Shuji Yoshida (吉田修司)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 10", Weight 171 lb.
- High School Taki High School
Shuji Yoshida pitched for 16 seasons in Nippon Pro Baseball.
Yoshida played for Hokkaido Takushoku Bank in the industrial leagues after high school. He won Bronze with the Japanese national team in the 1987 Intercontinental Cup. He was 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA for Japan in the 1988 Baseball World Cup despite only 5 hits in 33 at-bats. His five appearances tied Takehiro Ishii and Tetsu Suzuki for the team lead. He remained with Japan for the 1988 Olympics. That winter, the Yomiuri Giants picked him in the first round of the draft.
In his NPB debut, Yoshida was 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 10 outings in 1989. In the 1989 Japan Series, he pitched two games; he walked two, struck out two and retired the fifth batter. Yomiuri went on to take the Series from the Kintetsu Buffaloes in seven games. He went 3-3 with a save and a 3.69 ERA in 1990 and 2-3, 4.87 in 1991. He allowed three runs in 3 1/3 IP in 1992. He spent all of 1993 in ni-gun, leading the Eastern League in wins.
Yoshida was dealt to the Daiei Hawks in mid-1994; for the year, he surrendered 16 hits in 15 2/3 innings and allowed a 3.80 average. The former Olympian did better in limited action in 1995 (1-2, 3.63 in 12 G) but gave up four runs in 1 2/3 innings in his lone appearance of 1996.
Yoshida made 49 appearances for the Hawks in 1997 and allowed a .228 average. He went 4-3 with 3 saves and a 3.40 ERA. The veteran was used in 63 games in 1998 and was very good at 3-4, 2.10 with 10 saves and a .227 opponent average. He led the Hawks in both games pitched and ERA (30+ IP).
In 1999, the left-handed specialist was 0-1 with a save and a 2.87 ERA in 58 outings. He was not the team's top portside option as Takayuki Shinohara had a lower ERA in more outings and a better record. He made his first Japan Series in a decade - in game five of the 1999 Japan Series, he got the win in relief as Daiei locked up its first title ever. Overall, he allowed three runs in 3 1/3 IP in the Series.
Yoshida tied Tadashi Sugiura's franchise record for games pitched, with 69, in 2000. He went 9-3 with a save and a 3.01 ERA. He made his first Pacific League All-Star team at age 33. Along with Shinohara and Masakazu Watanabe, he gave manager Sadaharu Oh an excellent trio of left-handed relievers. In the 2000 Japan Series, the Hawks fell to the Giants and Yoshida allowed five runs in six innings. He did get the win in game one of the Series, though.
In 2001, Shuji went 3-6 with a 3.27 ERA in 68 games. Opponents hit .293 off of him that year. His last good year was 2002, when he had a 7-5, 3.13 record with two saves in 62 games and made his second and last All-Star team.
Yoshida faded to 2-1, 5.03 with 3 saves and a 2.85 opponent average in 53 outings in 2003. In the 2003 Japan Series, he allowed a hit to the only batter he faced after relieving Kazumi Saitoh in game one. He did not appear in the next six games, and Daiei went on to beat the Hanshin Tigers for the title; Oh felt much more comfortable turning to Shinohara in the Series that year.
In spring training of 2004, the veteran was injured and he did not appear in NPB for two years. At age 39, he made a comeback in 2006 but gave up four runs in three innings, going 0-1 in eight outings, while also facing elbow injury problems.
Let loose by the Hawks, he signed with the Orix Buffaloes for 2007 and did a creditable job as a LOOGY (2-0, Sv, 2.61, 20 2/3 IP over 36 G). He reached 500 career appearances early in the year. He then retired to become a baseball commentator.
Yoshida was 37-32 with 23 saves in 533 career NPB games. He had a 3.57 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.
Sources: Defunct IBAF site, http://www.japanbaseballdaily.com