Hirotoshi Masui

From BR Bullpen

Masui pitching.jpg

Hirotoshi Masui (増井 浩俊)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 150 lb.

BR Register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Hirotoshi Masui pitched in the Nippon Pro Baseball and for the Japanese national team

Masui represented Japan in the 2009 Baseball World Cup, his debut for the national squad. He closed out a win over Croatia by striking out Romeil Agladius, Filip Berecka and Mladen Krpanec in order. His next outing, he escaped a jam against Taiwan in the 9th but allowed the losing run in the 10th. He was 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA in four outings in the event. He was with Toshiba in the industrial leagues at the time.

He was picked by the Nippon Ham Fighters in the 5th round of the 2009 NPB draft. He debuted in Nippon Pro Baseball on April 9, 2010. Starting versus the Softbank Hawks, he allowed four runs in six innings in a loss. Masui ended up 3-4 with a 4.35 ERA in 13 starts in 2010. The Hawks turned him into a reliever after the 2010 season, and he broke out in 2011. Masui replaced Takahiro Mahara to become the setup man of the Fighters, and attended the 2011 NPB All-Star Game; he pitched a shutout inning for the Pacific League in both Game 2 and Game 3. He ended up notching a league-leading 34 holds with an elite 1.84 ERA.

He was still reliable in 2012, and broke the Pacific League record with 45 holds; his ERA was solid 2.76. He was 5th in voting for the 2012 Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award, between Atsunori Inaba and Sho Nakata. He pitched a shutout inning in 2013 NPB All-Star Game 1. Masui collected 28 holds in 2013, but his ERA rose to 3.71 and Naoki Miyanishi sometimes took his setup spot. He collected his 100th career hold on August 20, and he only used 174 games to get there, which made him become the fastest to reach that milestone.

Masui pitched well in 2014, and took the closer spot from Michael Crotta. He collected 23 saves with a 2.48 ERA, and ranked 5th in saves (17 behind Yoshihisa Hirano). The Shizuoka native had a career year in 2015, notching 39 saves with an elite 1.50 ERA. He ranked 3rd in saves, 2 behind Dennis Sarfate. After this season, Masui represented Japan in the 2015 Premier 12, but he allowed 3 runs in 4 innings pitched in 4 games (all the runs came on a Joiset Feliciano homer).

The closer of the Nippon-Ham struggled in the 2016 season, as he only collected 10 saves with a terrible 6.30 ERA before the All-Star break. Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama then made a creative move - he turned Masui into a starter. Masui never had started after the 2010 season, but he bounced back in the rotation and went 6-1, with a shutout against the Rakuten Golden Eagles. He ended up 10-3 with 10 saves and a 2.39 ERA, and became the first pitcher since Masahide Kobayashi in 2000 to have 10 wins and 10 saves in a season. In the 2016 Nippon Series, he started in Game 2 but allowed 4 runs in 5 1/3 innings. Yusuke Nomura and the Hiroshima Carp beat the Fighters and Masui got the loss. His next appearance was in Game 6, and he started 3 innings with 2 runs allowed and ended up with a no-decision. The Fighters destroyed Jay Jackson in the 8th inning to beat the Carp, and Masui won his first Nippon Series title. He was 8th in voting for the 2016 PL MVP, between Ayumu Ishikawa and Katsuya Kakunaka.

Masui made Japan's roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and he pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings in 2 games. He notched his 100th career save on June 11, and ended up collecting 27 saves with a 2.39 ERA in 2017. He was 5th in saves, 27 behind Sarfate. Masui announced that he would become a free agent after the 2017 season, and the Orix Buffaloes signed him. Masui became the fourth player to get a save against all 12 teams in the NPB, reaching that mark on June 29, and collected 35 saves with a 2.49 ERA in the 2018 season. Masui was also selected into the 2018 NPB All-Star Game, pitched a shutout inning in Game 1 and got the save. He was only 2 saves from taking the saves leadership from Yuito Mori.

The Shizuoka native struggled in 2019 and Brandon Dickson took his closer spot. He still became the first PL player to reach 150 saves and 150 holds, doing so on September 2 (Kyuji Fujikawa was the first player in NPB), but he only collected 18 saves and 14 holds with a 4.83 ERA in the 2019 season. He only had 16 appearances in 2020, and became a starter again when Yoshihisa Hirano joined the team in 2021. His performance didn't improve in 2021 as he had a 4.94 ERA in 13 starts. In the 2021 Nippon Serires, he relieved Soichiro Yamazaki in the 6th inning, allowed a run and got the loss against Masanori Ishikawa and the Yakult Swallows. The Swallows then beat the Orix in 6 games. Masui only pitched 2 games in 2022, then announced his retirement after the 2022 season.

Masui's repertoire included a fastball (peak 96.3 mph), slider and forkball.

Overall, Masui was 41-47 with a 3.08 ERA, collected 158 holds and 163 saves, struck out 725 and pitched 731 1/3 innings in 13 years in NPB. Through 2023, he ranked 17th in saves (244 behind Hitoki Iwase) and 10th in holds (235 behind Naoki Miyanishi).

Related Sites[edit]