Jitsuo Mizutani

From BR Bullpen

Jitsuo Mizutani

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 187 lb.

Jitsuo Mizutani led the Central League once in RBI and once in average during a 19-year career.

Mizutani was picked by the Hiroshima Carp in the 4th round of the 1965 draft, as a pitcher. He was moved to the field and debuted in Nippon Pro Baseball in 1966, going 0 for 1, followed by a 1-for-4 campaign in 1967. As a bench player in 1969, he hit .255/.333/.333. He got into a part-time role by 1970 and batted .244/.263/.359.

Mizutani became a starter in 1971 and put up a .283/.331/.393 line with 14 steals in 20 tries. He made his only CL All-Star team and was picked to the Best Nine as one of the league's top three outfielders, alongside Isao Shibata and Shigeru Takada. He was third in the circuit in average behind Shigeo Nagashima and Sachio Kinugasa in a pitching-dominated season.

In 1972, Mizutani fell to .262/.304/.404 followed by .231/.274/.363 in 1973 and .249/.308/.395 in 1974. Rebounding in 1975, his batting line was .285/.326/.439. He caught the last out in the game that clinched Hiroshima's first CL pennant ever. He was just 1 for 8 in the 1975 Japan Series, which the Carp lost to the Hankyu Braves.

The Miyazaki native picked it up a notch in 1976 to hit .308/.377/.586 with 26 home runs. He was 7th in the league in average; only two others in the top 10 had a higher slugging (Sadaharu Oh and Masayuki Kakefu). He lost the Best Nine to Tsutomu Wakamatsu, Kenichi Yazawa and Isao Harimoto, the league's top three in average.

In 1977, Mizutani moved from left field to first base and batted .312/.367/.495 with a CL-high 31 doubles. He hit .348/.399/.592 with 25 homers and 75 RBI in 1978, winning the batting title by .007 over Wakamatsu. On June 25, he took Tsuneo Horiuchi deep for his 100th career homer. Mizutani lost the Best Nine to Oh.

Mizutani fell fast, to .260/.342/.451 with 23 long balls in 1979. He hit .261/.320/.522 with two home runs in the 1979 Japan Series, the first Japan Series ever won by the Carp (they topped the Kintetsu Buffaloes in seven games). In 1980, he hit 22 more circuit clouts while putting up a .270/.368/.477 line. He was just 5 for 26 in the 1980 Japan Series but his hits were one single, one double and three home runs and he drove in seven. He led the Series in RBI and tied teammate Jim Lyttle for the most homers; Lyttle took Series MVP honors as he had a better average and OBP than Mizutani, as the Carp won their second title in a row.

The former pitcher had another big year in 1981 by batting .337/.407/.550 with 23 home runs and 82 RBI. He was 5th in average between Kakefu and Koji Yamamoto. At age 34 in 1982, he fell to 18 homers but still hit .303/.362/.499. He became the 38th NPB player to 200 career home runs. He ranked 8th in 1982 in batting average, between Yamamoto and Akinobu Okada this time.

Hiroshima then dealt Mizutani to the Hankyu Braves for former Pacific League MVP Hideji Kato. Unlike Kato, Mizutani still had one big year left in him. He hit .290/.361/.552 with 36 home runs and 114 RBI in 1983. He was four home runs behind PL leader Hiromitsu Kadota and paced the circuit in RBI. Kadota beat him out for Best Nine honors at DH (

On Opening Day of 1984, Mizutani got plunked in the head. He struggled the rest of the year, hitting only .181/.270/.256 in 63 games. He went 0 for 1 as a pinch-hitter in the 1984 Japan Series as Hankyu fell in 7 to his old Hiroshima teammates. Mizutani was just 2 for 24 in 1985 and called it a career.

In 1,729 games in NPB, Jitsuo had batted .285/.346/.468 with 244 home runs and 809 RBI.

After his playing career ended, Mizutani was a baseball commentator in 1986. In 1987, he coached for Hankyu, then he was a Carp batting coach from 1988 to 1993. He then was a batting coach for the Buffaloes. In 1995, he succeeded Keishi Suzuki as Kintetsu's skippers with the club mired in last; they went 16-25-1 the remainder of the way. Kyosuke Sasaki succeeded him the next year.

Mizutani then was a hitting coach for the Daiei Hawks in 1996 and 1997 and Chunichi Dragons from 1998 to 2001. He later was a minor league hitting coach for the Hanshin Tigers.

Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com