So Taguchi, born on July 6, 1969, is a former professional baseball player from Fukuoka prefecture. During his active career in the Orix BlueWave, he won twice consecutive Pacific League championships together with Ichiro Suzuki and other well-known players at the time, as well as the Japan Series championship.
On top of that, he got to experience a journey all the way to the World Series championship when he was in the MLB team the St. Louis Cardinals. At the moment he is the manager for the Orix Buffaloes’ minor league team.
In the 1991 draft, he was selected by both the Orix BlueWave and the Nippon-Ham Fighters. Orix ended up winning the negotiation rights and Taguchi joined his new team. In 1992, he made his pro debut in the opening match against the Chiba Lotte Marines as the no. 9 shortstop.
However, because of the strict instructions by Doi Shozo, who was manager at the time, he got the yips (throwing impairment). He kept making defensive errors and he was unable to develop as an infielder.
However, things started to change after he switched to outfield. This decision was influenced by Ichiro, who joined at the same time as Taguchi and highly praised his strong throwing arm; and also by his new manager, Akira Ohgi, who joined in 1994. Taguchi’s excellent fielding as an outfielder secured him a spot as a regular, and he continued to grow until he was frequently awarded the Golden Glove.
Together with Ichiro and Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who later transferred to MLB, Taguchi played as one of the team’s key players during the BlueWave’s heyday. On top of the Pacific League consecutive championship titles in 1995 and 1996, they beat the Central League champions, the Yomiuri Giants, 4-1 in the 1996 Japan Series, claiming the prestigious Japan Series Champion title.
Taguchi’s efforts over the long years in the BlueWave were recognized, and he was selected for the Japan national team for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
In the off-season in 2001, he declared himself a free agent, and after debating whether to enter MLB or to join the Hanshin Tigers, he eventually decided to transfer to the St. Louis Cardinals. He made his debut in on June 10, 2002, in the match against the Seattle Mariners, but he ended up falling to the Cardinals’ minor league team within the first year.
His first season in MLB ended with 19 match appearances, 15 at bats and 6 hits.
In his second year, he was again left out of the opening game roster, and started the opening match in the Triple-A affiliate team, the Memphis Redbirds. After many promotions and relegationes, he ended his lackluster season with 43 match appearances and a batting average of .259.
Luckily, things turned for the better in 2004, which was when his contract was supposed to end. When he was put on the opening game roster, he appeared in a total of 109 matches, hitting .291, and .341 with runners on scoring positions. That year, he won the Rookie of the Year award. He also helped the Cardinals advance to the World Series, which greatly increased his value in the team.
The next year, in 2005, his good performance continued, and he appeared in 143 matches. That season, he recorded a batting average of .288, 8 home runs, 53 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases.
In 2006, he was given more chances to appear in matches as a pinch hitter or a replacement for a defensive position. When his team won in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers, he ended up being the first Japanese player on the field when his team was declared champions.
After that, he briefly played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs before returning to the Orix Buffaloes on January 23, 2010. Orix mostly used him as a pinch hitter, but because of his injuries and poor performance, he was removed from the active player list in the 2011 off-season. In 2012, he announced his retirement.
From that point on, he has appeared as a baseball commentator in several television programs, and since 2015, he has been the Orix Buffaloes minor league team’s manager. Aside from that, he has also been working as a batting coach since 2017.