Masayuki Nakatsuka

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Masayuki Nakatsuka (中塚 政幸)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Masayuki Nakatsuka was a four-time All-Star in a 15-year career for the Taiyo Whales. He led the league once apiece in steals and doubles.

Nakatsuka set a Tokyo Metropolitan University League record with hits in nine consecutive at-bats. He was on the Japanese national team that won the 1967 Asian Championship. The Taiyo Whales took him in the second round of the 1967 NPB draft, after they took Tadakatsu Kotani in the first round. He debuted as a pinch-hitter for Kosuke Matsuoka. His first hit came off Minoru Kakimoto and his first homer was against Yukio Miyoshi. He was 13 for 55 with a double, two home runs, four walks and five steals as a backup 1B-OF for Taiyo in 1968. He became their starter at 1B in 1969 and hit .275/.318/.402. He tied Shinichi Eto, Tatsuhiko Kimata, Morimichi Takagi and Koji Yamamoto for 8th in the Central League with 20 doubles and he tied for 9th with 70 strikeouts.

Moving to the outfield in 1970 as Kazuhiko Kondo moved to 1B, Nakatsuka batted .260/.310/.380 with 28 doubles. He made the CL All-Star team and finished among the leaders in runs (60, 6th, between Kimata and Shigeo Nagashima), hits (160, tied for 6th with John Miller), at-bats (484, 3rd, behind Shigeru Takada and Miller), doubles (1st by two over Taira Fujita), steals (13, tied for 8th with Akira Ejiri and Sachio Kinugasa) and caught stealing (11, 4th, between Koji Yamamoto and Toshiyuki Mimura). He slumped to .245/.277/.344 in 1971, tying Fujita for second with four triples (one behind Shozo Doi) and tying for 9th with 14 steals but also being caught stealing 12 times, second to Isao Shibata.

The Chuo alumnus hit .260/.328/.383 in 1972 and .292/.375/.356 in 1973; had he qualified in '73, he would have been 5th in average behind Sadaharu Oh, Tsutomu Wakamatsu, Kenichi Yazawa and John Sipin. He was an All-Star for the second time during 1974, when he produced at a .291/.360/.385 clip with 76 runs, 53 walks and 28 steals (in 42 tries). He was 8th in the CL in average (between Fujita and Eto), 9th in OBP (between Fujita and Makoto Matsubara), 4th in runs (behind Oh, Koichi Tabuchi and Wakamatsu), 3rd in at-bats (481, behind Matsubara and Bob Taylor), fourth in hits (140, between Kimata and Toshimitsu Suetsugu), 6th in doubles (24), 1st in steals (8 ahead of runner-up Kazuhide Funada), 1st in caught stealing (3 ahead of Takagi) and 4th in walks (behind Oh, Tabuchi and Sipin).

He hit .258/.332/.335 with 55 walks and 33 steals in 45 attempts in 1975. He was an All-Star for the third time and finished on the leaderboard for at-bats (507, 1st by 6 over Sipin), hits (131, tied for 10th with Roger Repoz), triples (4, tied for 3rd behind Ron Woods and Taylor), steals (2nd, 8 behind Tsuyoshi Oshita) and walks (55, 6th). He hit .296/.363/.413 but was only 11-for-19 in steals in 1976. He tied Mike Reinbach and Ikuo Shimano for 8th in steals and tied Repoz for 5th in caught stealing.

#2 batted .267/.352/.326 and stole 14 bases in 20 tries in 1977. He tied Reinbach and Yoshihiko Takahashi for 9th in swipes and tied for 6th in caught stealing. He got his 1,000th career hit, off Hasato Aoyama, late in the year, to become the 105th player to that mark. He hit .317/.372/.384 in 1978 to finish 9th in average, between Dave Hilton and Sipin. He had similar numbers (.306/.360/.377) in 1979, 6th in the CL in average, between Reinbach and Wakamatsu. It was his last All-Star season.

He hit .312/.363/.379 in 1980. He tied for second with four triples, well back of Takahashi's 11. Had he qualified, he would have been 6th in average, between Hirokazu Kato and Toru Sugiura. He became the 68th NPB player to appear in 1,500 career games during 1981, when he hit .276/.306/.362. He had lost his starting job, though, to Kaname Yashiki, a fellow speedster (Nakatsuka really was no longer a speedster himself, with 3 steals in 1981). He hit .234/.257/.291 in 150 plate appearances as a backup in 1982.

For his career, Nakatsuka had hit .278/.336/.369 in 1,643 NPB games, with 632 runs, 224 doubles, 61 home runs, 387 RBI, 449 walks and 164 steals in 263 tries. Through 2011, he was tied for 100th in steals (with Tomoaki Kanemoto and Norichika Aoki) and tied for 44th in times caught (with Masayasu Kaneda and Makoto Kosaka). He later was a coach and scout for the Whales/Yokohama BayStars