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松坂大輔

Daisuke Matsuzaka (1980- ) is a Japanese professional baseball player. Arguably the best Japanese pitcher in the game today, at the age of only 26 he is already being talked of as possibly one of the greatest Japanese pitchers ever, and a potential star in the American Major Leagues should the Japanese teams ever allow him to leave. Matsuzaka is known for his compact, fluid pitching motion, as well as his mastery of five different pitches, including a 96-mile-per-hour fastball as well as sinker, changeup, splitter, and slider.

Matsuzaka first stepped into the spotlight while pitching for Yokohama High School in Japan's much-watched National High School Baseball Tournament. Pitching in a quarterfinal game against perennial powerhouse P.L. Gakuen as a senior in the 1998 tournament, Matsuzaka stunned the nation by delivering a 250-pitch 17-inning complete game. A few days later, he topped himself by tossing a no-hitter in the final to take the championship.

Not surprisingly, Matsuzaka was taken with the first pick in the 1998 baseball draft by the Seibu Lions. Matsuzaka made an immediate splash, compiling an astonishing record of 16-5 with a 2.60 ERA, easily securing himself Rookie of the Year honors. Matsuzaka has continued to pitch well in the Japanese League, an to date has racked up 91 wins to 55 losses in 7 seasons with Seibu, along with a sparkling career ERA of 3.07.

Matsuzaka frequently expressed his hope to pitch in the Major Leagues, and was finally granted his wish in 2006 when the financially strapped Lions offered him up to American teams via the posting system. The Boston Red Sox submitted the winning bid - and astonishing and unprecedentedly large sum of $51.1 million, and signed Matsuzaka to a 5-year, $52 million contract to play for them starting with the 2007 season.

In America, Matsuzaka is famous for allegedly throwing the quasi-mythical "gyroball" pitch, although he says he has never actually thrown it in a real game.

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