Will Masataka Yoshida’s good results in WBC translate to Red Sox?
The Globe Baseball Classic has unfolded as a ideal-case situation for the Red Sox and Masataka Yoshida.
The outfielder has been a force for Japan, hitting .400 and top the tournament with ten RBIs, top Red Sox fans to hope that he’s the steal the front workplace envisioned when it gave him $ 90 million more than the subsequent 5 years.
We’ve currently noted the challenges of becoming a five-foot-eight energy hitter who bats left-handed in Fenway Park (Brock Holt holds the franchise record for house runs in a season at seven), but there is yet another aspect operating against Yoshida as properly: the transition from Japan.
Only two Japanese players have reached 20 house runs in a season — Hideki Matsui (seven instances) and Shohei Ohtani (3 instances). Otherwise, history is littered with hitters who arrived with the guarantee of energy, only to quick circuit.
Japanese hitters usually struggle with the larger parks, longer seasons, and elevated velocity of the massive leagues, but the Red Sox think the 29-year-old Yoshida will be the exception, thanks to his sophisticated strategy, above-typical bat speed, and all-fields energy. Although recognized mostly for his plate discipline and low strikeout totals, Yoshida set a profession higher with 29 house runs in 2019.
There have been other people like him, nonetheless. Keep in mind Kosuke Fukudome? He signed with the Cubs for 4 years and $ 48 million in 2008 at roughly the very same stage of his profession with the expectation that he’d present thump to Chicago’s lineup.
In his final 3 complete seasons with the Chunichi Dragons, Fukudome blasted 34, 28, and 31 homers, even though he was ideal recognized for operating counts and reaching base (sound familiar?). He then opened his massive league profession with a bang, doubling on his very first pitch and blasting a game-tying 3-run homer off All-Star closer Eric Gagne.
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Although he created the All-Star group, his hot get started did not final. Pitchers quickly discovered they could put on him out with inside fastballs and he under no circumstances recovered. He retired without having ever hitting extra than 13 house runs in a season.
Or how about catcher Kenji Johjima? He smacked at least 31 homers 3 instances in Japan, with a higher of 36 in just 116 games in 2004. The Mariners, who had currently struck gold with Ichiro Suzuki, signed him for 3 years and $ 16.five million at age 30 in 2006 and he played quite properly, with 18 homers as a rookie. He dipped to 14 homers a year later, and by 2010 he had selected to opt out of his contract and return to Japan.
Far more lately, the Cubs won final year’s bidding for Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki with a 5-year, $ 85 million contract, beating out the Red Sox, amongst other people. Suzuki had also exhibited considerable energy in Japan, with 3 30-homer seasons, like 38 in his final year with Hiroshima.
Like Fukudome and Johjima, Suzuki delivered a torrid April, like a two-homer game just 4 days into the season. But injuries slowed him thereafter, and he completed with pedestrian numbers, hitting .262 with 14 homers. He told reporters this spring that the greatest adjustment was facing regularly higher velocity, a transform that Yoshida should navigate as properly.
Suzuki at least completed robust, hitting .282 with an .847 OPS in September. He entered spring education determined to increase, but will open the season on the injured list with a strained oblique that forced him to withdraw from the WBC. He is far from a lost bring about, but he’ll will need to be a lot improved to justify Chicago’s investment.
These are 3 examples, but they are not alone. Tad Iguchi (White Sox), Kaz Matsui (Mets), and Akinori Iwamura (Rays) also hit at least 30 homers in Japan without having ever reaching 20 in the massive leagues. Matsui and Iwamura under no circumstances even hit ten.
The Red Sox scouted Yoshida extensively and have cause to think he’ll be the exception. Teammates and coaches have raved about the excellent of his batting practices, and he’s placing on a show at the WBC.
It really is worth remembering, nonetheless, that history is operating against him.