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Hirofumi Kono

From BR Bullpen

Hirofumi Kono (河野 博文)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 8", Weight 180 lbs.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Hirofumi Kono played in Nippon Pro Baseball for 14 years and won an ERA title.

Kono was drafted by the Nippon Ham Fighters in the first round of the 1984 NPB draft, and he soon joined the rotation as a rookie. He was 8-13 with a 4.17 ERA in 1985, and had a 1-10 record with a 3.95 ERA in 1986. Kono improved to 4-6 with a 3.29 ERA in 1987, then had his career season in 1988. He won the Pacific League ERA title with his 2.38 mark, and collected 6 wins and 9 saves (losing 5). He edged Taigen Kaku by .03 for the title.

However, the Kochi native couldn't extend his solid performance in 1989 as his ERA rose to 4.64. What's worse, he tore his Achilles tendon and missed the entire 1990 season. After recovering from the injury, he had a 4-4 record with a 4.94 ERA in 1992, then bounced back to 7-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 1993. He remained reliable in the next season, having a 8-10 record with a 3.84 ERA in 1994, but slumped to 6-8 with a 4.73 ERA in 1995.

Kono announced that he would become a free agent in 1996, and the Yomiuri Giants signed him; the Fighters selected Tadayoshi Kawabe as compensation. The Giants used him as a reliever, and he won the first CL Most Valuable Setup Pitcher Award with 12.45 relief points. In the 1996 Nippon Series, he relieved Hiroshi Ishige in the 9th inning of Game 1, but Ichiro Suzuki blasted a solo shot in the 10th inning and he got the loss. He then relieved Masaki Saito in the 5th inning of Game 5, but he was replaced immediately by Kazutaka Nishiyama after walking Satoshi Takahashi. The Giants were beaten by the Orix Buffaloes in 5 games. He was 8th in voting for the 1996 CL MVP, tied with Shane Mack, Kenjiro Nomura and Luis Lopez.

The veteran was still solid in the next two seasons, recording a 3.80 ERA in 22 appearances and a 2.42 ERA in 27 appearances respectively. However, he struggled and had a 7.47 ERA in 1999, and the Giants released him. The Chiba Lotte Marines picked him up, and he had a 4.20 ERA in 29 games in 2000. Kono announced his retirement after the 2000 season.

Overall, Kono was 54-72, collected 15 saves with a 3.93 ERA, struck out 828 and pitched 1249 1/3 innings in 16 years in the NPB.

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