Thursday, December 8, 2022

Masataka Yoshida of the Boston Red Sox

Masataka Yoshida, formerly of the 2022 Nippon Series champion Orix Buffaloes, has signed a five year contract with the Boston Red Sox after Orix posted him this week.  

Yoshida was the Buffaloes first pick in the 2015 NPB draft out of Aoyama Gakuin University.  His first two years were marred by injuries but when he was healthy starting in 2018 he quickly established himself as a star.  He's led the Pacific League in batting twice (2020 and 2021) and OBP twice (2021 and 2022).  He's a four time All Star (2018-19, 2021-22) which is slightly misleading as there was no All Star game in 2020.  He's won five Best 9 awards (2018-2022), an Interleague MVP (2018) and an "Outstanding Player" award in the 2022 Nippon Series.

Surprisingly, Yoshida's first baseball card is not from Japan.  It was in the 2013 Panini USA Baseball set which contained an autographed insert set for the Japanese Collegiate National Team:

2013 Panini USA Baseball Japanese Collegiate Team #23

His first Japanese cards are from 2016.  His first BBM cards are in that year's Rookie Edition (#039) and 1st Version (#126) sets and his first Calbee card is also from that year - #101 from Series Two.  He's appeared in every BBM and Calbee flagship set since 2016 (although he does not have a "regular" player card in the 2022 Calbee set - he's in two of the subsets) and all of Epoch's NPB sets starting in their first year of 2018.  He's also in both of the Topps NPB sets (along with their ugly Chrome parallel set).  He's also in every comprehensive Buffaloes team set from BBM and Epoch's Buffaloes "Rookies & Stars" (2018-2021) and "Premier Edition" (2022) sets.  Here's some sample cards:

2016 BBM Rookie Edition #039

2016 BBM 1st Version #126

2017 BBM 1st Version #152 (Secret Version)

2018 Calbee Series One #023

2019 Orix Team Issue #34

2020 BBM 1st Version #157

2021 Topps NPB "1986" #86-MY

2022 Epoch NPB #241

Yoshida has played for the Samurai Japan team several times over the past few years, including in the 2019 Premier 12 and the 2021 Olympics.  He appears in three of Calbee's Samurai Japan sets - the 2019 and 2020 editions as well as the 2019 "Special Limited Edition Box" only available from Calbee's store.  Here's the cards from the box set:

2019 Calbee "Samurai Japan Special Limited Edition Box" #M-8

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