Shinobu Fukuhara

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Shinobu Fukuhara (福原 忍)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Shinobu Fukuhara was an All-Star pitcher once in Japan.

Fukuhara was a classmate of Tomohiro Nioka from elementary school through high school. The Hanshin Tigers took him in the third round of the 1998 NPB draft. As a rookie in 1999, he was 10-7 with 9 saves and a 4.09 ERA in 54 outings. He was 3 for 9 at the plate, getting his first hit off Eiji Yano on May 8. This would be an anomaly as he would hit under .200 other seasons and under .100 in some. In 2000, he had a 5-9 record, 3 saves and a 3.29 ERA. He tossed a four-hitter for his first shutout. Had he qualified, he would have ranked 9th in the Central League in ERA, between Daisuke Miura and Nate Minchey.

In 2001, he remained a swingman, going 9-12 with a save and a 3.13 ERA. He would have been 6th in ERA (between Hiroki Kuroda and Shugo Fujii) if he had qualified. On April 1, he got his first career home run, off Masaaki Saito. He moved to the bullpen again in 2002 and had a 1-2, 5.10 record in 25 games, missing time due to shoulder surgery. He only got into five games in 2003 but did okay (2-2, 2.86, 27 K in 22 IP). In the 2003 Japan Series, he allowed one run in 4 2/3 IP of a long relief outing in game 6 (replacing Hideki Irabu). Hanshin fell to the Daiei Hawks in a 7-game Series.

The right-hander was a regular in the Tigers rotation in 2004, going 10-15 with a 3.87 ERA. He led the Central League in losses (4 more than the runner-ups: Jason Beverlin, Kei Igawa and Masanori Ishikawa) while making the All-Star team as well. He was also among the leaders in ERA (7th, between Domingo Guzman and John Bale), innings pitched (181 1/3, 3rd behind Igawa and Kenshin Kawakami), wins (tied for 10th with Guzman, Kimiyasu Kudoh and Ryo Kawashima), batters faced (779, 2nd to Igawa), hits allowed (190, tied for second with Igawa behind Ishikawa), wild pitched (13, the most), walks (58, 4th between Bale and Igawa), strikeouts (148, 6th between Koji Uehara and Kuroda), earned runs allowed (78, tied for 4th with Hiroshi Kisanuki) and runs allowed (80, 6th between Ishikawa and Bale).

Fukuhara posted a 8-14, 3.51 record in 2005, managing to lead the league in losses for a first-place Hanshin squad. He also was 7th in ERA (between Fujii and Kawakami), 8th in innings (171 2/3, between Igawa and Yoshihiro Doi), tied for first with two shutouts (even with 5 others), 6th in hits allowed (172, between Ken Kadokura and Hisanori Takahashi), tied for 7th in homers allowed (20, tied with Miura and Kawakami), tied for 8th in complete games (3), 9th in walks (45, between Takahashi and Kudoh) and tied for 9th in runs allowed (74, even with Tetsuya Utsumi). He tossed 1 1/3 shutout relief innings in the 2005 Japan Series, which Hanshin lost to the Chiba Lotte Marines in a four-game sweep. Skipper Akinobu Okada went to a rotation of Igawa, Yuya Ando, Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi and Naohisa Sugiyama instead of using Fukuhara in his usual starting role.

#28 had his best campaign in 2006, with a 12-5, 2.09 record. He finished second in the CL in ERA (.24 behind leader Kuroda), tied for 5th in wins (with Utsumi and Shimoyanagi) and tied for 8th with 3 complete games (with Jeremy Powell and Sugiyama) while not finishing among the leaders in any negative department. He slumped big time in 2007, to 2-8, 6.53 with a .345 opponent average allowed. He broke his finger fielding a bunt early in 2008 and only pitched nine games that year (3-2, 3.44).

In 2009, Fukuhara returned to the Hanshin rotation with mediocre results (3-10, 4.84). He tied Yoshinori Sato and Les Walrond for 7th in the league in losses. He was 0-1 with a 5.18 ERA in 19 games (all in relief) in 2010. In 55 games in 2011, he rebounded to go 2-3 with a 2.59 ERA and .227 opponent average.

Through 2011, Fukuhara's career record is 67-90, 3.65 with 13 saves in 355 games (146 starts). At the plate, his batting line was .110/.147/.138 with two homers in 246 at-bats. Away from the diamond, he enjoys bass fishing.

Source: japanbaseballdaily by Gary Garland