Greatest Japanese players in New York Yankees history

5. Hideki Irabu

Hideki Irabu arrived in New York in 1997 and immediately struggled. While he didn’t get the hang of the MLB right away, he spent the next two seasons improving and playing a large role in the World Series champion teams in 1998 and 1999.

The right-handed pitcher made his MLB debut and showed promise with a 6.1 inning, nine strikeout performance against the Detroit Tigers.

While the rest of the season wasn’t as impressive (5-4 record and 7.09 ERA), his next two seasons in the Bronx were far more of what they expected of him.

In his final season in the Bronx, he compiled an 11-7 record and struck out 133 in 169.1 innings. While it wasn’t exceptional, it was good enough for the Yankees.

Irabu went on to play for the Montreal Expos and the Texas Rangers prior to his untimely death in 2011.