Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023

“There were questions from the outside”안전놀이터

Masataka Yoshida burst onto the professional scene in 2015 after being selected by the Orix Buffaloes in the first round of the Nippon Professional Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Yoshida made a splash in his rookie season, hitting .290 with 10 home runs and an OPS of .854 in 63 games. The following year, he played in 64 games and hit .311 with 12 home runs and a .928 OPS, solidifying his place in the professional ranks.

Yoshida began playing full-time in his third year and hit double-digit home runs for seven consecutive seasons, finishing his career with a staggering 884 hits, 133 home runs, 467 RBI, 418 runs scored, and a .327 OPS of 0.960 in 716 games. After declaring his intention to challenge the major leagues through the “posting system” after the 2022 season, Yoshida signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the Boston Red Sox.

While Yoshida was one of the best hitters in Nippon Professional Baseball during his time in Japan, hitting double-digit home runs for seven consecutive years and slugging over 30 percent for six years in a row, the reaction to his signing was not as expected. At the time, Boston fans and local media outlets felt that the Red Sox had “overpaid” for a player who was unproven in the major leagues.

The “overpayment” narrative seemed to fade as Yoshida played in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) earlier this season, batting .409 with nine doubles, two home runs, 13 RBIs, five runs scored, and five runs batted in over seven games. However, once the regular season began, the word “overpaid” started to creep back in as his batting average dropped to .167 in mid-April.

However, this was just a temporary slump due to adjustment and the effects of injury. Yoshida shook off the injury and started swinging the bat, especially during a 16-game hitting streak that began on 21 April against the Minnesota Twins, raising his average to .321 and putting him in contention for the Rookie of the Year title.

Yoshida has been up and down since raising his batting average to .321, but he has bounced back. In particular, Yoshida had a seven-game multi-hit streak, starting on the 1st against the Toronto Blue Jays and ending on the last game of the first half, which raised his average to .316. The seven-game multi-hit streak was the first by a Boston player in 81 years, dating back to Johnny Pesky in 1942.

Yoshida, who started the season amid a slew of concerns, finished the first half with 95 hits, 10 home runs, 44 RBIs, 47 runs scored, and a .316 OPS of .874 in 78 games. Of course, it’s not a full season, and it’s a small sample size, but he’s put the “overpaid” controversy to rest with his “talent,” and the local media now seems to recognise that.

MLB.com wrapped up its first half of the season on the 13th, and Yoshida was the subject of a Boston piece. “When the Red Sox signed Yoshida to a five-year, $90 million contract last December, there were those outside the organization who questioned whether his skills would translate to the major leagues. But those questions have been answered, he said, emphasising that it was by no means an overpayment.

“Yoshida was one of Boston’s best hitters in the first half,” said MLB.com. He was one of the purest hitters in the game.” “Yoshida finished the first half with seven straight multi-hit games. Yoshida has a sharp eye and doesn’t strike out a lot (.382 batting average, 27 walks, 36 strikeouts),” reflecting on his first half performance.

The only flaw in Yoshida’s game right now is his fitness. In Nippon Professional Baseball, like the KBO, players take most Mondays off. However, the major leagues are a little different. In addition, the travel distances in the big leagues are very long. Playing a full-time season in the major leagues will require some adjustment to the schedule.

“If there’s one thing manager Alex Cora has realised, it’s that Yoshida needs to get plenty of rest while adjusting to the rigours of the major league schedule,” said MLB.com, adding that aside from the schedule, Yoshida’s skill set is not a barrier to playing in the big leagues.

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