Naoto Asahara

From BR Bullpen

Naoto Asahara (浅原 直人)

BR NPB page

Biographical Information[edit]

Naoto Asahara played in Nippon Professional Baseball on-and-off from 1936 to 1955. He played for the Nagoya Golden Dolphins (1936), Nagoya (1936), Dai Tokyo (1936-1937), Lion (1937), Asahi (1941-1943), the Tokyu Flyers (1952-1953) and the Toei Flyers (1954-1955).

He displayed solid speed throughout his career, stealing 13 bases between the spring and fall seasons in 1937 (nine in the spring, four in the fall) but he finished among the league leaders most often in home runs. He debuted in the spring of 1936 for the Nagoya Golden Dolphins, going 2 for 16 with 3 walks, a double and five runs. He was 0 for 1 in the fall season for Nagoya and hit .224/.272/.250 for Dai Tokyo. He batted .229/.296/.341 for Dai Tokyo in the spring of 1937 and the first baseman tied for 5th in the Japanese Professional Baseball League with two home runs. In the fall of '37, he hit only .173/.272/.309 for Lion but did tie Toshio Kurosawa and Fujio Nagaswa for second in the JPBL witrh five triples, one behind Kenjiro Matsuki.

After not playing from 1938 to 1940, he returned to go 0 for 2 for Asahi in 1941. He hit .248/.316/.352 and swiped 10 bags in 14 tries in 1942, moving from first base to the outfield that season. Had he qualified, he would have been 5th in the pitcher-dominant league in average. He tied for 4th with four dingers. He stole 11 bases in 1943, hit .253/.357/.374 and also had 32 walks and just 20 strikeouts. He would have been 4th in average had he qualified. He was among the leaders in triples (7, tied for second with Kunio Shimoyashiro), home runs (2, tied for 10th) and RBI (29, 8th).

He did not play from 1944 to 1951, spending time with Kumagai-gum in the industrial leagues. With Tokyu in 1952, now playing both 1B and OF (a role he would remain in for his last four seasons), he had 14 stolen bases and was only caught twice. He produced at a .260/.323/.384 clip. On April 20, he hit for the 5th cycle in Japanese pro annals. The next year, he had 12 steals (again only 2 CS) and 12 home runs, hitting .218/.298/.394. He tied Tokuji Iida and Hiroshi Oshita for 7th in the Pacific League in home runs. On October 11, he hit a pinch-hit grand slam. In 1954, with Toei, he stole 11 bases and had 12 homers. His batting line was .229/.301/.359. He wound down with a .194/.242/.295 line in 91 games for Toei in 1955.

Overall, Asahara batted .228/.301/.352 with 44 home runs, 392 RBI and 81 stolen bases in nine seasons.