49 Japanese Baseball Best Players of All Time

John Means

The Japanese Baseball League is known for its high level of competition and some of the best players in the world are found here. With a long and illustrious history, the league has produced some of the greatest players to ever take the field.

From stars like Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui to sluggers like Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima, the Japanese Baseball League has a rich history of excellence.We will take a look at some of the best players in the Japanese Baseball League over the years.

1. Shohei Ohtani

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Shohei Ohtani is a professional baseball player who has earned the nickname “Shotime”. He is a pitcher and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball.

Prior to joining the Angels, Ohtani had been playing for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Nippon Professional Baseball’s Pacific League. He is the first player in over a hundred years to play as both a pitcher and a designated hitter in the same game.

His success as a two-way player has caught the attention of the entire baseball world and earned him the nickname “Shotime”. Ohtani is an incredible talent, displaying his ability to pitch and hit with ease, and has quickly become a fan favorite in Los Angeles.

He is an inspiration to aspiring baseball players everywhere and has set a new standard for two-way players in Major League Baseball.

2. Yoshinobu Yamamoto

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Yoshinobu Yamamoto is a professional baseball player from Japan. He is currently a pitcher for the Orix Buffaloes, which is a team in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league.

Yamamoto has been playing professional baseball for several years, and his career has been quite successful. He is known for his great accuracy and control on the mound. He has also been a reliable starter for the Buffaloes, and he has been a major contributor to their success.

Yamamoto is a great role model for aspiring baseball players in Japan and is a great example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication.

3. Munetaka Murakami

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Munetaka Murakami is a professional baseball player from Japan, currently playing for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

He plays the infield position, which includes the shortstop, second and third base, and is responsible for fielding ground balls and throwing them to the appropriate base.

Since joining the Swallows in 2017, Murakami has become a reliable force in the infield and has helped the team to several successful seasons. He is known for his strong defense and has won several awards for his defensive prowess.

Murakami is a talented and respected player and has quickly become a fan favorite in Tokyo. His leadership and skill on the field have made him an important part of the Swallows’ success and he is an integral part of their future.

4. Masataka Yoshida

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Masataka Yoshida is a professional baseball player representing Japan in the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). He began his professional career with Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Yoshida is an outfielder, meaning he is responsible for fielding balls that are hit into the outfield. In NPB, Yoshida was a highly regarded player, as he was a three-time All-Star in the Pacific League, the top baseball league in Japan.

He was also a two-time Gold Glove Award winner. After establishing himself as a star in NPB, Yoshida decided to take his talents to the United States and join the Red Sox in MLB. His transition was relatively easy, as he has made an immediate impact on the team.

He has already won the Silver Slugger Award and is considered one of the best outfielders in the league. With his skill set and experience, he is sure to continue to make an impact for the Red Sox for years to come.

5. Tomoya Mori

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Tomoya Mori is a baseball player from Japan who plays professionally for the Orix Buffaloes in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). NPB is the highest level of professional baseball in Japan and is considered to be one of the best professional baseball leagues in the world.

Mori is a catcher, which means he is responsible for catching the ball thrown by the pitcher, calling the pitches, and blocking the plate. He also provides leadership to the team by being an example of hard work and dedication.

Mori has been a member of the Orix Buffaloes since 2018 and has since become one of the most respected players in the league. His skill and experience have helped the Buffaloes become one of the most successful teams in NPB.

He is an inspiration to young players in Japan and is a key part of the Buffaloes’ success.

6. Hotaka Yamakawa

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Hotaka Yamakawa, also known as “Aguu”, is a respected professional baseball player from Japan. He currently plays infield for the Saitama Seibu Lions, a team in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Yamakawa has had an impressive career, as he has led the Pacific League in home runs in three different years: 2018, 2019, and 2022. His performance in such a competitive league demonstrates his exceptional skill as a baseball player.

He is an inspiration to many current and aspiring players, and his name is well-respected in the Japanese baseball world.

7. Rōki Sasaki

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Rōki Sasaki is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher for the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Nippon Professional Baseball.

He has quickly gained notoriety in Japan and beyond for his tremendous skill, earning him the nickname “The Monster of the Reiwa Era.” Sasaki made his NPB debut in 2021 and has already made a name for himself in the league.

Sasaki set a new Japanese high school baseball record with a fastball recorded at 163 kilometres per hour. This impressive feat was achieved during a high school tournament in 2021, solidifying Sasaki’s status as one of the most promising pitchers in the NPB.

His powerful fastball is a testament to his hard work and dedication to the game, as well as his natural ability. Rōki Sasaki is certainly a name to watch in the Nippon Professional Baseball circuit.

His impressive pitching record and incredible speed have earned him the nickname “Monster of the Reiwa Era,” and many fans are eagerly awaiting his future successes.

8. Keita Sano

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Keita Sano is a professional baseball player from Japan. He plays in the infield for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, a team in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. Sano is widely known by his nickname, “Thanos”, which he acquired during his years in the amateur leagues.

Sano has had a successful career at the professional level and is now a key contributor to the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. He is highly respected by his teammates and opponents alike and is known for his strong work ethic and dedication to the game.

Sano is also a fan favorite, as he always puts forth his best effort and displays a genuine love for the game. His skill and passion for baseball make him a valuable asset to the team, and his presence on the field is an invaluable part of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

9. Yasutaka Shiomi

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Yasutaka Shiomi is an acclaimed professional baseball player from Japan. He has been playing the game since his early days and has established himself as a talented outfielder. The Tokyo Yakult Swallows, a professional Japanese baseball team, selected him to join their team.

He has been a part of the team for several years now and has performed remarkably well in the outfield. His skillful batting and outstanding fielding have made him a valuable asset for the team.

He is also admired for his leadership and team spirit, which have helped the team to remain competitive in the league. His presence in the team has certainly made a positive impact on the team’s performance.

10. Shugo Maki

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Shugo Maki is a professional Japanese baseball player who currently plays infield for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. Maki began his professional career in 2016 when he was drafted by the BayStars. Since then, he has become an important part of the team’s lineup.

He is known for his defensive skills, as well as his ability to hit for power and average. His presence in the infield helps to solidify the defense of the team, and his offensive contributions help to keep the BayStars competitive.

Maki is highly respected among his teammates and peers and is a key component of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars organization.

11. Yūki Okabayashi

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Yūki Okabayashi is a professional baseball player from Japan. He plays the position of outfielder for the Chunichi Dragons, a professional baseball team based in Nagoya, Japan.

Okabayashi is known for his strong arm and impressive batting average, as well as his speed on the field. As an outfielder, his role is to patrol the outfield, make fielding plays, and back up the infielders in case of a ball hit in their direction.

His athleticism and speed also allows him to chase down pop-ups and fly balls that would otherwise be out of reach for many other players. He is a key asset to the Chunichi Dragons, helping the team reach its goals and excel in the Japanese baseball league.

12. Ichiro Suzuki

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Ichiro Suzuki is a legendary Japanese baseball player. He is best known for his impressive accomplishments in the game, including a record-breaking 10 consecutive seasons with 200 or more hits.

He also holds the highest single-season batting average in the Japanese professional baseball league.

His nickname, “Ichiro,” has become synonymous with excellence in the sport. Ichiro played professional baseball for 28 seasons, starting his career in 1992 with the Orix Blue Wave of the Japanese Pacific League.

He was one of the most feared and respected players in the league, as evidenced by his 10 All-Star selections and three MVP awards. In 2001, Ichiro made history by becoming the first Japanese player to play in the Major Leagues, signing with the Seattle Mariners.

Over the course of his Major League career, Ichiro accumulated 10 Gold Glove awards, was named an All-Star seven times, and won the 2001 American League Rookie of the Year award. Ichiro’s last season was 2018, when he retired from the Seattle Mariners.

Throughout his career, Ichiro Suzuki was a dominant force in the game, setting records and inspiring generations of fans. His unparalleled skill and passion for the game will likely be remembered as a defining feature of the modern era of baseball.

13. Kenta Imamiya

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Kenta Imamiya is a standout baseball player in Japan. He is currently a shortstop for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, a Nippon Professional Baseball team. Imamiya has made an impact on the game with his impressive skills, particularly his ability to execute sacrifice bunts.

He holds the record for most sacrifice bunts in the Pacific League, a testament to his skill and dedication to the game. Imamiya is a reliable fielder and hitter, and his ability to lay down a sacrifice bunt makes him an invaluable asset to his team. He is a leader on the field, and his record speaks for itself.

14. Hideki Matsui

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Hideki Matsui is a former professional baseball player who is widely known by his nickname, “Godzilla”. He was born in Japan and was a left-handed batter and right-handed thrower during his career.

Matsui had a successful career in both Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB). During his time in NPB, Matsui was a four-time All-Star and a three-time Central League Most Valuable Player.

In MLB, Matsui played for the New York Yankees from 2003-2009, where he was a three-time All-Star, a World Series MVP, and a 2009 ALCS MVP. After his time with the Yankees, Matsui went on to play for the Oakland A’s, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Tampa Bay Rays.

He officially retired in 2013, leaving behind a legacy of success and admiration from fans all over the world.

15. Yu Darvish

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Farid Yu Darvishsefat, better known as Yu Darvish, is a prominent figure in the world of professional baseball. He is currently a pitcher for the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Prior to joining the Padres, Darvish had also played for the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Chicago Cubs in the MLB, and the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in the Nippon Professional Baseball. Darvish has made a name for himself in the sport of baseball.

He is a five-time All-Star, a two-time American League ERA champion, and a two-time AL strikeout champion. He has also been nominated for the Cy Young Award four times, and won the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020.

Darvish is considered one of the best pitchers in the world. He has a career record of 113-75, with a 3.42 ERA, and 2,187 strikeouts. He has also thrown 43 complete games, 13 shutouts, and recorded an impressive 12.4 K/9.

Darvish is a highly respected figure in the baseball community. His skill and dedication to the sport have earned him a great deal of recognition and respect.

He is a great role model for aspiring baseball players, and his accomplishments are sure to be remembered for many years to come.

16. Masahiro Tanaka

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Masahiro Tanaka is a professional baseball player from Japan who currently plays for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a team in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league. Tanaka was originally signed to the Eagles in 2007 and has been with the team ever since.

During his time with the Eagles, Tanaka has become one of the most successful pitchers in the NPB, earning multiple awards and accolades for his performance. He is widely respected for his ability to consistently perform at a high level.

In addition to his success on the field, Tanaka is also known for his work off the field, as he is a strong advocate for youth baseball in Japan. By teaching kids the importance of teamwork and dedication, Tanaka has been able to give back to the community in which he grew up.

17. Kazuhiro Sasaki

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Kazuhiro “Daimajin” Sasaki is a former professional baseball player who played in both the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB).

He was a right-handed relief pitcher and played his entire NPB career with the Yokohama Taiyo Whales / Yokohama Bay Stars. In the MLB, he was a member of the Seattle Mariners, where he spent his entire career.

Sasaki was known for his success as a pitcher in both Japan and the United States. He was a three-time NPB All-Star, winning the Central League MVP in 1999 and the Eiji Sawamura Award in 2000.

He then made the jump to the MLB in 2000 with the Mariners, where he quickly established himself as one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the league. He was selected to the All-Star team in 2001 and saved 45 games in his first season, setting a franchise record.

He was also named AL Rookie of the Year and AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2000. Sasaki retired in 2005, and his number 56 jersey was retired by the Mariners in 2007. He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.

Today, he is considered one of the most successful Japanese players to have ever played in the MLB.

18. Hideo Nomo

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Hideo Nomo is a beloved Japanese former baseball pitcher who successfully played in both the Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball. Nomo first began his career in Japan in 1990, when he joined the Kintetsu Buffaloes, a Japanese professional baseball team.

During his four year tenure with the Buffaloes, Nomo quickly became one of the most successful players on the team, and his performance earned him recognition and acclaim from fans and peers alike.

Nomo’s success in Japan was a precursor to his future accomplishments in Major League Baseball. In 1995, he became the first Japanese player to make the leap to the MLB, a move that brought him international acclaim.

Since then, Nomo has been a major influence in the game of baseball, inspiring other players from Japan to pursue their dreams of playing in the MLB.

19. Hiroki Kuroda

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Hiroki Kuroda is a legendary figure in the sport of professional baseball. He began his career in 1997 as a pitcher for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, a team in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan.

During his time with the Carp, he established himself as one of the premier pitchers in the league and was an All-Star selection for six consecutive seasons.

In 2008, Kuroda moved to the United States and joined the Los Angeles Dodgers, making him the third Japanese-born player to join the American Major League Baseball.

With the Dodgers, he was named to the All-Star Game three times and was an integral part of the team’s success, helping them reach the playoffs in 2008 and 2009.

In 2012, Kuroda moved to the New York Yankees and continued to be an effective pitcher, making the All-Star Team once again in 2013. He retired from professional baseball in 2014 after playing for the Yankees for three seasons.

Throughout his career, Kuroda was a consistent and reliable pitcher, displaying a mastery of the craft that earned him the respect of his peers and fans alike. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest Japanese players in MLB history.

20. Koji Uehara

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Koji Uehara is a Japanese former professional baseball pitcher. He had a successful and lengthy career, having played for several teams in both Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB). Uehara first played for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan’s NPB.

He then moved to the United States to play in the MLB, joining the Baltimore Orioles in 2009. He then moved to the Texas Rangers in 2011, followed by the Boston Red Sox in 2013, and finally the Chicago Cubs in 2016. He retired from professional baseball in 2019.

Uehara was a dominant and reliable pitcher throughout his career. He was known for his pinpoint control, which enabled him to consistently throw strikes and limit opposing hitters. He was also a great competitor, always giving 100% effort on the mound.

Uehara was a two-time All-Star, a World Series Champion, and a recipient of the MLB Delivery Man of the Year Award. He was also the MVP of the 2013 ALCS and a key contributor to the Red Sox’s 2013 World Series victory.

Koji Uehara was an excellent pitcher who had a long and successful career. He was known for his precision and competitiveness, and will always be remembered for his impressive accomplishments and contributions to baseball in both Japan and the United States.

21. Daisuke Matsuzaka

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Daisuke Matsuzaka is a Japanese former professional baseball pitcher with an impressive career spanning 23 seasons. He has played for both the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) leagues, with 16 seasons in NPB and 7 in MLB.

Since retiring from his professional career, Matsuzaka has now become a highly respected color commentator, critic, reporter and YouTuber in the baseball world.

His work covers a wide variety of topics, from analyzing the best players and teams to providing in-depth commentary on the latest events in the baseball world.

Matsuzaka has become an important and respected figure in the baseball community, providing insight and analysis that is highly sought after. His work is popular among players, fans, and analysts alike, and he has certainly left his mark on the game.

22. Hisashi Iwakuma

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Hisashi Iwakuma is a former professional baseball player from Japan. He spent his first four seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) playing for the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes from 2000 to 2004.

In 2005, he joined the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the same league, where he spent two seasons. He then transferred to the major leagues in the United States, playing for the Seattle Mariners from 2012 to 2018.

During his stint in the major leagues, Iwakuma won the 2013 American League (AL) Cy Young Award for being the best pitcher in the AL. He was also selected for the MLB All-Star Game in 2013.

After his time in the major leagues, Iwakuma returned to Japan in 2019 and joined the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, where he played for two seasons. He retired from the game in 2021, after a career spanning 21 years.

Iwakuma has been highly successful throughout his career, being awarded the Eiji Sawamura Award, the highest honor given to NPB pitchers, on two occasions. He was also the first Japanese pitcher to win the AL Cy Young Award.

Iwakuma will be remembered as one of the greatest Japanese pitchers of all time.

23. Kodai Senga

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Kodai Senga is a professional baseball pitcher who has had success in both Japan and the United States. He began his professional career in 2012, playing for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league.

During his tenure with the Hawks, he was selected as an NPB All-Star three times. In 2021, Senga made the jump to Major League Baseball, signing with the New York Mets. He made an immediate impact, being selected as an MLB All-Star in his first season.

Senga continues to be a valuable member of the Mets’ pitching staff, using his vast experience and skill to help the team compete in the MLB.

24. Yusei Kikuchi

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Yusei Kikuchi is a professional baseball player from Japan who currently plays for the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Before joining the Blue Jays, he spent several years playing for the Seattle Mariners in MLB and the Saitama Seibu Lions in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).Kikuchi is a highly talented pitcher whose skill has seen him excel in both the MLB and NPB.

In 2019, he made his MLB debut with the Seattle Mariners after a successful six-year run in the NPB.

During his time with the Saitama Seibu Lions, he was an All-Star selection and led the team to several championships.Kikuchi’s success in the NPB earned him recognition and attention from MLB scouts, prompting the Mariners to sign him to a four-year contract in 2019.

After two years with the Mariners, he was traded to the Blue Jays. At the time of the trade, he had a 3.81 ERA and had earned 11 wins and 11 losses.Kikuchi is a veteran of both the MLB and NPB and is still in the prime of his career.

As a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, he is expected to be a key contributor to the team’s success. With his experience and talent, he has the potential to become one of the best pitchers in the MLB.

25. Seiya Suzuki

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Seiya Suzuki is a talented professional baseball player hailing from Japan. He currently plays as an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs in Major League Baseball.

Prior to his career in the MLB, Suzuki was a star player in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Throughout his career in the NPB, he was named an All-Star a total of five times and won the NPB Best Nine Award six times.

He was also a five-time recipient of the NPB Golden Glove Award. This is a testament to Suzuki’s skill and dedication to the sport, as these awards are highly coveted and demonstrate the high caliber of his playing.

Furthermore, it is a remarkable feat to have been recognized for his talent in two different professional baseball leagues.

26. Kenta Maeda

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Kenta Maeda is a professional baseball player from Japan who currently plays for the Minnesota Twins in the Major League Baseball (MLB).

Before joining the Twins, Maeda spent time playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the MLB, and the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

His time in the NPB was a successful one, as Maeda was a two-time All-Star and won the Sawamura Award in 2010, which is the highest honor a pitcher can receive in the NPB.

Maeda has been successful at the MLB level as well, earning an All-Star selection in 2020 and being named to the MLB All-Rookie Team in 2016.

His impressive performance for the Dodgers earned him a trade to the Twins in 2020, and since then Maeda has been a valuable member of the team’s pitching staff.

27. Masanori Murakami

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Masanori “Mashi” Murakami is a significant figure in the history of baseball. He was the first Japanese player to make it to the major leagues of professional baseball.

This feat is especially impressive, considering the cultural differences between Japan and the United States and the fact that Murakami only had two years of professional experience in Japan before joining the San Francisco Giants in 1964. Murakami was a left-handed pitcher and had an impressive debut season, pitching in 48 games and posting a 2.78 ERA.

He was also a successful relief pitcher, recording 6 saves in 1965.

His success was short-lived, however, as he was forced to return to Japan in 1966 due to a rule that prohibited teams from having more than two foreign-born players on their roster. Despite his return to Japan, Murakami remained an important figure for Japanese baseball, inspiring generations of players to pursue their dreams of playing in the United States.

He also continued to make an impact on the game, becoming a coach for the Hanshin Tigers in 1975 and later managing the Yakult Swallows from 1992 to 1998. Murakami’s legacy reaches far beyond the baseball diamond.

He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994, and in 2009, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, a Japanese honor given for distinguished service.

He is an inspiration to many and will always be remembered as the first Japanese player to play for a Major League Baseball team.

28. Kohei Arihara

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Kohei Arihara is a pitcher in professional baseball who has achieved success in both Japan and the United States. He currently plays for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Nippon Professional Baseball, the top baseball league in Japan.

Previously, he played for the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball in the United States. Before that, he was a member of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, another team in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Arihara’s rise to stardom began with his impressive debut season in Japan in 2017. He was awarded the Pacific League Rookie of the Year award that year and was quickly signed by the Texas Rangers the following year.

While with the Rangers, he made 11 starts and posted an impressive 3.93 ERA. After his brief stint in the Major Leagues, Arihara returned to Japan in 2020 to join the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. Since joining the Hawks, Arihara has become one of the team’s most reliable pitchers.

He has posted a combined record of 13-4 with a 2.70 ERA over the past two seasons. He has also been instrumental in leading the Hawks to the Japan Series championship in 2020, where they defeated the Yomiuri Giants in five games.

Overall, Kohei Arihara has become a star in both Japan and the United States, thanks to his impressive pitching performances.

He is beloved by fans in both countries and with his continued success, he looks to be a fixture in both Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball for years to come.

29. Shōta Imanaga

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Shōta Imanaga is a Japanese professional baseball player, currently playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league. He is a pitcher for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, a team based in Yokohama, Japan.

Imanaga has been a member of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars since 2016 and has established himself as one of the team’s most reliable pitchers. He has an impressive record in the NPB, having achieved a 3.63 ERA in four seasons.

Imanaga is known for his control and accuracy on the mound and has won several awards for his outstanding performance. He was named to the All-Star team in 2017 and 2019 and was the recipient of the Best Nine Award in 2018.

With a bright future ahead of him, Shōta Imanaga is sure to be one of the most prominent pitchers in the NPB for years to come.

30. Naoyuki Uwasawa

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Naoyuki Uwasawa is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher who currently plays for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan’s Pacific League. He has recently achieved recognition for his skill, as he was selected to participate in the 2018 NPB All-Star game.

On October 10, 2018, Uwasawa was further honored when he was selected to join the Japan national baseball team in the 2018 MLB Japan All-Star Series.

This is a great accomplishment, as it recognizes Uwasawa for his skill and talent and shows that he is highly respected in the world of baseball. Uwasawa is a great example of a dedicated and talented athlete who is constantly pushing himself to reach new heights.

He is an inspiration to all aspiring baseball players, and it will be exciting to see what new achievements he can accomplish in the future.

31. Yuki Matsui

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Yuki Matsui is a professional baseball player from Japan. He is currently playing for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a team in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Matsui is a highly successful player, having won the Sawamura Award twice, which is the highest honor for pitchers in the NPB. Aside from his success in the NPB, Matsui is also known for his marriage to Japanese actress Anna Ishibashi.

The couple have been married since 2019 and have become one of the most recognizable celebrity couples in Japan.

Ishibashi is best known for her roles in films such as “Kamen Rider Drive” and “My Neighbors the Yamadas.” She has also had a successful career as a singer, releasing two albums to date.

Together, the couple are popular in Japan for their successful careers and their relationship.

32. Kazuo Matsui

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Kazuo Matsui is a well-known figure in the world of professional baseball. He is a retired Japanese player who primarily played as a shortstop. He is now the manager of the Saitama Seibu Lions.

Matsui was a switch-hitter, meaning he could hit with either hand, making him a versatile player. In 2003, he made history by becoming the first Japanese infielder to sign with a Major League Baseball team when he joined the New York Mets on December 17th.

This was an incredible feat at the time and it set the stage for other Japanese players who would join MLB teams in the coming years. Matsui’s signing with the Mets opened up a whole new world of possibilities for Japanese baseball players.

33. Hayato Sakamoto

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Hayato Sakamoto is a highly talented professional baseball shortstop from Japan. He currently plays for the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, one of the most successful teams in the league.

In 2008, Sakamoto made history by becoming the first player in the Giants’ franchise to start a season opener while under the age of 20 since Hideki Matsui, who is another former Giants player.

This feat is a remarkable achievement for someone so young, and it shows the incredible talent that Sakamoto possesses. His ability to perform at a high level despite his age is a testament to his skill and dedication to the sport.

With the support of his team and fans, Sakamoto is sure to continue to make history in the years to come.

34. Tetsuto Yamada

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Tetsuto Yamada is a Japanese professional baseball player who currently plays for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). He is an infielder, meaning he plays the positions of first, second and third base, as well as shortstop.

Yamada made his debut in NPB in 2012 when he became a member of the Yakult Swallows. Since then, Yamada has established himself as one of the top players in the league, as evidenced by his impressive numbers.

He is a two-time All-Star, and in 2019, he was named the NPB’s Most Valuable Player. He has also been awarded the Golden Glove award for his skill in the field, as well as the batting title in both 2015 and 2019.

Yamada has certainly carved out a place for himself in the NPB and is well on his way to becoming one of the best players in the league.

35. Hideki Irabu

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Hideki Irabu was a highly accomplished baseball player with an unusual background. Born in Japan, he was of both American and Japanese heritage, which had an influence on his career.

Irabu began his professional baseball career in Japan, pitching for the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Pacific League. He quickly earned a reputation as a fierce competitor with a powerful fastball.

After five seasons in Japan, Irabu moved to the United States to pursue a career in Major League Baseball. He was signed by the New York Yankees in 1997 and became the first Japanese-born player in the team’s history.

Irabu played for the Yankees for three seasons before being traded to the Montreal Expos in 2000. He played for the Expos and Texas Rangers before retiring from baseball in 2002.

Throughout his career, Irabu was known for his unique pitching style as well as his love of the game. He was a trailblazer in international baseball, inspiring many Japanese and other foreign players to pursue their dreams in the major leagues.

36. Yasuaki Yamasaki

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Yasuaki Yamasaki is a professional baseball player from Japan. He is currently playing for the Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars of Nippon Professional Baseball, which is the top-level professional baseball league in Japan.

Yamasaki is a pitcher, which means he is responsible for throwing the ball to the opposing team’s batters. He has been playing professional baseball for several years and is considered one of the best Japanese pitchers in the league.

He is known for his accuracy and control, which makes him an extremely valuable asset to his team. He is respected not only for his skill on the field but also for his positive attitude and leadership qualities.

37. Nori Aoki

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Norichika “Nori” Aoki is an experienced professional baseball outfielder, currently playing for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball. He has had a long and successful career in the Major League Baseball, playing for a variety of teams.

His first team was the Milwaukee Brewers, where he started his career in 2012. After a successful run with the Brewers, Aoki moved on to the Kansas City Royals in 2013.

After a couple of years with the Royals, he transferred to the San Francisco Giants, where he played until 2015. In 2016, Aoki moved to the Seattle Mariners, and then to the Houston Astros a year later.

He then joined the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018, and most recently he played for the New York Mets in 2019. Aoki’s impressive career in the Major League Baseball has earned him a great deal of respect from baseball fans around the world.

38. Tomo Ohka

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Tomokazu Ohka is a Japanese former professional baseball pitcher who enjoyed a long and successful career in Major League Baseball and the Japanese Baseball Challenge League.

He made his professional debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1999, becoming the first Japanese-born player to join the team.

Ohka then went on to play for the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Cleveland Indians before returning to Japan to play for the Fukushima Hopes in the Baseball Challenge League.

Throughout his career, Ohka was known for his accuracy and consistency, and he is still remembered fondly by fans in both Japan and North America.

39. Shigetoshi Hasegawa

Shigetoshi Hasegawa is a well-known figure in Japan and the United States. He began his career in Major League Baseball as a relief pitcher in 2002 and achieved the most recognition with the Seattle Mariners from 2002 to 2005.

Following his retirement from baseball, he transitioned into the entertainment industry, becoming a best-selling author and television personality. Hasegawa’s baseball career spanned 25 years, beginning with his debut in Japan’s Central League in 1991.

He was known for his ability to pitch in multiple roles, from long relief to closing games. He was also known for his durability and consistency.

After his stint with the Mariners, he played for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Chicago Cubs, and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Since his retirement in 2007, Hasegawa has become a highly successful author, writing numerous books about baseball, and his own journey as a player.

He is also a frequent guest on Japanese television programs, where he shares his insight and knowledge about the game. His popularity has made him a well-known figure both in the U.S. and in Japan.

In addition to his career in the entertainment industry, Hasegawa is heavily involved in philanthropic causes. He has been involved in a number of charitable organizations and is an advocate for youth baseball programs in Japan.

He also launched the Shigetoshi Hasegawa Foundation in 2008, which provides scholarships to promising baseball players. Shigetoshi Hasegawa has had a successful career in both Major League Baseball and the entertainment industry, and is a highly respected figure both in the U.S.

and Japan. His dedication to the game and his philanthropic efforts have made him a beloved figure in both countries.

40. Norihiro Nakamura

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Norihiro Nakamura was an incredible baseball player who spent his career in Japan with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes. He had an impressive .266 career batting average, along with 404 home runs and 1338 RBIs.

He was highly decorated for his accomplishments, having been selected as an eight-time All-Star and four-time Golden Glove winner. Nakamura was an extraordinary player, and his stats are a testament to his skill and dedication to the game.

He was a consistent performer, with a batting average over .250 for each of his 17 seasons with the Buffaloes, and his home run and RBI totals are both incredible.

His awards are a reflection of the respect he earned from his peers, and his recognition as an All-Star and Golden Glove winner speaks to his abilities as a player. Nakamura was a force to be reckoned with in the Japanese Baseball League, and his accomplishments will be remembered for years to come.

His dedication to the sport and his ability to consistently perform at a high level made him one of the most beloved baseball players in Japanese history.

41. Sadaharu Oh

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Sadaharu Oh is a legendary baseball figure who has achieved success in both playing and managing the game. He was born in Japan but is best known by his Chinese name, Wang Chen-chih.

Oh’s career in baseball has been nothing short of remarkable, as he holds the world lifetime home run record with 868 home runs.

He is currently the chairman of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball, a position he has held for several years. Throughout his professional career, Oh has demonstrated great skill and dedication to the game of baseball.

He was the first player to hit over 500 home runs in a single season and is the first player to reach 700 home runs in a career. Not only that, but he also managed the Japanese national team for a time, leading it to victory in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

His impact on the game has been immense, and his record-setting home run total is a testament to his incredible talent. Oh continues to be involved in baseball in his current role as chairman of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.

His presence in the game has helped the team succeed, and his influence has been felt throughout the sport in Japan. His name is synonymous with the game and his record-breaking home run total will likely stand for many years to come.

42. Shintaro Fujinami

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Shintaro Fujinami is an accomplished baseball player who has had success both in the United States and Japan. He currently plays for the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Prior to joining the Orioles, Fujinami played for the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). He also had a brief stint with the Oakland Athletics of MLB.

Fujinami has been successful in both leagues, showing an impressive ability to adapt to different playing styles. He has a career win-loss record of 40-32 in NPB and a 4-3 record in MLB. In addition, he has an impressive ERA of 3.09 in NPB and a 4.12 ERA in MLB.

Fujinami is a highly sought after pitcher due to his ability to be successful on both sides of the Pacific. He is a great example of how a player can be successful in two different professional baseball leagues.

His skill and determination have made him a valuable asset to the Baltimore Orioles, and he continues to be an important part of their team.

43. Takashi Saito

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Takashi Saito is a highly accomplished former professional baseball player from Japan. He spent 23 years playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball League and has since retired from professional play. He is currently the chief pitching coach for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

During his playing career, Saito was known for his excellent control and outstanding strikeout numbers. He prided himself on being able to consistently locate his pitches and work his way out of tough spots.

As a chief pitching coach, Saito is now able to pass on his knowledge and experience to the next generation of pitchers. He is able to help the younger players learn the game and become better pitchers.

His 23 years of professional experience has made him an invaluable resource for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

44. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo

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Yoshitomo “Yoshi” Tsutsugo is a talented professional baseball player currently playing for the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He is an outfielder and first baseman, meaning he is able to play in both the outfield and infield positions.

Tsutsugo has achieved a great deal of success in his professional baseball career. He started his career in Japan, playing for the Yokohama BayStars in the Japanese Central League.

During his time with the BayStars, Tsutsugo was selected to represent Japan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He also won the Central League Home Run title in 2018. In 2019, Tsutsugo moved to the United States to pursue his career in Major League Baseball.

However, he was unable to break into the MLB and instead joined the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, an independent minor league.

With the FerryHawks, Tsutsugo has continued to increase his profile, posting impressive numbers and drawing attention from MLB scouts. Overall, Tsutsugo is a talented baseball player who has already achieved a great deal of success in his career.

He is currently playing for the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, with the hope of one day earning a spot in the Major Leagues.

45. Shogo Akiyama

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Shogo Akiyama is a talented and experienced baseball player. He is currently an outfielder for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Nippon Professional Baseball, the top professional baseball league in Japan.

Before joining the Carp, Akiyama had a successful career in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Cincinnati Reds. Prior to this, he played for the Saitama Seibu Lions in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Akiyama has been playing professional baseball for many years, showing an impressive level of skill and knowledge of the game. In MLB, he was a steady outfielder for the Reds, appearing in 145 games and batting .245 with 3 home runs and 18 RBIs over two seasons.

He also had a successful run in Japan’s top league, where he was a key player for the Lions. During his four seasons with the Lions, Akiyama played in over 500 games, batting .286 with 33 home runs and 196 RBIs.

Akiyama’s experience playing in both MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball has made him a well-rounded and highly capable player. Now with the Carp, he has the opportunity to continue using his talent and knowledge of the game to help the team succeed.

46. Hirokazu Sawamura

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Hirokazu Sawamura is a professional baseball pitcher who currently plays for the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). Before joining the Marines, Sawamura had a stint with the Yomiuri Giants, also from NPB.

Additionally, he has had the opportunity to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Boston Red Sox. Throughout his career, Sawamura has consistently demonstrated excellence on the field and has become a formidable pitcher in both NPB and MLB.

He is certainly a player to be reckoned with, and his performance is sure to be watched closely in the future.

47. Hiromitsu Ochiai

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Hiromitsu Ochiai is a well-known figure in the world of professional baseball. He is a former player and current manager, who has made a name for himself in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League.

Ochiai was born in Japan and has been involved in the sport since his teenage years. He began playing professionally in the late 1980s, with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

Ochiai spent several years playing with the team before retiring in 1997. After retiring as a player, Ochiai moved into coaching and management. He was appointed manager of the Chunichi Dragons in 2005, a team in the Nippon Professional Baseball league.

He held the position for several years, during which time he achieved several successes. He led the team to victory in the Central League playoffs in 2008 and 2009, as well as to the Japan Series in 2010.

Ochiai’s career as manager of the Chunichi Dragons ended in 2014. Since then, Ochiai has remained active in the baseball world. He currently serves as a special instructor for the Saitama Seibu Lions and the Orix Buffaloes.

He also works as an advisor for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, the team where he began his professional career. With his wealth of experience and knowledge, Ochiai has become an influential figure in the world of Japanese professional baseball.

48. Munenori Kawasaki

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Munenori Kawasaki is a professional baseball player from Japan. He is a shortstop and second baseman for the Tochigi Golden Braves of the Baseball Challenge League in Japan.

Kawasaki has been playing professional baseball in Japan since 1995 and has achieved a great deal of success throughout his career. He was a member of the Japanese National Baseball Team in 2005 and was a key contributor to their victory in the World Baseball Classic.

In 2006, he won the Best Nine Award, which is given to the best players at each position in the Japanese Professional Baseball League. Kawasaki also won the Golden Glove Award in 2008, which is given to the player with the best defensive ability in the league.

In addition, he has been an All-Star three times in his career. Kawasaki is a veteran presence on the Tochigi Golden Braves, and his leadership and experience have been invaluable to the team’s success.

49. Shun Yamaguchi

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Shun Yamaguchi is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher who is currently a free agent. He has played in both the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) over the course of his career.

Yamaguchi has spent the majority of his professional career in the NPB, playing for the Yokohama BayStars/Yokohama DeNA BayStars since 2016.

During his time with the BayStars, he was an All-Star in 2018 and won the Sawamura Award in 2019, which is the highest individual honor in Japanese baseball. In addition to his success in the NPB, Yamaguchi also had a brief stint in MLB in 2020 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

He made nine appearances during the regular season, pitching just over 30 innings and recording a 2-3 record with a 4.59 ERA. Overall, Shun Yamaguchi has had an impressive career, and it will be interesting to see where he winds up next as a free agent.

Conclusion

The best players in Japanese baseball are a testament to the outstanding level of skill and dedication to the game that is present in Japan.

Players like Ichiro Suzuki, Shinnosuke Abe, and Masahiro Tanaka have showcased their incredible talent and have earned the respect of both fans and players worldwide. It is no surprise that Japan has one of the most exciting and competitive baseball leagues in the world.

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John Means

John Means is a professional baseball player who has played in the major leagues for the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics. He made his major league debut with the Royals in 2009. He was traded to the Athletics in 2012. Baseball is his favorite sport. His passion about the game is evident in his play. Now he write blogs about baseball and other things whenever he has some free time. LinkedIn