“I was questioned from the outside”
Masataka Yoshida burst onto the professional scene in 2015 when he was selected by the Orix Buffaloes in the first round of the Nippon Professional Baseball Draft. Yoshida made a splash in his rookie season, hitting .290 with 10 home runs and an .854 OPS in 63 games. The following year, he played in 64 games and hit .311 with 12 home runs and a .928 OPS, solidifying his transition to the professional ranks.안전놀이터
Yoshida began playing full-time in his third year and hit double-digit home runs for seven consecutive seasons, finishing his career with 884 hits, 133 home runs, 467 RBI, 418 runs scored, and a .327 OPS of 0.960 in 716 games. After expressing his desire to play in the major leagues through the “posting system” after the 2022 season, he 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 straight years and slugging over .300 for six straight years, 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 an unproven player who could not prove himself in the major leagues.
The “overpayment” narrative seemed to fade as Yoshida played in seven games at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) earlier this season, hitting .409 with nine doubles, two home runs, 13 RBIs, five runs scored, and five runs batted in. However, once the regular season began and his batting average dropped to .167 in mid-April, the word “overpaid” started to creep back in.
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 April 21 against the Minnesota Twins, raising his average to .321 and putting him in contention for the Rookie of the Year title.
Since raising his batting average to .321, Yoshida has been up and down, but has bounced back. Most notably, Yoshida had a seven-game multi-hit streak, starting on April 1 against the Toronto Blue Jays and ending with the last game of the first half, which raised his average to .316. The seven-game multi-hit streak was the longest by a Boston player since Johnny Pesky in 1942, a span of 81 years.
Yoshida, who started the season with a lot of concerns, finished the first half with 95 hits, 10 home runs, 44 RBIs, 47 runs scored, a .316 batting average, and a .874 OPS in 78 games. Of course, it’s not a full season, and it’s not a large sample size, but Yoshida has put the “overpaid” controversy to rest with his “talent,” and the local media now seems to recognize that.
MLB.com wrapped up the first half of the season on July 13, and Yoshida was the subject of a Boston article. “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, emphasizing that it was not 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 a seven-game multi-hit streak. 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, as in the KBO, players take most Mondays off. However, the major leagues are a little different. In addition, the traveling 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 realized, it’s that Yoshida needs to get plenty of rest while adjusting to the rigors of the major league schedule,” said MLB.com, noting that aside from the schedule, Yoshida’s skill set is not a barrier to playing in the big leagues.