NPB Week: Masataka Yoshida
The international posting periods have begun! This week we look at 5 names from the NPB who could make an impact in the MLB.
The History of Masataka Yoshida:
Born on July 15th, 1993 the left-handed batting (right-handed throwing) outfielder began his professional career on March 25th, 2016 with the Orix Buffaloes.
Yoshida was drafted in the first round of the 2015 NPB Draft by the Orix Buffaloes. He then made his debut into the Pacific League for the 2016 season and would've led his team in OPS, though as he did not play enough games to qualify for the batting title. Even so, he finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year Award voting. Yoshida then had another great season in 2017, though while again having the stats to led his team in OPS he did not qualify for the batting title.
His 2018 season was Yoshida's first to play a full season in the Pacific League as he played his way into the All-Star Game, a Best Nine award, and finished 8th for the Pacific League MVP. His 2019 was much of the same as he was an All-Star, Best Nine, and 8th in the Pacific League MVP again.
In 2020, Yoshida missed the All-Star game, though he went on to win his 3rd Best Nine award and won the Pacific League batting title. He did so again with both awards in 2021 while getting back into the All-Star game and winning the Home Run Derby. In 2022, Yoshida was an All-Star again and won his first Japan Series with the Orix Buffaloes.
While not officially posted yet, after the 2022 season, Yoshida made it known to his club that he does want to be posted to play in the MLB.
The Stats of Yoshinobu Yamamoto:
Over his 7 seasons in the NPB (2016-2022), Masataka Yoshida has slowly made a name for himself as one of Japan's best bats as both a contact and power hitter.
In his first 2 seasons (2016-2017) before he played a full season, Masataka Yoshida played in 127 games while hitting to a .301/.386/.505/.891 quadruple slash with 22 Home Runs, 72 RBI's, and 50 extra-base hits over 459 AB's (526 PA's). This also includes 63 walks to 66 strikeouts and 1 stolen base to 3 caught stealings.
After being a full-time player (2018-2022), Masataka Yoshida has played in 635 games while hitting to a .332/.427/.546/.974 quadruple slash with 111 Home Runs, 395 RBI's, and 251 extra-base hits over 2244 AB's (2663 PA's). This also includes 358 walks to 234 strikeouts and 22 stolen bases to 7 caught stealings.
Combined in his career, Masataka Yoshida has played in 762 games while hitting to a .327/.421/.539/.960 quadruple slash with 133 Home Runs, 467 RBI's, and 301 extra-base hits over 2703 AB's (3189 PA's). This also includes 421 walks to 300 strikeouts and 23 stolen bases to 10 caught stealings.
Should The Yankees Sign Him?
My favorite baseball player ever is Hideki Matsui. While other players were better during his time in the pinstripes, and other players have been better during the years I have written for StartSpreadingTheNews (which is to say I understand and follow the sport closer and more analytically), no player will ever top someone's favorite player from when they were a kid. Hideki Matsui was magic to me. As I have shared before, he hit a Walk-Off Home Run while I was at a Yankees game. I had many great days as a kid. That day was easily one of the best.
And now, I want some other kid to grow up and have their own Hideki Matsui. I want the Yankees to go out and get another Japanese, left-handed hitting, left fielder. I want the Yankees to get the Japanese bat who hits to a high average and has 20 home run per year power potential. I want the Yankees to get the perennial All-Star and recent Japan Series Champion.
Right now Yankees fans are debating about what the proper amount of money per year, on how long a contract, an offer to Andrew Benintendi should be. I like Benintendi. I was a big fan of him as a prospect, but knew he'd never get traded here from the Red Sox. Because of that I never really envisioned him as a Yankee. He was fine while here...temporarily. And, if he is who they bring back I won't be upset. He's a good ballplayer.
But, just think about Masataka Yoshida. He'd be great. Pair him with my target from Wednesday (Yoshinobu Yamamoto) and you'd get the "Yoshi Brothers". Pair them with Nestor Cortes- who often gets compared to the Nintendo character Mario due to his moustache- and you'd have an instant marketing powerhouse. There would be some easy endorsements to be made with Nintendo. (Are there any players named Luigi?)
All kidding aside, Masataka Yoshida should be on your list of guys to follow this offseason. He's a budding star. He's a little old (he'll be playing in his age 29 season in 2023) but on a 4 year deal he could be the exact spark this team needs as a good all-around bat. And, he's a good glove to boot as well!
(I should mention, he is a huge Bryce Harper fan, which is why he wore #34 and why he named his cat "Brice" and his dog "Harper". So, obviously the Phillies are favorites to sign him. Yet another reason missing out on him a few years back was so bad!)
Also: a special shout-out to Samurai Japan for beating the German Men's National team in the World Cup this morning! Here are those highlights: