#98 - Shigetoshi Hasegawa, RHP
Rob McMillin's analysis:
Shiggy was used early on as a swingman with occasional starts when he signed up with the Angels as a Japanese free agent in 1997. Rebounding from a rocky start from which he would never fully recover (his 3.91 ERA was the second worst in an unimpressive Angels bullpen), he concluded his debut season with a strong September. Shiggy followed up with a brilliant 1998 campaign in which he was the best pitcher in the bullpen, and the third most valuable by VORP (31.5) out of the entire staff. Though he stumbled in 1999, posting an atrocious 4.91 ERA, he bounced back the next year. The Angels let him go after 2001, in a move to clear salary room.
Black Hawk Waterloo reminisces:
Back in the old Angel newsgroup (well, it's still there, it's just that I'm not), I used to have to defend Shigetoshi Hasegawa all the time. That seems odd, in retrospect, as he had some good years. But first impressions mean a lot. He started off his first season as a starter, and was ripped for a 6.62 ERA and three losses in seven starts. He moved to the bullpen and pitched very well, with a 2.83 ERA in over 80 innings. He remained a pretty valuable reliever for most of his Angel career.
My favorite Shiggy game came on September 7, 1997. Home plate umpire Mike Everitt had the absolute worst strike zone ever, calling pitches two feet outside strikes. Tim Salmon and Travis Fryman of the Tigers were both ejected (Timmy's only ejection ever), and with one out left in the game (which the Angels won in extra innings), Detroit manager Buddy Bell came out to inform Everitt that "there are twenty-five guys on my bench, and twenty-five guys on that bench, and they all think you're doing a [lousy] job." Bell, surprisingly, was also ejected.
Anyway, Shiggy took advantage of this ludicrous strike zone, pitching the last four innings of the game and striking out eight batters. For the final out, he got Tony Clark looking -- on a pitch that would have made a right-handed batter jump. Shiggy never struck out more than six men in a game as a starter, but managed to whiff eight in one game in relief. Not bad.
yeswecan gets shiggy with it:
Hasegawa was basically the Rally Monkey before the Rally Monkey existed. The front office must've loved it when he came into the game, because they could blast Will Smith's Gettin' Jiggy Wit' it with "Shiggy" replacing "Jiggy" on the jumboscreen. They played it until our will to live had disappeared, just because the kids loved it.
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Thanks to my Halospheric colleagues for contributing to this series.