Hiroshi Hirao (平尾 博嗣)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 167 lb.
- High School Omiya Higashi High School
Hiroshi Hirao played his 14th season in Nippon Pro Baseball in 2008. He has never been a starter, but has frequently been a platoon player. He has played all four infield positions.
Hirao clubbed 68 home runs in high school. He was a second-round draft pick of the Hanshin Tigers in 1993. In 1995, he debuted in NPB, hitting .190/.271/.310 in 35 games, backing up Teruyoshi Kuji and another player at shortstop. He batted .240/.288/.353 in 76 games in 1996, splitting second base duties with Yutaka Wada.
Hirao was 2 for 30 with no walks and a home run in 1997, serving as Hanshin's #3 shortstop. The next year, Hiroshi hit .140/.204/.160 in 38 games as the backup to Wada st second. In 1999, he was 3 for 15 with 3 walks and a homer.
At age 24 in 2000, Hirao's batting line was .238/.296/.348 in 62 games, once again being used as Hansin's main second sacker.
In May of 2001, Hirao was traded to the Seibu Lions for Shinji Taninaka. After 4 games with Seibu, he broke his leg while chasing a foul ball and missed the rest of the year. In 2002, the veteran infielder hit .277/.313/.431 in 54 games for the Lions. He trailed Tom Evans and Hiroaki Ueda in games at third base and backed up Hiroyuki Takagi at second base. He was 2 for 8 with a walk and a double in the 2002 Japan Series.
Hirao batted .285/.357/.465 with 32 RBI in 172 AB and 68 games in 2003. He backed up Takagi at second and also saw some action at third and short. In 43 games in 2004, Hirao hit .307/.411/.525; he was the primary backup to Jose Fernandez at the hot corner. He was 6 for 17 with a triple and a home run in the 2004 Japan Series, the homer coming in the decisive Seibu win in game 7 to cap their championship season.
Hirao was 10 for 42 in 18 games in 2005, missing most of the season with an elbow injury. In 2006, Hirao hit .231/.327/.359 with 28 RBI in 195 AB and 76 games. Hiroshi backed up Takeya Nakamura at third and Yasuyuki Kataoka and Takagi at second.
In 2007, he hit .243/.325/.314 in 33 games. During 2008, Hirao batted .258/.293/.366 in 93 AB over 55 games. He came up big in the last 3 games of the 2008 Japan Series as Seibu won another title; he helped fill in at first base due to an injury to Craig Brazell. In game 5, he hit a solo homer after entering the game late. With Seibu down 3 games to 2, he drove in all 4 runs in their game 6 victory. He hit a 3-run double off Hisanori Takahashi in the first inning and added a home run against Kentaro Nishimura later. In game 7, he broke a 2-2 tie with two outs in the 7th, singling off Daisuke Ochi to score Takeya Nakamura with the Series winner. He finished the Series with a .410 average. He lost out on Series MVP honors, as those went to Takayuki Kishi. Seibu then won the 2008 Asia Series.
Primary Source: Japan Baseball Daily