Rising Star Okamoto Leading the Giants

The Giants are led by their veteran shortstop Hayato Sakamoto. He was voted the MVP last year in the Central Conference. But another player is making his presence felt on a team that prides itself on superstars. That person is Kazuma Okamoto.

The Giants drafted Okamoto in the first round back in 2014. His first three seasons he got into 35 games and hit one homerun with a .189 batting average. Not the kind of numbers you expect from a superstar, but you have to remember he was still a teenager for part of those years. It was the 2018 season he had his breakout year.

Shinnosuke Abe was winding down his career opening up more playing time for Okamoto. Playing for the Giants is like playing for the Yankees. You have to earn your playing time. In 2018 Okamoto earned his playing time, appearing in all 143 games, hitting .309 with 33 homeruns and 100 RBIs. That is the kind of production that will keep your bat in the lineup.

In 2019 he proved that last season was not a fluke. He again played in all 143 games and hit .265 with 31 homeruns and 94 RBIs. The numbers dropped a little as pitchers became more aware of his presence in the lineup, but the production was similar. The strikeouts numbers increased while the walks dropped as pitchers pitched around him. Perhaps Okamoto found himself guilty of chasing pitches too much out of the strike zone that year.

This year he is on fire. He has started the season hitting .475 with 5 homeruns and 12 RBIs in just 10 games. His strikeout numbers have dropped a little while his walk numbers are increasing (4/7). It is still too early in the season so those numbers can change. Slumps can put a damper on the numbers. The Giants find themselves at the top of the Central League at 7-2-1 based on his early season contributions.

For those major league fans hoping to see him someday posted for the major leagues it probably will not happen while he is in the prime of his career. The Giants do not historically allow players to be posted. Last year they posted their first player Shun Yamaguchi so perhaps that policy is changing. But at 32 years of age Yamaguchi was seen as in the down side of his career as a pitcher.

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