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Hotaka Yamakawa

From BR Bullpen


Hotaka Yamakawa (山川 穂高) (Okawari-II)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 231 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Hotaka Yamakawa has been a MVP in Japan.

Yamakawa played for the Japanese national team in the 2012 Asian Championship, the only collegiate position player on the squad; Japan won the Gold Medal, with a grand slam off Young-pyo Ko in the 6-2 Gold Medal Game win. [1] He also helped Japan win the 2013 East Asian Games. [2] He hit .304 for his collegiate career. [3] He was picked by the Seibu Lions in the second round of the 2013 NPB draft, one round after Tomoya Mori in what would be a good draft for Seibu. [4] Due to his hefty size and power, he was nicknamed Okawari-II after another beefy Lions slugger, Takeya Nakamura. [5]

He starred in the minors for Seibu, but saw limited action with the top team over the next couple years. In 2014, he made his debut June 21, facing Guillermo Moscoso and the Yokohama BayStars. He went 0 for 3 with a walk. [6] His first hit did not come until September 15 when he hit a solo homer off Wataru Karashima. [7] The team had no set third baseman that year; Ryota Wakiya led with 56 games; Yamakawa hit only .100/.206/.300 in 34 plate appearances. In the minors, he hit .321/.411/.606 with 21 homers and 62 RBI in 77 games to lead in home runs and slugging in the Eastern League. [8]

The Naha native produced at a .283/.410/.478 clip on the farm in '15. [9] He got a hit in his lone at-bat with the top team in 2015. He began 2016 with Seibu but lost playing time to two other heavyweight power hitters, 1B Ernesto Mejia and DH Nakamura. He did hit .259/.335/.590 with 14 HR in 49 games with the top club and .333/.399/.667 with 22 HR and 64 RBI in 64 minor league games. He again led the EL in dingers. [10]

His dominant play down on the farm was finally rewarded with regular action in 2017 (.298/.420/.661, 23 HR, 61 RBI in 78 G), though he still was battling Mejia for time at first. Had he qualified, he would have led the Pacific League in slugging (.072 ahead of Yuki Yanagita) and he was only 6 OBP points behind leader Yanagita. Despite his part-time role, he was one homer shy of making the top 10; Nobuhiro Matsuda had 24. He even got a third-place vote for the 2017 PL MVP. [11]

Yamakawa became Seibu's starting first baseman for 2018, Mejia moving to DH. He made his first All-Star team. In 2018 NPB All-Star Game 1, he took over for Sho Nakata at 1B early in a 7-6 win over the Central League. He flew out against Randy Messenger in the 3rd, grounded out versus Onelki Garcia in the 5th, singled off Garcia in the 6th to plate Shuta Tonosaki and struck out against Katsuki Azuma in the 8th. [12] The next day, he started at first and hit cleanup in a 5-1 win. He drew a first-inning walk from Tomoyuki Sugano, singled in the 4th off Yuta Iwasada and grounded out in the 6th against Koji Uehara before being replaced by Toshiaki Imae. [13] After the season, he was on the Samurai Japan team that beat the MLB All-Stars. [14] For the year, he hit .281/.396/.590 in the regular season with 115 runs, 47 homers, 88 walks and 124 RBI. He led the PL in runs (8 ahead of Shogo Akiyama) and home runs (11 more than #2 Yanagita), was 2nd in RBI (3 behind Hideto Asamura), 2nd in walks (8 behind Haruki Nishikawa), 5th in OBP (between Masataka Yoshida and Nishikawa), 2nd in slugging (.071 behind Yanagita), 2nd in OPS (107 behind Yanagita) and 2nd in total bases (319, 3 behind Akiyama). He was picked to the Best Nine at first base and won the 2018 PL MVP, 991 vote points to 750 by infield mate Asamura; he had 148 first-place votes to Asamura's 81. [15] He was the first Seibu player to win since fellow first baseman Alex Cabrera 16 years prior.