During Shinjo’s final year with the Hanshin Tigers in 2000, he batted .278 with 28 HR’s, 15 steals and 85 RBI. It was his first good offensive season in Japan and hardly a great one.
After that year, Tsuyoshi Shinjo became a free agent. He went on to sign with the New York Mets for $200,000 on December 11, 2000, turning down a $2 million deal from Hanshin. Many baseball analysts in America and Japan were surprised at the move, as Shinjo had not shown much offensive talent outside of one shining season.
Tsuyoshi immediately responded to the less rigorous approach in MLB when it came to practices. In 2001, he had a respectable year, batting .268 with 10 HR’s and 56 RBI and becoming the first Japanese player ever to hit clean-up in a MLB game.
He was a fan favorite in New York for his constant upbeat personality and hustle, but was also the target of criticism by many for his antics and hot dogging. Late that year, Shinjo was traded to the San Francisco Giants with infielder Desi Relaford for pitcher Shawn Estes. On November 15, 2002, Shinjo was released by the Giants after one season hitting .238.
He would be signed again by the Mets on January 11, 2003. In his final year with the Mets in 2003, he was struggling, being shuffled back and forth between the AAA Norfolk Tides and the Mets. For Norfolk, Tsuyoshi batted .324.
Shinjo finished his major league career batting .245 with 20 HR’s and 100 RBI. Shinjo collected 107 hits in his rookie season in the majors, and 108 hits the rest of his major league career.
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