Before Tanaka: 5 MLB Success Stories From Japan

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After Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports broke the news, various outlets confirmed what many New Yorkers had hoped — that the Yankees got their man. The man, of course, is Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who recently agreed to a seven-year, $155 million deal. Tanaka, 25 years old, is often referred to as a “phenom,” and boasted incredible numbers in his seven-year career in Nippon Professional Baseball, leading many to argue that he has the best track record of any pitcher coming to the U.S. from the league. Whether or not Tanaka will be successful in MLB remains to be seen, but here are a few others success stories hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun. The following are not ranked in any order.

Hideo Nomo

Nomo, now 45, spent 12 Major League seasons in the U.S. with seven teams. After signing with the L.A. Dodgers in 1995, Nomo (“The Tornado”) became the first Japanese-born Japanese major leaguer to permanently move to Major League Baseball and is largely credited with opening the doors for other Japanese players to do the same. During his tenure in the league, Nomo amassed 123 wins and a 4.24 ERA, throwing two no-hitters. He also won Rookie of the Year in 1995, and led the American League and National League in strikeouts at various points in his career. He was recently elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

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