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Hiroki Kuroda elected to Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame

Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers

Former Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda on Thursday was voted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, after a 20-year career split between the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, Dodgers, and Yankees.

From the Japan Times:

The right-hander’s 15 wins in 2005 tied for the Central League lead with Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi of the Hanshin Tigers. A year later, Kuroda posted a CL-best 1.85 ERA.

“I would like to express my gratitude to everyone,” the 48-year-old Kuroda said. “I faced more than 10,000 hitters during my career. I worked hard with teammates and against opponents. Many people were involved in my career. Many fans cheered me on.”

Kuroda is the second Dodgers pitcher to be voted to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Hideo Nomo, who was inducted in 2014.

Kuroda, then 33 years old, signed a three-year, $35.3 million contract with the Dodgers in December 2007 after pitching 11 seasons for Hiroshima, and re-upped with a one-year, $12 million deal with Los Angeles in 2011.

In his four years with the Dodgers, Kuroda was solid in the starting rotation with a 3.45 and 113 ERA+, averaging 175 innings each season. Kuroda from 2008-11 ranked third on the team in starts (114), innings (699), and strikeouts (523), trailing Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, in that order, in each category.

Kuroda beat the Cubs in Game 3 of the 2008 NLDS to finish off a sweep, then beat the Phillies in Game 3 of that year’s NLCS, the Dodgers’ only victory of that series.

To show what a different era this was for Dodgers baseball, that NLDS against the Cubs was the team’s first postseason series win in 20 years. From 1989-2015, Kuroda in 2008 was the only Dodgers pitcher to win more than one game in a single postseason.

Kuroda’s time with the Dodgers ended smack dab in the middle of McCourt Era nonsense, with general manager Ned Colletti given scraps to work with, and opted to spread what Kuroda might have earned on a handful of middling veterans instead. Kuroda instead signed with the Yankees, for whom he pitched three more seasons.

In seven years in the majors with the Dodgers and Yankees, Kuroda put up an above-average ERA+ each season, and averaged 30 starts and 188 innings per season. Among Japanese-born players in the majors, Kuroda ranks third in starts (211), innings (1,319), and wins (79) — trailing only Nomo and Yu Darvish — and is fourth in strikeouts (986).

After his time with the Yankees, Kuroda returned to Japan for two more seasons with Hiroshima, completing a 20-year career that saw him win 203 games with a 3.51 ERA.