In searching to bump last season’s weak offense output, and to replace the bats of Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez, the Boston Red Sox searched far and wide. Signing Masataka Yoshida was instrumental in what many hoped to be a quick turnaround.
Approaching the halfway mark of the 2023 season, Yoshida has arrived as advertised, and given the Red Sox consistency at the top of the lineup.
A five-game stretch has seen the Red Sox go 1-4 and score only 12 runs. Along with the rest of the team, Yoshida has missed a few opportunities at the plate but overall has been one of the league’s best hitters. This has put Yoshida on track to make the American League All-Star team when teams are announced in the coming weeks.
Boston Red Sox hit collector
Life at the plate for Yoshida did not look so rosy on April 18. An 0-5 game in Boston’s 5-4 victory against the Minnesota Twins dropped Yoshida’s batting average to .167. This capped off a six-game stretch where Yoshida went 1-20 and he’d hit only one home run on the season.
This early adjustment period was to be expected and the best hope was Yoshida would find his footing.
Yoshida did so, and then some.
Two days after that game, Yoshida went into full-on hitting mode. A 2-5 performance kicked off a 16-game hitting streak. Part of that streak included an all-out exclamation where Yoshida announced himself, knocking two home runs and collecting six RBIs in a 12-5 win at Milwaukee.
Solid hitting continued into May, where Yoshida hit .354 and had a .962 OPS. Yoshida had eight doubles and three home runs. A careful eye propelled Yoshida, who struck out only 10 times in May (three of which came in one game).
June is only a week old but Yoshida continues to hit well and get on base.
An All-Star for Boston Red Sox?
Yoshida picked up another hit early in Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians. He’s collected nine hits in 28 at-bats with three doubles and only three strikeouts. A problem, however, resides in lack of RBIs (two) and some trouble with the home run (only one since May 4).
Elusive key hit or two aside, Yoshida is hitting well. He has 21 multi-hit games so far in ’23, opening and closing May with four straight games collecting two or more hits. In those eight games, Yoshida went 18-31.
Yoshida already has three said games in June. Avoiding the lows from early April, Yoshida has been as consistent as any player in the league. And he’s meeting preseason expectations.
Overall, the Red Sox work best when Yoshida is batting second or fourth in the order. Preferably, I like him more in the second spot, where’s he’s hitting .341. That said, however, he’s just as comfortable in the cleanup spot, where he has done his most damage (5 HR, 20 RBI, 15 BB) this season.
Yoshida is hitting .318, hanging around the top-five in the league.
Right now, there’s a good chance Yoshida is the only All-Star for the Red Sox. He’s been their best player, at least on the offense side of things. Rafael Devers could make a run, especially in the voting and also if he gets hot again at the plate. He did go 2-4 with run driven in in Wednesday’s loss and hopefully that can be built on.
A couple of relievers could be in the mix, too, for an All-Star selection but more of June will need to play out to see. Yoshida already has a strong case and, if the Red Sox put together a winning streak buoyed by Yoshida, an All-Star game should be a lock. Either way, if the rookie continues to hit, his selection should be safe, with only more accolades to follow.