Shun Yamaguchi

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Shun Yamaguchi
Shun Yamaguchi of the Toronto Blue Jays.jpg
Yamaguchi with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2020
Yomiuri Giants – No. 17
Born: (1987-07-11) July 11, 1987 (age 35)
Ōita, Japan
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Professional debut
NPB: June 29, 2006, for the Yokohama BayStars
MLB: July 26, 2020, for the Toronto Blue Jays
NPB statistics
(through 2022 season)
Win–loss record66–66
Earned run average3.36
MLB statistics
(through 2020 season)
Win–loss record2–4
Earned run average8.06
Career highlights and awards
Men's baseball
Representing  Japan
WBSC Premier12
Gold medal – first place 2019 Tokyo Team

Shun Yamaguchi (山口 俊, Yamaguchi Shun, born July 11, 1987) is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). He previously played for the Yokohama BayStars/Yokohama DeNA BayStars of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), and for the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB).

He is the first Japanese player to make his MLB debut with the Blue Jays, and also the first MLB player who had never played for any baseball teams in the United States. [1]


Yamaguchi pitching for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars

Yokohama DeNA BayStars[edit]

The Yokohama BayStars selected Yamaguchi in the first round in the 2005 Nippon Professional Baseball draft.[2] He began his professional career with the Yokohama BayStars in 2006. In 2007, Yamaguchi recorded a 6.30 ERA in only 6 appearances for the main club. He improved in 2008, registering a stellar 0.76 ERA across 16 appearances. In 2009, he pitched in 51 games, recording a 5–4 record and 3.27 ERA. In 2010, Yamaguchi pitched to a 2.62 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 68.2 innings pitched, earning all-star honors for the first time. In 2011, he logged a 2.49 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 61.1 innings of work, and notched his second all-star selection. The next year, Yamaguchi pitched to a neat 1.74 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 60 games. He struggled in 2013, however, notching a 5.40 ERA across 44 appearances. He improved his performance the next year, recording a 8–5 record and 2.90 ERA in 33 games for Yokohama. In 2015, Yamaguchi pitched to a 3–6 record and 4.49 ERA in 20 appearances for the BayStars. In 2016, Yamaguchi earned all-star honors for the third time, notching an 11-5 record and 2.86 ERA on the year.[3] He became a free agent after the season.

Yomiuri Giants[edit]

Yamaguchi pitching for the Yomiuri Giants

Yamaguchi signed with Yomiuri Giants in 2017 for the ensuing season. On the year, he logged a 6.43 ERA in only 4 games. On July 27, 2018, Yamaguchi threw a no-hitter against the Chunichi Dragons. On the season, he recorded a 3.68 ERA and 9-9 record in 30 games for Yomiuri. In 2019, he posted a 15–4 record (.789 winning percentage) that led Japan's Central League, along with a 2.91 ERA and 188 strikeouts over 170 innings.[4][5] After the season, on October 1, 2019, he was selected for the Japan national baseball team at the 2019 WBSC Premier12.[6] After the 2019 WBSC Premier12, on November 18, 2019, Giants held a press conference announcing the team has allowed Yamaguchi to enter the posting system to play in Major League Baseball (MLB).[7][8][4] Paperwork for the posting was completed on December 3, 2019, and Yamaguchi became the first player in Giants history to be posted.[5]

Toronto Blue Jays[edit]

On December 28, 2019, Yamaguchi signed a two-year, $6.35 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.[9][10] On January 15, 2020, he held a press conference in Toronto.[11][12][13] After the press conference, he stayed in Toronto,[14] and attended a fan meeting.[15] On March 26, he returned to Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[16] He returned to Toronto after the MLB announcement of the 2020 regular season. Yamaguchi was issued uniform # 1, being only the fifth Toronto pitcher (not initially listed as a position player) to ever pitch in a game wearing a single digit uniform number after Josh Towers, Kyle Drabek, Marcus Stroman, and Clayton Richard.[17]

On July 27, 2020, Yamaguchi made his MLB debut.[18] He became the first Japanese player who made his MLB debut as a Blue Jays member.[1] On August 26, 2020, he earned his first MLB win.[19] With the 2020 Toronto Blue Jays, Yamaguchi appeared in 17 games, compiling a 2–4 record with 8.06 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 2523 innings pitched.

On February 11, 2021, Yamaguchi was designated for assignment.[20][21] On February 13, Yamaguchi was released by the Blue Jays.[22]

San Francisco Giants[edit]

On February 20, 2021, Yamaguchi agreed to a contract with the San Francisco Giants, reportedly a split major league/minor league deal.[23] On June 2, Yamaguchi announced via Instagram that he would be leaving the Giants organization to return to Japan.[24] He was officially released by San Francisco the next day.[25] In five games for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, he had a 0–3 record and 6.17 ERA.

Yomiuri Giants (second stint)[edit]

On June 10, 2021, Yamaguchi agreed to a contract to return to the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball.[26]

Playing style[edit]

Yamaguchi is a 6 ft 2 in, 225 lb right-handed pitcher. He throws a fastball averaging 90 mph (tops out at 95 mph[27]) as a starter. The forkball is his primary secondary pitch and he also has a slider.[28][29]

Personal life[edit]

His father is Hisashi Yamaguchi, a former champion sumo wrestler.[30]

On December 25, 2014, Yamaguchi married Japanese gravure idol and actress Kaori Takagi (高木 加織, Takagi Kaori, born July 23, 1985). The marriage was only announced on March 14, 2015, by Takagi in her official blog and less than a week later, their daughter was born on March 20, 2015. Takagi gave birth to their second child, a son, on August 20, 2016.[31][32]

Yamaguchi was suspended for the second half of the 2017 season, after being charged with causing bodily harm to a hospital security guard as well as heavy damage to hospital property, while intoxicated. He reportedly was at the hospital to receive treatment on his pitching hand.[33]


  1. ^ a b 宇根夏樹 (January 11, 2020). "山口俊は史上4人目の「カナダでデビューする日本人選手」になる? 日本人メジャー初出場の球場にまつわるトリビア". The DIGEST (in Japanese). Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  2. ^ "横浜ベイスターズ 選択選手一覧". 日本野球機構 (in Japanese). Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  3. ^ "Shun Yamaguchi Japanese & Minor Leagues Statistics & History".
  4. ^ a b "Giants pitcher Shun Yamaguchi to pursue MLB dream through posting system". The Japan Times. November 18, 2019. Retrieved November 18, 2019.=
  5. ^ a b NEWS, KYODO. "Baseball: Giants complete posting application for pitcher Shun Yamaguchi". Kyodo News+. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  6. ^ "「ENEOS 侍ジャパンシリーズ2019」出場選手決定について". 野球日本代表 侍ジャパン オフィシャルサイト (in Japanese). October 1, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  7. ^ "山口俊投手がポスティングによる大リーグ移籍希望 球団も容認・支援". 読売巨人軍公式サイト (in Japanese). November 18, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  8. ^ Mike Axisa (November 18, 2019). "MLB hot stove: Japanese right-hander Shun Yamaguchi will be posted for MLB teams this offseason". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  9. ^ "Yamaguchi's deal with Blue Jays finalized". Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  10. ^ "Blue Jays officially sign Shun Yamaguchi to two-year deal". Sportsnet. December 28, 2019. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  11. ^ "山口俊の"爆笑"「お尻…」発言に地元記者も好感「ヤマグチ超面白い」「会見のハイライト」". Full-Count (in Japanese). January 16, 2020. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  12. ^ "山口俊、入団会見でメディアの爆笑誘う「お尻を出すのが恥ずかしくなって…」". Full-Count (in Japanese). January 16, 2020. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  13. ^ "ブルージェイズ移籍の山口俊が入団会見 先発希望を強調「ローテ勝ち取るつもりで」". Full-Count (in Japanese). January 16, 2020. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  14. ^ "山口、爆笑ブルージェイズ入団会見 "どすこい"相撲トークで会心の初日". スポニチアネックス (in Japanese). January 17, 2020. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  15. ^ "ブルージェイズ山口、記念撮影に行列 ファン感謝祭". 日刊スポーツ (in Japanese). January 19, 2020. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  16. ^ "山口俊が日本に帰国 新型コロナの感染拡大で". サンスポ (in Japanese). March 26, 2020. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  17. ^ "Blue Jays pitchers who have worn a single-digit number". February 3, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  18. ^ "山口俊、延長10回メジャー初登板も初黒星 筒香嘉智は途中出場で同点劇を演出". Full-Count (in Japanese). July 27, 2020. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  19. ^ Keegan Matheson (August 26, 2020). "Supporting cast keys Blue Jays' rout". Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  20. ^ "Blue Jays designate Shun Yamaguchi for assignment, claim Joel Payamps". Sportsnet. February 11, 2021. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  21. ^ "Blue Jays claim Payamps". February 12, 2021. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  22. ^ "Transactions February 2021". Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  23. ^ "Giants Sign Shun Yamaguchi".
  24. ^ "Shun Yamaguchi leaving Giants' organization to return to Japan". 3 June 2021.
  25. ^ "Giants Release Shun Yamaguchi".
  26. ^ @NPB_Reddit (10 June 2021). "Pitcher Shun Yamaguchi has reached an agreement to return to the Yomiuri Giants. A little while ago Shun opted out…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  27. ^ "巨人山口俊が地元九州で5勝目、丼飯4杯パワー発揮 - プロ野球 : 日刊スポーツ".
  28. ^ "MLBTR Poll: Predicting Largest Guarantee Among Potential NPB Imports".
  29. ^ "堀内恒夫氏、山口俊はポスティングを「よく、容認してもらえたね」". 13 July 2021.
  30. ^ "Starting pitchers announced, Premier12 super round ready to go". WBSC. October 11, 2019. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  31. ^ "山口俊", Wikipedia (in Japanese), 2019-12-29, retrieved 2019-12-29
  32. ^ "巨人・山口俊の妻は高木加織(グラビアアイドル)だった【画像あり】". マネートーク! (in Japanese). Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  33. ^ Manny Randhawa (November 18, 2019). "Yomiuri Giants post RHP Yamaguchi". Retrieved November 18, 2019.

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