Kazuhiro Kiyohara

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Kazuhiro Kiyohara
Infielder
Born: (1967-08-18) August 18, 1967 (age 46)
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Professional debut
NPB: April 5, 1986 for the Seibu Lions
Last professional appearance
October 1, 2008 for the Orix Buffaloes
NPB statistics
(through 2008)
Batting average .273
Hits 2122
RBIs 1530
Teams

As Player

Career highlights and awards
  • 18× NPB All-Star (1986 - 1998, 2000 - 2002, 2005, 2006)
  • Best Nine Award (1988, 1990, 1992)
  • 5× Golden Glove Award (1988, 1990, 1992-1994)

Kazuhiro Kiyohara (清原 和博 Kiyohara Kazuhiro?, born August 18, 1967 in Kishiwada, Osaka) is a former professional baseball player in Japan, having played in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league for 23 seasons. He retired following the 2008 season.

Biography[edit]

Kazuhiro Kiyohara became a household name in Japan as a home run hitter for the Osaka PL Gakuen high school baseball team in the mid-1980s.[1] His team won two Japan High School baseball championships, finished second twice, and was fourth on one occasion. (There are spring and summer national high school baseball tournaments annually in Japan, held at the famous Koshien Stadium.)

Kiyohara was one part of a dominant duo on his high school team with his teammate, pitcher Masumi Kuwata. They became known in the popular vernacular of the time as the "K-K Combi", which stood for the Kiyohara and Kuwata combination. They were widely respected as high school players, and their individual and team accomplishments became memorable parts of the history of schoolboy baseball in Japan.

Kiyohara was selected by the Seibu Lions with their first pick of the 1985 draft. This was reportedly a huge disappointment for him because the Yomiuri Giants, the most popular NPB team of the day, had promised to choose him in the draft. However, the Giants decided to take Masumi Kuwata with their initial pick in '85, instead of Kiyohara, which made for great theater in the Japanese mass media at the time.[2]

His rookie season with the Seibu Lions produced a .304 average with 31 Home Runs and 78 RBIs. He tied the rookie HR record for Japanese professional baseball, and all three previously mentioned statistics were the best totals for a rookie in his first professional season out of high school. He became a top cleanup hitter for the Lions in his eleven seasons with the club, accumulating 332 HRs and 915 RBIs. During his time in a Lions uniform, the team won six Japan Series titles.

Kiyohara qualified for free agency after the 1996 season and signed with the Yomiuri Giants, fulfilling a childhood dream. With the Giants, Kiyohara had some outstanding seasons playing alongside many star players, including future major leaguer Hideki Matsui. Kiyohara suited up for the Giants through the 2005 season(one in which he collected his 500th home run and 2,000th hit), and was an integral part of their 2000 and 2002 Japan Series championship squads.[3]

An aging Kiyohara moved from the Giants to the Orix Buffaloes for the final three seasons of his career, calling it quits at the end of the 2008 campaign. He appeared in only 89 games for the Buffaloes, citing various physical ailments for his inactivity.

Despite his many accomplishments, Kiyohara could not escape heavy criticism during the final ten seasons of his career due to a long list of injuries that forced him to miss considerable chunks of almost every season. From 1999-2008, he played in 100 or more games only twice (2001 and 2003), while being paid the equivalent of multi-million dollar salaries each year.[4][5]

The Uncrowned King[edit]

Kiyohara is often referred as "The Uncrowned King" because he never won a major batting title, even though he was one of NPB's greatest hitters. He surpassed 2,000 hits, 500 home runs, and 1,500 RBIs, which has been accomplished by only five other legendary players (Sadaharu Oh, Katsuya Nomura, Hiromitsu Kadota, Isao Harimoto and Hiromitsu Ochiai).

Career statistics[edit]

Nippon Professional Baseball
Year Age Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI SB AVG
1986 19 Seibu 126 404 66 123 18 1 31 236 78 6 .304
1987 20 Seibu 130 444 66 115 25 3 29 233 83 11 .259
1988 21 Seibu 130 451 97 129 21 0 31 243 77 5 .286
1989 22 Seibu 128 445 92 126 22 2 35 257 92 7 .283
1990 23 Seibu 129 436 99 134 19 2 37 268 94 11 .307
1991 24 Seibu 126 448 73 121 20 0 23 210 79 3 .270
1992 25 Seibu 129 464 82 134 17 0 36 259 96 5 .289
1993 26 Seibu 128 448 66 120 15 1 25 212 75 3 .268
1994 27 Seibu 129 455 78 127 29 0 26 234 93 5 .279
1995 28 Seibu 118 404 63 99 13 3 25 193 64 2 .245
1996 29 Seibu 130 487 67 125 30 0 31 248 84 0 .245
1997 30 Yomiuri 130 462 65 115 24 0 32 235 95 0 .249
1998 31 Yomiuri 116 384 67 103 14 0 23 186 80 1 .268
1999 32 Yomiuri 86 263 39 62 12 0 13 113 46 0 .236
2000 33 Yomiuri 75 216 41 64 10 0 16 122 54 0 .296
2001 34 Yomiuri 134 467 67 139 29 0 29 255 121 0 .298
2002 35 Yomiuri 55 148 24 47 1 0 12 84 33 0 .318
2003 36 Yomiuri 114 341 47 99 9 0 26 186 68 0 .290
2004 37 Yomiuri 40 101 18 23 2 0 12 61 27 0 .228
2005 38 Yomiuri 96 321 42 68 6 0 22 140 52 0 .212
2006 39 Orix 67 203 21 45 7 0 11 85 36 0 .222
2008 41 Orix 22 22 0 4 2 0 0 6 3 0 .182

Statistics current as of January 13, 2014

Career Record[edit]

  • .272 Batting Average
  • 2,118 Hits (22nd)
  • 525 Home runs (5th)
  • 1,530 RBIs (6th)
  • 1,280 Runs (9th)
  • 1,346 Ball on bases(3rd)
  • 1,955 Strikeouts (1st)
  • 196 Hit by pitch (1st)

Trivia[edit]

  • He holds the national record of 20 walk-off hits, 12 walk-off home runs, and 2 walk-off grand slam home runs.
  • He holds many home run records in Koshien Baseball tournament.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/PL_Gakuen
  2. ^ http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1005895/index.htm
  3. ^ http://www.baywell.ne.jp/users/drlatham/baseball/news/essays/crybaby.htm
  4. ^ http://www.japanesebaseball.com/players/player.jsp?PlayerID=5
  5. ^ http://www.japantoday.com/category/sports/view/orix-slugger-kiyohara-to-retire

External links[edit]