- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 7", Weight 163 lb.
- High School Yokohama Shogyo High School
Arai hit 43 home runs in his high school career. He then played in Japan's industrial leagues. In the 1984 Amateur World Series, he split DH with Tadanori Murakami for the Japanese national team and backed up at all three outfield spots. He hit .333/.396/.429 with four doubles and ten runs in eleven games, handling 7 putouts with no errors. He tied Hiroyuki Murata for Japan's lead in doubles and led the team in runs. He was Japan's cleanup hitter in the 1984 Olympics, hitting .500 with two homers to help them win the title, stunning a Team USA which included Mark McGwire, Barry Larkin, Will Clark, B.J. Surhoff and Bill Swift. Arai remained with Japan for the 1985 Asian Championship (Gold Medal) and 1985 Intercontinental Cup (Bronze).
A second-round pick of the Yakult Swallows, Arai debuted in NPB in 1986, going 6 for 21 with two doubles. He became a regular in 1987 and had his best year as a pro, batting .301/.360/.444 with 22 doubles. He finished 10th in the Central League in average, right behind Toru Sugiura, and was named the CL Rookie of the Year.
Arai remained somewhat productive over the next several years - .266/.305/.425 in 1988, .272/.340/.372 in 1989 and .282/.346/.396 in 1990. He fell to .222/.323/.321 in 65 games in 1991 then hit .252/.356/.361 in 1992. In the 1992 Japan Series, he joined fellow 1984 Olympian Shinji Hata and Tetsuya Iida as Yakult's starting outfield. He was 5 for 20 with 2 walks, 2 doubles, a run and a RBI in the Series, which Yakult lost in 7 games to the Seibu Lions.
Arai batted .291/.360/.420 with a career-high 9 home runs (matching his total as a rookie) in 1993 for a solid season, making his only CL All-Star team. In the 1993 Japan Series, he hit .263/.333/.421 with one home run and Yakult won the title.
Yukio dropped off to .268/.356/.366 in 1994 and .253/.335/.368 in 1995. In the 1995 Japan Series, Yakult went to an outfield of Iida, Hata, Mitsuru Manaka and Atsunori Inaba, so Arai was used solely as a DH in the road games. He was 2 for 8 with two walks to help Yakult win another Japan Series crown.
That winter, Arai moved to the Kintetsu Buffaloes in a trade with Katsuhito Osaka for Fuminbo Kinoshita and cash, where he struggled in 1996 (.222/.293/.351 in 80 G, 8 SB in 8 tries). He was 5 for 15 with a double and a walk in 1997, then joined the Yokohama BayStars. The veteran was strictly a bench player in three years with Yokohama, getting 100 plate appearances in 102 games; in '99, he only played one game in the field in 51 contests, being used as a pinch-hitter. He hit .261/.320/.348 in 1998, .279/.367/.395 in 1999 and was 0 for 1 in 2000 before he retired.
Overall, Arai had a batting line of .270/.344/.389 in 1,042 games in NPB. Not a big slugger, he had 55 home runs in 2,893 at-bats; nor did he have great speed, with 34 steals in 54 tries. He had a good batting eye with 320 walks to 299 strikeouts and made regular contact.
After his playing days ended, Arai coached for Yakult.
Primary Source: Japan Baseball Daily