The Red Sox are rolling.
After an up-and-down start to their 2023 season, Boston has found their groove here in late-April/early-May, winning six in a row and coming off a four-game sweep of the division-rival Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
Their bats are on fire, and none may be as hot as rookie outfielder Masataka Yoshida. The 29-year-old is the favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year according to FanDuel Sportsbook:
Odds to Win American League Rookie of the Year
Masataka Yoshida +240
Josh Jung +370
Anthony Volpe +750
Hunter Brown +850
Gunnar Henderson +1600
Tanner Bibee +1600
Yoshida extended his 14-game hit streak during Thursday’s win vs. Toronto, going 3-5 at the plate with a home run and three RBI. He leads the entire MLB with 18 hits since April 20th.
During his seven-year career with the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball, Yoshida hit .327 with 133 home runs and 467 RBIs over 762 games. He was also a four-time NPB All-Star, a two-time Pacific League batting champion, and led the Buffaloes to the Japan Series championship in 2022.
Many wondered if he could bring that type of production overseas and at first, it didn’t look so hot. His batting average dipped to .167, in mid-April, he “had negative launch angles on 56% of his balls, and his average exit velocity was 85.1 miles per hour,” (source: SportingNews.com).
However, after an adjustment to both his swing and stance post-World Baseball Classic, Yoshida seems to have found his footing. Over his 14-game hit streak, he’s been to the plate 62 times – hitting .446 with 5 HR, 5 doubles, and 18 RBI (h/t Tyler Miliken).
This hot streak has catapulted him past the likes of Josh Jung and Anthony Volpe in the AL Rookie of the Year rankings, and he should only improve as he gets more comfortable in the big leagues.
Boston will look to continue their own hot streak is on the road this weekend against the Philadelphia Phillies. “Ace” Chris Sale will be on the bump on Friday night for his seventh start of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm.