Toshimitsu Suetsugu

From BR Bullpen

Toshimitsu Suetsugu

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 170 lb.

Toshimitsu Suetsugu was a five-time Central League All-Star right fielder. He played for the "V-9" Yomiuri Giants that won a historic nine consecutive Japan Series.

Suetsugu debuted the year Yomiuri started the record-setting run, 1965; he was just 2 for 16 on the season and did not play in the Japan Series. He was a frequently-used sub in 1966, hitting .235/.259/.380. He went 3 for 12 with a double in the 1966 Japan Series, backing up Isao Shibata, Toshio Yanagida and Akira Kunimatsu in the outfield.

In 1967, Suetsugu hit .244/.299/.409 in a similar role to '66. He only played one game in the 1967 Japan Series and did not bat. Up to 275 plate appearances and 111 games in 1968, Toshimitsu hit .247/.315/.360. He went 1 for 4 with a walk and two runs in the 1968 Japan Series, backing up Kunimatsu, Shibata and Shigeru Takada.

Suetsugu batted .257/.316/.409 in 1969, joining Takada, Shibata and Kunimatsu in the outfield mix on an even more regular basis. He was 2 for 18 in the 1969 Japan Series but was hit by two pitches and scored five runs, one less than team leader Tabata.

Suetsugu hit .249/.288/.396 in 1970 then hit .278/.316/.389 in the 1970 Japan Series. By this point, he had joined Shibata and Takada in the starting outfield. He saw a reduced role in 1971 despite hitting .311/.343/.418. He then went 7 for 19 with a double, triple, homer and team-high 7 RBI in the 1971 Japan Series to steal the limelight from Sadaharu Oh, Shigeo Nagashima, Tsuneo Horiuchi, Shibata and Shozo Doi, taking Japan Series MVP honors.

In 1972, Suetsugu blasted a career-high 21 homers and hit .283/.312/.482. He was 10th in the CL in average and made his first All-Star team. He kept up his Japan Series dominance by homering twice in Game One. He hit .368/.429/.684 with 5 runs and 6 RBI in the five-game Series but lost MVP honors to Horiuchi this time.

Repeating as an All-Star in 1973, Toshimitsu produced at a .262/.307/.408 rate. He hit .381/.435/.619 in the 1973 Japan Series for his third straight dominant Series; MVP honors again went to Horiuchi.

Suetsugu hit .316/.366/.480 with 25 doubles, 13 homers and 77 RBI in 1974. He ground into a league-worst 21 double plays but also finished 4th in average, trailing only Oh, Tatsuhiko Kimata and Makoto Matsubara. He joined Gene Martin and Tsutomu Wakamatsu in the Best Nine outfield (the only time he was so honored) and made his 4th All-Star team. While he was having arguably his best year, Yomiuri's run of nine straight pennants came to an end, as the Chunichi Dragons edged them for the CL title.

The Hitoyoshi native fell to .252/.322/.394 in 1975 but made his 4th straight All-Star team. An All-Star for the fifth and final time in 1976, he rebounded to .281/.323/.403. On June 8, he hit a two-out sayonara grand slam off Kazuyuki Yamamoto. He was 2 for 7 in the 1976 Japan Series and was on the losing side of a Japan Series for the only time.

Suetsugu began 1977 by going 2 for 11 before being plunked in his left eye, ending his career at age 35. Overall, he hit .269/.316/.417 with 107 homers in 1,214 games in Nippon Pro Baseball.

After retiring, Suetsugu became a coach for Yomiuri and also managed their ni-gun team.

Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland