Nice List #1: Masataka Yoshida
Coming from a different country to play baseball in North America doesn't always work out for a player. Fortunately, that was far from the case for Masataka Yoshida and the Red Sox.
After spending six years with Nippon Professional Baseball's Orix Buffaloes, Yoshida signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the Red Sox last December. Some experts wondered if an average annual salary of $18 million was too much for a player who turned 30 in July, however, the gifted outfielder succeeded at proving his worth almost immediately.
Playing in 140 games, Yoshida finished with 15 home runs, 72 RBIs, eight stolen bases, and 34 walks while slashing .289/.338/.445. He also led all American League rookies with 32 doubles and 155 hits, playing a big role in his finishing sixth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.
While his defensive skills could be better, Yoshida's offensive upside makes up for it. For that, he deserves one of the more positive visits from Santa.