Tsutsugo-Akiyama slump…Yoshida is different, becomes first Japanese batting champion since Ichiro

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.

Yoshida 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 (April 17) at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

The six RBI tied Yoshida’s most in a single MLB game since April 24 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 from Justin Steele over the right field fence 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 beginning on April 21 against the Minnesota Twins, and has been hitting consistently ever since.

The National League (NL) is dominated by Luis Arajuez (.380, Miami Marlins), who is challenging for the top spot, but the AL has a relatively low batting average. That means Yoshida has a chance to pull off the upset.

Yoshida will be the first Japanese hitter in 19 years to follow Japanese baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki (retired). Ichiro led the league with a .350 batting average in his rookie season (2001), when he had 242 hits, and again in 2004 when he broke the MLB single-season record for hits in a season (262), hitting .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 fallen short of expectations. Only Seiya Suzuki (Cubs) has saved some pride, hitting .262 with 14 homers in his debut last season (2022). Sure, he had an icon in Shohei Ohtani, but overall, he didn’t live up to expectations.카지노

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.

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