Chien-Fu Kuo Lee

From BR Bullpen

Chien-Fu Kuo Lee (郭李建夫)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 1", Weight 209 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Chien-Fu Kuo Lee (known as Tateo Kakuri in Japan) was a top amateur pitcher from 1988-1992 but did not achieve as much success in the professional ranks.

Kuo Lee pitched for Taiwan in the 1988 Olympics and 1988 Baseball World Cup. In the latter event, he only allowed four hits in 12 innings and was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA to help Chinese Taipei to a Bronze. He struggled in the semifinals, allowing two runs and retiring no one in a 6-3 loss to the USA. Kuo Lee was on the Taiwan entries in the 1989 Intercontinental Cup, 1989 Asian Championship (tied for first) and 1990 Goodwill Games.

He was a workhorse for Taiwan in the 1990 Baseball World Cup, throwing 33 1/3 innings out of their 70 total. He went 4-0 with a 3.24 ERA and struck out 24 batters. He led the Cup in wins and was second to Min-tae Chung in strikeouts. Kuo Lee shut out Canada and beat Team USA despite allowing 7 runs in 7 innings. He was named to the Cup All-Star team along with Omar Ajete as the top two pitchers. The rest of Taiwan's staff was 0-5 with a 12.27 ERA. Kuo Lee was named the MVP despite his team finishing only in 6th place. He was on the Taiwanese club that finished first in the 1990 Asian Games (baseball was not yet a medal event). Kuo Lee was 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA in the 1991 Intercontinental Cup. He struck out 22 batters in 26 1/3 innings to finish fourth in the tournament. He started the Bronze Medal game but got a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to Nicaragua. He was named the best right-handed pitcher in the 1991 Asian Championship, helping Taiwan qualify for the '92 Olympics.

Kuo Lee sealed his amateur record by dominating the 1992 Olympics with a 3-0, 0.93 record. In 29 innings, he allowed just 11 hits and struck out 23. He tossed a 3-hit shutout of the Japanese national team despite 7 walks. He allowed one run and 3 hits in a complete game win over Puerto Rico. Kuo Lee also threw two scoreless innings against Team USA in relief in a 10-9 loss. He gave up two runs in nine innings in a semifinal win over Japan to send Taiwan to the Gold Medal game. His three complete games all came in a 7-day stretch. Unfortunately, Kuo Lee was unavailable for the Gold Medal game after all that work and Cuba won 11-1. Through 2004, Kuo Lee's 3 Olympic wins are tied for second all-time, behind only Masanori Sugiura.

The Taoyuan native earned a $800,000 deal with the Hanshin Tigers due to his international dominance. Only two US players, Jeffrey Hammonds and Calvin Murray, signed a larger deal after the 1992 amateur draft, giving Kuo Lee probably the second-richest contract of any amateur signee that year. In his first year with Hanshin, Kuo Lee was 5-4 with two saves and a 3.68 ERA. In 1994 in Japanese Baseball, the right-hander had a 7-5 record with two saves and a 3.14 ERA in 49 games (47 of them out of the bullpen). In 1995, he started 17 games and relieved in 13, finishing 5-12 with a 3.37 ERA for a bad (46-84) Tigers outfit.

Kakuri was Hanshin's closer in 1996 and had a 8-9 record with 15 saves and a 3.62 ERA. He struggled in 1997 (5.79 ERA in 5 games) and 1998 (2-1, 4.61 in 11 games) in limited action. Overall, his record in Nippon Pro Baseball was 27-31 with 19 saves. In 375 innings, he allowed 337 hits, 194 walks and 299 strikeouts. He pitched 167 games for Hanshin. He won Bronze in the 1998 Asian Games.

Kuo Lee went to play in his native country of Taiwan in 1999, joining the China Trust Whales. He was 15-9 with a 2.89 ERA that year, tying Kevin Henthorne for the Chinese Professional Baseball League lead in wins and placing 10th in ERA. He followed with a 10-6, 2.39 campaign to finish fifth in ERA, the best of any native player. In 2001, his record was 0-1 with 11 saves a 2.36 ERA in 26 2/3 IP. With professional players now permitted in the Baseball World Cup, Kuo Lee returned to Cup action for the third decade. This time around, he was not carrying a staff all by himself. He appeared in 3 games out of the bullpen, allowing no runs and notching a save. Overall, Kuo Lee's six World Cup wins from 1988-2005 tied Rob Cordemans and Norge Vera for second, one behind leader Pedro Luis Lazo.

In 2002, he saved 16 to lead the CPBL and his record was 4-5, 2.32. Kuo Lee pitched 3 innings in the 2002 Taiwan Series, but he allowed 3 runs and the Whales were swept by the Brother Elephants. He finished in 2003 with a 9-6 record, 8 saves and a 3.05 ERA. Kuo Lee announced his retirement after the 2003 season, and he became a college coach. He started to coach Kainan University in 2004. Kuo Lee also coached for Taiwan in the 2006 Intercontinental Cup and 2006 Asian Games (Gold Medal) and managed them to a Silver Medal in the 2015 Asian Championship, in the 2016 Haarlem Baseball Week and a Silver in the 2017 Asian Championship.

Overall, Kuo Lee was 27-31 with a 3.50 ERA, struck out 299 and pitched 375 innings in 6 seasons in the NPB. He collected 37 saves with a 38-25 record, struck out 415 and pitched 419 2/3 innings in 5 seasons in the CPBL.