Saito with the Boston Red Sox
|Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles – No. 44|
February 14, 1970 |
Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
|NPB: April 7, 1992 for the Yokohama Taiyo Whales|
|MLB: April 9, 2006 for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Earned run average||3.80|
(through 2012 season)
|Earned run average||2.34|
|Career highlights and awards|
Saito previously pitched for the Yokohama BayStars in the Japanese Central League, compiling a record of 87–80 over 13 seasons. A closer in his initial season of 2006, Saito finished 8th place in the National League Cy Young Award voting, receiving a single third place vote.
Saito played for Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai during his college years alongside players such as former Seattle Mariners closer Kazuhiro Sasaki and current Hanshin Tigers outfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto. Saito was originally a position player, but he became a pitcher in his second year in college. He was drafted in the first round by the Yokohama Taiyo Whales in 1991. He was an all-star a total of four times while in Japan (1994, 1996, 1999, 2001), and he led the Central League in strikeouts with 206 in 1996. He was found to have a dislocated cartilage in his right elbow in the spring of 1997 and had to undergo surgery, subsequently spending the rest of the season rehabbing. He came back in 1998, winning 13 games while posting a 2.94 ERA. His team, the BayStars, also won the Japanese championship series for the second time in 38 years that year. He became the teams closer after incumbent Kazuhiro Sasaki left the BayStars to join the Mariners in 2000. His record was 7–1 with 27 saves, and a 1.67 ERA in 2001. Saito returned to his starting role in 2003, but did not win more than 6 games in a season between 2003 and 2005.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Saito signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a 36-year-old rookie in 2006, and surprised fans by making 24 saves, posting a 2.07 ERA, and striking out 107 batters (the most among relievers). He made his first Major League appearance on April 9, 2006, against the Philadelphia Phillies. He pitched 2/3 of an inning without giving up any runs or hits. After stepping into the closer role recently vacated by fan favorite Éric Gagné, he recorded his first Major League save on May 15, 2006, against the Colorado Rockies.
Saito threw a 159 km/h (99 mph) fastball on June 26, 2007, which is claimed to be the all-time record for a Japanese-born Major League pitcher. He was named to the National League All-Star team for the first time in 2007. He was also named closer of the month for August 2007.
On September 25, 2007, Saito was named one of 10 finalists for the DHL Delivery Man of the Year Award.
Saito had his first career major league at-bat on April 23, 2008. On July 18, 2008, Saito was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained ligament in his elbow. He was activated on September 13.
The Dodgers did not offer Saito a contract after the 2008 season and he became a free agent.
Boston Red Sox
On January 10, 2009, Saito signed a one-year $1.5 (+6) million contract with the Boston Red Sox with a team option for 2010. He was 3–3 with a 2.53 ERA in 56 games with the Red Sox, primarily as a setup man, in 2009 (final salary: $6 million).
Saito signed a one-year $3.2 million contract with the Atlanta Braves on December 3, 2009. Saito was released by the Atlanta Braves following the 2010 season, even though he did not have enough MLB experience to qualify for free agency, as stipulated by his contract. Saito signed a translator, Kosuke Inaji, for the 2009–2010 season.
In 2011, he was 4-2 with a 2.03 ERA, and was the third-oldest player in the National League.
Back to Japan
- List of Major League Baseball all-time saves leaders
- Nippon Professional Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award
-  "2006 NL Cy Young Award" Retrieved on July 24, 2007.
- "ドジャース斎藤 黒田を"突き放す"宣言" (in Japanese). Sponichi. February 5, 2008. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2008.
- Gurnick, Ken (March 22, 2008). "Dodgers make Saito a free agent". MLB.com (MLB.com). Archived from the original on February 13, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
- "Red Sox sign free agent righthanded pitcher Takashi Saito to one-year contract with option for 2010" (Press release). MLB.com. January 10, 2009. Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
- Red Sox Takashi Saito's salary rising up[dead link]
- "Braves add Saito to rebuilt bullpen". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2009.
- David O'Brien (October 19, 2010). "Braves release Saito, Cabrera". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on December 18, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- "Found in translation". JSOnline. March 26, 2011. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- "Brewers agree to 1-year deal with RHP Saito". Sports Illustrated. December 27, 2010. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
- "Saito signing is official". JSOnline. January 5, 2011. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- "Takashi Saito Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Archived from the original on April 9, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- Snyder, Matt (December 12, 2011). "Diamondbacks sign Takashi Saito". CBS Sports. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
- "Takashi Saito To Sign With Rakuten Golden Eagles". Archived from the original on May 21, 2014.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Official blog (Japanese)
- Japanese league stats and info of Takashi Saito