ML Japanese ‘monster’ again, competes for ‘batting title’ in first season
There’s another Japanese “monster” in the American Major League Baseball (ML). This time, it’s outfielder Masataka Yoshida (30-Boston), who broke into the ML this season.
As of Sept. 9, Yoshida is batting .315 (68-for-216) with seven home runs and 33 RBIs in 55 games. His OPS, which combines slugging and on-base percentage, is a whopping 0.878.
His batting average leads the team and is third in the American League, while his OPS is eighth. Bo Bissett (25-Toronto) and Yandy Diaz (32-Tampa Bay) are close behind him in the league batting average (.326) and .316, respectively. He’s also ahead of fellow Japanese player Shohei Ohtani (29-LA Angels), the Angels’ two-hit monster, in batting average and RBI. In 62 games, Ohtani is batting .274 (66-for-241) with 16 home runs, 42 RBIs and an OPS of .895.
Yoshida recently told Star News that he was “not sure” about the secret to his hot hitting that has carried over from the WBC (World Baseball Classic) to the regular season, saying, “Early season results don’t mean much. We’ll talk about it at the end of the season, and I’m just focusing on doing my best in every game I play so that I can maintain my current performance even then.”
In his seven seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Yoshida played a total of 762 games for his former club, the Orix Buffaloes, and compiled a career batting average of .327 with 133 home runs and 467 RBIs. His OPS is a staggering 0.960. He was named an All-Star four times and won the batting title twice. Last year, he helped his team win the Japan Series.
He also won gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and helped his country win the 2023 WBC in March. His .409 batting average and 13 RBIs at the WBC are the highest in the tournament’s history. This shows that he is not only a precise hitter, but also an opportunistic one. 메이저놀이터
Here’s a one-on-one with Yoshida.
- Do you have any difficulty facing unfamiliar pitchers in a new environment?
When I was playing in Japan, I watched Major League Baseball on the TV in the clubhouse for a long time and often, so it’s not that unfamiliar. Of course, there are differences between facing them in person and watching them on TV, but as the season progresses, I will continue to modify, supplement, and try to get better based on experience and data.
- In past interviews with Star News, former Major League Baseball players Munenori Kawasaki (42-retired) and Ichiro Suzuki (50-retired) said that the difference between Japan and Major League Baseball is the “more liberal clubhouse culture compared to Japan”.
“There are definitely subtle differences between Japan and the United States. However, my experience in the U.S. is still too small to say that they are the same, and they don’t really affect the way I play baseball.
- Have you ever sought advice from Japanese seniors who have made the jump to the major leagues?
I’ve talked to Seiya Suzuki (29), who plays for the Chicago Cubs. But I didn’t ask him for advice or talk to him in depth. He simply shared his experience that the U.S. is a great place to play baseball.
- What is team life like?
I’m happy with the environment in Boston. I haven’t had too many problems adjusting to life in the US. I don’t have any Boston teammates that I’m particularly close to, but I have fun with most of the team.
- What are your goals for this season?
I don’t have any numerical goals, like batting average or home runs. The most important thing is to stay healthy and have a good season, and I’m taking care of that.
- What advice do you have for young Asian players who want to make it to the major leagues?
The most important thing is to believe in yourself. It’s not an easy path, but if you believe in yourself and keep working hard, it’s possible.