Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Hotaka Yamakawa “Aguu” (28) has been Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPR) most astounding power hitter and arguably most exciting player to watch since he entered the league in 2014. He won the MVP in 2018 while crushing a league-leading 47 home-runs.
Aggu is a big dude but stands at only 5’9”, and he can, absolutely, mash baseballs. Earlier in his career, he has battled with a few injuries, but he was able to show people what he can do in the ‘18 and ‘19 campaigns. In those two years, he had 1,065 at-bats and hit 90 homers meaning he would hit a home run every 8 at-bats! With numbers like that, it is easy to forget about the 44 doubles that he hit during that span. His slugging is an astronomical .558 and OPS sits at .938 for his career. This means he has incredible plate discipline which forces pitchers to make mistakes that he capitalizes on. This year alone, he has 63 walks in only 98 games. A normal season has 144 contests, which means he is outpacing his BB totals from ‘18 and ‘19 in which he had 174. He would most likely break that if a full season was being played this year. By now, I think you get the point. Yamakawa is insanely good but the question remains, what makes him so dominant?
Hotaka has a unique swing which allows him to hit the ball as far as he does; his stride direction is like no other. The right-handed hitter’s stride direction is direct to the shortstop. Most of the time you see guys stride directly at the pitcher, but we have recently been seeing some of the best power hitters in the world step out just a little; Aguu takes it to the extreme which allows him to get his lower half firing far before his hands even move. Another thing that he is excellent at is getting good hip flexion; this means that he takes his mammoth leg kick and can get a substantial amount of force stored up in his hips to violently thrust it forward and transfer that force straight into the baseball and send it into the night. This swing is extremely difficult to replicate, but it works for him and he is easily the most efficient power hitter in the league.
Hotaka Yamaka is also a very solid defender at first base. Throughout his career, he has a .992 fielding percentage which is amazing in and of itself even without even considering his offensive production. He also spends some time over at third base, but only when he is absolutely needed; first base fits him best due to his size.
Yamaka is a truly exciting player who can put the people in awe with his power. He has recently gotten some worldwide attention and is being compared to some of the most prolific power hitters in the game. However, it remains unlikely that he will come over to the United States due to his age (28). Regardless, Hotaka Yamaka is one of the most exciting players to watch on this planet.
This piece was written by Cade Carlson, a common contributor for Globally Ballin with an emphasis on international baseball.