|Boston Red Sox — No. 19|
April 3, 1975 |
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|NPB: 1999 for the Yomiuri Giants|
|MLB: April 8, 2009 for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Earned run average||3.01|
(through May 29, 2013)
|Earned run average||2.82|
|Career highlights and awards|
Uehara is a control pitcher, with a high-80s four-seam fastball (tops out at 92 mph) and a forkball as his primary pitches. The righty has a solid career strikeout rates 9.8 K/9 and an excellent walk rate 1.2 BB/9 (until 2012 season), but he is a fly ball pitcher who has a tendency to give up the long ball.
In MLB history, of pitchers who have pitched at least 100 innings, there is no pitcher with a better K/BB rate in his career than Uehara. His career 7.72 K/BB rate is better than any other player to ever play the game.
Uehara graduated from the Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences, and was drafted with the first pick by the Yomiuri Giants in 1998. He had a successful rookie year in 1999, with 15 consecutive wins which broke the all-time rookie record, claimed the Rookie of the Year, Eiji Sawamura Award, and led in wins, ERA, strikeouts and winning percentage.
In 2001 he finished with a 4.02 ERA, the highest of his career. However, in 2002 he rebounded leading the Central League in wins and collected his second Sawamura Award.
He was injured before the 2007 season which made him a late appearance, and in that season, he became a closer instead, recorded an 1.74 ERA with 4 wins, 3 losses and 32 saves. Though showing a good ability both starting and closing, he returned as a starting pitcher in the 2008 season. He left the Giants after that season becoming a free agent and allowing him to play in Major League Baseball.
|Olympic medal record|
|Bronze||Athens 2004||Team Competition|
|World Baseball Classic|
|Gold||2006 San Diego||Team Competition|
Uehara is renowned for his performance in international competition. He participated in international events since he was in the University, he also participated Olympic Games twice, as well as the first World Baseball Classic, and participated in Asian Baseball Championships. He has 12 wins and 2 saves, without a loss in his 25 appearances from the above events.
In 2006 he joined Team Japan for the World Baseball Classic and earned 2 wins, improving his unbeaten record in international competition (including amateur appearances) to 12 wins in 21 appearances. In the World Baseball Classic, Japan beat Cuba to win the championship; Uehara led the tournament with 16 strikeouts. He was a closer in 2007 Asian Baseball Championships, played in two games and earned his first international save against Korea.
His performance in 2008 was inconsistent and he was demoted to a farm team in late April. He remained in the 39-out-of-77 men candidate list towards the Beijing Olympics in late June, and was selected to the final 24-men list in mid-July. He was expected to be a set-up pitcher before the Olympic Games due to his inconsistent performance. But he appeared as a closer in his first appearance against Chinese Taipei, pitching a shutout inning without yielding a hit, winning 6–1. He earned his first Olympic save against Canada, holding a 1–0 victory two days later. However, after the Japan finished fourth in the games, he expressed no interest in participating the World Baseball Classic in 2009.
Inclination for MLB
In 1998, Uehara rejected a contract worth $3 million from the then-Anaheim Angels and signed with Yomiuri instead of following the advice of family and acquaintances. The Angels had expressed their continued interest in Uehara, as Scouting Director Eddie Bane had stated that acquiring either Uehara or Daisuke Matsuzaka was a top priority for the team. However, many other teams, including the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Mets, and Orioles had shown interest in bidding for Uehara if and when he were to become available.
Uehara asserted his preference in public to be transferred to a Major League Baseball team through the posting system. His efforts had been rebuffed by the Yomiuri Giants front office. He was expected to be eligible for free agency in 2007 (but that was postponed to 2008 due to injury). He became eligible for free agency in April 2008.
He is also a friend of Roger Clemens after Clemens visited Japan in 2004 as a member of MLB all star team. MLB.com showed a video in which Clemens gave Uehara his game-used black glove with autograph .
On January 13, 2009, Uehara signed a two-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles. He started the 2009 season as the number two starter behind ace Jeremy Guthrie. He made his big league debut on April 8 against the New York Yankees. He walked the first batter he saw in regular season play, Derek Jeter. Uehara earned the win, going five innings and giving up just one run. His second outing resulted in a win against the Texas Rangers.
On September 10, 2009, it was announced that Koji would be out for the remainder of the 2009 season. He started the 2010 season as a set-up reliever in the bullpen.
Texas Rangers (2011)
On July 30, 2011, Uehara was traded to the Texas Rangers for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter. The move re-united him with his old high school team-mate Yoshinori Tateyama In 2011, he was 2–3, with a 2.35 ERA, between the two teams.
Boston Red Sox
Awards in Japan
|1999||Central League Rookie of the Year, Best Nine, Eiji Sawamura Award, Golden Glove, ERA, Strikeouts and Wins champion of the Central League|
|2002||Sawamura Award, Best Nine, Wins champion of the Central League and Japan Series|
|2003||Gold Glove, Strikeouts champion of the Central League|
|2004||ERA champion of the year|
|Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star Game||1999–2005, 2007|
- Look at What Koji Uehara is Doing for the Texas Rangers (rantsports.com)
- "時事ドットコム". Jiji.com. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
- "Orioles sign pitcher Koji Uehara to two-year contract". Baltimore.orioles.mlb.com. January 13, 2009. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
- "Yoshinori Tateyama". Baseball-reference.com:8080. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
- "Koji Uehara Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
- Edes, Gordon (December 7, 2012). "Source: Koji Uehara to Red Sox". ESPN. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Koji Uehara|
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Nippon Professional Baseball career statistics from Japanesebaseball.com
- KOJI UEHARA on Twitter
- Koji Uehara official site (Japanese)
- ArmchairGM Profile Page for Koji Uehara
- Japanese league stats, info, and links for Koji Uehara by JapaneseBallPlayrers.com
- Frank's Field of Dreams: Far East Heroes > Koji Uehara
- Baseball Prospectus > What the Internet Can Teach Us About Koji Uehara
|Central League Rookie of the Year