in average, between Norihiro Komada and Tatsunori Hara.

In 1989, the 31-year-old produced at a .278/.360/.374 rate and stole 32 bases while being gunned down running 17 times. He tied a NPB record by being thrown out three times on October 15. He rebounded in 1990 to bat .323/.408/.463. He was second in the CL in average, .003 behind leader Jim Paciorek. He had a better OBP than any of the other players who made the top 10 in average but was still .008 behind league leader Hiromitsu Ochiai. Takagi made his second Best Nine in the CL, this time at second base; he also was picked as an All-Star.

Takagi remained productive in 1991, hitting .333/.427/.427 with 30 doubles, 76 walks and 81 runs for Taiyo. He stole 24 bases and was thrown out 14 times, most in the CL. He made his 7th All-Star team. He was 6 runs behind leader Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, was third in average behind Atsuya Furuta and Ochiai and was behind both Ochiai and Furuta in OBP as well. He again made the Best Nine at second base.

In 1992, the veteran infielder hit .300/.394/.402 with 32 doubles, 81 walks, 76 runs and 24 steals in 36 tries. He led the league with 7 sacrifice flies and was 10th in average. He was one double behind leader Paciorek. He made his 8th and final All-Star team; overall, he had hit .250 with a homer and two steals in All-Star competition.

Takagi hit .268/.344/.429 in 1993, finally showing some age. The club led him go after his 13 years of fine play. He retired as the all-time Taiyo/Yokohama BayStars leader in walks+times hit by pitch with 757.

Takagi signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters for 1994. In 65 games as the #4 outfielder for them, he batted .249/.347/.290.

In 1,628 games in NPB, Takagi had hit .297/.378/.411 with 877 runs, 316 doubles, 747 walks and 321 steals in 499 tries. Through 2009, he was 30th in NPB history in average for players with 4,000+ AB. He was also 21st in stolen bases and 4th in times caught stealing (behind Yutaka Fukumoto (744 more steals), Yoshihiko Takahashi (156 more steals, 28 times more caught) and Isao Shibata (268 more steals, 15 times more caught).

He later was an announcer for Fuji television. He also coached for the BayStars. He coached for the Japanese national team in the 2003 Asian Championship and 2004 Olympics.

Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com