Koji Uehara Calls Time on an Excellent Career

Koji Uehara
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 02: Koji Uehara #19 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field on September 2, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Cubs won 14-12. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Koji Uehara Calls Time on an Excellent Career

After playing the game of baseball for twenty years, 2013 World Series winner Koji Uehara has decided to call it a career. Uehara had a career that saw him endure fantastic tenures in both Japan and MLB. It’s fair to say that he left an impact on the game of baseball, as he walks away from the game with a ring, as an ALCS MVP and an All-Star, and a never-ending CV from his time in the Japanese leagues.

Koji’s Impact on the League

After a ten-year spell with the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo, Uehara signed with the Baltimore Orioles in January of 2009. He started off as the number two pitcher. However, his first year in the majors was heavily impacted by injury, keeping him out of the fold. Upon return, Uehara moved to the bullpen, where his career in the US really took off.

The reliever was traded to the Texas Rangers in the Chris Davis deal. Upon arrival in Texas, he maintained a 1.75 ERA in the 2012 season, serving as a set-up guy and a closer. However, Uehara’s real legacy in MLB begun when he signed with the Boston Red Sox. In Boston, Koji became one of the league’s elite closers. In the 2013 season, Koji recorded 21 saves and built a 1.09 ERA over 73 regular season games – an astonishing feat.

He was the driving force in the Red Sox bullpen during their 2013 postseason campaign — one that saw Uehara and the Sox win it all. He appeared in 13 playoff games. Against Detroit in the ALCS, he appeared in five games and won the MVP for the series. In the World Series, he threw the winning pitch in Game 6 against the St. Louis Cardinals, making him a star in the eyes of Red Sox fans everywhere. Following the 2013 season, Uehara continued to serve as one of the best bullpen arms in the game. In 2017, Uehara said goodbye to Boston as he signed with the Chicago Cubs.

Uehara’s Career in Japan

After spending 2017 in Chicago, Uehara returned to Tokyo to finish his career where he started it. He played out the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, where he made the All-Star team in 2018. He recorded eight All-Star appearances in Japan to go along with his 2013 MLB All-Star selection.

The accomplishments of Uehara in Japan make him one of the greatest players in their history. The Triple Crown in his rookie season, along with pitcher MVP in both his rookie year and in 2002, was just a start to what he achieved. Winning the World Baseball Classic with Japan in 2006 emphasizes the fact that Uehara a Japanese baseball legend. His legacy in the majors cements this legendary status.

The Verdict

Uehara showed his immense talents in MLB and proved why he was more than deserving to be there. He became a cult hero in Boston. He’s one of the more dominant closers we’ve seen over the last couple of decades. He finishes his career, at the impressive age of 44, with a career ERA of 2.93 and 1,989 strikeouts. He achieved this and more during what will be remembered as a phenomenal baseball career.

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