In the WBC, he gave third base to the “monster” Murakami, but Okamoto, the fourth runner in home run Yomiuri, batting average of ‘0.432’ in the interleague
Kazuma Okamoto (27), the “fourth hitter” of the Yomiuri Giants, played as a first baseman for the Japanese national team of the WBC (World Baseball Classic). Last year’s Pacific League home run king Yamakawa Hotaka (32, Seibu Lions) was expected to compete for the starting position, but he played as a key hitter and contributed to the championship. Due to the lack of outfielders due to the composition of the team, there are times when he plays as a left fielder. Ahead of the tournament, he started training for left field defense and became a hot topic.
But Okamoto is Yomiuri’s main third baseman. There is a player who pushed him from the third baseman of the national team, who won the Central League home run-RBI king for two consecutive years in 2020-2021. This is Munetaka Murakami (23), the “monster hitter” of the Yakult Swallows.
Murakami rocked Nippon Professional Baseball last year with a home run. He hit 56 homers, the most in a single season for Japanese players, and became the youngest player to win 3 batting titles. He hit home runs in five consecutive at-bats, the first time in a worldwide professional league. Of course, the national team’s third baseman, fourth, was Murakami’s. Okamoto and Murakami were tied for first in home runs in 2021.
Murakami, who started the tournament with No. 4, fell into an extreme slump and went down to No. 5. After the group stage ended, the batting revived and he hit a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth inning against Mexico in the semifinals. He hit a home run in the final against the United States. Okamoto continued his steady performance throughout the tournament.
In the national team, Okamoto, who gave up the third base spot to junior Murakami, is showing off in the regular league.
On the 9th, he hit his 14th home run of the season in an away game against the Softbank Hawks in the interleague (exchange match). In the 4th inning, Softbank’s ’42-year-old veteran’ left-hander Suyoshi Wada threw a changeup into the middle of the strike zone. He pulled the lost ball and sent it over the fence on the left side of the Fukuoka Dome. It was the only score Yomiuri posted.
Okamoto was strong against the veteran Wada. Since the exchange match in 2021, he has recorded 3 hits in 7 at-bats in 3 games, and all 3 hits are home runs. On this day, Wada won his 5th win of the season with a good pitching of 5⅔innings and 1 run. He recorded 27 wins, the most tie-ins in his interleague career.
At the end of May, he has maintained his best hitting feeling since the start of the interleague. He appeared in 10 games, going 16-for-37 with a batting average of 4.3 with 2 runs, 5 home runs and 9 RBI. Interleague batting average, 1st in home runs, 2nd in RBI.
With his strong performance in the interleague, he was ranked first in home runs, surpassing Murakami. He hit three more than Murakami. It is worth aiming for the third home run king in two years this season.메이저놀이터
Not only home run, but also top of the offensive category. He went 3.2 with 4 runs and 68 hits, ranking 5th and 2nd respectively. He has been captaining Yomiuri since this season.
Murakami and his team, Yakult, are struggling. Yakult, the winning team for the second year in a row, fell to the bottom of the league in extreme sluggishness. Murakami recorded a batting average of .227, 11 homers, and 34 RBIs until the 9th. Home runs, RBIs, and batting average are all significantly lower than last season.