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Catching up with Tadahito Iguchi

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Still active in Japan, the second baseman of the 2005 White Sox World Series champions is scheduled to attend SoxFest in 2015

Sadly, still the best White Sox second baseman to wear the No. 15.
Sadly, still the best White Sox second baseman to wear the No. 15.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the 10-year anniversary of the World Series upon them, the White Sox are trying their best to bring the band back together for SoxFest in January.

With Wednesday's announcement of new names, they may have snagged the hardest get.

Nothing against Jon Garland or Geoff Blum, who are two of the three newest attendees, but they've been around over the years. In fact, Blum stopped by U.S. Cellular Field this past season as a member of Houston's broadcast booth. But Tadahito Iguchi's name is the one that excited me the most, because he's the one in greatest need of revisiting.

The last time I saw Iguchi was on TV at my brother and sister-in-law's house in Japan a couple years ago.

He's still playing there at age 39. After becoming a star with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks prior to his foray into Major League baseball, he resumed his Japanese career with Chiba Lotte Marines. The only major difference is a shift from second to first for the last two seasons.

And in between, Iguchi had one of the most efficient MLB careers around, including a stay with the White Sox that was virtually hassle-free.

Iguchi fell into Kenny Williams' plans -- not quite by luck, but close. The Sox had a book on him, but he was seeking a similar deal to the one Kaz Matsui signed with the Mets (three years, $20 million), and the Sox and every other team balked at that number, perhaps because Matsui was such a disappointment in New York.

But when his price dropped dramatically, Williams pounced, giving the 30-year-old Iguchi a two-year, $4.95 million contract with a reasonable team option for 2007. He batted second on Opening Day, and after he opened the season hitting .333 in April, the Sox never had to budge him. He hit in the No. 2 spot in every single one of his 129 starts, giving the Sox an above-average bat for a second baseman and a perfectly suitable bridge between Scott Podsednik and the middle of the order.

That set the course for the rest of his charmed MLB career. It's not just that he put together three good seasons out of four stateside, but he tacked on several accomplishments that aren't easy for any ballplayer, no matter how long they hang around the majors.

The Tadahito Iguchi Game on June 25, 2006, ranks as my favorite White Sox defeat. They lost 10-9 to Houston in 13 innings, but extra innings shouldn't have happened in the first place. The Sox erased an eight-run deficit over the last three regulation innings, and Iguchi drove in the last seven, hitting a three-run shot in the eighth, and a game-tying grand slam off Brad Lidge in the ninth. And it was in front of a sold-out crowd of 38,516 and a national audience on Sunday Night Baseball.

I would've loved to hear Hawk Harrelson's call, but Jon Miller's was pretty damn good for an objective broadcaster. Unfortunately, the footage seems to be lost between MLB.com video platforms. Until the White Sox nudge somebody at MLBAM to restore the clip, you'll have to settle for this fan video from the upper deck.

After an injury-shortened season with San Diego and subsequent tepid interest in the open market, he returned to Japan and did the same things he did here:

When you add up his NPB and MLB careers, it looks like he's kept himself pretty busy since he left the U.S. It'll be great to see him again.

Year Tm G PA H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
1997 Daiei 76 252 44 6 3 8 23 3 3 24 67 .203 .304 .369
1998 Daiei 135 476 93 18 4 21 66 12 6 28 121 .221 .280 .432
1999 Daiei 116 424 83 15 1 14 47 14 7 38 113 .224 .310 .384
2000 Daiei 54 185 40 9 2 7 23 5 2 15 29 .247 .317 .457
2001 Daiei 140 636 144 26 1 30 97 44 9 61 117 .261 .346 .475
2002 Daiei 114 472 111 14 1 18 53 21 7 27 84 .259 .317 .423
2003 Daiei 135 617 175 37 1 27 109 42 6 81 81 .340 .438 .573
2004 Daiei 124 574 170 34 2 24 89 18 5 47 90 .333 .394 .549
2005 White Sox 135 582 142 25 6 15 71 15 5 47 114 .278 .342 .438
2006 White Sox 138 627 156 24 0 18 67 11 5 59 110 .281 .352 .422
2007 CWS/PHI 135 533 124 27 4 9 43 14 2 57 88 .267 .347 .400
2008 SD/PHI 85 337 72 15 1 2 24 8 1 26 75 .232 .292 .306
2009 Chiba Lotte 123 530 126 24 3 19 65 4 4 68 101 .281 .391 .475
2010 Chiba Lotte 143 650 156 44 1 17 103 2 1 98 114 .294 .412 .476
2011 Chiba Lotte 140 597 135 23 3 9 73 1 1 72 96 .265 .362 .375
2012 Chiba Lotte 140 578 129 30 1 11 60 3 1 53 99 .255 .343 .384
2013 Chiba Lotte 135 566 144 31 2 23 83 4 3 67 81 .297 .390 .511
2014 Chiba Lotte 109 408 85 24 0 10 49 1 0 40 74 .238 .326 .389
18 Seasons 2177 9044 2129 426 36 282 1145 222 68 908 1654 .271 .355 .442

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.