Abe to call it quits

Shortly after hitting his 405th career home run on Monday night, Shinnosuke Abe told his Yomiuri Giants teammates that this would be his final season.

The 40-year-old had hoped to return to catching this year, but was physically unable and has largely been consigned to pinch-hitting duties. The popular Abe will cruise through the Hall of Fame voting and could conceivably be a unanimous selection.

In his career, Abe won one CL MVP award in 2012, nine Best Nine Awards and four Golden Gloves.

The “8” man

Scott Mathieson told me a great Shinnosuke Abe story about two years ago, and something I saw the other day reminded me of it and what a presence Abe was for the Giants.

A pitcher was in trouble and Abe was playing first base. When pitching coach Kazutomo Miyamoto went to the mound, the infield gathered around, and from the camera angle, you could see that Abe was doing all the talking. Never saw anything like that before.

“He’s a genius when it comes to baseball,” Mathieson told the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast in July 2017. “It’s fun to be able to sit down and talk baseball with someone as knowledgable as him.”

“Still, when he’s playing first base and I’m pitching, he’ll yell at me and give me hints. He tells me ’80 percent’ all the time,” Mathieson said.

The 80 percent came from when Abe first caught Mathieson and was a technique to keep him from overthrowing or trying to do too much, that 80 percent of his best was good enough.

“He draws it (a figure eight) with his hand. Now it makes me laugh. But it’s him telling me to stay within myself.”

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