Birthday: November 9, 1978
Position: Starting Pitcher
Height: 191 cm (6’3″)
Weight: 110 kg (242 lbs)
Wears #: 20 (2007-08); 55 (2010 – present)
Originally Drafted By: Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Round 1, 31st overall)
Acquired by Hanshin: April 5, 2010
Released by Hanshin: November 2013
Jason Wayne Standridge was born in Birmingham, Alabama on November 9, 1978. He attended Hewitt-Trussville High School where he starred in two sports – football and baseball. Though he signed with Auburn University as a quarterback in 1997, he was also drafted 31st overall by the MLB expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays that same year. He elected to pursue a career in baseball.His minor league career started on a rough note, as he set a new record for most earned runs allowed in a season in 1998 with the Princeton Rays of the Appalachian League. He rebounded the following year in Class A ball (Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League), contending for the ERA title until being promoted to High-A and failing to reach the minimum innings pitched to win the title. Still, he was named an All-Star and was also the league’s Most Valuable Pitcher. He also threw a no-hitter on June 28. In 2000, he bounced between Class-A St. Petersburg and AA Orlando. His ERA was not as strong as it had been the previous year, though he ended the season strongly and even pitched in a AAA playoff game for the Durham Bulls.
At long last on July 29, 2001, Jason made his MLB debut against the Texas Rangers. He pitched just 1/3 of an inning, allowing a hit and a walk but no runs to score. He would make his first career start less than 2 weeks later against the New York Yankees, He pitched 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball (against Yanks hurler Roger Clemens, no less), even striking out the great Derek Jeter, but did not factor into the decision. His rookie season did not end as strongly as it started, though. He would finish with a 4.66 ERA and no wins.
Jason struggled to find adequate playing time in the following seasons, as he jumped from team to team (Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals) and made very limited appearances. He would never fulfill his promise in any of his seasons in MLB. By the middle of May 2007, he was released by his fourth team, and on May 25, officially became a free agent.
It was not long before the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of NPB’s Pacific League signed him to a deal, though, and he even managed to make his debut (in relief) against the Chunichi Dragons (Nagoya Dome) on June 23rd. Despite pitching just one inning (walking two but allowing no runs), Jason won the game as the Hawks came from behind to defeat the Dragons. He would move into the starting rotation after the team ran into a series of injuries, and Jason won 5 straight starts late in the season. He would finish the year with 7 wins. Unfortunately, 2008 was not as kind to him, as he had two rough starts to begin the year and then hit the disabled list with an injury. He only made one more appearance in August, but that did not go well either, and the club released him at the end of the season.
Jason returned to America in 2009, playing in the Florida (now Miami) Marlins organization (AAA ball). His numbers were not strong, though, and he was released. He played independent ball the remainder of the season, again not putting up noteworthy numbers. Before spring training in 2010, Jason signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, but was released before the end of spring training.
Because of an injury to Minoru Iwata and the poor performance of import Casey Fossum, the Hanshin Tigers acquired Jason’s services on April 5, 2010. While his start was not terribly strong, he did manage to record the first complete-game and first shut-out of his NPB career in two separate starts in July. He would end the year with eleven wins despite starting the season slightly late and also missing time in August due to injury.
Perhaps the greatest stretch in Jason’s professional career came in 2011. In June, he went 3-0 with a 1.24 ERA to earn Player of the Month honors. He followed that up with an even better July: same 3-0 record but with an ERA of just 0.55. He would become the first foreign pitcher in Central League history to win back-to-back Player of the Month awards. Unfortunately, he would record just one more victory the rest of the way, and completed the season 9-7.
The great numbers continued in 2012: Jason ended the year with his best-ever ERA 2.69 and a solid WHIP of 1.19, but failed to get adequate run support. He would end the year 7-12 despite his solid, dependable performance all season.
Things did not get much better in 2013 in the wins-loss column: Jason ranked third in the Central League in ERA (2.74) but again poor run support left him with a final record of 8-12. With the Tigers hoping to sign Korean closer Seung-hwan Oh and Dominican slugger Mauro Gomez, there was no longer room on the roster (NPB rules limit clubs to 4 foreigners in the lineup) for Jason, and he was officially released in November 2013. His best years as a professional pitcher would be spent with the Hanshin Tigers.
Before the new calendar year, Jason already had a 2-year deal with his former team, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, in place. He would start the season strongly, and on June 9, pitched a 3-game shutout against Randy Messenger and the Hanshin Tigers. The victory would make Jason the second ever foreigner to record a win against all other NPB franchises. Jason would end up pitching twice for the team in the postseason: a 6-inning, 0-runs gem against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in the Climax Series, and a 6-inning, 6-runs clunker against the Hanshin Tigers in Game 1 of the Nippon Series. Despite the poor start, the Hawks would go on to win the title in five games.
Jason started the 2015 season well, winning his first start (and giving new manager Kimiyasu Kudo his first career win) and coming just a grand-slam home run away from earning his third Player of the Month award in May. Because of a wealth of foreigners (and players in general) on the Hawks roster, Jason spent part of the season being rotated on and off the parent club roster (to make room for others like pitcher Rick van den Hurk). Despite winning the final game of the Nippon Series against the Yakult Swallows, the team released Jason as season’s end.
On December 25, 2015, Jason Standridge reached an agreement with the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Pacific League. The one-year deal included a club option for a second season. Despite struggles in late May with the Marines, Standridge picked up 8 wins and remained a solid starter in the rotation for much of the year. He lost a playoff game to his old club, the SoftBank Hawks, at which point he hinted at retirement. However, if he were to continue playing, that he would give top priority to the Marines. The club left him on their protected roster list, and eventually he reached the decision to play one more season.
Nippon Series Game 1 Recap (October 25, 2014)
Murton to Standridge – Throw it in the Zone! (October 22, 2014)