Daisuke Matsuzaka, born on September 13, 1980, is a professional baseball player from Tokyo Metropolitan and he is currently playing for the Chunichi Dragons. Even before entering the pro scene, he became the subject of attention when he was pitching over 150 km/h fastballs and fast dipping sliders as his team’s ace during his 3rd year in Yokohama High School.
In the National High School Baseball Championship, he became the second person in history to achieve a no-hitter in the final and because of his successive championships in the spring and summer Koshien, he earned the nickname “Monster of Heisei.”
In the 1998 draft, three teams fought over him in the first round, and Seibu Lions ended up drawing the winning lottery for the negotiation rights and signed a contract. After joining the team, he was able to start in the first team right from the opening game even though he was still a rookie right out of high school.
His first match as a starting pitcher was on April 7 against the Nippon-Ham Fighters, where he showed off a 155 km/h fastball and won his first game after giving up 2 points in 8 innings. Moreover, when he first went up against Ichiro Suzuki in the Orix match, he was able to strike him out in three consecutive at bats.
The boost in confidence didn’t stop until Matsuzaka earned the title for most wins with 16 wins and 5 losses. He also earned the Golden Glove, Rookie of the Year and Best Nine awards, showing that his nickname is well deserved.
Matsuzaka won the title for most wins again the next year, in 2000, and once more in 2001. That year, he won the Sawamura award, as well as other titles. With only 3 years gone by since he joined the team, he had firmly cemented his position as the ace pitcher in the Lions and in the entire Japanese baseball world. He became the fastest player to enter the 100 million yen annual salary club after graduating high school.
In 2002, Daisuke suffered from injuries and thus wasn’t able to produce the desired results, finishing the season with only 6 wins. After that, he was winning over 10 games every year, and he was selected for the Japan national team, where he earned the bronze medal in 2004 Summer Olympics held in Athens, Greece. His regular season matches with the Seibu Lions ended with the Pacific League championship title and his first Japan Series championship title.
Before the 2006 season opening game, he appeared in the first World Baseball Classic in the Japan national team, where he was the starting pitcher in all three matches. With 3 wins and a 1.38 ERA, he rightfully earned the WBC MVP title and his first WBC championship as the Japan national team’s ace pitcher.
In off-season that year, he announced his decision to move on to MLB, using the posting system, and he signed a formal contract with the Boston Red Sox. During his first year in MLB, in 2007, he helped share the burden as a part of the rotation, finishing with a score of 15 wins and 12 losses. That season, he recorded the team’s highest number of strikeouts at 201, as well as helped the team win their division championship after 12 long years.
Matsuzaka also stepped on the mound and brought home a win in the post season match against the Los Angeles Angels and in the World Series match against the Colorado Rockies. He helped the Red Sox become the World Series champions and he himself became the first Japanese pitcher to win in the World Series.
The next year, in 2008, he showed further improvement by achieving 8 consecutive wins and surpassing his previous year’s results with 18 wins and 3 losses, 2.90 ERA and a .857 win percentage. He was also voted for forth place for the Cy Young Award.
In 2009, he was picked for Japan national team for the second WBC. Just like last time, he won 3 matches and greatly pushed his team towards their second consecutive WBC championship title. Matsuzaka himself earned the WBC MVP title for the second time, but he had to time off from the regular season due to injuries, which left him with an unsatisfying season.
After that, Matsuzaka was put on the disabled list and he had to spend more time watching the games from the side. In 2011, he underwent Tommy John surgery.
However, after he had recovered from surgery, he wasn’t able to show the exciting pitching that he was famous for. Perhaps it was because of the surgery or because he had thrown too much during his high school days. Next, he transferred to the New York Mets and then the Fukuoka Soft Bank Hawks, but he wasn’t able to produce sufficient results and left the Hawks on November 5, 2017.
On January 23, 2018, he passed the Chunichi Dragons unofficial trials, which let him officially join the team with a one year contract.