Hits better than Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels). Masataka Yoshida (30, Boston Red Sox), a special hitter who came from Japan, finished adapting to the major leagues within a month of the opening season. He is the first Japanese big leaguer to hit 5 times in a row and is recognized by all-star players.
On the 5th (hereafter Korean time), Yoshida started as the second hitter left fielder against the Toronto Blue Jays and led Boston’s 11-5 victory with 3 hits and 3 RBIs in 5 at-bats, including the 6th home run of the season. Boston, which swept Toronto’s 4-game series and won 6 games in a row, recorded a ‘+5’ mark with 19 wins and 14 losses in the season.
From the first at-bat in the first inning, Yoshida hit a solo home run in mid-month to Toronto starter Kevin Gausman. Right-handed hits in the 2nd inning, left-handed hits in the 4th inning, three consecutive timely hits against Gaussman. All-Star pitcher Gausman pitched well with an average ERA of 2.33 in 6 games before starting that day, but was hit by Yoshida and collapsed with 10 hits and 8 runs in 3⅓ innings.
Yoshida made timely hits in 5 consecutive at-bats, including a 6th pitcher’s lesson against Toronto the previous day (4th) and a left 1 RBI double in the 8th inning, which is the first record ever for a Japanese major player. The previous record was 4 times in a row, and was first recorded by Matsui Hideki, who was a member of the New York Yankees, on August 6-7, 2004. Shohei Ohtani also recorded twice on June 28-29, 2021 and June 22, 2022, but Yoshida is the first to hit 5 times in a row.
Yoshida, who has been on a hit streak for the last 14 games since the game against the Minnesota Twins on the 21st of last month, has an OPS of .948 with 6 home runs, 24 RBIs, 13 walks and 11 strikeouts in 27 games of the season. He is better than Ohtani, who is active with a batting average of 3.8 in 30 games (36 hits in 117 at-bats), 7 home runs and 19 RBIs with an OPS of .921.
Yoshida was not in normal condition until mid-April due to the aftermath of a thigh injury. He struggled through the first 13 games of the season with a batting average of 1.6 7 Lee (8-for-48), 1 home run, 6 RBIs, and an OPS of .506. He had a bad reputation for eating and running, but after that, he rebounded sharply with a batting average of 4.4, 4.6 Lee (25 hits in 56 at-bats), 5 homers, 18 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.288 in 14 games. The batted ball quality is so good that the batted ball velocity exceeds 100 mph in all five consecutive at-bats.
The praise towards Yoshida continues. According to local media such as the ‘Boston Herald’, Boston teammate Raphael Devers, who hit 150 homers on the day, said, “Yoshida is a genius. He looks at him sometimes and thinks, ‘How can I do that?’” he said. Veteran Justin Turner, who is recording 166 homers in his career, said, “He is a special hitter. He can send hard hits in any direction. He is a very smart player and knows how to study and prepare. When he mixes talent and preparation, he can produce a lot of good results. (As a hitter after Yoshida) It’s fun to see him in the waiting at-bat,” he praised Yoshida.
He also acknowledged the manager of the opposing team. Toronto coach John Schneider, who suffered a four-game sweep, was surprised to say, “Boston has become a completely different team.” “Yoshida is a great hitter with a variety of hitting abilities. High fastballs and low breaking balls are all hits,” he said, promising the next one by saying, “The more I play in the future, the more information I will get about Yoshida and the more I will be able to devise countermeasures.”
Yoshida, a right-handed and left-handed outfielder, is small at 173cm and 79kg, but debuted with the Orix Buffaloes in 2016 as a mid-to-long-distance hitter with a full swing. He played in Japan for 7 seasons with a batting average of 3.2, 884 hits, 133 homers, 367 RBIs, and an OPS of .960 in 762 games. He drew attention from the major leagues by ranking first in the Pacific League batting average for two consecutive years from 2020 to 2021 and first in on-base percentage and OPS for two consecutive years from 2021 to 2022. In the World Baseball Classic (WBC) last March, he also took first place in this category with 13 RBIs, contributing to Japan’s 7-game victory 메이저놀이터.
Yoshida, who signed a five-year, 90 million-dollar contract with Boston after the season last year, was treated the best among Asian batters who entered the major leagues. He was criticized for overpaying, but he changed his evaluation within a month of opening.