Kuroda, Tanishige in Hall of Fame

On Thursday, pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and catcher Motonobu Tanishige were inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame on the Player’s Division ballot voted on by eligible members of the media.

I analyzed the career value and peak value of this year’s candidates in December, when I worked out my own ballot. Kuroda was easily the most qualified pitcher among those on the ballot, and his career fits in nicely with previous pitchers voted into the Hall of Fame.

Kuroda was the Central League’s best pitcher from 2000 until he left for MLB after the 2007 season. Playing for an awful offensive team in an extreme hitters’ park, Kuroda was overlooked during his time in Japan.

Tanishige is another matter. He played in 3.021 major league games than any other Japanese in history, including Ichiro Suzuki. He was a good offensive catcher for the first part of his career, and a solid defender as the years went on.

He won only a single Best Nine Award, in 1998, when the BayStars won the Japan Series. In another era, he might have won more, but his career began in the shadow of Hall of Fame catcher Atsuya Furuta. When Furuta retired, Tanishige then played second fiddle to another sure-fire future Hall of Fame catcher, new Yomiuri Giants manager Shinnosuke Abe.

2024 Players Division Ballot results
Hiroki Kuroda28179.40000000000000669
Motonobu Tanishige28179.40000000000000671.3
Hitoki Iwase23265.5NA65.5
Masahiro Kawai22162.461.162.4
Shinya Miyamoto18452.054.154.1
Masumi Kuwata9827.728.234.2
Kazuo Matsui9226.0NA26.0
Kenjiro Nomura7521.222.539.6
Nobuhiko Matsunaka7019.821.121.1
Tuffy Rhodes6718.92039.6
Atsunori Inaba5315.017.717.7
Takuro Ishii4211.917.717.7
Tadahito Iguchi3810.716.616.6
Kenji Jojima359.99.315.1
Takahiro Arai287.9NA7.9
Shinji Sasaoka236.55.115.3
Norihiro Akahoshi226.26.28.9
Michihiro Ogasawara226.210.715.6
Tomonori Maeda215.910.129.6
Takeshi Yamasaki215.98.511.3
Hiroki Kokubo185.19.032.1
Takuya Asao154.2NA4.2
Masahiro Araki154.2NA4.2
Yoshinobu Takahashi123.44.56.4
So Taguchi123.43.919.5
Tetsuya Yamaguchi123.4NA3.4
Toshiya Sugiuchi61.7NA1.7

The other guys

The second pitcher I voted for, Hitoki Iwase was nearly listed on the 75 percent of the ballots needed for election on his first try, while Kazuo Matsui earned a solid 26 percent in his first year on the ballot.

Japan’s career bunt leader inched upward to 62.4 percent, while vastly more qualified players mostly lost ground. Tuffy Rhodes, in many recent years the most qualified player on the ballot, seems to have stabilized around 20 percent after reaching as high as 39.6 in his third year on the ballot.

In the expert’s division, Masayuki Kakefu fell two votes short of joining his 1985 Hanshin Tigers teammate Randy Bass as a Hall of Famer following Bass’ induction last year.

The big mover in this year’s ballot was predictable. After getting 24 of the 116 votes needed last year, Hideki Kuriyama managed Japan to the World Baseball Classic Championship and shot up to 62 of the 111 votes needed this year. He was named on 15.6 percent of the ballots a year earlier, but 42.2 percent this year.

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