Who is Kazuo Matsui?

Shortstop Kazuo Matsui is expected to be the next big baseball import from Japan.

Originally Published: November 17, 2003
ESPN.com

Kazuo Matsui is next.

Hideo Nomo, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui, all superstar performers in Japan, have become top-level players in America as well.

Now it appears "Little Matsui" will be the next impact import from Japan after he announced Monday he would play in the major leagues in 2004. Here's a look at the star shortstop:

THE KAZUO MATSUI FILE
Kazuo Matsui
Kazuo Matsui turns a double play against the U.S. last November.
Age: 28
(Born Oct. 23, 1975 in Osaka, Japan)
Height: 5-foot-9½ (177 cm)
Weight: 183 pounds (83 kg)
Position: Shortstop
Bats/Throws: Switch/Right
Former team: Seibu Lions

(Nippon Professional Baseball,
Pacific League)

Pro seasons: 9 (Career Stats)
Nickname: Little Matsui
Status: Free agent
Possible MLB suitors:
Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Yankees, Red Sox, Padres, Diamondbacks, A's, White Sox, Cubs, Braves
Rumor Central



Baseball accomplishments:
  • Pacific League MVP in 1997
  • Seven straight .300 seasons (high of .332 in 2002); five straight 20-plus HR seasons (high of 36 in '02); five seasons of 30-plus stolen bases (high of 62 in 1997)
  • Four-time Gold Glove winner
  • Currently has the longest consecutive games streak (1,143) among active players in Japanese baseball. The streak is fifth in Japanese baseball history and the longest ever in the Pacific League.
  • In 2002, became the eighth player since 1950 -- and first switch-hitter ever -- to hit .300 with 30 HRs and 30 stolen bases in the same season.
  • Also in 2002, set records for HRs in a season for a leadoff hitter and a switch-hitter (36), and broke a 52-year-old record for most extra-base hits (88).
  • Homered from each side of the plate in one game against the MLB All-Stars in November.
  • First player in Japanese baseball history to lead off game with an inside-the-park home run.

    What's been said about him:
    More talented than Hideki Matsui ... Best Japanese player not in the major leagues ... Japan's finest infielder ... Best all-around player since Ichiro left ... One MLB executive: He's the real deal ... Cannon arm, extra-base power, impact player, durable ... Half-step faster than Ichiro ... Has instincts to steal bases and has punch to bat leadoff.



  • Career Stats

    YEARTEAMABRHHRRBIBBSOSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
    1995Seibu204254521572621.221.245.304.549
    1996Seibu47351134129149350.283.307.357.664
    1997Seibu57691178763448962.309.362.431.793
    1998Seibu57592179958558943.311.370.442.812
    1999Seibu539871981567567532.330.389.482.871
    2000Seibu550991772390466026.322.372.560.932
    2001Seibu552941702476468326.308.365.496.861
    2002Seibu58211919336875311233.332.389.6171.006
    2003Seibu58710417933845512413.305.368.549.917
    Career46387621433150569376751306.309.362.486.848

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