Koji Akiyama walked away from his team in a way that other managers probably envy — he closed out his tenure as skipper by guiding the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks to the Japan Series title late last month.
Kimiyasu Kudo, a longtime teammate with the Hawks and the Seibu Lions, takes over for the outgoing 52-year-old as the new skipper.
Akiyama, who was known as a five-tool talent in his days as a player, proved he also had skills as a skipper. After taking over the helm from legend Sadaharu Oh in 2008, Akiyama won the Pacific League pennant three times. In addition to this year, he won a Series title in 2011.
His teams missed a top-three finish just once in his six-year tenure.