Masataka Yoshida

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Masataka Yoshida (吉田 正尚)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Masataka Yoshida starred in Nippon Pro Baseball and played for the Japanese national team before making his major league debut in 2023.

He played for Japan in the 2014 Haarlem Baseball Week and 2015 Universiade. [1] He was the first-round pick of the Orix Buffaloes in the 2015 NPB draft. [2] He chose uniform number 34 in honor of Bryce Harper. [3] He hit .290/.360/.494 in 63 games as a rookie in 2016; had he qualified, he would have edged Yoshio Itoi for the team lead in OPS. His first hit was off Yusei Kikuchi and his first homer off Hirotoshi Masui. He finished 3rd in voting for the 2016 Pacific League Rookie of the Year Award behind Hirotoshi Takanashi and Eigoro Mogi. [4]

In 2017, he produced at a .311/.410/.518 clip in 64 games and played error-free ball in the outfield. He again would have led Orix in OPS had he qualified; Takahiro Okada led qualifiers at 862. He hit 5th and started in left for the Pacific League in 2018 NPB All-Star Game 1 and singled off Daisuke Matsuzaka in the 1st to drive in Kensuke Kondo; he scored on a Tomoya Mori dinger. He also singled off Onelki Garcia in the 5th to go 2-for-5 in a 7-6 PL win. [5] In Game 2, a 5-1 win, he replaced Alfredo Despaigne at DH and went 1 for 3, singling off Taichi Ishiyama. [6] For the 2018 campaign, he finished at .321/.403/.553 with 77 runs, 37 doubles, 26 home runs, 86 RBI and 69 walks. He was 4th in the PL in average (between Kondo and Hideto Asamura), 4th in OBP (between Shogo Akiyama and Hotaka Yamakawa), 3rd in slugging (after Yuki Yanagita and Yamakawa), 3rd in OPS (behind the same duo), 9th in runs (between Shogo Nakamura and Nobuhiro Matsuda), tied Sosuke Genda for 4th in hits (165), 2nd in doubles (two behind Akiyama), tied Brandon Laird for 7th in home runs, 6th in RBI, 6th in walks (between Mori and Asamura), 5th in total bases (284, between Asamura and Seiji Uebayashi) and 2nd in sacrifice flies (8, behind Sho Nakata's 13). He got one first-place vote for the 2018 Pacific League MVP and joined Yanagita and Akiyama in being picked to the Best Nine in the outfield. [7]

Yoshida hit 5th for the PL again, in 2019 NPB All-Star Game 1, going 1 for 3 before Yurisbel Gracial replaced him in a 6-3 win. [8] In Game 2, he hit 3rd and went 2 for 3, with a two-run homer off Yuya Yanagi in a 11-3 loss. [9] For 2019, his batting line was .322/.413/.543; he scored 92, drew 79 walks and went deep 29 times. He drove in 85. He was second in the batting race (.007 behind MVP Mori), 2nd in OBP (.009 behind Kondo), 2nd in slugging (.004 behind Mori), 2nd in OPS (3 behind Mori), 6th in runs (between Yamakawa and Genda), 2nd with 168 hits (11 behind Akiyama), 8th in homers, 9th in RBI (between Despaigne and Nakata), 6th in walks (between Jabari Blash and Akiyama) and tied Yamakawa for the lead in total bases (283). He joined Akiyama and Ogino in making the Best Nine and was 8th in voting for the 2019 Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award, between Katsunori Hirai and Tatsushi Masuda. [10]

The Fukui native then made Japan's squad for the 2019 Premier 12. He played regularly at DH and LF, hitting in the heart of the order, but hit only .200/.238/.200. He got a big hit against Australia; with a 1-1 tie in the 7th, his single off Luke Wilkins set up the winning run (scored by PR Ukya Shuto). He played his best in the Gold Medal Game, going 2 for 5 with a run in Japan's 8-6 win over defending champion South Korea. [11]

Following the 2022 season and after leading the Buffaloes to their first Japan Series title in 26 years, there were indications that he had asked his team to be posted in order to play in Major League Baseball. On December 7th. he agreed to a five-year contract with the Boston Red Sox worth $90 million. In addition, the Red Sox paid a posting fee of $15.4 million to the Buffaloes. The Red Sox had apparently been gearing up to sign him, as the deal was announced only hours after Yoshida had been posted. He was a member of Japan's champion team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic and set a tournament record with 13 RBIs as one of Japan's best hitters. He was Boston's Opening Day left-fielder and clean-up hitter in his major league debut on March 30, 2023, going 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI in a 10-9 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. On April 23rd, he hit two homers in one inning, including a grand slam in a 12 - 5 Boston win over the Milwaukee Brewers. He was just the fifth player in Sox history to homer twice in an inning, after Bill Regan, Ellis Burks, Nomar Garciaparra and David Ortiz. He was the fourth rookie to homer twice in an inning; the last had been Joe Pepitone in the 1960s.


Further Reading[edit]

  • Ian Browne: "Red Sox agree to deal with Japanese OF Yoshida",, December 8, 2022. [1]
  • Ian Browne: "Why Yoshida chose Sox: 'The best one of all 30 teams': Japanese outfielder gives shout-out to 'Red Sox Nation' in introduction to Boston",, December 15, 2022. [2]
  • Ian Browne: "Yoshida after Classic heroics: ‘I think I’m ready to play for Boston’",, March 24, 2023. [3]
  • Michael Clair: "Allow Masataka Yoshida to introduce himself to the world: Red Sox signee slugs crucial homer, sets Classic RBI record",, March 20, 2023. [4]
  • Chris Cwik: "Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida agrees to five-year, $90 million deal with Red Sox", Yahoo! Sports, December 7, 2022. [5]
  • Cole Jacobson: "Is Yoshida for real? Here's what the advanced stats say",, May 9, 2023. [6]
  • Jon Paul Morosi: "Japanese star Yoshida likely to be posted to MLB",, November 8, 2022. [7]
  • Tim Stebbins: "Bring out the dumbbells! Yoshida homers twice, hits grand slam in 8th: Japanese slugger's two-HR inning continued the Red Sox's knack for comeback wins",, April 23, 2023. [8]

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