|Chunichi Dragons – No. 74|
|Pitcher / Coach|
January 13, 1972 |
|April 6, 2004, for the San Diego Padres|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 1, 2007, for the Texas Rangers|
|Earned run average||2.44|
|World Baseball Classic|
|2006 San Diego||Team|
Akinori Otsuka (大塚 晶則 Ōtsuka Akinori?) (born January 13, 1972 in Chiba, Japan) is a retired Japanese baseball pitcher who coaches for the Chunichi Dragons in Nippon Professional Baseball. He was formerly the set-up man for the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers. He was also the closer for Japan's 2006 World Baseball Classic winning team.
Otsuka threw a low-90's 4-seam fastball (tops out at about 94 mph) that is very straight, along with a hard, late-breaking slider. He employed an unorthodox pitching delivery wherein he lifted his lead leg up very slowly, tapped his glove, then fired to home plate, making his pitches look faster coming out of his hand and thus harder to pick up.
Otsuka came to the United States after several years of pitching in the Japanese League when his former team, the Chunichi Dragons, used the posting system to solicit bids from MLB clubs for the right to negotiate with him. The Padres offered the top bid, and signed him to a three-year contract on December 9, 2003. On January 6, 2006, Otsuka was traded to the Rangers, along with pitcher Adam Eaton and minor league catcher Billy Killian, in exchange for pitcher Chris Young, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and outfielder Terrmel Sledge.
Otsuka took over the role as the closer for the Rangers during the 2006 season, replacing Francisco Cordero, and recorded 32 saves while posting a 2.11 ERA. However, on December 19, 2006, the Rangers announced that newly signed Éric Gagné would take over the closer role in 2007, with Otsuka moving back into a set-up role. On January 13, 2007, T. R. Sullivan reported that, in an interview in Japan, Otsuka said "If there is the team which needs me as a closer, I am going to think about (the trade)". Due to Gagné starting the season on the DL, Otsuka began the 2007 season as the closer. With the trade of Gagne to the Boston Red Sox, Otsuka assumed the closer's role again. However, Otsuka went on the DL after experiencing tighntess in his throwing shoulder. His stand-in was C. J. Wilson. Otsuka was not offered a new contract by the Rangers and became a free agent on December 12, 2007.
On January 10, 2008, Otsuka announced that he would undergo elbow surgery.
Otsuka and his wife, Akemi, have one son, Toranosuke, and one daughter, Hikaru.
Major Leagues (Total as of July 26, 2008)
- 236 Games
- 232 Innings pitched
- 13 Wins
- 15 Losses
- 39 Saves
- 217 Strikeouts
- 2.44 ERA
Japanese Professional Leagues
- 305 Games
- 350.2 Innings pitched
- 14 Wins
- 23 Losses
- 137 Saves
- 474 Strikeouts
- 2.39 ERA
Season by Season
Last update: 26 July 2008
|2000||Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes||28||39||1||3||24||41.2||11||97||2.38|
|2001||Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes||29||48||2||5||26||56||25||82||4.02|
|2002||Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes||30||41||2||1||22||42.1||6||54||1.82|
|2004||San Diego Padres||32||73||7||2||0||77.3||15||87||1.75|
|2005||San Diego Padres||33||66||2||8||0||62.7||25||60||3.59|
*Bold = led league
- firstname.lastname@example.org on January 15, 2007 3:33 PM – Reply. "Thus spoke Akinori « Postcards From Elysian Fields". Trsullivan.mlblogs.com. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
- Gen. "BC League Final Standings, Playoff Schedule, Updates; Gunma wins League Championship," Yakyubaka.com (September 16, 2014).
- "MLB Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights-MLB". Mlb.mlb.com. 2013-05-24. Retrieved 2013-08-29.