Japanese major leaguer Masataka Yoshida (Boston Red Sox) hit his second grand slam of his rookie season. He is now the American League (AL) batting leader.
메이저놀이터Yoshida started in the No. 5 spot in left field and went 3-for-5 with a home run and six RBIs in Boston’s 11-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday (17 April) at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
The six RBI tied Yoshida’s previous MLB single-game high, set on 24 April against the Milwaukee Brewers. The two games had something in common. A walk-off home run. Yoshida hit a solo home run to break a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning against Milwaukee and then homered with the bases loaded with one out against the Cubs. Against the Cubs on Sunday, Yoshida took a four-seam fastball (fastball) from Justin Steele over the right field wall with two outs in the top of the fifth inning with Boston leading 2-0. His 11th home run of the season.
Yoshida added three more hits against the Cubs to reach the 100-hit plateau this season. He raised his batting average to .317 from .313. That ranks second in the AL in batting average through 17 days, behind Tampa Bay Rays slugger Yandy Diaz (.323). Tied for second with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Bo Bissett.
After dropping to a 1-for-30 slugging percentage in mid-April, Yoshida rebounded with a 16-game hitting streak, starting on 21 April against the Minnesota Twins, and has been hitting consistently ever since.
The National League (NL) is dominated by Luis Arajuez (Miami Marlins – batting .380), who is challenging for the top spot, but the AL has a relatively low batting average to contend with. That means the door is open for Yoshida to pull off the upset.
Yoshida will be looking to become the first Japanese leadoff hitter in 19 years to follow Japanese baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki (retired). Ichiro topped the league in his rookie season (2001) with a .350 batting average in 242 at-bats, then again in 2004 when he broke the MLB single-season record for hits (262) and hit .372.
Japanese hitters who have made it to the MLB in recent years, including former home run king Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and Shogo Yakiyama, who has been called a flawless hitter, have not lived up to expectations. Only Seiya Suzuki (Cubs), who hit .262 with 14 homers in his debut last season (2022), has managed to save face. Sure, he featured an icon in Shohei Ohtani, but overall, he didn’t live up to expectations.
Yoshida changed that. While he hasn’t created as much of a stir as Ichiro did in his rookie season, he’s been consistently good at the plate and has been one of the more consistent hitters in the Japanese league. It will be interesting to see if he can shake up the AL batting title race in the second half.