|Current Team:||New York Yankees|
|Birth Day:||November 1, 1988|
|Birth Place:||Itami, Japan|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
He developed a high-80s fastball and tough slider while pitching at Komazawa University Tomakomai High School.
Masahiro Tanaka plays for the team New York Yankees
|#1||Masahiro Tanaka||34||$60 Million||$22 Million||Japan|
|#3||Gary Sanchez||30||N/A||N/A||Dominican Republic|
|#4||DJ LeMahieu||34||N/A||12 million USD (2019)||United States|
|#5||CC Sabathia||42||$80 Million||$25 Million||United States|
|#6||Brett Gardner||39||$25 Million||N/A||United States|
|#8||Luis Severino||28||N/A||4 million USD (2019)||Dominican Republic|
|#9||Miguel Andujar||27||N/A||N/A||Dominican Republic|
|#10||Aroldis Chapman||34||$40 Million||$16 Million||Cuba|
|#11||Gerrit Cole||32||$50 Million||$36 Million||United States|
|#12||Zach Britton||35||N/A||N/A||United States|
|#13||JA Happ||40||N/A||N/A||United States|
|#14||Aaron Hicks||33||N/A||N/A||United States|
|#15||Gleyber Torres||N/A||$3 Million||N/A||Not Known|
Tanaka got off to an utterly dominant start to the 2009 season, pitching a four-hit complete game shutout against the Hawks in his first start on April 7, a one-run complete game win against the Chiba Lotte Marines on April 14 (his first career win against the Marines, the only other Pacific League team he had yet to record a win against), a three-hit complete game shutout against the Marines on April 22, and an 11-strikeout, one-run complete game win against the Fighters on April 29. The fourth win marked the 1500th of Eagles manager Katsuya Nomura's career and made Tanaka the first pitcher to start the season with four consecutive complete game wins since Satoru Komiyama (then with the Marines) and Shigetoshi Hasegawa (Orix BlueWave) both accomplished the feat in 1993. However, though he went 4–0 with a 0.50 ERA for the month of April, striking out 37 and allowing just 24 baserunners in 36 innings and winning Pacific League monthly Most Valuable Player honors for the first time in his career, he was removed from the active roster on April 30 with a minor shoulder strain as a result of fatigue. He returned to the team on May 13, pitching seven innings of three run-ball against the Fighters for his fifth straight win to start the season.
On April 18, in a home game against the Hawks, he held the team to two runs and struck out 13 in a complete game win, the first win of his professional career. He became the first pitcher since Yu Darvish to throw a complete game shutout as a rookie out of high school on June 13 in an interleague game against the Chunichi Dragons. He also became the first pitcher since Daisuke Matsuzaka in 1999 to be voted the starter of the NPB All-Star Game (representing the Pacific League) as a rookie out of high school, starting in Game 2 on July 22 and clocking a personal-high 153 km/h (95 mph) (though he gave up six runs in two innings in that start).
After rival Yuki Saito announced that he would not be declaring for the upcoming draft, opting to go on to Waseda University instead, Tanaka became the single most highly touted high school player eligible to be picked. On September 25, in the 2006 NPB high school draft, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Orix Buffaloes, Yokohama BayStars and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles all selected Tanaka with their first-round picks. The Golden Eagles drew the winning straw, signing him to a base salary of 15 million yen, a signing bonus of 100 million yen and additional performance-based incentives, the equivalent of what a first-round college or industrial league-player would normally receive, on November 2. He was also given the uniform number 18, which typically denotes a team's staff ace in Japanese professional baseball.
Tanaka is often affectionately referred to as Mā-kun (マー君, Mā-kun) by both fans and the media. The nickname stuck after Tanaka and Saito told the media that that was what Tanaka was called on the team during the U.S.-Japan High School Baseball Tournament that followed the national tournament in 2006. Eagles manager Katsuya Nomura also often refers to Tanaka as "Mā-kun" in interviews. While older players on the team generally call Tanaka by his surname, some call him by the abbreviated nickname "Mā". While on the Yankees, Tanaka wore the nickname "Masa" on his jersey during Players Weekend in 2017.
Tanaka was named to the Eagles' ichigun (Japanese equivalent of "major league") roster during Spring training of his rookie year, and made his professional debut on March 29, 2007, against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks as the starting pitcher, but gave up six runs on six hits and a walk in 1⁄3 innings. Though he was not charged with a loss, as the Eagles made a furious comeback to tie the game up in the fourth, he was seen sitting in the dugout in tears after being taken out of the game.
In 2008, Tanaka was penciled into the front end of the Eagles' starting rotation for the second straight season. He earned his first career win at Sapporo Dome, located in his former home of Hokkaido, in a win against the Fighters on May 4, drawing cheers from the crowd despite pitching for the away team. He came on in relief for the first time in his career in an interleague game against the Hiroshima Carp on June 22, recording his first career save.
Tanaka was able to make only 24 starts (as opposed to 28 in his rookie season), missing playing time because of both a brief rehab stint in the minors due to inflammation in his shoulder and his participation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a member of the Japanese national team. He entered the last game of the regular season against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks with nine wins, looking to both earn his tenth win of the season and prevent the Eagles from finishing in last place. While he held the Hawks to no runs over nine innings, Hawks starter Toshiya Sugiuchi equaled his performance and Tanaka fell short of his goal of reaching double-digit wins. The Eagles eventually won in walk-off fashion in the twelfth inning, finishing one game ahead of the Hawks for fifth place in the regular season standings.
Tanaka was the only player to be chosen to the national team to play in the 2008 Beijing Olympics from the Eagles, becoming the youngest Japanese baseball player to play in the Olympics as a pro in the history of the event. He pitched in relief in Japan's first game against Cuba in the group stage, throwing one scoreless inning and striking out three. While Tanaka saw limited playing time as a middle reliever for the team, he recorded a 0.00 ERA and the highest strikeout rate of any pitcher on the team.
He also played for Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, coming on in relief for Satoshi Komatsu midway through the sixth inning of the seeding match against South Korea in the second round but surrendering a home run to Lee Bum-Ho (Japan won 6–2). He pitched in the semi-finals against the United States, giving up a triple to Jimmy Rollins but striking out David Wright to end the inning, contributing to Japan's second consecutive championship in the tournament.
Tanaka is married to Mai Satoda, former member and former supervisor of the idol group Country Musume and television personality. The wedding ceremony was held in Hawaii in December 2012. Tanaka's wife gave birth to a boy on February 15, 2016. Satoda is also a fan of Momoiro Clover Z.
On September 13, 2013, Tanaka set a new NPB record with his 21st consecutive win in the 2013 season in a 6–2 complete game victory over the Orix Buffaloes at home in Sendai at Kleenex Stadium. This victory was Tanaka's 25th consecutive win, including his final four starts in 2012. It also eclipsed the longest consecutive winning streak for MLB pitchers, set at 24 by Carl Hubbell in the 1936 and 1937 seasons. On September 26, 2013, Tanaka relieved to close the last ⁄3 inning. With a one run lead, he sealed the victory and the Eagles' first Pacific League title. It was his first appearance as a closer in the 2013 season.
Tanaka was repeatedly scouted by MLB representatives during the 2013 season. Through the revised posting system, Rakuten posted Tanaka to MLB during the 2013–14 offseason at a fee of $20 million. On December 26, 2013, all 30 MLB teams were notified that the 30-day period to sign the 25-year-old right-hander began at 8 a.m. EST. Clubs had until 5 p.m. EST on January 24, 2014, to reach an agreement with Tanaka, who was represented by agent Casey Close.
Tanaka was highly expected to be the staff ace of Team Japan in the 2013 WBC, but poor form in the build-up to the tournament led to concern over his performance. He started the pool opener against Brazil and conceded an unearned run. He came on as a reliever against Cuba and again conceded a run, before appearing to return to his usual form by striking out 6 batters in 2 innings. Tanaka again came on as a reliever against Chinese Taipei and had 2 good innings, shutting out the side with 4 strike outs, before conceding the equalizer in his third inning at the bottom of the 8th. Up to that point, Tanaka's inconsistency produced an ERA of 3.00, allowing 10 hits and 3 runs (2 earned) in 6 innings while striking out 10.
During the month-long period following Tanaka's posting, teams reported to be serious suitors included the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Houston Astros. On January 22, 2014, Tanaka signed a seven-year contract worth $155 million with the Yankees. The contract contained an opt-out clause after the fourth year and a full no-trade clause.
Tanaka made his Major League debut on April 4, 2014, against the Toronto Blue Jays and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, ex-Yankee Melky Cabrera. Tanaka would receive his first MLB win in the game, pitching seven innings with eight strikeouts in the Yankees 7–3 win against the Blue Jays. Tanaka made his first Yankees home start on April 9, against the Baltimore Orioles where he struck out ten batters in seven innings but received a no-decision as the Yankees lost the game 4–5. During an interleague game against the New York Mets on May 14, Tanaka recorded his first major league hit off of José Valverde and pitched his first complete game in the majors as the Yankees shut out the Mets 4–0. Tanaka began his American career with a 6–0 record before he received his first loss in the MLB on May 20, as the Yankees lost to the Chicago Cubs 6–1; it was his first loss in any professional baseball league since August 19, 2012.
Following a loss to the Cleveland Indians on July 8, 2014, in which he gave up five runs in 6 ⁄3 innings, Tanaka began to experience discomfort in his right arm. The next day, Tanaka was placed on the disabled list due to right elbow inflammation. He had compiled a 12–4 record with a 2.51 ERA in 18 starts and was forced to withdraw from the All-Star Game as a result of the injury. An MRI revealed that his elbow had a partially torn UCL. At the behest of several doctors, Tanaka received a PRP shot from Yankees' head team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and rested his elbow for 6 weeks instead of having Tommy John surgery to repair his UCL. Tanaka returned on September 21 against the Blue Jays, receiving his 13th win of the season in the Yankees' 5–2 victory over the Blue Jays. He would only pitch one more time during the 2014 season, a loss to the Boston Red Sox in which he gave up seven runs (five earned) in 1 ⁄3 innings. In the 20 starts of his first major league season in 2014, Tanaka posted a 2.77 ERA with 141 strikeouts in 136⅓ innings and a 13–5 record.
After his 2014 season, there was much speculation by sports media and fans that Tanaka should have undergone surgery rather than follow his doctors' suggestions and rehab the injury. This was mostly due to the belief that he would need to get the surgery despite the rehab program.
Tanaka was chosen by Joe Girardi to be the Opening Day starter for the Yankees. He made the Opening Day start on April 6, 2015, against the Blue Jays, surrendering five runs in the third inning, including a home run by Edwin Encarnación, as the Yankees lost. On April 28, Tanaka was placed on the disabled list with forearm and wrist soreness; he had gone 2–1 with a 3.22 ERA in four starts. The injury combined with his poor first outing led many in the sports media to speculate that Tanaka should undergo Tommy John surgery against the wishes of his doctors. After missing a month, he returned on June 3 against the Seattle Mariners, where he pitched seven innings with nine strikeouts as the Yankees won 3–1. In a June 27 start against the Houston Astros, Tanaka gave up a career-high six earned runs.
Tanaka's season ended with a 3–0 loss to the Houston Astros in the American League Wild Card game, in which he pitched five innings and allowed two earned runs. In 24 starts, Tanaka went 12–7 with a 3.51 ERA in 154 innings, posting a WHIP of only 0.994, the lowest amongst all American League starters with at least 150 innings pitched. One area of struggle for Tanaka in 2015 was the home run: he gave up 25 of them.
Tanaka was named the Yankees' Opening Day starter in 2016 for the second consecutive season. He received a no-decision against the Houston Astros, giving up two runs in 5 ⁄3 innings. On April 17, Tanaka faced his former Rakuten teammate Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners for the first time in the United States, the first time in MLB history that two former Japanese teammates pitched against each other. Tanaka earned the win, allowing two earned runs in seven innings and striking out six, while Iwakuma took the loss. In his first eight starts, Tanaka compiled a 1–0 record, receiving seven no-decisions, including eight shutout innings against the Baltimore Orioles on May 5. Tanaka tied his career high by giving up six earned runs in six innings in a June 29 start against the Texas Rangers. On July 10, Tanaka pitched his shortest start of the season, lasting only 4⅔ innings in a no-decision against the Cleveland Indians. Prior to the All-Star Break, Tanaka went 6–2 with a 3.23 ERA in 18 starts, pitching 117 innings and striking out 93.
In 2016, Tanaka made a career-high 31 starts and avoided a disabled list stint for the first time in his MLB career. He finished the year pitching 199⅔ innings with a 14–4 record, 165 strikeouts and a 3.07 ERA, the third-best in the American League. Tanaka set career-highs in innings pitched, wins, strikeouts and WAR (Wins Above Replacement) (he finished the year with 5.4 WAR, the third most of any pitcher in the league). He finished tied for seventh in the voting for the American League Cy Young with Aaron Sanchez.
On February 14, 2017, Girardi named Tanaka the Opening Day starter for the third season in a row. Tanaka was dominant in Spring Training, allowing only one earned run in 23 ⁄3 innings for a 0.38 ERA. Making the Opening Day start against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 2, Tanaka lasted only 2 ⁄3 innings, allowing a career-high seven earned runs as the Yankees lost by a score of 7–3. Tanaka's season started slowly until pitching a complete game shutout against the Red Sox on April 27, the second of his career. Tanaka's shutout was notable in that he only threw 97 pitches, pitching what is colloquially referred to as a "Maddux" (a complete-game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches), the first by any pitcher in the 2017 season. Tanaka allowed more than three earned runs only once in the six starts after his Opening Day debacle, lowering his ERA to 4.36 by May 8.
Against the Rays on July 28, Tanaka set a new career-high by striking out 14 batters. Tanaka took a perfect game into the sixth inning and allowed only one run on two hits in eight innings pitched. On August 12, Tanaka was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to right shoulder inflammation. He missed only one start. On August 27, Tanaka earned his tenth win of the season against the Seattle Mariners, making him the first Japanese pitcher in MLB history to have double-digit wins in all of his first four seasons. On September 29 against the Blue Jays, his final start of the regular season, Tanaka again set a new career-high by striking out 15 batters, tied with Stephen Strasburg for the most single-game strikeouts in 2017. In 30 starts of 2017, he finished the year with a 13–12 record, a 4.74 ERA, 194 strikeouts, and 35 home runs allowed in 178 ⁄3 innings pitched.
Due to Luis Severino's rotator cuff injury, the Yankees tapped Tanaka for his fourth Opening Day start on March 9, 2019. The start gave him the record for most Opening Day starts by a Japanese pitcher with four, passing Hideo Nomo. Tanaka would pitch 5 ⁄3 innings, allowing 6 hits and 2 runs while striking out 5 in the Yankees 7–2 win vs the Orioles. This was Tanaka's first opening day victory. On 17 June Tanaka threw a complete game two-hit shutout and made 10 strikeouts in the Yankees’ 3-0 victory against Rays on Monday evening at Yankee Stadium. On June 29, against the Red Sox at London Stadium, Takana allowed 6 runs in the first inning, and was lifted after 2 outs. It was the first time in his career that he could not complete an inning while starting, but nevertheless, the Yankees won 17-13. On July 6, Tanaka was named to the 2019 Major League Baseball All-Star Game as an injury replacement for Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman.
Tanaka allowed one run over five innings in the 2019 ALDS. In Game 1 of the 2019 ALCS, Tanaka allowed one hit over six innings against the Astros. On October 24, Tanaka underwent right elbow surgery to remove bone spurs.
On July 4, 2020, in a Yankees simulated game, Tanaka was struck in the head by a line drive off of the bat of Giancarlo Stanton and suffered a mild concussion. Despite this, Tanaka was able to make his first start on August 1 against the Red Sox, where he went 2 2/3 innings, giving up two runs, and striking out 3. The Yankees won 5-2.
Currently, Masahiro Tanaka is 34 years, 4 months and 22 days old. Masahiro Tanaka will celebrate 35th birthday on a Wednesday 1st of November 2023.
Find out about Masahiro Tanaka birthday activities in timeline view here.