Your Turn: Which Japanese players have made the biggest mark in Major League Baseball?

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

With the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka continuing to impress and the Rangers’ Yu Darvish continuing to come so close to throwing major-league no-nos, it seems that Japanese players’ impacts upon MLB might be at an all-time high.

Many Japanese stars have come to MLB in the last 20 years or so since Hideo Nomo arrived and perhaps changed perceptions about Japanese baseball. And, of course, Ichiro Suzuki arrived in 2001 and showed us all that impactful baseball wasn’t just about 500-foot home runs — and that not all Japanese success stories in MLB have to be pitchers.

Baseball Reference lists 60 big-league hitters born in Japan and 42 pitchers — some of them more successful than others.

We’re curious … who do you think the best MLB players from Japan have been through the years?

Tell us in the comments below, and a selection of your responses will appear in an upcoming issue of Beckett Baseball.

Your Turn: Which MLB pitchers born in Japan are the most-collectable? (Pick your top three.)

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Your Turn: Which MLB hitters born in Japan are the most-collectable? (Pick your top three.)

View Results

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Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


  1. Samy Fineman
    Posted May 13, 2014 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    By far, the one who has had the most impact of any other Japanese baseball player has to be Hideo Nomo. As a pioneer of making the jump from Japanese to American baseball, he has paved the way for some of the greatest baseball players of our generation to make their way to the Majors. Ichiro, Yu Darvish, and Masahiro Tanaka all have very valuable collectibles, but Nomo is quite collectible as well. Hideo Nomo autographs are very rare and leave him as one of the most sought-after Japanese baseball autographs around. He barely ever signed any cards for companies, and if he did, they are very short printed. Additionally, his instant superstardom made it hard for collectors to obtain his autograph, leaving signed memorabilia in pretty short supply compared to demand. For me…Nomo is the most collectible/impactful player to make the jump across the ocean.

    I live in Okinawa, Japan, basically the mecca of the Asian baseball universe. Before Darvish, Tanaka, Iwakuma, Aoki, Ryu, and Yoon Suk Min traveled to the states, I met them here. Every February, Japanese and Korean spring training takes place on our little subtropical island. I have had the chance to meet some of the greatest baseball players from Japan and know about the up and coming superstars. If you ever want to learn more about IP graphing in a foreign country, visit my Facebook page about IP graphing: Yakyu Graphs.

  2. Olds
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Good stuff, Samy.

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