Shinji Imanaka

From BR Bullpen

Shinji Imanaka (今中 慎二)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 160 lb.

BR Register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Shinji Imanaka had pitched and won the Sawamura Award in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Imanaka was drafted by the Chunichi Dragons in the first round of the 1988 NPB draft.[1] He spent his rookie year in the NPB Farm League, and recorded a 6.86 ERA with the big club in this season. The young southpaw joined the rotation in 1990, started 19 games with a 3.86 ERA and collected 10 wins. Imanaka was selected into the 1991 NPB All-Star Game, pitching 2 innings without allowing any runs. He was 12-13 with a 2.52 ERA in this season, and ranked 2nd in ERA (0.08 behind Shinji Sasaoka). He suffered a left wrist fracture in 1992, and stayed on the injury list for 3 months. He still recorded an elite 1.77 ERA in 76 1/3 innings pitched.[2]

Imanaka ruled the Central League in 1993. He participated in the 1993 NPB All-Star Game, pitched 2 innings and allowed 2 runs. He tied the Central League record when he struck out 16 batters in a game on July 6. He ended up 17-7 with a 2.20 ERA and 247 strikeouts. Imanaka led the league in wins, strikeouts, innings, starts, and complete games, but was .15 behind Masahiro Yamamoto in ERA and missed the Triple Crown. He won the Sawamura Award, the Best Nine and the NPB Gold Glove award. In the 1993 Central League MVP voting, Imanaka gained 87 points, which was the highest among pitchers.

The Monma native retained his reliable performance in 1994. He was selected into the All-Star Game again, relieving in the 9th inning of Game 2, and retired 3 consecutive batters (Tsutomu Itoh, Norio Tanabe and Ichiro Suzuki) to close out the win. He was 13-9 with a 2.88 ERA, and led the league in complete games again with 14. He ranked 3th in strikeouts (156, 29 behind Masumi Kuwata), 5th in wins (6 behind Masahiro Yamamoto), and 5th in ERA (.43 behind Genji Kaku). The Dragons and the Yomiuri Giants were tied before the last game of the season. Imanaka started for the Dragons for this CL Championship-deciding game on October 8, but allowed 5 runs and got the loss. In 1995, the talented lefty joined the All-Star game for the third consecutive years, and pitched 2 innings without allowing any hits. He was 12-9 with a 3.29 ERA in this season. Imanaka started for the Dragons on the opening day for the fourth consecutive year in the 1996 season. He reached 1,000 career strikeouts on June 27, setting the team record for the fastest to reach that benchmark. Although facing a left shoulder injury and misseing half of July, he still recorded a 14-8 with a 3.31 ERA in this year.

The Ace of the Dragons was fighting with his injury in 1997, and only pitched 10 games in the major league. He failed to come back in 1998, starting 14 games with a poor 5.34 ERA. He only had 5 appearances in 1999 and missed the entire 2000. On November 10, 2001, Imanaka announced his retirement, and ended his glorious 12-year career. He was the pitching coach for the Dragons in 2013.

Imanaka's repertoire included a fastball (peak 93 mph), curveball and forkball.

Overall, Imanaka was 91-69 with a 3.15 ERA and pitched 1,395 1/3 innings in twelve seasons in NPB.