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Monday, September 05, 2022

Munetaka Murakami’s assault on baseball record book taking Japan by storm

Twenty-two-year-old Munetaka Murakami’s season home run total entered some rarified air Friday when he became the youngest Japan-born player to hit 50 and the first since Hideki Matsui did it in 2002.

Playing for the Central League’s Yakult Swallows on their Tokyo home ground, home run-friendly Jingu Stadium, Murakami broke up a scoreless game off Chunichi Dragons ace Yudai Ono. The lefty missed in the middle of the plate, and Murakami blasted a three-run home run in a 5-0 victory.

I wanted to get the ball in the air and, at the very minimum, get a sacrifice fly,” said Murakami, who wears the same No. 55 that Matsui sported during his time with the rival Yomiuri Giants.

“I’m proud to have achieved something that puts me alongside him (Matsui), but I have other private goals I want to try hard to achieve… Not specific numbers but rather to get better each and every day.”

All five of the Japan-born players with 50-plus home runs in a season—Makoto Kozuru, Katsuya Nomura, Sadaharu Oh, Hiromitsu Ochiai and Matsui—are enshrined in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 12:23 AM | 76 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: japanese baseball

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   1. vortex of dissipation Posted: September 05, 2022 at 02:44 PM (#6094589)
Murakami has an excellent shot at the Central League Triple Crown. He has a huge lead in two of the categories - 26 homers and 45 RBIs in front of the second place hitter - and about a fifteen point lead in batting average.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 04:42 PM (#6094605)
the youngest Japan-born player to hit 50

Is there a younger non-Japan-born player to do it?
   3. vortex of dissipation Posted: September 05, 2022 at 04:59 PM (#6094609)
Is there a younger non-Japan-born player to do it?


I don't believe so, no.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 06:28 PM (#6094616)
I wonder how many know who the youngest 50-HR hitter in MLB history is ... I would not have gotten this. (Warning there are 5 guys tied for 2nd.)
   5. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 06:35 PM (#6094617)
Alonso?
   6. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 06:39 PM (#6094618)
By the way, ByungHo Park (apparently more correctly Park Byung-Ho) who had a brief shot at MLB has moved up to #4 on the KBO career list. Actually given the story I found was from 2 months ago, he might have moved into 3rd (that guy also active though). He's got no chance of catching Lee Seung-Yuop who indeed hit 54 at 22 so possibly that's the reason for the "Japan-born" qualifier?

That pretty much completes my "2 minutes on the internet" KBO knowledge.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 06:40 PM (#6094619)
Alonso?

Falls in the 5 guys tied for 2nd group.
   8. Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful Posted: September 05, 2022 at 06:42 PM (#6094620)
Brady Anderson?

Nope, not even close. (I think)
   9. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 06:45 PM (#6094621)
yeah Brady was 32, old by this metric.
   10. Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful Posted: September 05, 2022 at 06:48 PM (#6094622)
OK, 3 more guesses and then I'll tap out: Ruth, Foxx, Mathews.

edit...Mathews almost did it, but he never hit 50. 47 at age 21. I won't look up the other 2.
   11. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 05, 2022 at 06:51 PM (#6094623)
#10, my first guess would've been Foxx. I know he did it a couple of times at least(without looking it up) and they were a few years apart IIRC.

Maybe Andruw? I think he hit 50+ once and know he cratered at like 31 so he must have been young when he did the 50 or more?
   12. mathesond Posted: September 05, 2022 at 06:51 PM (#6094624)
Did Mel Ott ever hit 50?

Edit: Or Ralph Kiner?
   13. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:01 PM (#6094626)
Kiner tied w/ Alonso at age 24
   14. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:03 PM (#6094627)
FOxx tied w Alonso and Kiner at 24.
   15. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:05 PM (#6094628)
Ruth was 25, ANdruw 28

Ott did not hit 50, topping out at 42 (age 20!)
   16. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:16 PM (#6094630)
How about McGwire? He did it whilst with the A's and I think he did a rookie record also, which was like high 40's, then hit 50+ a year or 2 later?
   17. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:22 PM (#6094631)
McGwire age 32, he hit 49 age 23
   18. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:24 PM (#6094632)
Thanks for keeping score SS
   19. SoSH U at work Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:24 PM (#6094633)
he hit 49 age 23


A rookie record.
   20. Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:28 PM (#6094637)
I looked it up, and one guy did it at 23, but they list him as being 24, but he turned 24 after the season ended. Without naming him, would he be the one? (If yes, I still won't name him)
   21. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:30 PM (#6094639)
Capt Joe: No, that's not the guy. The guy who did it turned 23 during the season. So no.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:32 PM (#6094640)
#20 ... that's not the person I mean but not sure what to do with that bit of info. I assume b-r ages are baseball ages. This guy turned 23 in the first half of his 50-HR season.
   23. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:33 PM (#6094641)
I claim COKE!
   24. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:37 PM (#6094642)
I claim COKE!

Supply chain issues.
   25. Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:39 PM (#6094643)
OK, so I will name him. Mantle turned 24 in October the year he hit 52, so he did it while he was technically 23.
   26. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:44 PM (#6094645)
that's a good pt. so he was 23. But there is one guy who's 6 months younger when he did it.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:47 PM (#6094646)
So I suppose we can make it a longer quiz. 50+ HRs by age at FIRST time (in MLB, may or may not include NeL) Hopefull I don't screw this up

23 --
24 -- Kiner
24 -- Foxx
24 -- Alonso
24 -- Mantle
24 --
25 -- Ruth
25 --
25 --
26 --
26 --
26 --
26 --
27 --
27 --
27 --
27 --
28 -- Andruw
28 --
28 --
29 --
29 --
   28. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:48 PM (#6094647)
I'm not seeing the issue with Mantle -- born Oct 1931, hit 52 HR in 1956 so he was 24.
   29. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:50 PM (#6094649)
#27: do baseball players peak at 26 or 27, you be the judge.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:54 PM (#6094651)
I'm not sure if that was a bad hint or a good guess or a bad joke but I'll count it.

23 --
24 -- Kiner
24 -- Foxx
24 -- Alonso
24 -- Mantle
24 --
25 -- Ruth
25 -- Judge
25 --
26 --
26 --
26 --
26 --
27 --
27 --
27 --
27 --
28 -- Andruw
28 --
28 --
29 --
29 --
   31. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:56 PM (#6094652)
walt: are we not doing the old guys on the list:

30
32
32
32
33
34
   32. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 07:59 PM (#6094654)
Not if you're gonna miss 34 and 36. :-)
   33. mathesond Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:00 PM (#6094655)
Prince and Cecil Fielder
   34. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:02 PM (#6094657)
I edited age 34 guy, who the hell was 36?
   35. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:03 PM (#6094658)
who the hell was 36?

Ummm....
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:04 PM (#6094659)
who the hell was 36?


I don't know, but I'm guessing he was really 35.

   37. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:05 PM (#6094660)
You are at least supposed to take a guess at the age too, not just start naming everybody who's ever hit 50.
   38. mathesond Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:08 PM (#6094661)
Oops! I'll go with Prince at 23, and Cecil was, say, 32.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:11 PM (#6094662)
23 -- Prince
24 -- Kiner
24 -- Foxx
24 -- Alonso
24 -- Mantle
24 --
25 -- Ruth
25 -- Judge
25 --
26 -- Cecil (we don't want an endless series of posts guessing ages but you get double the crypto if you get the age too)
26 --
26 --
26 --
27 --
27 --
27 --
27 --
28 -- Andruw
28 --
28 --
29 --
29 --
30 --
32 -- McGwire
32 -- Brady
32 --
33 --
34 --
36 --
   40. Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:25 PM (#6094663)
Ortiz was in his 30s
   41. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:27 PM (#6094664)
Ortiz was 30
   42. Walt Davis Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:27 PM (#6094665)
#40 -- yes, Ortiz at 30.
   43. SoSH U at work Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:29 PM (#6094666)
I'd say George Foster was about 28 when he did it.
   44. Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:33 PM (#6094667)
Maris hit 61, and was still playing in 67 (with the Cardinals), so I'd say he was about 27 or 28.

Sosa was probably in his early 30s. Bonds, too. Bonds' big year may have been at 36.
   45. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:35 PM (#6094669)
I demand a case of coke.
   46. Boxkutter Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:37 PM (#6094670)
Griffey Jr is one of the 27s. He would have done it at 24, but the strike ended that.
   47. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:56 PM (#6094673)
Mays must have been ~ 24 when he had the big year in 1955.
   48. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 08:58 PM (#6094675)
Mays 24, yes.
   49. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 09:14 PM (#6094676)
Bonds was 36, actually turned 37 during the season so yes.
   50. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 09:15 PM (#6094677)
Foster was 28, yes.
   51. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 05, 2022 at 09:17 PM (#6094678)
Maris was 26, Sosa 29
   52. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 05, 2022 at 09:23 PM (#6094679)
The list of those with multiple 50-HR seasons is much shorter.
   53. Booey Posted: September 05, 2022 at 09:25 PM (#6094680)
ARod - 25
Sosa - 29
Luis Gonzales - 32?
   54. Booey Posted: September 05, 2022 at 09:30 PM (#6094681)
Thome (32?) and Mize (33?) were in their 30's.

I'm guessing 27 for Greenberg. 28 or 29 for Albert Belle. Around 29 or 30 for Hack Wilson and Greg Vaughn.

   55. Booey Posted: September 05, 2022 at 09:31 PM (#6094682)
26 or 27 for Ryan Howard. 27 for Stanton.
   56. The Duke Posted: September 05, 2022 at 09:32 PM (#6094683)
Frank Thomas ?
   57. Booey Posted: September 05, 2022 at 09:33 PM (#6094684)
30-ish for Jose Bautista. 28(?) for Chris Davis?
   58. Booey Posted: September 05, 2022 at 09:36 PM (#6094685)
#56 - The 1994 strike cost Thomas his best shot at 50 homers. His actual career high was 43.
   59. Baldrick Posted: September 05, 2022 at 11:04 PM (#6094695)
First guy I thought of was Greg Vaughn, for the old age folks. But he was probably just 32/33, not really 'old.' Same with Luis Gonzalez who definitely felt old when he did it, but then played for like 8 or 9 more years so he can't actually have been old.
   60. Walt Davis Posted: September 06, 2022 at 12:04 AM (#6094701)
23 -- Prince
24 -- Kiner
24 -- Foxx
24 -- Alonso
24 -- Mantle
24 -- Mays
25 -- Ruth
25 -- Judge
25 -- ARod
26 -- Cecil
26 -- Maris
26 -- Howard
(26 -- oops!)
27 -- Stanton
27 -- Greenberg
27 -- Griffey
27 -- Davis
28 -- Andruw
28 -- Foster
28 -- Belle
29 -- Sosa
29 -- Bautista
30 -- Hack
(31 -- Thome) ahem!
32 -- McGwire
32 -- Brady
32 -- Vaughn
33 -- LGon
34 -- Mize
36 -- Bonds
   61. ReggieThomasLives Posted: September 06, 2022 at 10:35 AM (#6094731)
I wonder how many home runs Sho Ohtani could hit if he was Japanese.
   62. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: September 06, 2022 at 01:46 PM (#6094766)
When is he eligible for posting? I'd be curious to see what a guy who hits a ton in NPB can do in the US.
   63. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 06, 2022 at 02:09 PM (#6094771)


Is there a younger non-Japan-born player to do it?


Doesn't look like it, assuming we're talking about 50-HR seasons in NPB. This site allows you to sort NPB historical stats and you can see there have been 14 50-HR seasons by 9 different players prior to this year. The youngest one, I believe, was O doing it at age 24 in 1964. I don't know who the youngest foreign-born player was but they were all older than 22, for sure.
   64. vortex of dissipation Posted: September 06, 2022 at 02:25 PM (#6094773)
This site allows you to sort NPB historical stats


Thank you very much for that. It will be very useful to me.
   65. Hombre Brotani Posted: September 06, 2022 at 02:55 PM (#6094781)
When is he eligible for posting? I'd be curious to see what a guy who hits a ton in NPB can do in the US.
His contract still runs another four years, I believe. The Swallows could post him earlier than that, but they've gone from two straight last-place finishes to two straight first-place finishes, and they're not a team that desperately needs the posting money.
   66. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: September 06, 2022 at 03:37 PM (#6094792)
Seeing Murakami and Jingu Stadium together reminded me of this passage. RIP, Dave Hilton.
   67. The Duke Posted: September 06, 2022 at 03:43 PM (#6094793)
So the PED cutoff line looks like 30-31. Everyone 32 and above looks like a roider. Thome? Not sure

Johnny Mize - might be an outlier "In 1947 Johnny Mize did something unmatched in baseball history. He became the first player to hit 50 or more home runs in a season while striking out fewer than 50 times, one of the game’s extraordinary records and a sole distinction Mize still held more than 65 years later."

I suspect Mize reaches 50 up to 4 years earlier had he not been in the service. He basically lost 43-46 to the war.
   68. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 06, 2022 at 03:55 PM (#6094798)
So the PED cutoff line looks like 30-31. Everyone 32 and above looks like a roider. Thome? Not sure


That list in #60 is just the first time they hit 50+. Ruth hit 54 in his age 33 season, for example. Not sure if any other non-PED guys did it later than 31, and obviously Ruth is a unique case, but I just wanted to point that out.

I suspect Mize reaches 50 up to 4 years earlier had he not been in the service. He basically lost 43-46 to the war.

Hank Greenberg might have hit 50 a second time if it hadn't been for the war. He missed all or parts of his age 30-34 seasons, but hit 41 HR at age 29 and 44 HR at age 35.
   69. Baldrick Posted: September 06, 2022 at 06:13 PM (#6094834)
That list in #60 is just the first time they hit 50+.

I think that was the point. We don't have any non-suspicious examples of guys who suddenly gain 50 HR power in their 30s when they didn't have it in their 20s.
   70. Yonder Alonso in misguided trousers (cardinal) Posted: September 06, 2022 at 07:08 PM (#6094846)
Brady Anderson's 50-HR season in 1996 (age 32; previous high of 21 four years earlier, subsequent high of 24 three years later) kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.

I genuinely have no idea or recollection if he was considered suspicious or not at the time or since, though.
   71. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: September 06, 2022 at 07:14 PM (#6094850)
Gavvy Cravath did basically the deadball version of this, going from a nonentity at the plate to leading the league in homers more or less overnight after a few years in the wilderness. Basically, he changed his approach while playing in Minneapolis, and it completely revolutionized his game. He was 32.
   72. Ron J Posted: September 06, 2022 at 08:14 PM (#6094858)
Check out Cravath's home road splits. He hit 92 HR in 1723 AB in the Baker Bowl. He hit another 8 ( in 244 AB ) in the Polo Grounds. And a total of 19 HR everywhere else. (so actually we know the park breakdown for all of his HR)

This is a guy who adjusted his swing to take advantage of one of the most extreme parks in history. And had pretty fair success in another extreme park. He was basically the same guy he'd always been in the other parks in the league. And to be clear, that was a good player. Just not close to elite.

   73. Where have you gone Brady Anderson? Posted: September 06, 2022 at 08:34 PM (#6094863)
Brady had his share of PED rumors during and after his 50 home run season, but it was really just because the numbers stick out like you said. There weren’t any witnesses or supplements in his locker or anything concrete, just assumptions because of the power surge. So he probably did use, but you can’t rule out it just being one of those weird fluke seasons.
   74. Baldrick Posted: September 06, 2022 at 08:35 PM (#6094864)
Brady Anderson's 50-HR season in 1996 (age 32; previous high of 21 four years earlier, subsequent high of 24 three years later) kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.

I genuinely have no idea or recollection if he was considered suspicious or not at the time or since, though.

My memory as a kid is that people thought it was extremely weird, but I'm not sure it rose to the level of 'suspicious.' In retrospect, it remains extremely weird. He was never even close to that in another season.

And it wasn't like Jose Bautista, or someone along those lines, where it came out of nowhere but once you watched him hit you could only wonder how he hadn't been such a monster before the switch turned. Anderson just had a nice even swing and then suddenly one year the balls started flying UP instead of staying flat and then inexplicably just kept carrying. And then after that, he went right back to normal.
   75. Walt Davis Posted: September 06, 2022 at 11:23 PM (#6094915)
I think that was the point. We don't have any non-suspicious examples of guys who suddenly gain 50 HR power in their 30s when they didn't have it in their 20s.

Or a near-tautology. Who are the "suspicious" ones?

McGwire hit 49 in his rookie year. He hit 42 in just 571 PA at 28. Now 245 HRs over 4 seasons in his 30s is clearly unexpected but that he would eventually crack the 50 barrier is not surprising.

Bonds hit 46 at 28 and reached 40 at 31-32. Now 73 was obviously not expected but cracking 50 wasn't a shock. Thome requires a bit more digging but just look at his HR/FB %s -- 19% at 23, 22% at 25-26. He just needed to adopt some launch angle to hit more FBs which he did at age 29 then at 30 he put the two together. Later in his career, his G/F ratios went back up to where they were and the HRs came down. Bonds was slightly similar (same HR/FB in 2000 and 2002 as 1994, just more FB) but less dramatically so than Thome and his 29.4% HR/FB in 2001 is an outlier by any standard.

Now Vaughn, LGon and Brady ... those came out of nowhere it seems. But no more so than Davey Johnson's 43 in 1973 or Campy's 22 in 1970. And let's not even speculate on Matt Carpenter 2022.

Whether everybody was on roids or the ball was rubber or the parks were accommodating, in 2021 HR/PA league-wide was 2.9% on an average 7.7% HR/FB. That put an average player on nearly 20 in a full season on a sub-8% HR/FB. A slugger of that era is more like a 18-20% HR/FB and now you're up to about 40. Add more FBs and 50 here we come.

In 2022, AL HR/FB is at 8.3% and HR/PA in a "low" HR year is 2.8%. Yep, had to be the roids!!!!!

Judge 2022 26.7% HR/FB, 25.5% K/PA
Bonds 2001 29.7% HR/FB, 14.9% K/PA

Roids reduce Ks!!!!

Sosa HR/PA, 20-29: 2.0, 2.6, 3.0, 2.8, 5.2, 5.5, 5.7, 7.4, 5.2, 9.1
Maris HR/PA, 20-29: --, ---, 3.3, 4.4, 3.2, 6.8, 8.7, 4.8, 6.6, 4.5

So Maris took big steps up at 25 and 26; Sosa at 24 and 27 and 29. In Maris's miracle season, he hit them 8.7% of the time; in Sosa's it was 9.1%. Got to be the roids, no other possible explanation.

   76. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 07, 2022 at 11:33 AM (#6095010)
Brady Anderson's 50-HR season in 1996 (age 32; previous high of 21 four years earlier, subsequent high of 24 three years later) kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.

I genuinely have no idea or recollection if he was considered suspicious or not at the time or since, though.


It was definitely considered suspicious at the time, an accusation that's been repeated many times in the years since. (It's also a weird case -- if he was using, you'd expect more than just a one-year power surge.) Anderson was also a muscular gym rat who posed a lot with his shirt off, which I think added to the rumors.

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