Kazuma Okamoto

From BR Bullpen


Kazuma Okamoto (岡本 和真)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 212 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Kazuma Okamoto has been an All-Star slugger in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Okamoto played for Japan in the 2014 Asian Junior Championship, his team finishing second. [1] The Yomiuri Giants took him in the first round of the 2014 NPB draft. [2] He hit .258/.307/.354 in the minor Eastern League that season (5th in the EL with 18 doubles) and was 6 for 28 with a homer and two walks with the big club. His first Central League at-bat came as a pinch-hitter for Hayato Takagi in late August; he was retired by Daisuke Sobue. [3] His first hit was a two-run pinch-hit homer, again batting for Takagi, off Yoshiki Sunada. [4] He fielded 23 chances error-free for the Giants, backing up Shuichi Murata at third base.

He was only 1 for 10 for the big club in 2016 but made good progress on the farm - .261/.341/.494, 18 HR, 74 RBI in 96 G. He tied Keiyo Aomatsu for 9th in the EL in doubles (18), tied for 2nd in triples (6), was 2nd in homers (4 behind Hotaka Yamakawa), led in slugging (.009 ahead of Toshitake Yokoo) and led in RBI (10 ahead of Yamakawa). [5] He played winter ball for the Gigantes de Carolina, batting .257/.344/.330 while fielding .948 as their main third baseman; his backup was Enrique Hernández.

Yomiuri moved him to the outfield in 2017. Despite his fine '16, he again was mostly in the minors (.270/.338/.440, 23 2B, 55 RBI), hitting .194/.286/.226 in 35 plate appearances for the top team. He led the EL in doubles (two ahead of Taishi Hirooka) and was 4th in RBI.

Okamoto replaced long-time star Shinnosuke Abe at first base in 2018, as Abe was fading at age 39; Okamoto also played a fair bit of time at third or in the outfield when Abe was at first. He responded to the playing time very well, producing at a .309/.394/.541 clip with 82 runs, 26 doubles, 33 homers, 100 RBI and 72 walks. He was the youngest player in NPB history to drive in 100 runs and was the 4th Giant to hit 30+ homers the year they turned 22 (joining legends Sadaharu Oh, Hideki Matsui and Hayato Sakamoto). [6] He was the starting first baseman for the CL in 2018 NPB All-Star Game 1, hitting 8th. He grounded out against Yusei Kikuchi, Mike Bolsinger and Yuito Mori then whiffed against Hirotoshi Masui. [7] In Game 2, he replaced Tomotaka Sakaguchi in the field and Nori Aoki in the lineup. He struck out against Naoyuki Uwasawa then Kosuke Tanaka batted for him. [8] He finished the season among the CL leaders in home runs (6th, between Tetsuto Yamada and Seiya Suzuki), RBI (2nd, 31 behind Wladimir Balentien), slugging (7th, between Dayán Viciedo and Sakamoto) and OPS (8th, between Sakamoto and Balentien). He was 7th in voting for the 2018 CL MVP, between Viciedo and Shota Nakazaki. [9] He played for Japan in the 2018 Nichi-Bei Series; his homer off Junior Guerra was the only run Guerra allowed in five innings in the game in which Japan clinched the series. [10]

The young slugger started at third for the CL in 2019 NPB All-Star Game 1, going 0 for 3 before Shuhei Takahashi took over. [11] In Game 2, he batted for Takahashi late and was retired by Rei Takahashi. [12] He tailed off slightly in 2019 but had another big year overall - .265/.343/.485, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 62 BB, 84 R, 29 2B. He handled 720 chances error-free at 1B and fielded .965 at 3B. He was 6th in the league in runs, 7th in doubles, tied José López for 6th in dingers, tied Sakamoto for 4th in RBI, 7th in walks (between Munetaka Murakami and Aoki), 5th in total bases (292) and 10th in slugging (between Yoshihiro Maru and Murakami). He finished 6th in voting for the 2019 CL MVP, between Neftali Soto and Koji Chikamoto). [13] In the 2019 Japan Series, his two-out, 7th-inning single off Rei Takahashi ended his no-hit bid. His two-run homer off Robert Suárez in the 6th inning of Game 4 gave Yomiuri their first runs that day against the Softbank Hawks. He hit .188/.188/.375 for the Series but outperformed Yomiuri's other heart-of-the-order stars, Maru and Sakamoto, as their team got swept. [14]

Okamoto has begun 2020 strong (.267/.348/.597, 16 HR, 42 RBI in 46 G).