Haruki Nishikawa (西川 遥輝)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 160 lb.
Haruki Nishikawa has played in Nippon Pro Baseball.
Nishikawa was a second-round pick of the Nippon Ham Fighters in the 2010 NPB draft; while their #1 pick, the widely-heralded Yuki Saito, faltered, Nishikawa would become a productive player. He made his NPB debut in 2012 as a pinch-runner for Terrmel Sledge. He got his first hit off Yota Kosugi and his first home run against Manabu Mima. Backing up Kensuke Tanaka at 2B, he hit .239/.311/.343 in 155 plate appearances over 71 games and went 7-for-7 in steals.
In 2013, he battled injuries and split 2B with Takuya Nakashima and Takahiro Imanami (Tanaka having left for the majors), also seeing 24 games at 1B, where the team tried several different options. He hit .278/.358/.370 and stole 22 bases in 24 tries. He tied Yuichi Honda for 6th in the Pacific League in swipes. He was a starter in 2014, but without a set position, playing 50-60 games at 1B, RF and 2B. He produced at a .265/.343/.389 clip, stole 43 bases in 54 tries, legged out eight triples and scored 90 runs. He was second in the PL in runs (one behind Yuki Yanagita, led in triples (six ahead of Daichi Suzuki), led in steals (10 more than Yanagita), was 9th with 63 walks and 3rd with 139 strikeouts (behind sluggers Ernesto Mejia and Andruw Jones).
The Wakayama native became the regular left fielder for the Fighters in 2015 and hit .276/.368/.391 with 60 walks, 9 triples, 68 runs and 30 steals in 37 tries. He tied Kensuke Kondo and Dae-ho Lee for 8th in runs scored, was second in triples (one behind Shogo Akiyama) and was third in steals (after Nakashima and Yanagita).
He improved to .314/.405/.398 in 2016 with 73 walks, 41 stolen bases (caught just five times) and 76 runs while having 9 outfield assists. He finished second in the PL in average (.025 behind Katsuya Kakunaka), 4th in OBP (between Akira Nakamura and Yoshio Itoi), 6th in runs, 3rd in steals (12 behind Itoi and Yuji Kaneko) and 6th in walks (between Itoi and Kanaka). He was 5th in voting for the 2016 Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award, behind Shohei Otani, Brandon Laird, Sho Nakata and Tsuyoshi Wada. He joined Itoi and Kakunaka as the Best Nine picks in the PL outfield. He scored the winner in game 3 of the 2016 Japan Series against the Hiroshima Carp. With Nippon Ham down 2 games to 0, he drew a 10th-inning walk from Daichi Osera, stole second and scored on a hit by Otani. In game 5, he came up in the bottom of the 9th with a 1-1 tie, the bases loaded and two outs allowed against Shota Nakazaki. Hitting .100 on the Series to that point and with only five regular-season homers in 2016, he hit a grand slam to right to end the game. He was only the second player to hit a sayonara grand slam in a Japan Series, following Toru Sugiura (1992), the second Fighters franchise member to hit a sayonara homer in a Series (following Koichi Iwashita, 1962) and the 4th player with a walk-off shot in the Series after 5 or fewer regular-season home runs (Hector Cruz had been the most recent, in 1983). In game 6, he tripled off Yusuke Nomura to open the game and scored on a Hiromi Oka single. He added a two-run triple in the 4th to put Nippon Ham ahead and then scored the go-ahead run in the 8th in a 10-4 victory as the Fighters won their second Series. He and Laird would be the first pair of teammates to hit grand slams in the same Japan Series. He finished the Series at .231/.286/.500 after his slow start, with four runs and six RBI. Only Series MVP Laird (7) had more RBI.
Nishikawa was brilliant in 2017 NPB All-Star Game 1. He took over in CF for Yanagita and singled off Katsuki Matayoshi in the 7th. In the 8th, he smacked a three-run, game-winning homer off Marcos Mateo. He did not win Game MVP, which went to Seiichi Uchikawa. In Game 2, he took over in the lineup for Uchikawa, coming in to play LF when Takahiro Okada moved to 1B. He singled in the 6th off Shoichi Ino then grounded out in the 8th against Kazuki Yabuta; the PL again persevered. For the year, he hit .296/.378/.416 with 6 triples, 69 walks, 39 steals in 44 tries and 82 runs. He was 4th in the PL in runs, 3rd with 160 hits (behind Akiyama and Hideto Asamura), 8th in doubles (26), tied Nobuhiro Matsuda for 4th in triples, 4th in average (between Eigoro Mogi and Ginji Akaminai), 1st in steals (two ahead of Sosuke Genda), 3rd in OBP (after Yanagita and Akiyama), 4th in walks (between Akiyama and Nakamura) and 9th in OPS (between Asamura and Matsuda). He won both a Gold Glove (joining Yanagita and Akiyama in the outfield) and Best Nine (joined by the same duo).
In 2018, he produced at a .278/.391/.405 clip with 44 steals (only caught three times), 6 triples, 90 runs and 96 walks. He made the PL leaderboards in runs (6th, between Genda and Seiji Uebayashi), triples (tied Suzuki for 5th), steals (1st, 5 ahead of Shogo Nakamura), walks (1st, 8 ahead of Hotaka Yamakawa) and OBP (6th, between Yamakawa and Asamura). He won another Gold Glove, with Akiyama and Yanagita also repeating).
He made his second All-Star team the next year. In 2019 NPB All-Star Game 1, he replaced Akiyama in center late and was retired by Yasuaki Yamasaki his lone at-bat. In Game 2, he led off and started in center. He had a fine day, going 3-for-4 with a RBI in a 11-3 PL loss. His steals were down for 2019 (19 SB, 5 CS) but he again had six triples, drew 93 walks, scored 88 runs and hit .288/.393/.385. He finished 9th in average (between Suzuki and Hiroaki Shimauchi), 8th in runs (between Genda and Mogi), tied for 2nd in triples (one behind Takashi Ogino), 7th in steals (between Shuta Tonosaki and Fumikazu Kimura), tied Asamura for 2nd in walks and 5th in OBP (between Jabari Blash and Akiyama). He won yet another Gold Glove, joining Ogino and Akiyama.
In 2020, he hit .306/.430/.396 with 82 runs, 42 steals (in 49 tries) and 92 walks in 115 games in a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. He was second in the PL in runs (8 behind Yanagita), 4th with 129 hits (between Suzuki and Kensuke Kondo), 2nd in swipes (8 shy of Ukyo Shuto), led in walks (one ahead of Asamura), 4th in average (between Kondo and Suzuki) and 4th in OBP (between Yanagita and Asamura). He won another Gold Glove, alongside Yanagita and Taishi Ota. He was made available to MLB teams via the posting system after the season.