Kenta Maeda (前田 健太 Maeda Kenta, born April 11, 1988) is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He won the 2010 Eiji Sawamura Award with a record of 15–8 and a 2.21 ERA, with 174 strikeouts in 215 and 2/3 innings, and six complete games with two shutouts. He also became the youngest pitcher in Japanese baseball history to achieve the pitching Triple Crown in the same year. He won the Sawamura Award for the second time in 2015.
Maeda with the Dodgers in 2017
|Los Angeles Dodgers – No. 18|
|Born: April 11, 1988|
Tadaoka, Osaka, Japan
|NPB: April 5, 2008, for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp|
|MLB: April 6, 2016, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Earned run average||2.39|
|MLB statistics |
(through May 15, 2019)
|Earned run average||3.77|
|Career highlights and awards|
He is nicknamed "Maeken" by fans and teammates (from MAEda KENta).
Hiroshima Toyo CarpEdit
Maeda was selected out of PL Gakuen Senior High School by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Japan's 2006 NPB Draft (NPB). He played in 2007 for the Carp's secondary team, before being called up to the NPB team in 2008. In his rookie season of 2008, Maeda posted a 9–2 win-loss record with a 3.20 earned run average (ERA) in 19 games (18 starts). In 2009, he was 8–14 with a 3.36 ERA in 29 starts. In 2010, he performed even better with a 15–8 record, a 2.21 ERA, and 174 strikeouts in 28 starts. In 2011, his record was 10–12 while having a 2.46 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 31 starts. The 2012 season became far better for Maeda as his record was 14–7 with a 1.53 ERA in 29 starts. In 2013, his record was 15–7 with a 2.10 ERA in 26 starts. In 2014, he went 11–9 with a 2.60 ERA in 27 starts. In 2015, he went 15–8 with a 2.09 ERA in 29 starts. He won the Sawamura Award as the league's best pitcher in both 2010 and 2015 and was the youngest pitcher in Japanese baseball history to achieve the pitching Triple Crown. The Carp chose to make him available to Major League Baseball (MLB) teams through the posting system in December 2015.
Los Angeles DodgersEdit
On January 7, 2016, Maeda signed an eight-year, $25 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers that included $10 million per year in incentives. The deal would have reached a total of around $90.2 million throughout the course of the contract if he reached all of the incentives, which included annual roster bonus of $150,000 if he was on the 25-man opening-day active roster and $6.5 million annually based on starts: $1 million each for 15 and 20, and $1.5 million apiece for 25, 30 and 32 starts. It also had incentives of $3.5 million annually based on innings pitched: $250,000 for 90 and each additional 10 through 190, and $750,000 for 200. The deal was structured in this manner because Maeda's original physical with the team revealed some unspecified "irregularities." The Dodgers also paid a $20 million posting fee to the Hiroshima Carp.
Maeda picked up the win in his MLB debut on April 6, 2016, pitching six shutout innings against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. His first major league strikeout was of Padres starter Andrew Cashner in the top of the second inning. He also hit a home run off of Cashner in his second at-bat for his first major league hit. He made a team high 32 starts with a 16–11 record and 3.48 ERA and was selected by Baseball America to their all-rookie team. He made three starts in the post-season for the Dodgers, losing one game in the Division Series and pitching two no-decisions in the Championship Series. He allowed eight runs in 102⁄3 innings. He finished third in the voting for the National League Rookie of the Year Award behind his teammate Corey Seager and Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals.
In 2017, Maeda began the season in the starting rotation but struggled in April and May, with a 5.16 ERA causing him to be taken out of the rotation and tried in relief. He pitched three innings out of the pen on June 9th to pick up his first career save. On June 18th he was back in the rotation and allowed only one run on three hits in five innings but he returned to the bullpen after that game because the Dodgers had too many starting pitchers on the roster. However, he only appeared in one game in relief before returning to the starting rotation and from June 18th through August 25th, he had went 8–2 with a 2.70 ERA as a starter. At the end of the season, the Dodgers moved Maeda back into the bullpen in order to try him in that role for possible use in the playoffs. Overall during the regular season he appeared in 29 games with 25 starts and had a record of 13–6 with a 4.22 ERA. He did make the post-season roster as a relief pitcher. He pitched two scoreless innings with four strikeouts in the 2017 NLDS and three scoreless innings in the 2017 NLCS. In the 2017 World Series, which the Dodgers lost in seven games, Maeda pitched 52⁄3 innings over four games and allowed one run on four hits. Right handed batters had just four hits in 32 at-bats against him in the post-season.
Maeda began the 2018 season in the starting rotation. He went 6-7, posted a 3.85 ERA, and averaged over 10 strikeouts per nine innings in his 20 starts. On August 14th he returned to the bullpen and made 19 relief appearances, going 2-3 with two saves while posting a 3.57 ERA. He struck out 26 batters and walked only 3 as a reliever. He finished the season 8-10 with 153 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.81 in 125 1/3 innings over 39 games. In the postseason Maeda made 8 relief appearances, allowing 3 runs in 6.2 innings.
Maeda competed for the Japanese national baseball team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and said he would use the tournament to assess his desire to compete in MLB, based on how he fared against their hitters. Maeda started two games in the pool rounds, against China and Netherlands, amassing a 2–0 record with 0.00 ERA, 0.30 WHIP, allowing just two hits, one walk striking out 15 in 10 innings. He was the losing pitcher in the semi-finals against Puerto Rico despite only allowing one run in five innings. He was selected to the all-tournament team.
Maeda also pitched five shut out innings for a Japan national baseball team in the 2014 MLB Japan All-Star Series and he pitched in the 2015 WBSC Premier12 tournament, where he allowed two earned runs while striking out 14 in 12 innings.
Maeda is a 6 ft 1 in (185 cm), 175 lb (79 kg) right-handed pitcher. With a three-quarters delivery Maeda throws two fastballs (four-seam, two-seam) that sit in 90–93 mph (tops out at 96 mph), an average change-up, a curveball, and an above-average slider in low-to-mid 80s, which is his best pitch.
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- Kepner, Tyler (March 18, 2013). "Puerto Rico Ousts Champion and Nears a Title of Its Own". New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
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- Kenta Maeda » PitchFx » Overview | FanGraphs Baseball Retrieved 2018-05-17
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- "Kenta Maeda bio". mlb.com. Retrieved February 27, 2018.