“My baseball life is not over.”
Kazuma Okamoto (27), No. 4 hitter for the Yomiuri Giants, and Munetaka Murakami (23), No. 4 hitter for the Yakult Swallows. The two 20-something sluggers have split the Central League home run title since 2020 and are the leading home run hitters in Nippon Professional Baseball. As their club’s starting third baseman, the two played together for Japan at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March.메이저사이트
In 2020, Okamoto won the inaugural home run title with 31, and in 2021, the two tied for first with 39.
In 2022, Murakami shook up Nippon Professional Baseball with his home runs. His 56 homers set a new single-season record for a Japanese player, surpassing Okamoto’s 30. He batted .321 with 134 RBIs, becoming the youngest player to win three batting titles.
In his sixth year as a professional, he overtook Murakami, who is three years his senior. Jumped from 220 million to 600 million yen in 2022. Reached 600 million yen in salary in the shortest period of time. Signed a long-term contract for 3 years and 1.8 billion yen, despite not being a free agent. It’s a deal that allows him to reach the major leagues via posting in three years.
Murakami ranks third on the list, behind Orix Buffaloes “monster pitcher” Yoshinobu Yamamoto (25-650 million yen) and SoftBank Hawks slugger Yuki Yanagita (35-62 million yen). Yomiuri’s veterans
It’s the same amount as infielder Hayato Sakamoto (35).
But Okamoto took a pay cut after hitting 30 home runs for five straight years. He went from 300 million yen to 270 million yen, a 30 million yen cut.
This year, Okamoto, who also serves as captain, has outpaced Murakami. He had 38 through 12 days. He produced consistently throughout the season. He is on the verge of returning to the home run title after a two-year absence. He surpassed 200 career home runs and reached 30 for the sixth straight year.
After an extremely slow first half, Murakami picked up the pace in the second half.
Murakami hit his 27th home run of the season in a home game against the Hiroshima Carp at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo on Wednesday. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning, he hit the game-winning two-run homer in his second at-bat.
On a full count, he crushed an eight-pitch high slider from left-hander Shogo Tamamura over the left field fence.
It was his 187th career home run in 2,879 at-bats. Murakami passed Kazuhiro Kiyohara with this home run.
The sixth-year pro set the record for most home runs by a Japanese player.
Kiyohara, who joined the Seibu Lions in 1986 after graduating from Osaka PL Academy, hit 186 in six years until 1991. From his debut season, he hit 31,29,31,35,37,23 home runs. In total, he hit 525 between Seibu and Yomiuri.
Murakami said, “I don’t think I’ve passed (Kiyohara). My baseball career is not over yet. I will try to hit even better.”
He is three home runs away from his third straight 30-homer season.
Yomiuri and Yakult, the first- and second-place teams in home runs, have been relegated to Class B (fourth through sixth out of six teams). Yomiuri is in fourth place, 1.5 games behind the third-place Yokohama BayStars, while Yakult is in fifth place with a winning percentage of 4.8.
Yomiuri still has a chance to qualify for the Climax Series (postseason) with a third-place finish. Yakult, who were looking for their third straight league title, are certain to be eliminated.