Akinori Otsuka

Akinori Otsuka (大塚 晶則 Otsuka Akinori?, born January 13, 1972 in Chiba, Japan) is a Japanese Major League Baseball player. He was formerly the set-up man for the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers. Currently, he is a free agent. He was also the closer for Japan's 2006 World Baseball Classic winning team.

Otsuka throws a low-90's 4-seam fastball (tops out at about 94 mph) that is very straight, along with a hard, late-breaking slider. He employs an unorthodox pitching delivery: He lifts his lead leg up very slowly, taps his glove, then fires to home plate, making his pitches look faster coming out of his hand, making them much harder to pick up.

Otsuka came to the United States after several years of pitching in the Japanese League when his former team, the Chunichi Dragons, used the posting system to solicit bids from MLB clubs for the right to negotiate with him. The Padres offered the top bid, and signed him to a three-year contract on December 9, 2003. On January 6, 2006, Otsuka was traded to the Rangers, along with pitcher Adam Eaton and minor league catcher Billy Killian, in exchange for pitcher Chris Young, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and outfielder Terrmel Sledge.

Otsuka took over the role as the closer for the Rangers during the 2006 season, replacing Francisco Cordero, and recorded 32 saves while posting a 2.11 ERA. However, on December 19, 2006, the Rangers announced that newly signed Éric Gagné would take over the closer role in 2007, with Otsuka moving back into a set-up role. On January 13, 2007, T.R. Sullivan reported that, in an interview in Japan, Otsuka said "If there is the team which needs me as a closer, I am going to think about (the trade)".[1]. Due to Gagné starting the season on the DL, Otsuka began the 2007 season as the closer. With the trade of Gagne to the Boston Red Sox, Otsuka assumed the closer's role again. However, Otsuka went on the DL after experiencing tighntess in his throwing shoulder. His stand-in was C.J. Wilson. Otsuka was not offered a new contract by the Rangers and became a free agent on December 12, 2007.

On January 10, 2008, Otsuka announced that he would undergo elbow surgery. He recently stated that he is getting in shape and is willing to work out with every team to play again in 2009.

Personal lifeEdit

Otsuka and his wife, Akemi, have one son, Toranosuke, and one daughter, Hikaru.[1]


Major Leagues (Total as of July 26, 2008)

  • 236 Games
  • 232 Innings pitched
  • 13 Wins
  • 15 Losses
  • 39 Saves
  • 217 Strikeouts
  • 2.44 ERA

Japanese Professional Leagues

  • 305 Games
  • 350.2 Innings pitched
  • 14 Wins
  • 23 Losses
  • 137 Saves
  • 474 Strikeouts
  • 2.39 ERA

Season by Season
Last update: 26 July 2008

Year Team Age GP W L S IP ER K ERA
1997 Flag of JapanKintetsu Buffaloes 255245782.2191272.07
1998 Flag of JapanKintetsu Buffaloes 2649323555.113322.11
1999 Flag of JapanKintetsu Buffaloes 272514629.29323.95
2000 Flag of JapanOsaka Kintetsu Buffaloes 2839132441.211972.38
2001 Flag of JapanOsaka Kintetsu Buffaloes 294825265625824.02
2002 Flag of JapanOsaka Kintetsu Buffaloes 3041212242.16541.82
2003 Flag of JapanChunichi Dragons 315113174310562.09
2004 Flag of the United StatesSan Diego Padres 327372077.315871.75
2005 Flag of the United StatesSan Diego Padres 336621062.725603.59
2006 Flag of the United StatesTexas Rangers 3463243259.714472.11
2007 Flag of the United StatesTexas Rangers 353421432.19232.51

*Bold = led league


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