Taigen Kaku (Tai-yuan Kuo)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 160 lb.
Taigen Kaku was one of the greatest foreign pitchers in the history of Nippon Pro Baseball, going 117-68 with a 3.16 ERA for the Seibu Lions from 1985-97 after a stint with Taiwan in the '84 Olympics. As a rookie in '85, Kaku led the Pacific League with 3 shutouts and he went the distance in 9 of 15 starts. In '86, Kaku was used mainly in relief, saving 16 games. He started the '88 season 10-0 and finished 13-3 with a 2.41 ERA, second to Hirofumi Kono, missing the lead by .03. Kaku made his first All-Star team in 1990 then followed up with his two best years.
In 1991 Kaku was named Pacific League MVP after he went 15-6 with a 2.94 ERA and led the league with 4 shutouts. He finished third in the league in ERA, was named to the Best Nine for the only time and won a Gold Glove. He won another Gold Glove in '92 and was 14-4 with a 2.41 ERA. His three consecutive shutouts in August and September that year set a PL record. He again finished third in the league in ERA. In '95, Kaku made his second All-Star team and posted a 2.54 ERA.
He was 0-6 with a 7.39 ERA in 1996 and in '97 pitched to just one batter before retiring.
Kaku became the first foreign player to lose "gaijin" status when determining roster limits (NPB limits the number of foreign players - those with 10 or more years in NPB are no longer counted as gaijin). It would be a decade before Tuffy Rhodes became the second such qualifier.
He managed Taiwan in the 2007 Asian Championship, 2015 Premier 12 and 2017 World Baseball Classic and coached for them in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, 2009 Baseball World Cup and 2010 Asian Games. He was inducted into the Taiwan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020.
Kaku was known for his fastball (once timed at 97 mph, the fastest in Asia at the time) and slider. Orestes Destrade described him as having the best stuff on the dynastic Lions: "he was just nasty." (Quote from "Remembering Japanese Baseball" by Rob Fitts)