Tadahito Iguchi: A Short but Sweet MLB Shelf Life
Name the infield for the 2005 Chicago White Sox.
You have that jerk at catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who everyone knows. Paul Konerko, of course, Juan Uribe before his backside developed its own zip code, and Joe Crede.
Who was that one guy at second base? Why can't I remember his name? He was Asian, wasn't he?
It's interesting, but at the same time a little sad, how a player in baseball can go from the "always remembered" category for a fanbase to the "perfect trivia question" that fans know will annoy them upon finding out the answer. And, of course, the "Ohhhh wow" response that follows when the answer is revealed.
Iguchi has become that in White Sox lore.
So where is he now?
First, we must remind everyone of who he was.
After an eight-year career with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League, where Iguchi batted .271 with a .349 OBP, 149 home runs, 507 RBI and 159 stolen bases, the 30-year-old Iguchi signed a two-year, $4.95 million deal with the White Sox in 2005.
In 2005, Iguchi hit .278 with a .342 OBP, while hitting 15 home runs, stealing 15 bases, scoring 74 runs and driving in 71 in 135 games, while teaming up with shortstop Uribe for a nice double-play tandem in the middle of the White Sox infield.
Iguchi was best known for getting runners over, finishing third in the American League in sacrifice hits.
He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.
Iguchi is probably best remembered for his two-out, go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth inning of Game 2 of the 2005 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox with the Red Sox up 4-2. The White Sox won the game 5-4, the series 3-0 and eventually the 2005 World Series.
In 2006, Iguchi put together his best MLB season, hitting .281 with a .352 OBP, 18 homers, 67 RBI, 94 runs and 11 stolen bases in 138 games. Iguchi's most memorable play, however, came on defense when he put together this gem.
From there, things get a bit hazy.
After agreeing on a one-year $3.25 million extension with the White Sox, Iguchi struggled in 2007, batting .251 with six homers, 31 RBI and eight stolen bases in 90 games. He would be traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Michael Dubee, making him the first Asian-born player to join the Phillies.
In 45 games with the Phillies, Iguchi batted .304 with a .361 OBP in 138 at-bats.
In December of 2008, Iguchi signed a one-year deal with the San Diego Padres, but after hitting just .231 with a .292 OBP in 303 at-bats, the Padres dropped him on September 1. The Phillies would sign Iguchi four days later, but he would only have seven at-bats with the team.
In January of 2009, at the age of 34, Iguchi returned to Japan to sign a three-year deal with Bobby Valentine's Chiba Lotte Marines.
Iguchi batted .281 with a .391 OBP, 19 home runs, 65 RBI and 71 runs in 2009 for the Marines and .294 with a .412 OBP, 17 home runs, 103 RBI and 88 runs this season, as the Marines will be competing in the Japanese Series Title, beginning this weekend.
Iguchi is known a tad more in Japan than in the states. But it's funny how, in the MLB, you can leave a dent that will be remembered forever by at least a select few only to seemingly disappear a couple years later.
Iguchi is a prime example of a baseball player that is easily forgotten. But, for some, he will always be remembered.
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