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30 Most Interesting Facts About Masahiro Tanaka You Probably Didn't Know Before

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Masahiro Tanaka, currently the starting pitcher for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB), is often famously referred to as Mā-kun, affectionately by his fans and the media. He is known for his excellent command, posting a BB/9 (walks per nine innings rate) of 1.7 and a K/BB (strikeout to walk ratio) of 4.99 in his MLB career. Here are some unknown facts about the Japanese professional baseball player:

  1.  Tanaka comes from Itami, near Osaka, in Western Japan. He is Japanese import baseball starting pitcher for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball.
  2.  He was born on November 1, 1988, in Itami, a city in Hyogo, Japan, to Kazumi and Hiroshi Tanaka. He has a younger brother.
  3.  Tanaka took to baseball in the first grade as a catcher alongside Sakamoto, who were batterymate playing for the Koyanosato Tigers in the Little League team.
  4.  He attended Itami Municipal Matsuzaki Junior High School and later moved to Komazawa University Tomakomai High School in Hokkaido.
  5.  He was used as a pitcher and catcher for the Takarazuka Boys and was chosen to represent Junior All-South Kansai team in his third year of junior high school.
  6.  Playing for Tomakomai High School, as pitcher, he led them to a championship in the 87th National High School Baseball tournament. He clocked the fastest pitch by a junior with 150 km/h in the very last pitch of the tournament.
  7.  Tanaka went on represent the Japanese team in the IBAF AAA World Junior Championship and also led his school to regional title as well as a championship in the Meiji Jingu Tournament.
  8.  At the 88th National High School Baseball Championship, despite dealing with intestine inflammation, he threw 742 pitches in 52 innings, striking out 54 and walking 20 with a 2.22 earned run average. His school Tomakomai High School lost to Waseda Jitsugyo.
  9.  He ended his high school career striking out 458 batters, surpassing Daisuke Matsuzaka’s record of 423, and also hit 13 home runs in three years. He was chosen to represent Japan in the United States –Japan High School Baseball Tournament.
  10.  On September 25, 2006 in the NPB high school draft, he was signed-up by the Golden Eagles to a base salary of 15 million yen, including a signing bonus of 100 million yen and a performance based incentives.
  11.  Tanaka made his professional debut in the Ichigun, the Japanese major league, on March 29, 2007, sporting jersey number 18, as team’s ace against the Fukuoka Softbank Hawaks as the starting pitcher. He gave up six runs on six hits and a walk.
  12.  He goes by many nicknames though he is affectionately referred as ‘Ma-kun’ by both fans and media. Some call him by the abbreviated name ‘Ma’ while on the Yankees he wore the nickname ‘Masa’ on his jersey.
  13.  On April 18, 2007, in the home game against Hawks, he pitched two-run ball over the distance with 13 strikeouts in a complete game win, the first win of his professional career.
  14.  He has many first to his name in his rookie season including being the first pitcher since Yu Darvish to throw a complete game shutout as a rookie out of high school in the game against Chunichi Dragons on June 13.
  15.  He also became the first pitcher since Matsuzaka in 1999 to be voted the starter of the NPB All-Star Gamebeing rookie out of high school and he also equaled the record of fastest to reach 100 career strikeouts when he reached the mile stone on July 10 in just 96 innings.
  16.  Tanaka became the first pitcher to record double digit wins in Eagle franchise history with a win against Saitama Seibu Lions on August 31 and first to do so as a rookie out of high school in Japanese baseball since Matsuzaka.
  17.  He ended the year with an 11-7 record and a 3.82 ERA. His 196 strikeouts were the second-most by any pitcher in either league. He was named the Pacific League Most Valuable Rookie, again the first player out of high school since Matsuzaka.
  18.  Tanaka is an avid fan of ‘Momoiro Clover Z,’ a popular female idol group and uses multicolored gloves in the five Momoiro Clover Z member color for practice. Even his cheering goods depict his name in those five colors and their song is used as warm-up song.
  19.  Tanaka is the youngest Japanese baseball player to play in the Olympics, when he was part of national team at 2008 Beijing Olympics, securing fourth place.
  20.  As Eagle went 4-0 up at start of 2009 season, Tanaka became the first pitcher with four consecutive complete game win since 1993. He was named Pacific League monthly Most Valuable Player for the month of April with a 0.50 ERA, 37 striking out, 24 base runners in 36 innings.
  21.  He was member of Japanese World Baseball Classic competition in 2009, which went on to win the title defeating South Korea 5-3 and was placed third in 2013.
  22.  On September 13, 2013, he set a new NPB record with his 21st consecutive win in the 2013 season and went on to end the regular season 24-0 with 1.27 ERA, tops in both leagues. He was awarded his second ‘Sawamura Award.’
  23.  Tanaka is married to Mai Satoda, a pop idol and Kitschy television personality in December 2012, and the couple is blessed with baby boy on February 15, 2016.
  24.  On January 22, 2014, Tanaka signed a seven year contract worth $155 million with the Yankees of Major League Baseball, with opt-out clause at the end of fourth year. He made his debut on April 4, 2014, against the Toronto Blue Jays.
  25.  Tanaka became the first Yankee rookie to win 12 games by the All-Star break and was selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game as reserve for the American league. He subsequently withdrew due to injury.
  26.  In another first, he and his former Japanese teammate Hisashi Iwakuma of Seattle Mariners, pitched against each other for the first time Major League Baseball history. He earned the win, allowing two earned runs and striking out six.
  27.  He finished the 2016 season pitching 199 innings with a 14-4 record, 165 strikeouts and a 3.07 ERA, the third-best in the American League. Tanaka set career highs in innings pitched, wins, strikeouts, and WAR.
  28.  A win on August 27, 2017, against Seattle Mariners, earned him his 10th win of the season, making him the first Japanese pitcher in MLB history to have double digit win in all of his first four seasons.
  29.  He finished the year 2017, with a 13-12 record, a 4.74 ERA, 194 strikeouts, and 35 home runs allowed in 178 innings pitched. He also tied for the most single-season strikeouts by striking out 15 batters in the game against Blue Jays, on September 29.
  30.  In 2019, as an injury replacement, Yankees tabbed Tanaka as the Opening Day starter on March 9, 2019. The start gave him the record for most Opening Day start by a Japanese pitcher with four.
  31.  Masahiro Tanaka Net Worth: $60 Million

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