Genji Kaku

From BR Bullpen


Genji Kaku (郭源治) known as Yuen-Chih Kuo in Taiwan

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 165 lbs.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Genji Kaku was a Taiwanese Baseball Hall-of-Famer who played in Nippon Pro Baseball for 16 years and in CPBL for 3 years.

Kaku represented Taiwan in the 1976 Amateur World Series and 1977 Intercontinental Cup. The Chunichi Dragons signed him in 1981, but he didn't pitch well in his rookie year, as he allowed 17 runs in 21 2/3 innings. Kaku adapted to the Japanese baseball soon, and he joined the rotation in 1982. He was selected for the 1982 NPB All-Star Games, collected a shutout inning in Game 2, and pitched 2 shutout innings with 2 Ks and got the win in Game 3. Kaku ended up 9-7 with a 3.48 ERA this season. Kaku only had an appearance in the 1982 Nippon Series Game 1, and he gave up a solo shot to Takuji Ota in his 1 1/3 innings of pitching.

The Taitung native extended his solid performance in 1983, when he collected 10 wins with a 3.75 ERA and 159 strikeouts. He was 3rd in Ks, 27 behind Kazuhiko Endo. Kaku attended the 1984 NPB All-Star Game 3, started and allowed one run in 3 innings. He ended up 13-11 with a 3.25 ERA in 1984, ranked 7th in wins (4 behind Endo), 5th in ERA (1.05 behind Seiji Kobayashi) and 2nd in strikeouts (31 behind Endo).

Kaku was still a reliable starter for the Dragons in 1985, as he pitched a league-leading 230 1/3 innings with 11 wins and a 3.48 ERA. He was 9th in wins (6 behind Tatsuo Komatsu), 2nd in complete games(1 behind Endo) and 2nd in strikeouts (15 behind Komatsu). The Taiwan native was 11-10 with a 3.65 ERA in 1986. When the Dragons lost their closer Kazuhiko Ushijima to acquire superstar Hiromitsu Ochiai in 1987, the new manager of the Dragons (Senichi Hoshino) picked Kaku as their new closer. He became the best closer of the league in the 1987 season, as he notched a league-leading 26 saves with a elite 1.56 ERA. He also became the first foreign player to win the Fireman of the Year award.

The 1988 season was Kaku's career year. He broke the NPB record by collecting 37 saves and 44 save points; Kazuhiro Sasaki and Dong-yeol Son topped his save mark 9 years later and Sasaki topped his save point record a year later. He pitched a shutout inning in 1988 NPB All-Star Games 1 but refused to play the next two games because his brother died in a car accident. Kaku led the Dragons to advance to the 1988 Nippon Series, and he met the Seibu Lions and his countryman Taigen Kaku. Genji pitched 3 shutout innings to collect the win over Taigen Kaku in Game 2 (the Dragons' lone win of the Series), but then allowed Hiromichi Ishige's solo shot in 9th inning and got a blown save and a loss in Game 5. Tsutomu Ito hit a walk-off single off him in the 10th inning, and the Lions beat the Dragons to win the Nippon Series title. In the CL MVP voting, he gained 227 votes and won his only CL MVP award. Runner-up Kazuyuki Ono only had seven votes.

Kaku remained one of the best closers of the league in 1989, when he notched 25 saves with a 2.31 ERA. He ranked 2nd in saves, 3 behind Tsunemi Tsuda. However, he suffered a left abdomen injury the next year, and only had 22 appearances with a 5.21 ERA. He came back to the rotation in 1991 because Koichi Morita pitched well as a closer. He went 13-9 with a 2.71 ERA in 18 starts. Kaku was named the opening day starter in 1992, but he suffered a right wrist injury, so he only pitched 18 games with a 3.00 ERA this season.

The veteran came back in 1993, and went 9-17 with a 3.43 ERA in 39 appearances. He was 3 batters away from getting his first no-hitter on April 27, but Teruyoshi Kuji broke it up. Kaku collected his 100th career win on September 21, 1994, and became the first foreign pitcher to both have 100 career wins and saves. He ended up 8-7 with a 2.45 ERA, and won his only CL ERA title.

Kaku slumped to a 4.02 ERA in 1995, and he only pitched 5 games in 1996. Thus, the 40-year-old Kaku decided to retire from NPB, and came back to his hometown Taiwan and joined the Uni-President Lions of the CPBL. Although he was the oldest pitcher in the league, Kaku was still productive and went 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA. He transferred to the Chinatrust Whales in 1998, and collected 14 wins with a 2.50 ERA. He was 2nd in wins (3 behind Mark Kiefer) and 2nd in ERA (.41 behind Kevin Henthorne). Kaku was still productive even though he was a 42-year-old in 1999, as he went 9-5 with a 2.34 ERA. He broke the CPBL record for oldest pitcher to pitch in the league (broken by Yi-Chuan Liu in 2005). After retiring from pro baseball, he represented Taiwan in the 1999 Asian Championship because they thought the young Team Taiwan need a veteran to lead them. Kaku started against South Korea, pitched 5 innings, allowed 2 runs and ended up with a no-decision. He retired from baseball after the tournament. Kaku was inducted into the Taiwan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019. He has been on the ballot for the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame several times as well.

Overall, Kaku was 106-106, collected 116 saves with a 3.22 ERA and 1,415 strikeouts and pitched 1,971 innings in 16 years in NPB. He was also 28-11 with a 2.67 ERA and 204 strikeouts and pitched 293 1/3 innings in 3 years in CPBL.

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