We are still three years out from Munetaka Murakami moving to our shores permanently. And potentially taking up residence in the Bronx.
But in the meantime, the two-time Central League MVP will do stuff like this — a two-run, walk-off double to lift Japan to a 6-5 win over Mexico and a date with Team USA in Tuesday’s World Baseball Classic final in Miami.
JAPAN WALKS IT OFF! JAPAN WALKS IT OFF! 🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/K5VBlpIyTC
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 21, 2023
Munetaka, 22, is a slugging third baseman for the Yakult Swallows. He is the youngest triple crown winner in NPB history. He is not expected to be posted until after the 2025 season. But when he is, the Yankees figure to be a top suitor. Imagine that swing paired with Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field?
Also of note: Murakami once said the word “Yankees” on Japanese television. Yes, he also said he would prefer to play on the West Coast. But money talks. And the Bombers just have to hope Brett Baty pans out so Steve Cohen and the Mets do not get in the mix.
The numbers on Murakami, via NESN:
In 2021, Murakami earned MVP honors. That season he batted .278/.566/.408 and crushed 39 home runs with 27 doubles and 112 RBIs in 143 games. That ceiling rose to an insane level for Murakami in his follow-up campaign.
The left-handed hitter crushed 56 homers — the most by a Japanese player since Sadaharu Oh (55) in 1964. He also batted a career-high .318/.710/.458 with 21 doubles and 134 RBIs. Not to mention Murakami notched a 1.168 OPS and 10.2 WAR which earned him both a Triple Crown and his second straight MVP award. Murakami also became the first unanimous MVP winner since Oh in 1977.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.